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.
Southern Asia, group of atolls in the Indian Ocean, south-southwest of India
Total Area: 300 sq km
Land Area: 300 sq km
Comparative Area: about 1.7 times the size of Washington, DC
Independence Day, 26 July (1965)
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