Maldives Economics and Business

The Republic of Maldives is an archipelago located in the Indian Ocean, southwest of India and Sri Lanka. It consists of 1,192 islands and islets, covering a total area of 298 square kilometers. The nation has a population of approximately 530,000 people, most of whom are Muslim. The Maldivian economy is largely dependent on tourism, fishing and related services.

According to cheeroutdoor, tourism is the largest contributor to the Maldivian economy, accounting for around 28% of GDP in 2019. The country boasts more than 130 resorts spread across its many tropical islands and atolls. In recent years, it has become increasingly popular among tourists from Europe, Asia and other parts of the world seeking to experience its pristine beaches and turquoise waters. Additionally, the country’s strategic location on several international shipping lanes makes it attractive to cruise ship operators who bring thousands of visitors each year to explore its natural wonders.

Fishing is another important sector in the Maldivian economy. It accounts for around 10% of GDP and employs over 40% of the population in some form or another. Fish exports are a major source of income for many families as well as government revenue through taxes on exports and licenses for foreign vessels fishing in Maldivian waters. The government has also implemented several policies aimed at protecting fish stocks from over-exploitation by implementing catch quotas and size limits on certain species as well as setting up marine protected areas (MPAs).

The manufacturing sector in the Maldives is relatively small but growing with increasing investment from both domestic and foreign companies looking to take advantage of low labor costs as well as preferential trade agreements with countries such as India and China that provide duty-free access for certain goods produced in the country. This includes products such as garments, electronics components, furniture, processed foods etc., which are exported mainly to Middle Eastern countries such as Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE).

In terms of infrastructure development, recent investments have focused mainly on improving air transportation links between key airports throughout the country with direct flights now available to Singapore, Dubai and other cities around Asia Pacific region. Additionally, there have been improvements made to sea ports with state-of-the-art facilities being built that can accommodate large ships carrying cargo containers coming from overseas destinations like India or China.

Overall, the economy of Maldives has been growing steadily over recent years thanks largely to increased foreign investment spurred by its attractive tax regime along with tourism earnings generated by visitors from around world who come seeking a unique experience amidst its tropical islands lined with white sand beaches lapped by crystal clear waters teeming with exotic coral life beneath them.

Abbreviated as MDV by, Maldives has quickly become a middle-income country, driven by the rapid growth of the tourism and fisheries sectors.

High economic growth since the 1970s has led to a significant improvement in the standard of living in the Maldives. Since the turn of the millennium, living standards have been among the highest in South Asia. However, poverty is widespread, and around 16 percent live below the poverty line (2016).

Maldives GDP (Nominal, $USD) 2003-2017

  • COUNTRYAAH: Find major trading partners of Maldives, including major exports and major imports with latest trade value and market share as well as growth rate.

The Maldives has a developing economy based on fishing, tourism, boatbuilding and boat repair. Most of the population works with fishing, coconut harvesting and growing vegetables, melons, roots and tubers (cassava, sweet potatoes and yams) and tropical fruits.


The development of tourism started in the early 1970s and has been a success ever since. To protect the island’s culture from the negative effects of mass tourism, tourists are referred to their own so-called “hotel islands” or “tourist islands” with no other population than those working in the tourism industry.

Note: the capital city of Maldives is Malé with a population of 133 412 (Census 2014).

Tourism is the Maldives’ most important industry, and in 2016, tourism accounted for 28 percent of GDP and 60 percent of foreign exchange earnings.


Fishing is the country’s second largest industry, but overall catches have dropped significantly in recent years. Fish, mainly dried, frozen or canned, is exported to Thailand, the United Kingdom, Sri Lanka, France, Algeria and Japan, among others. Most tuna is fished.


The agricultural sector is small, partly because of a lack of agricultural land. Maldives is largely dependent on food imports, and also imports a variety of industrial and finished goods.


The government faces challenges such as diversifying the economy beyond tourism and fishing, reforming public finances, increasing employment opportunities and combating corruption and a growing drug problem.

In the longer term, the Maldivian authorities worry about the impact of erosion and possible global warming, as the country is the world’s flatest, with 80 percent of the area one meter or less above sea level.

In 2015, Parliament passed a constitutional amendment that legalized foreign ownership of land under certain conditions.

Transport and Communications

The international airport (opened in 1981) is located on Hulele Island near the capital Malé. Tourists are also flown in to the three international airports at Gan (Addu Atoll), Kadhdhoo (Haddummati Atoll) and Hanimaadho (Tiladummati Atoll). The transport between the islands normally takes place by boat and there is regular traffic between some atolls.

Maldives Economics and Business

After the agreement of 1963, by which Great Britain undertook to re-establish the authority of the government of Malé over the rebel islands in exchange for concessions to the BBC, on 26 July 1965 the islands gained independence, while remaining at the The naval base of Gan was in English until 1968. In November 1968 they assumed the republican institutional form. On 7 March 1975, the President of the Republic Amir Ibrahim Nasir deposed with a blow of force the Prime Minister Ahmed Zaki, who on 22 February had obtained the parliamentary investiture with 36 votes to 16, exiling him in an islet of the archipelago and also assuming the function of head of government.

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