Maldives has a population of around 400,000 people dispersed across 188 islands. The country has been a development success; enjoying robust growth coupled with considerable development of the country’s infrastructure and connectivity. It has also provided high quality and affordable public services for its people, resulting in impressive health and education indicators with a literacy rate approaching 100%, and life expectancy of over 77 years. The country’s GDP per capita reached $10,675 in 2017, compared to $200 in 1978. It continues to grow at a rate of 7.1 percent bolstered by construction, tourism, communications, transport, and fisheries.
Maldives’ current development challenges stem from risks from climate change, disaster resilience and environmental sustainability with rising levels of solid waste. Almost half of all settlements and over two thirds of critical infrastructure are located within 100 meters of the shoreline and are under immediate threat from rising sea levels.
The additional challenge of the country’s geography leads to a dispersed population across many small islands, which makes service delivery difficult and can limit opportunities for job creation and economic diversification. Compounded with inclusion issues, this has caused relatively elevated levels of youth unemployment at 25.3 percent, with even much higher level in Malé, and low rates of women participating in the workforce. The combination of high unemployment and limited job opportunities for youths have made some of them vulnerable to negative social influences such as drug abuse and gang-related activities.
To respond to these challenges, the government initiated the Greater Malé development strategy, involving investments in larger islands for improved basic service delivery, protection of households from the impact of climate change and natural disasters, and creation of economic opportunities.
The implementation of this strategy has propelled construction as the major driver for economic growth but is costly and has led to an increase in debt and weakened fiscal position, which the Government is addressing. Construction will continue to drive near-term growth, while tourism remains the single largest contributor to the Maldivian economy.
Following his recent victory in the 2018 presidential elections, the president-elect has pledged to restore democratic institutions and the freedom of the press, re-establish the justice system, and protect fundamental human rights. Also high on the new government’s agenda is climate change.
Last Updated: Dec 21, 2018