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Country Reports

Maldives Country Report

Overview

INTRODUCTION

The Indian Ocean Maldives archipelago (1200 islands, 200 of which are inhabited; population 396,000) is a popular tourist destination with generally favorable and comfortable travel conditions. However, travelers should be aware of the strained political climate over the past years that may disrupt the usually serene environment, especially in the country's capital city of Malé.

POLITICS

In response to various questionable government decisions (including imprisoning several opposition leaders), supporters of the opposition staged numerous protests in the streets of Malé in 2015 to express their anger. These protests took place under a heavy security presence, which are known to quickly crack down on gatherings. Similar demonstrations occurred on various occasions between January and April 2016.

A number of Western diplomatic missions have called attention to the tense political situation in the archipelago, particularly on the risk of outbreaks of violence during demonstrations (notably anti-government, pro-democracy protests) especially in the capital. Various Western governments have advised their citizens to avoid trips to Malé; all transfers to island hotels - e.g. by plane or boat - should be done directly from Malé-Velana International Airport (MLE).

Moreover, popular demonstrations against the visit of the Saudi King in March 2017 were large enough to cancel his trip. In April 2017, the murder of a civil society activist (who was critical of the government and radical Islam) in Malé caused widespread outrage among the local population.

With upcoming presidential elections in November 2018, followed by legislative elections in 2019, tensions are likely to escalate in the archipelago.

SECURITY

Foreign travelers should be aware of "the worsening of the security situation in the Maldives," terms employed by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. A pro-Islamic State (IS) protest took place in Malé in September 2014, and radical Islamic groups are joining efforts with local gangs to carry out ad-hoc attacks.

In response to these radical groups, the government decreed a state of emergency (November 6-11, 2015) following a suspected attempted attack on President Abdulla Yameen in late September 2015.

CRIME

Petty crime is widespread in tourist locations, particularly on beaches. Be sure to follow basic common sense measures (e.g. keep an eye on belongings, keep valuable objects in a safe spot).

Over the past few years, the area threatened by pirates (particularly from Somalia) has extended to the south of India and into Maldivian waters.

TERRORISM

Like the majority of Asian countries, the Maldives is not spared from the threat of terrorism, although the risk is relatively low. On September 29, 2007, a bombing took place in a park in Malé, leaving a dozen people injured, including several Western tourists.

NATURAL RISKS

Monsoon season hits the northeast of the Maldives from November to April and the southwest from May to October, during which flooding and transport disruptions are to be expected.

Due to the poor maintenance of much of the country's infrastructure (surface and rainwater drainage), it is common for heavy rainfall to cause widespread flooding in the capital that may impact traffic.

The Maldives was hit by a tsunami in 2004 that devastated the region. Since then, the country has rebuilt and modernized the vast majority of its tourism infrastructure (e.g. hotels).

HEALTH

Regarding health conditions, it should be noted that typhoid, dengue fever, and chikungunya are all present in the country. The risk of contracting one of these diseases is much lower at tourist resorts than it is in the capital or on less-developed islands.

Finally, travelers should be aware that local hospitals are generally not equipped to deal with serious health issues and a medical evacuation (to southern India) should be considered in case of an emergency.

OTHER

The official religion of the Maldives archipelago - officially the Republic of the Maldives - is Islam and visitors should dress modestly and respect local customs while in public areas.

Climate

Days in the Maldives tend to be sunny, although regular (but brief) showers are not uncommon during the two rainy seasons. The northeast monsoon brings rain from December to March and the southwest monsoon from May to October. Rain is the heaviest during the second monsoon season, with a peak of rainfall observed between June and July. Temperatures rarely fall below 25°C and the average ocean temperature is 28°C.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +960 Police: 119

Electricity

Voltage: 230 V ~ 50 Hz

Outlets:

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