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Maldives-Transportation and Communications

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Maldives Index

Maldives has two airports with permanent-surface runways more than 2,440 meters long, one located adjacent to Male on Hulele Island, known as Male International Airport, and the other on Gan Island in the southernmost Addu Atoll, which is scheduled to become an international airport. Since 1981, after the runway was widened and expanded, the airport on Hulele has been able to handle direct charter flights from Europe. The airport on Gan was used only for domestic traffic. Two additional domestic airports cater to foreign tourists. One on Kadu Island in Haddummati Atoll opened in 1986, and the other on Hanimadu Island in South Tiladummati Atoll opened in 1990. A further domestic airport on Kodedu Island was scheduled to open in 1994.

In 1974 the government created Air Maldives, which had one eighteen-seat airplane. In the early 1990s, Air Maldives flew between Hulele and Gan three days a week, and Kadu twice a week. A twenty-seat seaplane operated by Inter Atoll Air also flew scheduled and chartered flights between Hulele and many of the resorts. In addition, Hummingbird Helicopters (Maldives) and Seagull Airways each operated four helicopters for interisland flights. Another firm, Maldives Air Services, coordinated all air services on the ground.

Maldives has an active merchant shipping fleet used for import and export purposes, including ten cargo vessels, one container ship, and one oil tanker. The government-owned Maldives National Ship Management, Ltd. is the largest of several Maldivian shipping firms.

Male, the only port that can handle international traffic, has been improved by the First Male Port Development Project completed in late 1992. The Second Male Port Development Project, partly financed by a loan from the Asian Development Bank, began in late 1993 and is scheduled for completion in 1996.

The fishing dhoni is the traditional all-purpose vessel in Maldives. Although dhonis have sails, most are also engine-powered. Dhonis are used mainly within the sheltered waters of each atoll. Travel through the open sea from one atoll to another is usually by vedis, larger, squareshaped wooden cargo boats.

The primary form of road traffic in Maldives is the bicycle. Motorcycles are the most common form of motor vehicles, of which 4,026 were registered in 1990. Passenger cars on Male are primarily status symbols for the Maldivian elite; however, the larger inhabited islands and resort islands have limited taxi services for transporting people to and from wharves and airfields. In 1992 there were 691 registered passenger cars, and 379 trucks and tractors.

Modern communications are minimal in Maldives. Most people use citizen-band radios on the islands and in boats (see Media , this ch.). Telephone service between Male and the islands is limited. However, most of the resort islands can be contacted directly by telephone, and administrative atoll offices are linked both to Male and each other by radio-telephone. Modernization efforts of the government have resulted in a steady increase in the number of telephones. The 1984 number of 1,060 telephones increased in 1992 to 2,804. There is good international telephone service through a satellite ground station in Male.

Data as of August 1994

BackgroundThe Maldives was long a sultanate, first under Dutch and then under British protection. It became a republic in 1968, three years after independence. President Maumoon Abdul GAYOOM dominated the islands' political scene for 30 years, elected to six successive terms by single-party referendums. Following riots in the capital Male in August 2004, the president and his government pledged to embark upon democratic reforms including a more representative political system and expanded political freedoms. Progress was sluggish, however, and many promised reforms were slow to be realized. Nonetheless, political parties were legalized in 2005. In June 2008, a constituent assembly - termed the "Special Majlis" - finalized a new constitution, which was ratified by the president in August. The first-ever presidential elections under a multi-candidate, multi-party system were held in October 2008. GAYOOM was defeated in a runoff poll by Mohamed NASHEED, a political activist who had been jailed several years earlier by the former regime. Challenges facing the new president include strengthening democracy and combating poverty and drug abuse.
LocationSouthern Asia, group of atolls in the Indian Ocean, south-southwest of India
Area(sq km)total: 298 sq km
land: 298 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Geographic coordinates3 15 N, 73 00 E
Land boundaries(km)0 km

Coastline(km)644 km

Climatetropical; hot, humid; dry, northeast monsoon (November to March); rainy, southwest monsoon (June to August)

Elevation extremes(m)lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
highest point: unnamed location on Wilingili island in the Addu Atoll 2.4 m
Natural resourcesfish
Land use(%)arable land: 13.33%
permanent crops: 30%
other: 56.67% (2005)

Irrigated land(sq km)NA
Total renewable water resources(cu km)0.03 cu km (1999)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)total: 0.003 cu km/yr (98%/2%/0%)
per capita: 9 cu m/yr (1987)
Natural hazardstsunamis; low elevation of islands makes them sensitive to sea level rise
Environment - current issuesdepletion of freshwater aquifers threatens water supplies; global warming and sea level rise; coral reef bleaching
Environment - international agreementsparty to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note1,190 coral islands grouped into 26 atolls (200 inhabited islands, plus 80 islands with tourist resorts); archipelago with strategic location astride and along major sea lanes in Indian Ocean
Population396,334 (July 2009 est.)
Age structure(%)0-14 years: 22.3% (male 45,038/female 43,291)
15-64 years: 73.8% (male 180,874/female 111,703)
65 years and over: 3.9% (male 7,711/female 7,717) (2009 est.)
Median age(years)total: 25.7 years
male: 26.5 years
female: 24.3 years (2009 est.)
Population growth rate(%)-0.168% (2009 est.)
Birth rate(births/1,000 population)14.55 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)
Death rate(deaths/1,000 population)3.65 deaths/1,000 population (July 2009 est.)

Net migration rate(migrant(s)/1,000 population)-12.58 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2009 est.)
Urbanization(%)urban population: 38% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 5.3% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
Sex ratio(male(s)/female)at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.62 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1 male(s)/female
total population: 1.44 male(s)/female (2009 est.)
Infant mortality rate(deaths/1,000 live births)total: 29.53 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 32.04 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 26.89 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)

Life expectancy at birth(years)total population: 73.97 years
male: 71.78 years
female: 76.28 years (2009 est.)

Total fertility rate(children born/woman)1.9 children born/woman (2009 est.)
Nationalitynoun: Maldivian(s)
adjective: Maldivian
Ethnic groups(%)South Indians, Sinhalese, Arabs

Religions(%)Sunni Muslim
Languages(%)Maldivian Dhivehi (dialect of Sinhala, script derived from Arabic), English spoken by most government officials

Country nameconventional long form: Republic of Maldives
conventional short form: Maldives
local long form: Dhivehi Raajjeyge Jumhooriyyaa
local short form: Dhivehi Raajje
Government typerepublic
Capitalname: Male
geographic coordinates: 4 10 N, 73 30 E
time difference: UTC+5 (10 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions19 atolls (atholhu, singular and plural) and 1 capital city*; Alifu, Baa, Dhaalu, Faafu, Gaafu Alifu, Gaafu Dhaalu, Gnaviyani, Haa Alifu, Haa Dhaalu, Kaafu, Laamu, Lhaviyani, Maale* (Male), Meemu, Noonu, Raa, Seenu, Shaviyani, Thaa, Vaavu
Constitutionnew constitution ratified 7 August 2008

Legal systembased on Islamic law with admixtures of English common law primarily in commercial matters; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Suffrage21 years of age; universal
Executive branchchief of state: President Mohamed "Anni" NASHEED (since 11 November 2008); Vice President Mohamed WAHEED Hassan Maniku (since 11 November 2008); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Mohamed "Anni" NASHEED (since 11 November 2008); Vice President Mohamed WAHEED Hassan Maniku (since 11 November 2008)
cabinet: Cabinet of Ministers appointed by the president
elections: under the new constitution, the president is elected by direct vote; president elected for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held 8 and 28 October 2008 (next to be held in 2013)
election results: Mohamed NASHEED elected president; percent of vote - NASHEED 54.25%, Maumoon Abdul GAYOOM 45.75%

Legislative branchunicameral People's Council or People's Majlis (77 seats; members elected by direct vote to serve five-year terms); note - the Majlis in February 2009 passed legislation that increased the number of seats to 77 from 50
elections: last held 9 May 2009 (next to be held in 2014)
election results: percent of vote - DRP 36.8%, MDP 32.9 %, PA 9.2%, DQP 2.6% AP 1.3%, independents 17.1%; seats by party - DRP 28, MDP 25, PA 7, DQP 2, AP 1, independents 13; note - one seat unfilled

Judicial branchSupreme Court; Supreme Court judges are appointed by the president with approval of voting members of the People's Council; High Court; Trial Courts; all lower court judges are appointed by the Judicial Service Commission

Political pressure groups and leadersother: various unregistered political parties
Flag descriptionred with a large green rectangle in the center bearing a vertical white crescent; the closed side of the crescent is on the hoist side of the flag

Economy - overviewTourism, Maldives' largest industry, accounts for 28% of GDP and more than 60% of foreign exchange receipts. Over 90% of government tax revenue comes from import duties and tourism-related taxes. Fishing is the second leading sector. Agriculture and manufacturing continue to play a lesser role in the economy, constrained by the limited availability of cultivable land and the shortage of domestic labor. Most staple foods must be imported. Industry, which consists mainly of garment production, boat building, and handicrafts, accounts for about 7% of GDP. The Maldivian Government began an economic reform program in 1989 initially by lifting import quotas and opening some exports to the private sector. Subsequently, it has liberalized regulations to allow more foreign investment. Real GDP growth averaged over 7.5% per year for more than a decade. In late December 2004, a major tsunami left more than 100 dead, 12,000 displaced, and property damage exceeding $300 million. As a result of the tsunami, the GDP contracted by about 4.6% in 2005. A rebound in tourism, post-tsunami reconstruction, and development of new resorts helped the economy recover quickly, with GDP growth registering 18% in 2006. Growth slowed in 2007-08, but remained above 5% per year. The trade deficit expanded sharply as a result of high oil prices and imports of construction material. Government spending on social needs, subsidies, and civil servant salaries have created a large budget deficit and inflation has picked up sharply, reaching nearly 13% in October 2008 due to high oil and food prices. Diversifying beyond tourism and fishing, reforming public finance, and increasing employment are the major challenges facing the government. Over the longer term Maldivian authorities worry about the impact of erosion and possible global warming on their low-lying country; 80% of the area is 1 meter or less above sea level.
GDP (purchasing power parity)$1.723 billion (2008 est.)
$1.628 billion (2007 est.)
$1.519 billion (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
GDP (official exchange rate)$1.261 billion (2008 est.)
GDP - real growth rate(%)5.8% (2008 est.)
7.2% (2007 est.)
18% (2006 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$4,500 (2008 est.)
$4,500 (2007 est.)
$4,400 (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
GDP - composition by sector(%)agriculture: 7%
industry: 17%
services: 76% (2006 est.)
Labor force136,100 (2007)

Labor force - by occupation(%)agriculture: 22%
industry: 18%
services: 60% (1995)
Unemployment rate(%)14.4% (2006 est.)
Population below poverty line(%)21% (2004)
Household income or consumption by percentage share(%)lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Budgetrevenues: $762 million (including foreign grants)
expenditures: $884 million (2008 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices)(%)12.8% (October 2008 est.)
5% (2007 est.)

Stock of money$475.2 million (31 December 2008)
$344.1 million (31 December 2007)
Stock of quasi money$487.8 million (31 December 2008)
$434.9 million (31 December 2007)
Stock of domestic credit$1.548 billion (31 December 2008)
$1.08 billion (31 December 2007)
Market value of publicly traded shares$NA
Economic aid - recipient$66.83 million (2005)

Agriculture - productscoconuts, corn, sweet potatoes; fish
Industriestourism, fish processing, shipping, boat building, coconut processing, garments, woven mats, rope, handicrafts, coral and sand mining

Industrial production growth rate(%)-0.9% (2004 est.)

Current account balance-$638 million (2008 est.)
-$472 million (2007 est.)
Exports$113 million (2008 est.)
$167 million (2006 est.)

Exports - commodities(%)fish
Exports - partners(%)Thailand 34.4%, UK 13.8%, France 12.2%, Italy 9%, Sri Lanka 8.5% (2008)
Imports$1.276 billion (2008 est.)
$930 million (2006 est.)

Imports - commodities(%)petroleum products, ships, foodstuffs, clothing, intermediate and capital goods
Imports - partners(%)Singapore 27.2%, UAE 16.9%, Malaysia 9.7%, India 7.7%, Thailand 4.9%, Sri Lanka 4.6%, Germany 4.1% (2008)

Debt - external$477 million (2008 est.)
$482 million (2006 est.)

Exchange ratesrufiyaa (MVR) per US dollar - 12.8 (2008), 12.8 (2007), 12.8 (2006), 12.8 (2005), 12.8 (2004)

Currency (code)rufiyaa (MVR)

Telephones - main lines in use50,396 (2009)
Telephones - mobile cellular450,500 (2009)
Telephone systemgeneral assessment: telephone services have improved; each island now has at least 1 public telephone, and there are mobile cellular networks with a rapidly expanding subscribership that exceeds 100 per 100 persons
domestic: interatoll communication through microwave links; all inhabited islands and resorts are connected with telephone and fax service
international: country code - 960; linked to international submarine cable Fiber-Optic Link Around the Globe (FLAG); satellite earth station - 3 Intelsat (Indian Ocean) (2009)
Internet country code.mv
Internet users71,700 (2008)
Airports5 (2009)
Roadways(km)total: 88 km
paved roads: 88 km - 60 km in Male; 14 km on Addu Atolis; 14 km on Laamu
note: village roads are mainly compacted coral (2006)

Ports and terminalsMale
Military branchesMaldives National Defense Force (MNDF): Rapid Reaction Force, Security Protection Group, Coast Guard (2009)
Military service age and obligation(years of age)18 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription (2008)
Manpower available for military servicemales age 16-49: 89,505
females age 16-49: 85,745 (2008 est.)
Manpower fit for military servicemales age 16-49: 138,746
females age 16-49: 82,247 (2009 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annuallymale: 4,576
female: 3,942 (2009 est.)
Military expenditures(% of GDP)5.5% of GDP (2005 est.)
Military - notethe Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF), with its small size and with little serviceable equipment, is inadequate to prevent external aggression and is primarily tasked to reinforce the Maldives Police Service (MPS) and ensure security in the exclusive economic zone (2008)
Disputes - internationalnone

Refugees and internally displaced personsIDPs: 1,000-10,000 (December 2004 tsunami victims) (2007)
Electricity - production(kWh)205 million kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - production by source(%)fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Electricity - consumption(kWh)190.7 million kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - exports(kWh)0 kWh (2008 est.)
Electricity - imports(kWh)0 kWh (2008 est.)
Oil - production(bbl/day)0 bbl/day (2008 est.)
Oil - consumption(bbl/day)6,000 bbl/day (2008 est.)
Oil - exports(bbl/day)0 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil - imports(bbl/day)5,406 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil - proved reserves(bbl)0 bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
Natural gas - production(cu m)0 cu m (2008 est.)
Natural gas - consumption(cu m)0 cu m (2008 est.)
Natural gas - exports(cu m)0 cu m (2008)
Natural gas - proved reserves(cu m)0 cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate(%)0.1% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDSfewer than 100 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deathsNA
Literacy(%)definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 96.3%
male: 96.2%
female: 96.4% (2000 census)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)(years)total: 12 years
male: 12 years
female: 12 years (2006)
Education expenditures(% of GDP)8% of GDP (2006)

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