Country Background Information – Maldives


If possible, download these two documents to your phone, so that you can refer to them later:

Key country facts


  • tropical beach

    Tourism is the main industry in the Maldives. It has 1,190 islands, with 200 inhabited. The availability of drinking water and arable land are its limiting factors. As sea levels rise, salt water can encroach on the lenses of fresh water stored in the ground.

  • corals

    Maldives has one of the richest marine biodiversity in the world. All the islands in the Maldives are atolls or ring-shaped coral islands. In unusually hot weather, coral reefs can become ‘bleached’ when the coral loses the algae that lives within it and provides it with food. In long hot spells, this can lead to the coral dying. Over 60% of its reefs are already bleached. As the climate warms, more bleaching events are predicted.

  • island

    Over 80% of the Maldives is less than 1m above sea level. This makes the country very vulnerable to sea level rise. In 2009, the Government held a cabinet meeting under water to highlight its vulnerability.

    Source: Flickr/ Sindi

  • family

    The total population of the Maldives is just over 540,000. The number of people living in poverty in the Maldives has fallen rapidly in recent years such that now there is very little. Recent migration to the Maldives from South Asia, Egypt, Russia etc. has been to fill jobs in tourism, construction, health and education sectors. Migrants make up over a third of the population.

  • mangroves

    The Maldives hold a range of coastal ecosystems including coral reefs, seagrass beds, lagoons, beaches and small areas of mangrove. These coastal and marine ecosystems are the asset base of the national economy. For example, tourism is based wholly on the health and attractiveness of Maldives’s coastal features.

    Source: Wikimedia Commons / Nevit Dilmen

  • Male

    Most people live on the capital island, Male. Congestion is an issue. It is the 7th most densely populated island in the world.

    Source: Flickr / Timo Newton-Syms

  • boat

    Imported oil and diesel are the main power source for the Maldives. The Maldives also imports wood, iron and steel, pre-fabricated buildings, vegetables and cement.

    Source: Flickr / Mark Fischer

  • fishmongers

    Fishing is the second largest industry in the Maldives. Fish is the dominant export from the islands. Fishing relies on healthy marine ecosystems.

    Source: Flickr / Mark Fischer

  • diving

    Many tourist resorts are reporting severe beach erosion as sea levels rise.

    Source: Flickr / Neville Wootton

  • coconuts

    Coconuts are important to Maldives’ agriculture and economy. Coconut production is its main agricultural activity while copra made from coconut palms is one of its top export products.

    Source: Flickr / Easa Shamih

Further Materials (higher level learners) – Maldives

  • The Maldives is the extreme test case for climate change action from the Guardian.
  • UNDP Climate Change Adaptation report
  • 2009 Cabinet Meeting held under water from the BBC.
  • The Maldives’ self-assessment of its vulnerability to climate change, submitted to the UNFCC in 2016
  • World Bank report on the impacts of climate change
  • General Information

  • Background Information from the UN
  • A good overview from the World Bank.
  • CCAFS big facts
  • En-Roads 2100 climate simulator
  • A history of climate change negotiations and another one.
  • A guide to COP21 in Paris from the Guardian.