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Maldives

Maldives

Summary

The Maldives are made up of over 1,000 islands. The country gained independence from the UK in 1965, but did not finalize a constitution until 2008. The Maldives’ official religion is Islam, and people must identify as Muslim in order to gain citizenship. Following any other religion is cause for harassment and even incarceration. Education has improved significantly in the decade leading up to 2018. Waste management is becoming a greater issue as the country’s “trash island,” Thilafushi, becomes overfilled with waste.1 1 https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/mv.html

Demographics

Nationality
Maldivian
Population
393,988 (July 2013 est.)
Ethnic Groups
Languages
Religions

Explore Maldives Subcases

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Environment
Human Rights
Education
Poverty
Religion
Clean Water
Economy
Government
Health
Children
Family
Animals

Environment

As an island nation, rising sea levels are very concerning for the Maldives. Much of the land on the islands is only one meter above sea level.1 One major issue for the population is waste management. The current solution is shipping all of the country’s waste to Thilafushi, an island off the coast of Male that serves as a trash can for the rest of the country.2

Human Rights

The Maldives has had several human rights violations over the past few years. The most notable were the interference of the Supreme Court in presidential elections, religious freedom restrictions, and pervasive corruption within the judicial and executive branches of the government. Freedom of expression and assembly are also limited.1 It has recently come to the attention of the United Nations that the Maldives has approved the use of capital punishment in the islands and it permits children over the age of seven to be sentenced to death if they are convicted of committing intentional murder.2

Education

The government in Maldives has placed a great emphasis on improving educational opportunities for children; net enrollment for primary education went from 51% in 2001 to 99% in 2016. As part of UNICEF’s Tsunami Recovery Program, teachers travelled to children in remote locations who didn’t have the means to get to school.1 99% of the adult population is literate, and 5.7% of GDP is spent on education.2 The government has been very active in the promotion of gender equality and closing the gender gap within in schools. The Maldives have seen a large increase in the number of women enrolled in both primary and tertiary education.1

Poverty

Although the Maldives is classified as a middle-income country, there is still severe income disparity between islands and inequality is widespread. 16% of the population of the Maldives lives below the international poverty line. 11% of the population is unemployed.1 The United Nations Development Programme states that the government needs more accountability measures, and there need to be more protections against environmental degradation in order to help protect the livelihoods of rural populations.2

Religion

The Maldives is an Islamic Republic of 1,191 islands. Islam is the only recognized religion in the islands and only people who are Muslims may become citizens. Openly practicing any other religion besides Islam is strictly forbidden and those who dare to do so are harassed, facing incarceration or torture.The laws require that citizens practice only Sunni Islam. The government and legal system prohibit propagation of other religious faiths, and other religions symbols are not permitted to be displayed.2

Clean Water

Over 99% of the population has access to clean water in the Maldives, but only 97% have access to improved sanitation facilities.1 Many of the smaller and less populated islands have been relying on imported water, but the government has been working with international organizations to help provide and fund desalination facilities to reduce the reliance on expensive imported water.2

Economy

Tourism is by far the most lucrative economic activity of the Maldives and accounts for 30% of the total GDP and 60% of foreign exchange. The government is focused on diversifying the economy beyond tourism, fishing, and agriculture in order to support economic growth.1 One of the biggest challenges within the economy is the lack of direct taxation of citizens and the heavy reliance on import and tourism taxes. Additionally, there is widespread corruption within in the economic processes and severe restrictions on private-sector participation.2 The unemployment rate is 11% of the population, and 16% of people live below the poverty line. The country’s only main export is fish, while imports include petroleum products, clothing, and capital goods.3

Government

The Republic of Maldives is a presidential republic. The former British colony has a president as the head of the government and chief of state. There are five major political parties, but there are also a variety of parties not registered with the state. The constitution was finalized in 2008, but the Maldives faced many challenges before becoming a successful democracy. Some of the problems included combating poverty and drug trafficking.1 Corruption has continued to be an issue for the government of the Maldives, so much so that an independent auditor was necessary to increase transparency and rid the country of corruption. Additionally, the judicial system is not independent and extremely lengthy pretrial detentions are common.2

Health

The overall health of Maldivians has greatly improved in the past decade. Through nationwide vaccination programs, polio, tuberculosis, and other communicable diseases have been almost eradicated.1 The average life expectancy in the Maldives is 76 years, and the government spends about 14% of GDP on healthcare. 9% of citizens are obese, and 18% of children under the age of five are underweight. The maternal mortality rate is 68 deaths per 100,000 live births, and the infant mortality rate is 22 deaths per 1,000 live births.2

Children

Since the Maldives consist of around 1,000 islands, many of which are uninhabited, the country has become a destination and source for human trafficking and child forced labor. Many children’s rights abuses happen against those who come from undocumented families. These immigrant families sometimes have their travel documents confiscated and often are not paid minimum wage.1 A majority of abducted children are transported to Male, the largest island. They are often victims of child abuse and are forced into labor or prostitution.

Family

In 2012, the Maldivian government created and passed the Domestic Violence Prevention Act, which was the first time that legislation of this sort was officially passed. One of the issue with this law to date is the inability of the system to actually carry out prosecution of those accused of gender-based violence or domestic abuse. There is strong societal pressure not to report any gender-based violence to the authorities, and those who do often later redact their reports.1

Animals

The Maldives, along with other island atolls in the Indian Ocean are crucial havens for a variety of seabirds and nesting spots for sea turtles. The highest islands are no more than five meters above sea level. Many of the species on the islands are from Africa, Malaysia, or Sri Lanka. The only native animals on the Maldives are the fruit bat, Indian flying fox, and another rare flying fox species. The green turtle, Olive Ridley turtle, leatherback turtle, and loggerhead turtles all nest on the islands. These animals are threatened by the rapid growth of the tourism industry and the resulting increase in trash volume.11

Maldives

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