Maldives - Facts & Stats

Maldives has a small population of 350,000

Location: South West of Sri Lanka, on the equator.

Geography: 1,190 coral reef islands, forming an archipelago of 26 major atolls. Stretches 820 km north to south and 120 km east to west. 200 islands are inhabited, 74 are exclusive resort islands. 

Climate: Generally warm and humid. Sun shines all year through. Average temperature around 29 - 32 degrees Celsius. 

What to wear: Dress is generally casual. T-shirts and cotton clothing are most suitable. In Male', the capital island, it is recommended that women wear modest clothing without baring too much. 

Population: 263,189 people according to the 1997 estimate. Origins of the Maldivians are lost in  antiquity, but history reveals that the islands have been populated since 3,000 years ago. Early settlers were travelers on the Silk Route, and from the Indus Valley civilization. Inherently warm, friendly and hospitable by nature,  it is to feel comfortable and relaxed with the Maldivians.

Culture: A proud history and rich culture evolved from the time of the first settlers who were from various parts of the world traveling the sea in ancient times. 

Language: Dhivehi is the language spoken in all parts of the Maldives. English is widely spoken by the Maldivians, and every visitor can make himself understood when getting around the capital island. In the resorts, a variety of languages are spoken by the staff including English, German, Italian, French and Japanese.

Economy: The Maldives economy is growing at an average of over 10 percent since the past two decades. Tourism is the main industry, contributing close to 20 percent to the GDP. Fisheries and trade follow close behind. The Maldivian economy is regarded as exemplary in the region, and welcomes foreign investment.

Currency: The Maldivian currency is Rufiyaas and Laaris. The exchange rate for US Dollars is Rufiyaa 12.75 for one US Dollar (2002). A Rufiyaa is equal to 100 laarees (coins). The Rufiyaa comes in denominations of 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 500. The American Dollar is the most common foreign currency. Payments in the resorts can be made in most hard currencies in cash, traveler's cheques or credit cards. The most commonly used credit cards are American Express, Visa, Master Card, Diners Club, JCB and Euro Card.

Education: The functional literacy rate is 98 percent. Educational standards are among the highest in the region, and schools follow the British education system.

Health: Health care facilities are improving on a daily basis. The Indhira Gandhi Memorial Hospital in Male' is the biggest hospital in the country providing sophisticated medical care. ADK Hospital is the biggest private health care facility, and follows high medical standards. Some resorts have an in-house doctor. Decompression chambers are within reach of most resorts in case of a diving emergency.

Local time: GMT +5 hours

Business hours: From Sunday to Thursday 7:30 - 14:30 in the government sector, and generally from 9:00 to 5:00 in the private sector. Weekend falls on Friday and Saturday

Communication: Up to date technology and international satellite links allow Maldives to have a sophisticated communications system. IDD facilities are available on all resorts, and card phone facilities are available on all islands. Dhiraagu, an affiliate of the British Cable and Wireless Company and newly welcomed Wataniya provide GSM mobile services covering the whole Maldives.

Dhiraagu and Focus infocom are the only two Internet service providers. There are now a few resorts and hotels who offer Wi-Fi connectivity and some of the cafe's around the jetty area in Male' also provide Wi-Fi access.