Maldives at Glance
|The Republic of Maldives has become a major tourist destination over the past few years and here including some useful information about the country.|
|A nation of islands, the Republic of the Maldives is a group of 1190 coral islands that form an archipelago of 26 major atolls. 202 of these islands are inhabited and more than 90 of these are exclusive resort islands with long white sandy beaches bordered by tropical waters. The capital city of Male is a small island in the middle of the atoll chain and is home to a third (about 75,000) of the Maldives’ entire population. The Maldives offer many water-based activities including scuba and snorkeling, boating and island hopping, parasailing and water-skiing. The people are gorgeous and the fishing is great, as are the resorts and beaches. If you’re after a real island experience, then the Maldives are calling your name.|
|The climate of Maldives is warm year round, determined by the monsoons. However, being on the equator, the monsoons are mild and not as defined as in neighboring countries. Of the two monsoons, the southwest monsoon from May to October brings some rain and wind. The northeast monsoon, from November to April, is the dry season with very little wind. The temperature varies little with an annual average daily maximum of 30.4 degrees Celsius and the minimum at 25.9 degrees Celsius.|
|The fact that the Maldives is located at the equator, Maldives receives plentiful of sunshine throughout the year. On average Southern atolls (Gan) of the Maldives receives 2704.07 hours of sunshine each year. Furthermore, on average central (Hulhule) parts of the country receives 2784.51 hours of sunshine per year.|
|Since very ancient times, the Maldives were ruled by kings (Radun) and occasionally queens (Ranin). Historically Maldives has had a strategic importance because of its location on the major marine routes of the Indian Ocean. Maldives’ nearest neighbors are Sri Lanka and India, both of which have had cultural and economic ties with Maldives for centuries. The Maldives provided the main source of cowries shells, then used as a currency throughout Asia and parts of the East African coast.
After the 16th century, when European colonial powers took over much of the trade in the Indian Ocean, first the Portuguese, and then the Dutch, and the French occasionally meddled with local politics. However, these interferences ended when the Maldives became a British Protectorate in the 19th century and the Maldivian monarchs were granted a good measure of self-governance.
|Maldives gained total independence from the British in 1965. However, the, continued to maintain an air base on the island of Gan in the southernmost atoll until 1976. The British departure in 1976 at the height of the Cold War almost immediately triggered foreign speculation about the future of the air base. Apparently the Soviet Union made a move to request the use of the base, but the Maldives refused.
The greatest challenge facing the republic in the early 1990s was the need for rapid economic development and modernization, given the country’s limited resource base in fishing, agriculture and tourism. Concern was also evident over a projected long-term rise in sea level, which would prove disastrous to the low-lying coral islands.
|Maldivian culture is derived from a number of sources, the most important of which are its proximity to the shores of Sri Lanka and South India. The population is mainly Indo-Aryan from the anthropological point of view.
The language is from Indo-Iranian Sanskritic origin, which points at a later influence from the North of the Subcontinent. The Dhivehi language is closely related to Sinhala. According to the legends, the kingly dynasty that ruled the country in the past has its origin there.
|Possibly these ancient kings brought Buddhism from the Subcontinent, but it is not clear. In Sri Lanka there are similar legends, but it is improbable that the ancient Maldives royals and Buddhism came both from that island because none of the Sri Lankan chronicles mentions the Maldives. It is unlikely that the ancient chronicles of Sri Lanka would have failed to mention the Maldives if a branch of its kingdom would have extended itself to the Maldives Islands.
|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. 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. The Maldivian Government implemented economic reforms, beginning in 1989 that initially lifted import quotas, opened some exports to the private sector, and liberalized regulations to allow more foreign investment.
|The spectacular beauty of these coral islands made the Maldives one of the most popular holiday destinations in the world. People had visited these islands to trade with the inhabitants and by chance when their ships ran off course or were shipwrecked in the shallow reefs of the Maldives. The sheer natural beauty of the country and the warm hospitality of her dwellers captivated almost all of them.
From a very humble beginning in the 1970s the tourism in the Maldives has evolved and matured into an industry, which is a key player of the domestic economy. Tourism in the Maldives began in 1972 with 2 tourist resorts namely Kurumba Village and Bandos Island Resort with a bed capacity of 280. By 1987 the total number of resorts increased to 57, while their bed capacity rose to 6203 beds.
|After 29 years of sustainable growth in the industry the number of resorts in 2000 stands at 87, having a total bed capacity of more than 15,000 in resort islands. There were more than 2500 beds in other tourist accommodating facilities such as hotels, guesthouses and safari vessels. Today tourism contributes over 19% to the country’s GDP, generating more than 70% of foreign exchange earnings and more than 40% of government revenues. The number of in-bound tourists to the country increased tremendously from 1097 tourist in 1972 to 395,725 in 1998.
|Each resort is located on an island with self contained facilities such as power plants, cold rooms, desalination plants, sewage and waste disposal systems, staff quarters, transport services and diving facilities etc. Each resort is designed differently and every island is unique despite the typical tropical environment of the Maldives. Guestrooms are generally built in single story though very few resorts have two story rooms. Most of them have thatched roofs and are built of timber, environmentally friendly materials, corals and bricks.|