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Maldives:
Geography

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Maldives Page


Background
Definition
The Maldives was long a sultanate, first under Dutch and then under British protection. It became a republic in 1968, three years after independence. Since 1978, President Maumoon Abdul GAYOOM - currently in his sixth term in office - has dominated the islands' political scene. Following riots in the capital Male in August 2004, the president and his government pledged to embark upon democratic reforms including a more representative political system and expanded political freedoms. Progress has been slow, however, and many promised reforms have been slow to come to fruition. Nonetheless, political parties were legalized in 2005. A constituent assembly - termed the "special majlis" - has pledged to complete the drafting of a new constitution by the end of 2007 and first-ever presidential elections under a multi-candidate, multi-party system are slated for November 2008. Tourism and fishing are being developed on the archipelago.
Location
Definition
Southern Asia, group of atolls in the Indian Ocean, south-southwest of India
Geographic coordinates
Definition
3 15 N, 73 00 E
Map references
Definition
Asia
Area
Definition - World rank and map
total: 300 sq km
land: 300 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Area - comparative
Definition
about 1.7 times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries
Definition
0 km
Coastline
Definition
644 km
Maritime claims
Definition
measured from claimed archipelagic straight baselines
territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Climate
Definition
tropical; hot, humid; dry, northeast monsoon (November to March); rainy, southwest monsoon (June to August)
Terrain
Definition
flat, with white sandy beaches
Elevation extremes
Definition
lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
highest point: unnamed location on Wilingili island in the Addu Atoll 2.4 m
Natural resources
Definition
fish
Land use
Definition - World rank and map
arable land: 13.33%
permanent crops: 30%
other: 56.67% (2005)
Irrigated land
Definition
NA
Total renewable water resources
Definition
0.03 cu km (1999)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)
Definition
total: 0.003 cu km/yr (98%/2%/0%)
per capita: 9 cu m/yr (1987)
Natural hazards
Definition
low level of islands makes them sensitive to sea level rise
Environment - current issues
Definition
depletion of freshwater aquifers threatens water supplies; global warming and sea level rise; coral reef bleaching
Environment - international agreements
Definition
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note
Definition
1,190 coral islands grouped into 26 atolls (200 inhabited islands, plus 80 islands with tourist resorts); archipelago with strategic location astride and along major sea lanes in Indian Ocean


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