The Republic of Maldives is an Indian Ocean archipelago of 1,100 palm fringed coral islands, grouped into 26 atolls, located off the southern tip of India. The country is 820 kilometres long and 130 kilometres wide, with a surface area of 90,000 square kilometres.
The population of the Maldives is approximately 360,000; a third of which live in the capital, Male’. A further 200 islands are inhabited by local people and the country also boasts eighty luxury resort islands.
The country’s pristine environment and exquisite marine ecosystem attracts 600,000 tourists per year and sustains a large fishing fleet.
The Maldives is the world’s newest democracy. The country held multi party presidential election for the first time in November 2008, which ushered in a new, pro-market and business friendly president, Mohamed Nasheed.
The economy has enjoyed robust growth averaging close to 8 percent per annum during the last decade, particularly through the success and continued expansion of its tourism industry. To build on this growth, the new administration recognises the need for greater private sector involvement and foreign direct investment in the Maldivian economy.
In order to attract more investment, the government is establishing Special Economic Zones and other industrial zones with special incentive packages and long term land leases. Moreover, there are plans to diversify the Maldivian economy into areas such as shipping, information communication technology and offshore banking.