The archipelago of Maldives is one of the most beautiful places in the world.
One of the world’s least developed nations upon gaining independence in 1965, the country has now reached middle-income status and is scoring high on the latest Human Development Index. Its health and education indicators are impressive: The literacy rate nears 100 percent, and life expectancy stands at over 77 years.
What’s mainly driving that success are the high-end resorts that provide much-needed revenues to finance public services, build health and education facilities, and bolster the nation’s economy.
But depending solely on tourism for economic growth, together with a heavy reliance on imported commodities, has left Maldives vulnerable.
A global economic slump could impact the tourism industry, igniting challenges posed by existing public debt, structural constraints, and climate change threats. Of particular concern is the high youth unemployment rate of 15.3 percent, with nearly half of all unemployed youth located in the capital city of Malé.
To avoid derailing the progress it painstakingly won, Maldives now seeks to implement vital reforms to improve education, healthcare and housing, and usher in greater prosperity for all.