About Maldives

Welcome to the official website of the Embassy of Maldives in Singapore. On this website, you will find useful information on investing and doing business in the Maldives, consular services for Maldivian citizens in Singapore and visa regulations for foreign nationals travelling to the Maldives. You will also find information on the Maldives, covering political, socio economic and cultural developments in the country.

The Maldives is a group of Atolls in the Indian Ocean with 1192 islands. They stretch for about 820 km from North to South, and are 130 km at the widest point. No island exceeds a length of 7.2 Km or an altitude of 3 meters above sea-level. Approximately 200 islands are inhabited; the rest include  87 tourist resorts and uninhabited islands, some of which are used for drying fish or agricultural activities. With an average ground level of 1.5 metres above sea level, it is also the country with the lowest high-point in the world, at 2.3 metres.

Male' the capital with a population of 75.000, is the seat of government and the centre of trade, commerce, business, health and education. Male' is located in the middle of the atoll chain.

The Maldives is the smallest Asian country in terms of both population and area; it is the smallest predominantly Muslim nation in the world. Earlier,the inhabitants were Buddhist, probably since Ashoka's period in the 3rd century BC. Islam was introduced in 1153. The Maldives then came under the influence of the Portuguese (1558) and the Dutch (1654) seaborne empires. In 1887 it became a British protectorate. In 1965, the Maldives obtained independence from Britain (originally under the name "Maldive Islands"), and in 1968 the Sultanate was replaced by a Republic.

In ancient times the Maldives were renowned for cowry shells, coir rope, dried tuna fish (Maldive Fish), ambergris (Maavaharu) and coco de mer (Tavakkaashi). Local and foreign trading ships used to load these products in Sri Lanka and transport them to other harbors in the Indian Ocean. From the 2nd century AD the islands were known as the ‘Money Isles’ by the Arabs who dominated the Indian ocean trade routes— The Maldives provided enormous quantities of cowry shells, an international currency of the early ages. The cowry is now the symbol of the Maldives Monetary Authority.

The Maldivian Government began an economic reform program in 1989, initially by lifting import quotas and opening some exports to the private sector. Subsequently, it has liberalized regulations to allow more foreign investment. Real GDP growth averaged over 7.5% per year for more than a decade. Today, the Maldives' largest industry is tourism, accounting for 28% of GDP and more than 60% of the Maldives' foreign exchange receipts. Fishing is the second leading sector.

In late December 2004, a major tsunami left more than 100 dead, 12,000 displaced, and property damage exceeding $400 million. As a result of the tsunami, the GDP contracted by about 3.6% in 2005. A rebound in tourism, post-tsunami reconstruction, and development of new resorts helped the economy recover quickly and showed a 18% increase on 2006. 2007 estimates show the Maldives enjoy the highest GDP per capita $4,600 (2007 est) amongst South Asian countries excluding rich Arab Gulf countries.