Maldives is an island consisting of a group of atolls in the Indian Ocean. The Maldives is located south of India’s Lakshadweep islands and about seven hundred kilometers southwest of Sri Lanka. The name “Maldives” is derived from the Sanskrit maladvipa, meaning "garland of islands," or from mahila dvipa, meaning, “island of women.” Maldives is the smallest Asian country in both population and area. With an average ground level of 1.5 meters above sea level, it is the lowest country on the planet. Its highest point is only 2.3 meters – the lowest highest-point in the world.
Maldives was originally a Buddhist nation; Islam was introduced in 1153. It became a Portuguese (1558), Dutch (1654), and British (1887) colonial possession. On July 26, 1965, Maldives obtained independence from Britain and in 1968, the Sultanate was replaced by a Republic. However, in 38 years, the Maldives has seen only two Presidents, although recently, political restrictions have loosened somewhat.
The backbone of the Maldivian economy is made up of tourism and fishing. The country’s shipping, banking, and manufacturing sectors are growing at a considerable pace. Among the South Asian nations, Maldives has the second highest per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at around US$4,000. Major trading partners include India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore.
We congratulate the people and government of Maldives led by H.E., President Mohamed Nasheed, on the occasion of their National Day. We wish them all the best and success in all their endeavors.