Maldives

Region: Southern Asia

Capital: Malé

Population:320,100 (UNDP 2011)

Surface area: 300 sq km

Currency: Rufiyaa (MVR)

GDP per capita: Purchasing power parity US $8,400 (2011 CIA est.)

Background:

The Maldives was long a sultanate, first under Dutch and then under British protection. It became a republic in 1968, three years after independence. Since 1978, President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom – currently in his sixth term in office – has dominated the islands’ political scene. 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 has been slow, however, and many promised reforms have been slow to come to fruition. Nonetheless, political parties were legalized in 2005. A constituent assembly – termed the “special majlis” – has pledged to complete the drafting of a new constitution by the end of 2007 and first-ever presidential elections under a multi-candidate, multi-party system are slated for November 2008. Tourism and fishing are being developed on the archipelago.

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 (GST) 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. (CIA, 2012)


Major Export Commodities: fish

Remittances:4 million USD (World Bank 2011 est.)

Human Development Index 2011: 109 out of 187 countries (UNDP 2011)

Official Development Assistance and Major Development Partners: Net ODA US $111 million
Major development partners include: Japan, AsDB Special Funds, IDA, Denmark, E.U. Institutions, Australia (OECD 2010)

Total External Debt: US $943 million (2010 CIA est.)

Life Expectancy at Birth: 76.8 years

Environmental Indicators:

                                              Endangered Species (as a % of all species):10

                                              Forested Area (percentage of land area): 3.0

                                              CO2 Emissions (tonnes per capita): 3.0

                                              (Data Source: UNDP 2011)

United Nations Membership date: 21 September 1965 

New York Mission:

Permanent Mission of the Republic of Maldives to the United Nations

800 Second Avenue,Suite 400E

New York, N.Y.10017USA

Telephone: 212-599-6194, 6195

Fax: 212-661-6405

Website: www.maldivesmission.com

Sources:

CIA World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency. www.cia.gov

World Development Indicators. World Bank www.worldbank.org

Development, Recipient Aid Charts. Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. www.oecd.org

Human Development Report 2011.United Nations Development Programme. www.undp.org

Updated July 2012