Geographic and Governmental Profile of Maldives

Background
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.
Location
Southern Asia, group of atolls in the Indian Ocean, south-southwest of India
Geographic coordinates
3 15 N, 73 00 E
Continent / Subcontinent
Asia
Area
total:
298 sq km
rank:
209
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)
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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
Country name
conventional long form:
Republic of Maldives
conventional short form:
Maldives
local long form:
Dhivehi Raajjeyge Jumhooriyyaa
local short form:
Dhivehi Raajje
Government type
republic
Capital
name:
Male
geographic coordinates:
4 10 N, 73 30 E
time difference:
UTC+5 (10 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions
7 provinces and 1 municipality*; Dhekunu (South), Maale*, Mathi Dhekunu (Upper South), Mathi Uthuru (Upper North), Medhu (Central), Medhu Dhekunu (South Central), Medhu Uthuru (North Central), Uthuru (North)
Independence
26 July 1965 (from the UK)
Constitution
new constitution ratified 7 August 2008
Legal system
Islamic religious legal system with English common law influences, primarily in commercial matters
International law organization participation
has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt
Suffrage
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch
chief of state:
President Mohamed WAHEED Hassan Maniku (since 8 February 2012); Vice President Mohamed Waheed DEEN (since 22 February 2012); note - the president is both chief of state and head of government
head of government:
President Mohamed WAHEED Hassan Maniku (since 7 February 2012)
cabinet:
Cabinet of Ministers is appointed by the president
elections:
under the new constitution, the president is elected by direct vote; president elected for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 8 and 28 October 2008 (next to be held in 2013)
election results:
Mohamed NASHEED elected president; percent of vote - Mohamed NASHEED 54.3%, Maumoon Abdul GAYOOM 45.7%; note - Mohamed NASHEED resigned the presidency on 7 February 2012 following weeks of public protests over his controversial order to arrest a senior judge, and Vice President Mohamed WAHEED Hassan Maniku assumed the presidency
Legislative branch
unicameral People's Council or People's Majlis (77 seats; members elected by direct vote to serve five-year terms); note - the Majlis in February 2009 passed legislation that increased the number of seats to 77 from 50
elections:
last held on 9 May 2009 (next to be held in 2014)
election results:
percent of vote - DRP 36.4%, MDP 33.8 %, PA 9.1%, DQP 2.6% Republican Party 1.2%, independents 16.9%; seats by party as of October 2011 - MDP 35, DRP 17, PPM 15, JP 2, PA 2, Meedhu DHAAIRA 1, independents 5
Judicial branch
Supreme Court; Supreme Court judges are appointed by the president with approval of voting members of the People's Council; High Court; Trial Courts; all lower court judges are appointed by the Judicial Service Commission
Political parties and leaders
Adhaalath (Justice) Party or AP [Shaykh Hussein RASHEED Ahmed]; Dhivehi Qaumee Party or DQP [Hassan SAEED]; Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (Maldivian People's Party) or DRP [Ahmed THASMEEN Ali]; Gaumee Itthihaad Party (National Unity Party) or GIP [Mohamed WAHEED]; Islamic Democratic Party or IDP; Maldivian Democratic Party or MDP [Ibrahim DIDI]; Maldives National Congress or MNC; Maldives Social Democratic Party or MSDP; Meedhu Dhaaira; People's Alliance or PA [Abdullah YAMEEN]; People's Party or PP; Poverty Alleviation Party or PAP; Progressive Party of Maldives or PPM [Maumoon Abdul GAYOOM]; Republican (Jumhooree) Party or JP [Gasim IBRAHIM]; Social Liberal Party or SLP [Mazian RASHEED]
Political pressure groups and leaders
other:
various unregistered political parties
International organization participation
ADB, AOSIS, C, CP, FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS (observer), ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IPU, ITU, MIGA, NAM, OIC, OPCW, SAARC, SACEP, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Diplomatic representation in the US
chief of mission:
Ambassador Abdul GHAFOOR Mohamed
chancery:
800 2nd Avenue, Suite 400E, New York, NY 10017
telephone:
[1] (212) 599-6195
FAX:
[1] (212) 661-6405
Diplomatic representation from the US
the US does not have an embassy in Maldives; the US Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Ambassador Patricia A. BUTENIS, is accredited to Maldives and makes periodic visits
Flag description
red with a large green rectangle in the center bearing a vertical white crescent moon; the closed side of the crescent is on the hoist side of the flag; red recalls those who have sacrificed their lives in defense of their country, the green rectangle represents peace and prosperity, and the white crescent signifies Islam
National symbol(s)
crescent moon
National anthem
name:
"Gaumee Salaam" (National Salute)
lyrics/music:
Mohamed Jameel DIDI/Wannakuwattawaduge DON AMARADEVA
lyrics adopted 1948, music adopted 1972; between 1948 and 1972, the lyrics were sung to the tune of "Auld Lang Syne"
Data source 1: All Above textual data, maps and flags were extracted from The World Factbook which was prepared by the Central Intelligence Agency and made available on the following link: The World Factbook. Lebanese Economy Forum is not sponsered or affiliated, in any way, by the US Central Intelligence Agency
Data source 2: Plots and Charts are constructed using the world bank public data catalog which can be viewed by visiting the following link: World Bank Data Catalog. Lebanese Economy Forum is not sponsored or affiliated, in any way, by the worldbank

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