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A sultanate since the 12th century, the Maldives became a British protectorate in 1887. 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 2003, 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. President NASHEED faced a number of challenges including strengthening democracy and combating poverty and drug abuse. In early February 2012, after several weeks of street protests following his sacking of a top judge, NASHEED resigned the presidency and handed over power to Vice President Mohammed WAHEED Hassan Maniku. Maldives officials have played a prominent role in international climate change discussions (due to the islands' low elevation and the threat from sea-level rise) on the United Nations Human Rights Council, and in encouraging regional cooperation, especially between India and Pakistan.


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Economy

Economy - overview
Tourism, Maldives' largest economic activity, 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, but the fish catch has dropped sharply in recent years. 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. In the last decade, real GDP growth averaged around 6% per year except for 2005, when GDP declined following the Indian Ocean tsunami, and in 2009, when GDP shrank by nearly 5% as tourist arrivals declined and capital flows plunged in the wake of the global financial crisis. Falling tourist arrivals and fish exports, combined with high government spending on social needs, subsidies, and civil servant salaries contributed to a balance of payments crisis, which was eased with a December 2009, $79.3 million IMF standby agreement. However, after the first two disbursements, the IMF withheld subsequent disbursements due to concerns over Maldives' growing budget deficit. Maldives has had chronic budget deficits in recent years and the government's plans to cut expenditures have not progressed well. A new Goods and Services Tax on tourism was introduced in January 2011 and a new Business Profit Tax is to be introduced during 2012. These taxes are expected to increase government revenue by about 25%. The government has privatized the main airport and is partially privatizing the energy sector. Tourism will remain the engine of the economy. The Government of the Maldives has aggressively promoted building new island resorts. Due to increasing tourist arrivals, GDP growth climbed to 8% in 2010 and around 6% in 2011. Diversifying the economy beyond tourism and fishing, reforming public finance, and increasing employment opportunities are 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) World Ranking: 178
$2.877 billion (2011 est.)
$2.679 billion (2010 est.)
$2.534 billion (2009 est.)
Note Data are in 2011 US dollars

Gdp (official exchange rate)
$1.944 billion (2011 est.)

Gdp - real growth rate World Ranking: 25
7.4% (2011 est.)
5.7% (2010 est.)
-4.7% (2009 est.)

Gdp - per capita (ppp) World Ranking: 118
$8,800 (2011 est.)
$8,400 (2010 est.)
$8,100 (2009 est.)
Note Data are in 2011 US dollars

Gdp - composition by sector
Agriculture 5.6%
Industry 16.9%
Services 77.5% (2009 est.)

Labor force World Ranking: 182
110,000 (2010)

Labor force - by occupation
Agriculture 11%
Industry 23%
Services 65% (2006 est.)

Unemployment rate World Ranking: 145
14.5% (2010 est.)
14.4% (2006 est.)

Population below poverty line
16% (2008)

Household income or consumption by percentage share
Lowest 10% NA%
Highest 10% NA%

Budget
Revenues $476 million
Expenditures $758 million (2010 est.)

Taxes and other revenues World Ranking: 127
24.5% of GDP (2010 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) World Ranking: 208
-14.5% of GDP (2010 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices) World Ranking: 148
6% (2010 est.)
7.3% (2009 est.)

Central bank discount rate World Ranking: 11
2.75% (31 December 2010 est.)
16% (31 December 2009 est.)

Commercial bank prime lending rate World Ranking: 62
10.2% (31 December 2011 est.)
13% (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of narrow money World Ranking: 149
$974.9 million (31 December 2011 est.)
$581 million (31 December 2009)

Stock of broad money World Ranking: 159
$1.237 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
$1.064 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of domestic credit World Ranking: 143
$1.548 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
$1.08 billion (31 December 2007 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares
$NA

Agriculture - products
Coconuts, corn, sweet potatoes; fish

Industries
Tourism, fish processing, shipping, boat building, coconut processing, garments, woven mats, rope, handicrafts, coral and sand mining

Industrial production growth rate World Ranking: 150
-0.9% (2004 est.)

Electricity - production World Ranking: 157
542 million kWh (2009 est.)

Electricity - consumption World Ranking: 161
542 million kWh (2009 est.)

Electricity - exports
0 kWh (2009 est.)

Electricity - imports
0 kWh (2009 est.)

Oil - production World Ranking: 196
0 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Oil - consumption World Ranking: 162
6,000 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Oil - exports World Ranking: 175
0 bbl/day (2009 est.)

Oil - imports World Ranking: 149
6,088 bbl/day (2009 est.)

Oil - proved reserves World Ranking: 160
0 bbl (1 January 2011 est.)

Natural gas - production World Ranking: 96
0 cu m (2009 est.)

Natural gas - consumption World Ranking: 201
0 cu m (2010 est.)

Natural gas - exports World Ranking: 140
0 cu m (2010 est.)

Natural gas - imports World Ranking: 91
0 cu m (2010 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves World Ranking: 203
0 cu m (1 January 2011 est.)

Current account balance World Ranking: 104
-$463 million (2010 est.)
-$419 million (2009 est.)

Exports World Ranking: 188
$163 million (2009 est.)
$331 million (2008 est.)

Exports - commodities
Fish

Exports - partners
France 16.9%, Thailand 16.5%, India 15.2%, UK 9.1%, Sri Lanka 8.9%, Italy 7.3%, Philippines 4.4%, Germany 4.2% (2011)

Imports World Ranking: 175
$967 million (2009 est.)
$1.388 billion (2008 est.)

Imports - commodities
Petroleum products, ships, foodstuffs, clothing, intermediate and capital goods

Imports - partners
Singapore 23.1%, UAE 17.9%, India 8.9%, China 7.1%, Malaysia 6.6%, Sri Lanka 5.3%, Thailand 4.9% (2011)

Debt - external World Ranking: 156
$943 million (2010 est.)
$933 million (2009 est.)

Exchange rates
Rufiyaa (MVR) per US dollar -
14.602 (2010)
12.8 (2008)
12.8 (2007)

Fiscal year
Calendar year


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  Maldives (Male):


  GPS points from Maldives (Male)

Suvadiva Maldives (general)

Fuah Mulah Gnyaviyani Atoll

Kuda Wataru Maldives (general)

Iliaface Island Maldives (general)

Fanaubudu Maldives (general)

Thiladunmathi Maldives (general)

Mafilefuri Maldives (general)

Tiladunmati South Haa Dhaalu Atholhu




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