Tuesday is the National Day of Maldives. Consisting of a group of atolls in the Indian Ocean, Maldives is located south of India’s Lakshadweep islands, and about 700 kilometers southwest of Sri Lanka. The country has 1,193 islands, 200 of which are inhabitable. Male is the country’s capital.
The name “Maldives” is derived from Sanskrit Maladvipa, meaning “garland of islands,” or from mahila dvipa, meaning “island of women.” The Maldives is the smallest Asian country in both population and area. It is considered the lowest country on the planet with an average ground level of 1.5 meters above sea level.
Islam was introduced in 1153. It became a colony of Portugal (1558), the Netherlands (1654), and Great Britain (1887). On July 26, 1965, Maldives achieved independence from Britain (originally under the name “Maldive Islands”), and in 1968, the Sultanate was replaced by a Republic. Throughout the political history of Maldives after independence, the country has been served by just two Presidents. The 2010 population of Maldives was around 396,000, making it the smallest Asian country in population. It is also the smallest predominantly Muslim nation in the world.
Tourism and fishing make up the backbone of the Maldivian economy. 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 at around US$4,000. Major trading partners are 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.