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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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Geography

Location
Southern Asia, group of atolls in the Indian Ocean, south-southwest of India

Geographic coordinates
3 15 N, 73 00 E

Map references
Asia

Area World Ranking: 209
Total 298 sq km
Land 298 sq km
Water 0 sq km

Area - comparative
About 1.7 times the size of Washington, DC

Land boundaries
0 km

Coastline
644 km

Maritime claims
Measured from claimed archipelagic straight baselines
Territorial sea 12 nm
Contiguous zone 24 nm
Exclusive economic zone 200 nm

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

Terrain
Flat, with white sandy beaches

Elevation extremes
Lowest point Indian Ocean 0 m
Highest point
Unnamed location on Viligili in the Addu Atholhu 2.4 m

Natural resources
Fish

Land use
Arable land 13.33%
Permanent crops 30%
Other 56.67% (2005)

Irrigated land
NA

Total renewable water resources
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 hazards
Tsunamis; low elevation of islands makes them sensitive to sea level rise

Environment - current issues
Depletion of freshwater aquifers threatens water supplies; global warming and sea level rise; coral reef bleaching

Environment - international agreements
Party 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 - note
1,190 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


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  Maldives (Male):


  GPS points from Maldives (Male)

Wataru Maldives (general)

Haa Alifu Atholhu Haa Alifu Atholhu

Kudu Maldives (general)

Guradu Maldives (general)

Kandu Gandu Maldives (general)

Laam Atoll Laamu Atholhu

Maale Atholhu Kaafu Atholhu

Wadu Maldives (general)




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