Maldives: People

The People

The islands form 26 natural atolls, which for purposes of administration, are grouped into 20 units, also called Atolls. Most of the islands are quite small. They are low lying with an average elevation of 1.6 m above mean sea level. The islands are surrounded by shallow, crystal clear lagoons enclosed by coral reefs. The Maldivians are racially homogeneous. The origins of the race are mixed, but are predominantly Sri Lankan and Indian.

The Census of 1995 showed that the total population of Maldives is 244,644 with a growth rate of 2.9%. The most populous of the inhabited islands and the centre of commerce is the capital, Male’. The population of Male’ in 1995 was 62,973 which is almost 26% of the total population. The country’s labour force (51,218 in 1990) constitutes over 50.06% of the working age population of 15-59 years of age. The total population is spread over 200 islands. The rest of the islands are largely, except for 73 which have been developed as tourist resorts. More islands will also be developed in the near future, in accordance with the Tourism Master Plan.

Society is very cohesive, with one culture, one language (the Maldivian language is called Dhivehi) and one religion. The people are generally enterprising and very hospitable.

Approximately 79% of the population is below the age of 35 years. The literacy rate is 92%. (Data source: statistical year book 1995)