Fast Facts

Population:
294,000
Capital:
Male; 83,000
Area:
298 square kilometers (115 square miles)
Language:
Maldivian Dhivehi, (dialect of Sinhala), English
Religion:
Sunni Muslim
Currency:
Rufiyaa
Life Expectancy:
67
GDP per Capita:
U.S. $3,900
Literacy Percent:
97
Flag: Maldives
Map: Maldives

The island nation of Maldives is south of India in the Indian Ocean. The islands are small, and none rise more than 1.8 meters (6 feet) above sea level. Like necklaces draped along an undersea plateau, 1,200 coral islands—about 200 inhabited—form the Maldives.

In 1968, three years after independence from Britain, the sultanate gave way to an Islamic republic. Visitors and fishing sustain the economy, and the tourism industry has successfully rebounded after being badly hit by the December 2006 Indian Ocean tsunami. In 2007 more than 650,000 tourists visited this island nation.

ECONOMY

  • Industry: Fish processing, tourism, shipping, boat building, coconut processing
  • Agriculture: Coconuts, corn, sweet potatoes; fish
  • Exports: Fish, clothing

—Text From National Geographic Atlas of the World, Eighth Edition

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