Home to about 330,000 people living on 190 islands, Maldives was among the world’s poorest countries just three decades ago. However, in 2011, the country earned middle-income status — mostly fueled by rich marine life and biodiversity along with a booming tourism industry. The island nation has also achieved notable improvements in health and education, with life expectancy of 77 years — compared to 79 in the United States — and a 97 percent literacy rate. Maldives has become a role model for other Muslim nations that are transitioning to democracies.
To strengthen democratic governance, USAID programs help civil society organizations monitor political competition and promote free and fair elections. And to mitigate the impacts of global climate change, USAID is improving water security and increasing Maldivians’ capacity to adapt to a changing environment. Despite recent advances, Maldives still faces undeniable challenges to its future progress due to significant threats posed by climate change and the uncertain, democratic transition. High population density and dependence on climate-sensitive industries such as fisheries and tourism exacerbate the country’s vulnerability.
Last updated: November 04, 2013