The Country


The approximately 270,000 inhabitants (1998) correspond to a population density of approx. 850 inhabitants per km². The annual Population growth is on average about 3% (1980 to 1998). The official language is Dhivehi, a special form of the Sinhala language with elements of Urudu, Latain and Arabic. The trade language is English. The Scripture Thaana, is a reference to the Arabic script. Ethnically, the population consists of a mixture of Sinhala, Arabs and Blacks. The population consists of 100% Sunni Muslims, Islam is a state religion. Male, the "capital island", is a 1.7 km x 1.0 km large island, on which about 70,000 people (1999) live


The settlement of the Maldives began in the 5th century BC, When Buddhist fishermen from India and the island of Ceylon (today's Sri Lanka) settled on the islands. In the 12th century Arab merchants established a sultanate on the islands and introduced the Islam. In the second half of the sixteenth century, the Portuguese attempted to establish a permanent settlement on the islands, which led to a guerrilla war in which the Portuguese failed. It was only in the 17th century that a European country succeeded in subduing the islands. The Netherlands made a Protectorate from the Maldivian Sultanate, after they had already occupied Ceylon. In 1754 the Maldives came under French occupation. In 1932, the Maldives received their first constitution from Sultan Mohammed Shamsudeen III. In 1942 the United Kingdom established a military airport on the island of Gan. In 1953 the republic was called. Thereupon a relative of the Sultan took over the presidency. After a popular vote, however, the Sultanate was reintroduced and Mohammed Farid Didi was re-elected Sultan. Three years later, in 1956, the Maldives received internal autonomy, but the United Kingdom established further military airports. In 1963, the United Kingdom left the islands and the Maldives joined the Colombo Plan. Two years later, the Maldives became independent. By constitutional change, the Sultanate was converted into a republic in 1968. Thus came the end of the more than 250-year-long rule of the Didi. Amir Ibrahim Nasir became the head of state and government. A year later the Republic was called again under the name Maldives. From 1972 the time of mass tourism on the islands begun. In addition, the heads of the head of state and the head of government were separated this year. Three years later the office of the government was abolished and the President took over this office. In 1976 the British finally left the country, as their 30-year period of use of the military airports had expired. In 1982 the Maldives joined the Commonwealth. In the capital, Malé, an international conference took place in 1989 because of the threat to the islands by the rising sea level. On 26 December 2004 numerous settlements and tourist resorts on the islands were severely damaged or destroyed by a tsunami wave resulting from the severe earthquake in the Indian Ocean.


In January 1998 a new constitution became effective. The form of government remained the presidential republic. The state president and government executive has the unrestricted power over the executive. It is elected by a one-chamber parliament, the Majilis, for a term of five years consisting of 50 members, of which 42 are elected and eight are appointed by the President. After the election, the President has to face a popular vote. There are no parties in the Maldives, although their establishmentis permitted. In addition, there are fundamental rights such as the free development of personality and freedom of speech within the Islamic rules. On 13 August 2004 there were demonstrations of freedom of expression, whereupon an exit barrier was imposed and demonstrators were imprisoned.

Heads of State

Period of government Name Biographical data
1932 - 1953 Sultan Mohammed Shamsudeen III k.A.
1954 - 1968 Sultan Mohammed Farid Didi k.A. - 1969
1968  -1978 Amir Ibrahim Nasir 1926 - 
1978 - 2008 Maumoon Abdul Gayoom 1937 - 
2008 -  Mohammed Nasheed 1967 -