The Maldives is an island nation and it is part of the Asian continent. The Maldives is the smallest country in Asia with 90,000 square kilometers of land area spread out over 1,200 islands. The Maldives is classified as a developing economy, and in 2017, the GDP of the Maldives was ranked as the 152nd highest in the world at approximately $4.6 billion. On the other hand, the GDP per capita of the country was listed as the 58th highest in the world at $12,527. The Maldivian economy is reliant on the country's natural resources which include fish, arable land, and the country's beautiful scenery.
The Maldives is considered one of the most beautiful nations on earth which attract a large number of tourists to the country each year. Some of the most beautiful areas in the Maldives include the country's islands and the sandy beaches. One of the most popular Maldivian beaches is situated on the island of Fulhadhoo which is located approximately 63 miles northwest of the Male, the country's capital. The Maldives is also popular with snorkelers because of the clear deep waters that surround the island. The coral reefs of the Maldives are also a popular tourist attraction as the country has roughly 3% of all the coral reefs in the world. The tourism industry is the most critical in the Maldives as it contributes on average approximately 30% of the country's GDP. According to the Maldivian government, the country's tourism industry employed roughly 25,000 people.
The Maldivian tourism industry is relatively young compared to other nations as the country's first tourist resort was established in 1972. The first Maldivian resort was the Kurumba Island Resort which was soon followed by the Bandos Island Resort. The two resorts had a combined capacity of roughly 280 beds. However, despite its relative youth, the tourism sector was primarily responsible for the growth of the Maldivian economy during the 1980s. The number of resorts in the Maldives grew rapidly from 1972 to 2017 as the government estimated that there were approximately 100 tourist resorts in the country. In 2017, the Maldivian government estimated that the country had attracted approximately 1,389,542 tourists of which 306,530 were from China. European nations such as Germany, the United Kingdom, and Italy also made up large portions of the visitors to the Maldives.
The Maldivian tourism sector faces several challenges with one of the most significant ones being the low wages paid to Maldivians involved in the industry. The workers in the Maldivian tourism industry formed a union to agitate for better pay and working conditions.
As of 2014, the arable land in the country accounted for about 13% of the total territory of the Maldives. The agriculture industry is one of the smaller sectors of the Maldivian economy and on average it only contributes 6% of the country's GDP. Maldivian farmers grow a wide variety of crops such as millet, sweet potatoes, and corn. Several Maldivian islands have become famous for growing fruits such as Feevah Island which is famous for growing bananas and Thoddo which is famous for growing watermelons. Despite the vast array of crops grown in the Maldives, most of the food consumed in the country is imported from other nations. Several agricultural experts believe that the Maldives has the potential to attain self-sufficiency in food production and reduce the reliance on imports. The biggest challenge affecting the development of the agriculture industry in the Maldives is the limited land which can be used for agriculture. Another major challenge that limits the growth of the Maldivian agricultural sector is the high cost of farm inputs as most are imported. The government of the Maldives partnered with the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) to develop the country's agricultural sector and attain self-sufficiency in the production of several crops.
One of the most important crops grown in the Maldives is coconuts which are used for a variety of purposes. Two products of the coconut tree, coir and copra are some of the most important exports of the Maldives. Coconuts are also crucial as they provide coconut oil which is used by the residents for cooking. The coconut industry in the Maldives faces several challenges with the main one being the old age of the country's trees.
The most common livestock kept in the Maldives are the goats because of the country's limited land. The goats are mainly kept for the production of meat and milk. Goat milk is one of the most important foods in the Maldives. One of the most common goat breeds in the Maldives is Jamnapari which was introduced to the country from Sri Lanka. Another popular goat breed in the Maldives is the Battu which was introduced from India. Chickens are also common in the Maldives, and they are mainly kept to satisfy the local demand for meat and eggs.
One of the essential natural resources in the Maldives is fish which are mostly obtained from the Indian Ocean. Some of the varieties of fish found within the territorial waters of the Maldives include the parrotfish, barracuda, and the bluestripe snapper. The fishing industry is among the most crucial sectors of the Maldivian economy as it employs a large segment of the Maldivian labor force. In 1995, the Maldivian government estimated that the country's fishing fleet was made up of more than 1,600 vessels. In 2006, the Maldivian government estimated that the country's fishermen caught roughly 184,000 tons of fish. Pelagic fishing is considered the most viable form of commercial fishing in the Maldives. Most Maldivian pelagic fishers exploit the skipjack tuna and the yellowfin tuna. Some of the most common methods used by Maldivian fishermen to catch tuna include using handlines and pole lines.
Unemployment in the Maldives
One of the most significant challenges facing the Maldivian economy is unemployment. In 2017, the Maldivian government estimated that the country's unemployment rate stood at 5% which was a small drop from the 2016 unemployment rate of 5.03%. The Maldivian government has put in place several strategies to increase the number of jobs in the country and grow the country's economy.