Maldives Country Commercial Guide

Market Overview

  • Maldives is made up of over 1,190 small, low lying coral islands of which 198 are inhabited and another 87 are exclusive resorts.
  • The local population is about 350,000, and over 600,000 tourists arrive annually.  Population distribution varies significantly from less than 150 on remote islands to 100,000 in Male’, the capital city, whose total area is just 2 sq. kilometers.
  • Maldives thrives on tourism and fishing.  Other key sectors, such as construction, distribution, telecommunication, shipping, aviation, and banking support these two primary sectors.
  • GDP growth has averaged 7.5 percent during the past decade, and has helped lift Maldives to a lower middle income country status.  Their per capita GDP, estimated to be around $3,000, is the highest in South Asia.  There is, however, significant income disparity as Maldives is unable to benefit from scale economies and is constrained by the mobility of its people and goods.
  • Maldives suffered extensive damage in the December 26, 2004 tsunami, but the economy recovered quickly due to an upsurge in tourism.
  • Total annual imports are around $800 million. Maldives imports most of its requirements ranging from staple food to hotel supplies.
  • Trade with Maldives is centered in Male’, although many tourist resorts directly procure services, supplies, and equipment from overseas suppliers.
  • Maldives has been the recipient of generous donor assistance for many years. Nonetheless, it faces a significant shortfall in its tsunami reconstruction funding.