|Official Country Name:||Republic of Maldives|
|Region (Map name):||East & South Asia|
|Language(s):||Maldivian Dhivehi, English|
The Maldives is a nation of coral atolls scattered off the southwest coast of India in the Indian Ocean. Originally a sultanate, Maldivians fought for more than a century to stave off Western colonization, but eventually agreed to become a British protectorate in exchange for relative independence. The country declared independence in 1965 and is now a republic. Its estimated population is 301,475, and the literacy rate is approximately 93 percent. The official language is Dhivehi, a dialect of Sinhala that derives its script from Arabic. English also is widely spoken, especially in business and government. The president acts as both head of state and government, presiding over the 50-seat, unicameral People's Council. Tourism is by far the largest industry in the Maldives— more than 90 percent of the government's tax revenues come from import duties and taxes on tourism. Fishing and boat building also contribute to the economy.
Maldivians do not have freedom of press or expression. Maldives' laws prohibit all speech and action that could incite citizens against the government or that could be construed as libelous, a national security threat, or critical of Islam. Authorities can shut down newspapers and sanction editors, leading most journalists to practice self-censorship. The situation is improving, however, and the media has begun to criticize specific government policies, though not the political system as a whole.
Haveeru is the leading daily newspaper. It began publishing in January 1979 and prints in Divehia and English, and is available online. Other dailies include Aafathis and the Miadhu News; both print in Divehia with a much smaller sections in English, and both appear online. The Monday Times is a popular, magazine-style newspaper that prints weekly in English and appears online. The Maldives News also prints in English, but appears bi-weekly. Dheenuge Magu, a Divehi-language religious publication, appears weekly.
There is one state-run radio station, and one television station, also state-run. There are 35,000 radios, 10,000 televisions, and one Internet service provider.
"About Haveeru." In Haveeru. 2002. Available from http://www.haveeru.com.mv/haveeru/ .
"About us." In Aafathis. 2002. Available from http://www.aafathisnews.com.mv/ .
"Maldives." Central Intelligence Agency. World Fact Book 2001, 2002. Available from http://www.cia.gov .
"Maldives." Freedom House, 2001. Available from http://www.freedomhouse.org .
Jenny B. Davis