Traveling Luck for Maldives

Maldives is located in Southern Asia, group of atolls in the Indian Ocean, south-southwest of India.

Land in Maldives is flat, with white sandy beaches.

Maldivian land covers an area of 300 square kilometers which is about 1.7 times the size of Washington, DC

As for the Maldivian climate; tropical; hot, humid; dry, northeast monsoon (November to March); rainy, southwest monsoon (June to August).

Maldivian(s) speak Maldivian Dhivehi (dialect of Sinhala, script derived from Arabic), English spoken by most government officials.

Maldivian National Map

Maldivian Map

Regions of Maldives

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 have pledged to embark upon democratic reforms, including a more representative political system and expanded political freedoms. Tourism and fishing are being developed on the archipelago.


Maldives Country Profile

Tourism, Maldives' largest industry, accounts for 20% of GDP and more than 60% of the Maldives' foreign exchange receipts. Over 90% of government tax revenue comes from import duties and tourism-related taxes. Fishing is a second leading sector. 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 liberalized regulations to allow more foreign investment. Agriculture and manufacturing continue to play a lesser role in the economy, constrained by the limited availability of cultivable land and the shortage of domestic labor. Most staple foods must be imported. Industry, which consists mainly of garment production, boat building, and handicrafts, accounts for about 18% of GDP. Maldivian authorities worry about the impact of erosion and possible global warming on their low-lying country; 80% of the area is one meter or less above sea level. In late December 2004, a major tsunami left more than 100 dead, 12,000 displaced, and property damage exceeding $300 million. Over the past decade, real GDP growth averaged over 7.5% per year. As a result of the tsunami, the GDP contracted by about 5.5% in 2005.

Maldivian natural resources include fish

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

Maldivian religion is Sunni Muslim.

Natural hazards in Maldives include low level of islands makes them very sensitive to sea level rise.

Travel Advice on Maldives

Maldives

This advice has been reviewed and reissued with amendments to the Local Laws and Customs (Ramadan), Entry Requirements, Health (mosquito borne diseases) and General sections.  The overall level of the advice has not changed.

SUMMARY

  • There is no British diplomatic mission in Maldives.  A Consular Correspondent in Malé can liaise with the British High Commission in Sri Lanka on emergency consular matters.

  • You should avoid demonstrations or large gatherings as some demonstrations on Malé island and in non-resort islands, have ended in violence.

  • The threat from terrorism is low.  But you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks which could be against civilian targets, including places frequented by foreigners.

  • Possession of illegal drugs carries severe penalties.

  • Public observance of any religion other than Islam is prohibited.

  • The main types of incident for which British nationals require consular assistance in Maldives are replacing lost passports and swimming/diving related accidents.  Petty crime occurs: you should take care of your valuables and other personal possessions.

  • We recommend that all British nationals who are resident and/or working in Maldives register with the British High Commission in Colombo.

  • We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.  Please see: Travel Insurance


SAFETY AND SECURITY


Crime

Crime levels in Maldives are relatively low, but petty crime, including the theft of goods left unattended on the beach or in hotel rooms, does occur.  You should take care of your valuables and other personal possessions.  Use safe deposit boxes on island resorts.

Political Situation

Maldives is undergoing a period of political reform.  There have been some demonstrations on the capital island of Malé and non-resort islands, which have ended in violence.  The majority of visitors to Maldives do not go to the capital island of Malé or other affected islands (the international airport is on a separate island within the larger Malé atoll).  Visitors to Malé island and non-resort islands should avoid any demonstrations, or large political gatherings.

Maldives Country Profile

Local Travel

The authorities in Maldives generally restrict travel by foreign visitors to the capital island, Malé, and resort islands.  Advance approval is normally required to visit most non-resort islands.  Travel between islands is by boat or seaplane, and many of these services stop before sunset.


LOCAL LAWS AND CUSTOMS

Maldives has very strong anti-drug laws.  Importation or possession of drugs in Maldives can carry severe penalties, including life imprisonment.
Local laws reflect the fact that Maldives is a Muslim country. You should respect local customs and sensitivities at all times, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or if you intend to visit religious areas.  Serious violations of local laws may lead to a prison sentence. 
It is an offence to import into Maldives, explosives, weapons, firearms and ammunition, pornographic material materials deemed contrary to Islam, including “idols for worship” and bibles; pork and pork products and alcohol.  Alcoholic beverages are only available on resort islands and should not be take off the resort.  Same sex relations are illegal and convicted offenders could face lengthy prison sentences and fines.  The export of tortoise shell and coral is forbidden.
Public observance of any religion other than Islam is prohibited.
Mariners in possession of firearms must surrender them to the local authorities.  Any unregistered firearms will not be returned to the owner.
Dress is generally informal but you should be sensitive to local dress standards when visiting inhabited islands.  Nudism and topless sun-bathing are prohibited.


ENTRY REQUIREMENTS

If you are a British tourist, you are eligible to obtain a tourist visa for up to 30 days on arrival in Maldives, provided you possess a valid passport, hold a valid ticket to continue your journey out of Maldives and have enough funds to cover your stay.  Staying longer than 30 days without the proper authority is an offence.  For further information on entry requirements you should contact the Maldivian High Commission: Maldivan representation in the UK or Maldives Dept of Immigration & Emigration.
You should carry your international certificate of vaccination if you are coming from a yellow fever region.


HEALTH

We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.   If you plan to go diving or engage in other water sports, you should check that your insurance policy covers these.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.  Please see: Travel Insurance
Medical facilities are limited.  There are only two hospitals and these are on the capital island, Malé.  Neither has a trauma unit.  Although most resort islands are within in easy reach of a general physician, many are several hours travel away from the hospital facilities on Malé.  Many resort islands are more than an hour away from the nearest decompression chamber.
In January 2007, there have been reports of two mosquito borne diseases, Dengue fever and Chikungunya in Maldives. You should take precautions to avoid insect bites as there is no vaccine to prevent these infections.  Further information about insect bite avoidance can be found on the National Health Travel Health Network and Centre
While in Maldives, sensible precautions should be taken to avoid sunburn and dehydration.

You should seek medical advice before travelling and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up-to-date.  For further information on health, check the Department of Health website at www.dh.gov.uk.
Avian Influenza (Bird Flu)
There have been no reported cases of Avian Influenza (also known as Bird Flu) in Maldives during the current series of outbreaks.  But the World Health Organisation (WHO) has confirmed cases elsewhere in the region.
You should read this advice in conjunction with the FCO Avian and Pandemic Influenza Factsheet

NATURAL DISASTERS

Maldives was hit by the December 2004 tsunami.  More than 90 people were killed.  There was serious damage to a number of islands, including 19 resort islands.  The large majority of resorts affected are now operating normally.  Check with your tour operators and/or hotel for the latest information.


GENERAL

If things go wrong when overseas, please see: What We Can Do To Help.
The most common problems faced by visiting British nationals in Maldives are lost passports and swimming/diving related accidents.  We recommend that all British nationals who are resident and/or working in Maldives register with the British High Commission in Colombo.
Money

Island resorts in Maldives are generally expensive and you should bring sufficient funds.  There are no cash machines and travellers' cheques are used infrequently.  Major credit cards are accepted at most resorts and hotels.  US dollars can be exchanged at the airport, banks or hotels.
CONTACT DETAILS

There is no British diplomatic mission in Maldives.  Enquiries before travel should be directed to the British High Commission in Sri Lanka (see Contact Details below).

There is a British Consular Correspondent in Maldives who will liaise with the British High Commission in Sri Lanka on emergency consular matters.  Contact c/o Dhiraagu, 19 Medhuziyaaraiy Magu, Malé, Republic of Maldives: Tel: +960 322 802 (switchboard); Fax: +960 317981); email: UKconsular@dhiraagu.com.mv.