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The Maldives

The Maldives Islands are located in the Indian Ocean SouthWest of Sri Lanka. Average annual temperatures range from 76 to 86 degrees each year. Occasional cyclones batter the northern reaches of the country. Maldives population of more than 300,000 represents a variety of ethnicities. Many of these ethnicities share Islam as their common religion. Most Maldives speak DIveh, a sinhalese dialect, although majority of the government uses English. Maldives' capital city was named for the island on which it is located; Male. Most Maldivian exports are sent to Thailand, Sri Lanka and the United States; while Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, Sri Lanka, and India are the islands' main source of imports, which usually include food, consumer goods, and petroleum products.

How the Maldives have developed

ncient times the Maldives were renowned for cowry shells, coir rope, dried tuna fish (Maldive Fish), ambergris and coco de mer . Local and foreign trading ships used to load these products in Sri Lanka and transport them to other harbours in the Indian Ocean.

Historically Maldives provided enormous quantities of cowry shells, an international currency of the early ages. . From the 2nd century AD the islands were known as the 'Money Isles' by the Arabs. Monetary Moneta were used for centuries as a currency in Africa, and huge amounts of Maldivian cowries were introduced into Africa by western nations during the period of slave trade. The cowry is now the symbol of the Maldives Monetary Authority. The Maldivian government began an economic reform program in 1989, initially by lifting import quotas and opening some exports to the private sector. Subsequently, it has liberalised regulations to allow more foreign investment. Real GDP growth averaged over 7.5% per year for more than a decade. Today, the Maldives' largest industry is tourism, accounting for 28% of GDP and more than 60% of the Maldives' foreign exchange receipts. Fishing is the second leading sector.

Economy and government

The Maldives’ average tariff rate is 21.1 percent. The government relies on tariffs for revenue. Quotas restrict agricultural imports including rice and sugar. Land may not be sold to foreign investors. Heavy bureaucracy in the investment approval process and political unrest hurt the already weak investment climate. Banking has expanded, but high costs and limited access to financial services contribute to sectoral shallowness.

Maldives is a presidental republic, with the President as head of government and head of state. The President heads the executive branch and appoints the cabinet which is approved by the People's Majilis. Following the introduction of a new constitution in 2008, direct elections for the President take place every five years, with a limit of two terms in office for any individual. The current President is Abdulla Yameen. Members of the unicameral Majlis serve five-year terms, with the total number of members determined by atoll populations. At the 2009 election, 77 members were elected. The People's Majlis, located in Male, houses members from all over the country. The republican constitution came into force in 1968, and was amended in 1970, 1972, and 1975. On 27 November 1997 it was replaced by another Constitution assented to by the President Gayoom. This Constitution came into force on 1 January 1998. All stated that the president was the Head of State, Head of Government and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and the Police of the Maldives. A third Constitution was ratified in 2008, which separated the judiciary from the head of state.

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