|THE MALDIVES COAT OF ARMS|
Location of Maldives within the continent of Asia
Map of Maldives
Flag Description of Maldives:The Maldives flag was officially adopted on July 26, 1965.
The field of Islamic green symbolizes peace and prosperity, while the crescent is the symbol of Islam. Red was the original color of the country's first flag.
Official name Dhivehi Raajjeyge Jumhooriyyaa (Republic of Maldives)
Form of government multiparty republic with one legislative house (People’s Majlis )
Head of state and government President: Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom
Official language Dhivehi (Maldivian)
Official religion Islam
Monetary unit rufiyaa (Rf)
Population (2013 est.) 336,0002COLLAPSE
Total area (sq mi) 115
Total area (sq km) 298
- Urban: (2011) 41.2%
- Rural: (2011) 58.8%
Life expectancy at birth
- Male: (2011) 72.8 years
- Female: (2011) 74.8 years
Literacy: percentage of population age 15 and over literate
- Male: (2006) 92.5%
- Female: (2006) 94.5%
GNI per capita (U.S.$) (2013) 5,600
1Also spelled Maale and Male’.
2Excludes legal and undocumented foreign workers.
Background of Maldives
Maldives, in full Republic of Maldives, also called Maldive Islands, independent island country consisting of a chain of about 1,200 small coral islands and sandbanks (some 200 of which are inhabited), grouped in clusters, or atolls, in the north-central Indian Ocean. The islands extend more than 510 miles (820 km) from north to south and 80 miles (130 km) from east to west. The northernmost atoll is about 370 miles (600 km) south-southwest of the Indian mainland, and the central area, including the capital island of Male (Male’), is about 400 miles (645 km) southwest of Sri Lanka.
Geography of Maldives
The Maldive Islands are a series of coral atolls built up from the crowns of a submerged ancient volcanic mountain range. All the islands are low-lying, none rising to more than 6 feet (1.8 metres) above sea level. Barrier reefs protect the islands from the destructive effects of monsoons. The rainy season, from May to August, is brought by the southwest monsoon; from December to March the northeast monsoon brings dry and mild winds. The average annual temperature varies from 76 to 86 °F (24 to 30 °C). Rainfall averages about 84 inches (2,130 mm) per year. The atolls have sandy beaches, lagoons, and a luxuriant growth of coconut palms, together with breadfruit trees and tropical bushes. Fish abound in the reefs, lagoons, and seas adjoining the islands; sea turtles are caught for food and for their oil, a traditional medicine.
Demography of Maldives
The Maldivians are a mixed people, speaking an Indo-European language called Dhivehi (or Maldivian; the official language); Arabic, Hindi, and English are also spoken. Islam is the state religion. The first settlers, it is generally believed, were Tamil and Sinhalese peoples from southern India and Sri Lanka. Traders from Arab countries, Malaya, Madagascar, Indonesia, and China visited the islands through the centuries. With the exception of those living in Male, the only relatively large settlement in the country, the inhabitants of the Maldives live in villages on small islands in scattered atolls. Only about 20 of the islands have more than 1,000 inhabitants, and the southern islands are more densely populated than the northern ones. The birth rate for the Maldives is somewhat higher than the world average, but the death rate is lower. About one-third of the total population is under 15 years of age.
Economy of Maldives
One of the poorest countries in the world, Maldives has a developing economy based on fishing, tourism, boatbuilding, and boat repairing. The gross national product (GNP) per capita is among the lowest in the world. Most of the population subsists outside a money economy on fishing, coconut collecting, and the growing of vegetables and melons, roots and tubers (cassava, sweet potatoes, and yams), and tropical fruits. Cropland, scattered over many small islands, is minimal, and nearly all of the staple foods must be imported. Fishing, the traditional base of the economy, continues to be the most important sector, providing employment for approximately one-fourth of the labour force as well as accounting for a major portion of the export earnings. Tuna is the predominant fish caught, mostly by the pole-and-line method, although a good deal of the fishing fleet has been mechanized. Most of the fish catch is sold to foreign companies for processing and export.
The Maldives national shipping line forms the basis of one of the country’s commercial industries. Tourism is a fast-growing sector of the economy. Resort islands and modern hotels in Male have attracted increasing numbers of tourists during the winter months. Industries are largely of the handicraft or cottage type, including the making of coir (coconut-husk fibre) and coir products, boatbuilding, and construction. Imports include consumer goods such as food (principally rice), textiles, medicines, and petroleum products. Fish—mostly dried, frozen, or canned skipjack tuna—accounts for the bulk of exports. The United States, Sri Lanka, and Singapore are among the main trading partners. Boats provide the principal means of transport between the atolls, and scheduled shipping services link the country with Sri Lanka, Singapore, and India. There is a national airline, and the airport at Male handles international traffic.
Government and Society of Maldives
The constitution of the Maldives was adopted in 2008. The head of state and government is the president, assisted by a vice president and a cabinet. The president and vice president are directly elected by universal suffrage to a maximum of two five-year terms. The cabinet consists of the vice president, government ministers, and the attorney general. With the exception of the vice president, members of the cabinet are appointed by the president.
The unicameral legislature, called the People’s Majlis, meets at least three times per year. Its members are elected to five-year terms from Male island and from each of the 20 atoll groups into which the country is divided for administrative purposes. The number of representatives from each administrative division is determined on the basis of population, with a minimum of two per division. The 2008 constitution established Islam as the official state religion. Non-Muslims cannot become citizens, and the People’s Majlis is prohibited from making any law that contravenes the tenets of Islam. Other governmental bodies include civil service and human rights commissions.
The highest legal authority is the Supreme Court. Its judges are appointed by the president in consultation with the Judicial Service Commission, a body of 10 members appointed or elected from various branches of the government and the general public. The Judicial Service Commission independently appoints all other judges. There are no judicial term limits; the mandatory retirement age is 70. All judges must be Sunni Muslims. The Supreme Court bases decisions upon the constitution and Maldives law; in cases in which applicable law does not exist, Sharīʿah (Islamic law) is considered. Other courts are the High Court and trial courts.
Most Maldivians rely on traditional medical practices when ill; Male has a small hospital. Major illnesses include gastroenteritis, typhoid, cholera, and malaria. Life expectancy is about 68 years for men and 67 for women.
Three types of formal education are available in the Maldives, including traditional schools (makthabs) designed to teach the reading and reciting of the Qurʾān, Dhivehi-language schools, and English-language primary and secondary schools. The English-language schools are the only ones that teach a standard curriculum and offer secondary-level education. Students must go abroad for higher education. Only about two-thirds of the school-age population is enrolled in schools.
Culture Life of Maldives
Rice and fish are the staple foods, fish being the most important source of protein. Few vegetables are eaten. Betel leaf with arecanut, cloves, and lime, is chewed after meals. Old people smoke an elongated pipe that goes through a trough of water. Meat other than pork is eaten only on special occasions. Alcohol is not allowed, except in tourist resorts. The local brew is a sweet toddy made from the crown of the coconut palm.
Malé, the capital, has a maze of narrow streets with over 20 mosques and markets. Poor people live in thatched palm houses with tin roofs. The more prosperous have houses made of crushed coral with tile roofs.
Primary school education is for five years. Lower high school takes five years and higher secondary school takes two years. Education is not compulsory. There are traditional religious schools that teach the Koran, basic arithmetic, and the ability to read and write Divehi; there are modern Divehi-language primary schools; and there are modern English-language schools. Primary and secondary schooling is based on the British system.
In 1998 there were 48,895 students enrolled in 228 primary schools, with 1992 teachers. In the same year, secondary schools had a total of 36,905 students.
The Science Education Centre in Malé provides pre-university courses. Seven post-secondary technical training institutes provide work skill training. The World Bank committed $17-million for education development in 2000-2004, and plans to commit further $15-million for human development and distance learning during this period.
Adult literacy stands at 99 percent. Combined school enrolment stands in the high 90s.
The most popular form of indigenous music is called boduberu, which appeared in the Maldives in about the eleventh century, and may have East African origins. It is a dance music, performed by about 15 people, including a lead singer and three percussionists. Instruments include a bell and a small stick of bamboo with horizontal grooves called an onugandu. Boduberu songs begin with a slow beat, which eventually enters a wild crescendo accompanied by frenetic dancing. Lyrics can be about any number of subjects, and often include vocables (meaningless syllables).
Thaara music is performed by about 22 people seated in two opposing rows. It is performed by men and is somewhat religious. Like boduberu, thaara songs begin slowly and come to a peak. Thaara is said to have arrived from Arabs who came from the Persian Gulf in the middle of the seventeenth century.
Gaa odi lava is a special type of song performed after the completion of manual labor. It was said to have been created during the reign of Sultan Mohamed Imadudeen I (1620-1648), for the workers who built defenses for the city of Malé.
Young people developed a form of music called langiri in the early twentieth century, using thaara as the major source and modifying its performance.
The bolimalaafath neshun is a dance performed by women on special occasions or when giving gifts to the sultan. These gifts, most often shells, are kept in an intricately-decorated box or vase called the kurandi malaafath. About 24 women typically participate, in small groups of two to six. They march towards the sultan singing songs of patriotism or loyalty. Since becoming a republic in 1968, and without a sultan, this dance is no longer performed.
Another woman's dance is called maafathi neshun, which is similar to langiri. It is performed by women dancing in two rows of 10 each, carrying a semi-circular string with fake flowers attached.
A dance called fathigandu jehun is performed by either one person or a group of men, using two pieces of short bamboo sticks to accompany the dancers and a drummer, who also sings. These songs are typically epics, most famously one called Burunee Raivaru.
Bandiyaa jehun is perhaps related to the Indian pot dance, and is performed by women. Dancers mark the beat with a metal water pot, while wearing metal rings. Modern groups perform either standing or sitting, and have added drums and harmonicas.
Kulhudhuffushi (on Haa Dhaalu Atoll) is known for kadhaamaali, which is performed with numerous drums and a kadhaa, which is made of a copper plate and rod. About 30 men take part, dressed in costumes of evil spirits ("maali"). Kadhaamaali is associated with a traditional walk around the island late at night by the elders, in order to ward of maali. This walk lasted for three days, and was followed by music and dancing.
Kudaeid celebrates the sighting of the new moon at the end of Ramadan. National Day, the day Mohammad Thakurufaan overthrew the Portuguese in 1573, occurs on first day of the third month of the lunar calender. Victory Day, on November 3, celebrates the defeat of the Sri Lankan mercenaries who tried to overthrow the government. Republic Day, on November 11, commemorates the foundation of the republic.
History of Maldives
The Maldives were originally settled by peoples who came from S Asia. Islam was brought to the islands in the 12th cent. Starting in the 16th cent., with the coming of the Portuguese, the Maldives were intermittently under European influence. In 1887 they became a British protectorate and military base but retained internal self-government. The Maldives obtained complete independence as a sultanate in 1965, but in 1968 the ad-Din dynasty, which had ruled the islands since the 14th cent., was ended and a republic was declared.
Following the British withdrawal from their base on the southernmost island of Gan in 1976, first the Soviet Union, then India and Sri Lanka courted Maldivian favor. Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who was first elected president in 1978 and retained power for three decades, ruled in an authoritarian manner. Indian troops landed in the Maldives in 1988 to foil one of several coup attempts. In the late 1980s the Maldives joined with a number of coral atoll nations to raise international awareness of the consequences of global warming, and in 1989 hosted an international conference to discuss this issue.
Beginning in 2003 the country experienced occasional antigovernment demonstrations that called for political reforms. The Dec., 2004, Indian Ocean tsunami caused severe damage to many of the country's low-lying islands, and hurt the important fishing and tourist industries. In the Jan., 2005, nonpartisan elections for the Majlis, candidates supported by the banned opposition party won 18 of the elected seats. President Gayoom subsequently called for the establishment of a multiparty democracy by the end of the year, and the Majlis approved the changes in June, but opposition party leader Mohamed Nasheed was arrested at a prodemocracy rally later in the year and charged with treason and terrorism. Opposition activists continued to face repressive government measures in 2006.
Following a bombing in Sept., 2007, that was linked to Islamic militants, the president issued a wide-ranging decree designed to promote moderate Islam and suppress Islamic extremism. In Aug., 2008, a new constitution was adopted that allowed for direct election of the president, multiparty elections, and other democratic reforms; two months later, Mohamed Nasheed was elected president, defeating Gayoom after a runoff. The May, 2009, Majlis elections were won by the opposition, however, and in mid-2010 increasing tensions between the government and Majlis, especially the refusal of the Majlis to confirm supreme court appointments, led the cabinet to resign en masse in protest. In Aug., 2010, the court members were confirmed, but relations between the government and Majlis remained difficult.
During 2011 poor economic conditions led to protests against the government. After the military arrested the top criminal court judge in Jan., 2012, several weeks of demonstrations by Gayoom supporters and others culminated in a police mutiny and the forced resignation of Nasheed (February). He was succeeded as president by Vice President Mohammed Waheed Hassan. Nasheed was later (July) charged with illegally ordering the arrest of the judge. In Aug., 2012, a report by a Commonwealth-backed Maldives commission called the succession constitutional; the report led to protests in the Maldives.
Nasheed placed first in the Sept., 2013, presidential election, but he failed to win a majority, forcing a runoff with Adbulla Yameen, Gayoom's half-brother. The vote, however, was annulled by the supreme court after the third-place candidate, businessman Qasim Ibrahim, alleged vote fraud. A new election in November led to similar results, and Yameen subsequently won the runoff.
Maldives Area: 298 sq km (115 sq mi) Population (2004 est.): 289,000 Capital: Male Head of state and government: President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom In 2004 the very survival of Maldives was threatened ...>>>Read On<<<
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