In recent years, Maldives has successfully marketed its
natural assets for tourism--beautiful, unpolluted beaches
on small coral islands, diving in blue waters abundant
with tropical fish, and glorious sunsets. Tourism now
brings in about $325 million a year. Tourism and related
services contributed 33% of GDP in 2000.
Since the first resort was established in 1972, more than
84 islands have been developed, with a total capacity
of some 16,000 beds. The number of tourists (mainly from
Europe) visiting the Maldives increased from 1,100 in
1972 to 280,000 in 1994. In 2000, tourist arrivals exceeded
466,000. The average occupancy rate is 68%, with the average
tourist staying 8 days and spending about $755.
This sector employs about 20% of the labor force and
contributes 10% of GDP. The use of nets is illegal,
so all fishing is done by line. Production was about
119,000 metric tons in 2000, most of which was skipjack
tuna. About 50% is exported, largely to Sri Lanka, Germany,
the U.K., Thailand, Japan, and Singapore. About 42%
of exports consist of dried or canned fish, and another
31% is frozen; 10% is exported as fresh fish. Total
export proceeds from fish were about $40 million in
2000. The fishing fleet consists of some 1,140 small,
flat-bottomed boats (dhonis). Since the dhonis have
shifted from sails to outboard motors, the annual tuna
catch per fisherman has risen from 1.4 metric tons in
1983 to 5.6 in 1999.
Poor soil and scarce arable land have historically limited
agriculture to a few subsistence crops, such as coconut,
banana, breadfruit, papayas, mangoes, taro, betel, chilies,
sweet potatoes, and onions. Agriculture provides about
6% of GDP.
The industrial sector provides only about 7% of GDP.
Traditional industry consists of boat building and handicrafts,
while modern industry is limited to a few tuna canneries,
five garment factories, a bottling plant, and a few
enterprises in the capital producing PVC pipe, soap,
furniture, and food products.
There is growing concern about coral reef and marine
life damage because of coral mining (used for building
and jewelry making), sand dredging, and solid waste
pollution. Mining of sand and coral have removed the
natural coral reef that protected several important
islands, making them highly susceptible to the erosive
effects of the sea. In April 1987, high tides swept
over the Maldives, inundating much of Male and nearby
islands. That event prompted high-level Maldivian interest
in global climatic changes.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $540 million (1999
- real growth rate: 7% (1999 est.)
- per capita: purchasing power parity - $1,800 (1999
- composition by sector:
1 rufiyaa (Rf) = 100 laari
services: 62% (1999 est.)
rates: rufiyaa (Rf) per US$1 - 11.770 (fixed rate