Republic of Maldives
Dhivehi Raajjeyge Jumhooriyyaa
CAPITAL : Malé
FLAG : The national flag consists of a white crescent at the center of a green field which, in turn, is at the center of a red field.
ANTHEM : Gavmii mi erkuverikan matii tibegen kuriime salaam (In National Unity Do We Salute Our Nation).
MONETARY UNIT : The Maldivian rupee, or rufiyaa ( MR ), is a paper currency of 100 laris. There are notes of ½, 1, 2, 5, 10, 50, and 100 rufiyaa. The dollar circulates freely and is the only currency accepted at some resorts. MR 1 = $0.0784 (or $1 = MR 12.75) as of January 2003.
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES : The metric system has been adopted, but some local units remain in use.
HOLIDAYS : National Day, 7 January; Independence Day, 26 July; Republic Day, 11 November; Fishermen's Day, 10 December. 'Id al-Fitr, 'Id al-'Adha', and Milad an-Nabi are some of the Muslim religious holidays observed.
TIME : 5 PM = noon GMT.
The islands vary from tiny banks to real islets. Some of the islands are in process of formation and are constantly increasing in size; others are gradually washing away. The islands are level and extremely low-lying, with elevations rarely exceeding 1.8 m (6 ft) above sea level. Many contain freshwater lagoons.
Inter-island migration is limited to settlement in Malé; between 1967 and 2000, population in the capital rose from one-tenth to nearly one-quarter of the national total. In 1999, the net migration rate was zero. The total number of migrants in 2000 was 3,000. The government views the migration levels as satisfactory.
The Maldivian language, called Divehi, is similar to the old Sinhala (Elu) of Ceylon. It has contributed the word atoll to international terminology. In recent years, the language has been influenced by Arabic and Urdu. Thaana, developed during the 17th century, is the corresponding script, written from right to left. English is spoken by most government officials, but only by a small number of the Maldivian population.
There are no organized political parties. While not banned, they are officially discouraged. Candidates for office stand for election as independents and campaign on their family and personal stature.
The armed forces of the Maldives consist of a paramilitary national security service and militia of a few hundred. Armed boats patrol the territorial waters to protect the local fishing industry. Military expenditures amounted to $34.5 million in 2001 or 8.6% of GDP.
Fodder is insufficient for more than a few head of cattle, but there are many goats and chickens.
There are no forests as such. Coconut wood, however, is used in the building of boats and the construction of houses. Imports of forest products amounted to $4.2 million in 2000.
There were no known mineral resources.
Mechanized fishing operations have been the focus of research and development efforts since the 1980s, with the help of UNDP.
No recent information is available.
Customs duties are a primary source of government revenues and vary from 5–20% on essentials to 35–200% on luxury goods. Staple commodities (rice, wheat, flour, and sugar) and specified medicines and textbooks are duty-free. Import duties comprised 63% of government tax revenue in 1997. Duties on consumer goods were reduced in May 1988.
A National Library founded in 1945 contains 30,000 volumes and serves as a public library facility. A National Museum was founded in 1952 in Malé to conserve and display historical items.
Several sport clubs and a Muslim religious organization operate in Malé. The Maldives National Chamber of Commerce and Industry is also in Malé along with the Maldives Traders' Association. The Maldives National Youth Council was formed in 1984 to assist in organizing national programs for youth. Scouting programs are available for youth as well.
Maldives has no territories or colonies.
Cambridge Encyclopedia of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, and the Maldives, The . Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1989.
Chawla, Subash. The New Maldives . Colombo, Sri Lanka: Diana Agencies, 1986.
Haq, Khadija. Crisis of Government in South Asia. New York: Mahbub ul Haq Foundation, 1999.
Heyerdahl, Thor. The Maldive Mystery. Bethesda, Md.: Adler and Adler, 1986.
Reynolds, C. H. B. Maldives. Santa Barbara, CA: Clio Press, 1993.