Republic of Maldives

  • ދިވެހިރާއްޖޭގެ ޖުމްހޫރިއްޔާ (Dhivehi)
  • Dhivehi Raajjeyge Jumhooriyyaa
Anthem: Qaumii salaam
National Salute
Location of Maldives in the Indian Ocean
Location of Maldives in the Indian Ocean
Location of Maldives
Official languagesDhivehi
Recognised languagesEnglish
Ethnic groups
≈100% Maldiviansa[1][2][3]
Islam (mandated by law)
GovernmentUnitary presidential republic
• President
Ibrahim Mohamed Solih[4]
Faisal Naseem
Mohamed Nasheed[5]
Abdulla Areef (interim)
LegislaturePeople's Majlis
• from the United Kingdom
26 July 1965
7 August 2008
• Total
298[6] km2 (115 sq mi) (187th)
• 2018 estimate
392,473 (175th)
• 2014 census
• Density
1,102.5/km2 (2,855.5/sq mi) (11th)
GDP (PPP)2019 estimate
• Total
Increase $8.608 billion[8] (162nd)
• Per capita
Increase $23,154[8] (69th)
GDP (nominal)2019 estimate
• Total
Increase $5.749 billion[8]
• Per capita
Increase $15,463[8]
Gini (2005–2013)37.4[9]
medium · 76th (CIA)
HDI (2017)Increase 0.717[10]
high · 101st
CurrencyMaldivian rufiyaa (MVR)
Time zoneUTC+5 (Maldives Time)
Date formatdd/mm/yy
Driving sideleft
Calling code+960
ISO 3166 codeMV
  1. Excluding foreign nationals

The Maldives (z/, US: z/ (About this soundlisten); Dhivehi: ދިވެހިރާއްޖެ Dhivehi Raajje), officially the Republic of Maldives, is a small island nation in South Asia, located in the Arabian Sea of the Indian Ocean. It lies southwest of Sri Lanka and India, about 1,000 kilometres (620 mi) from the Asian continent. The chain of 26 atolls stretches from Ihavandhippolhu Atoll in the north to Addu Atoll in the south. Comprising a territory spanning roughly 298 square kilometres (115 sq mi), the Maldives is one of the world's most geographically dispersed sovereign states as well as the smallest Asian country by land area and population, with around 515,696 inhabitants. Malé is the capital and the most populated city, traditionally called the "King's Island" for its central location.

The Maldives archipelago is located on the Chagos-Laccadive Ridge, a vast submarine mountain range in the Indian Ocean, which also forms a terrestrial ecoregion, together with the Chagos Archipelago and Lakshadweep.[11] With an average ground-level elevation of 1.5 metres (4 ft 11 in) above sea level,[12] it is the world's lowest-lying country, with even its highest natural point being one of the lowest in the world, at 5.1 metres (17 ft).[12] Due to the consequent risks posed by rising sea levels, the government pledged in 2009 to make the Maldives a carbon-neutral country by 2019.[13][needs update]

Islam was introduced to the Maldivian archipelago in the 12th century which was consolidated as a sultanate, developing strong commercial and cultural ties with Asia and Africa. From the mid-16th-century, the region came under the increasing influence of European colonial powers, with the Maldives becoming a British protectorate in 1887. Independence from the United Kingdom was granted in 1965 and a presidential republic was established in 1968 with an elected People's Majlis. The ensuing decades have been characterised by political instability, efforts at democratic reform,[14] and environmental challenges posed by climate change.[15]

The Maldives is a founding member of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). It is also a member of the United Nations, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and the Non Aligned Movement. The World Bank classifies the Maldives as having an upper middle income economy.[16] Fishing has historically been the dominant economic activity, and remains the largest sector by far, followed by the rapidly growing tourism industry. Maldives is rated "high" on the Human Development Index,[10] with its per capita income significantly higher than other SAARC nations.[17]

The Maldives was a member of the Commonwealth from July 1982 until its withdrawal from the organisation in October 2016 in protest at international criticism of its record with regard to corruption and human rights.


According to legends the first settlers of the Maldives were people known as Dheyvis.[18] The first Kingdom of the Maldives was known as Dheeva Maari. In the 3rd century BC during the visit of emissaries sent by Emperor Asoka, Maldives was known as Dheeva Mahal.[19]

During c. 1100 - 1166 , Maldives was also referred as Diva Kudha and the Laccadive archipelago which was a part of Maldives was then referred to as Diva Khanbar by the scholar and polymath al-Biruni (973-1048).[20]

The name Maldives may also derive from Tamil mālai (garland) and dvīpa (island),[21] or මාල දිවයින Maala Divaina ("Necklace Islands") in Sinhala.[22] The Maldivian people are called Dhivehin. The word Dheeb/Deeb (archaic Dhivehi, related to Sanskrit द्वीप, dvīpa) means "island", and Dhives (Dhivehin) means "islanders" (i.e., Maldivians).[citation needed]

The ancient Sri Lankan chronicle Mahawamsa refers to an island called Mahiladiva ("Island of Women", महिलादिभ) in Pali, which is probably a mistranslation of the same Sanskrit word meaning "garland".

Jan Hogendorn, Grossman Professor of Economics,[where?] theorises that the name Maldives derives from the Sanskrit mālādvīpa (मालाद्वीप), meaning "garland of islands".[21] In Tamil, "Garland of Islands" can be translated as Malai Theevu (மாலைத்தீவு).[23] In Malayalam, "Garland of Islands" can be translated as Maladweepu (മാലദ്വീപ്).[citation needed] In Kannada, "Garland of Islands" can be translated as Maaledweepa (ಮಾಲೆದ್ವೀಪ).[citation needed] None of these names is mentioned in any literature,[citation needed] but classical Sanskrit texts dating back to the Vedic period mention the "Hundred Thousand Islands" (Lakshadweepa), a generic name which would include not only the Maldives, but also the Laccadives, Aminidivi Islands, Minicoy, and the Chagos island groups.[24][non-primary source needed]

Some medieval travellers such as Ibn Battuta called the islands Mahal Dibiyat (محل دبيأت) from the Arabic word mahal ("palace"), which must be how the Berber traveller interpreted the local name, having been through Muslim North India, where Perso-Arabic words were introduced to the local vocabulary.[25] This is the name currently inscribed on the scroll in the Maldive state emblem.[citation needed] The classical Persian/Arabic name for Maldives is Dibajat.[26][27] The Dutch referred to the islands as the Maldivische Eilanden (pronounced [mɑlˈdivisə ˈʔɛilɑndə(n)]),[citation needed] while the British anglicised the local name for the islands first to the "Maldive Islands" and later to "Maldives".[citation needed]

Garcia da Orta writes in a conversational book first published in 1563, writes as follows: "I must tell you that I have heard it said that the natives do not call it Maldiva but Nalediva. In the Malabar language nale means four and diva island. So that in that language the word signifies "four islands," while we, corrupting the name, call it Maldiva."[28]