The South Asian island nation of Maldives is famous with people around the globe for its pristine beaches that attract over one million tourists a year. While the Maldives may be famous for its luxurious accommodations, the country still struggles with poverty and diversified economic development. In order to gain a better understanding of poverty in the country, below are the top 10 facts about poverty in the Maldives.
- Maldives’s economy has grown rapidly since emphasizing infrastructural development, offering many citizens hope of improved living standard. In 1980, Maldives had a GDP of merely $42.46 million. As of 2017, the country’s economy has risen to an estimated GDP of $4.51 billion, ranking it the 52nd highest in the world.
- Although GDP has certainly increased in recent years, the rate of economic growth in the Maldives has fluctuated. In the beginning years of rapid development, Maldives experienced as much as a 9 percent decrease in GDP due to political instability, global economic decline and a lack of diversified economy. Most recently, however, Maldives maintained a 7 percent economic growth rate.
- The service industry accounts for an overwhelming majority of the GDP in the Maldives at an estimated 81 percent, while industry and agriculture comprise 16 percent and 3 percent of the GDP, respectively. Although the service industry contributes the most money to Maldives’s economy, over 30 percent of the country’s 392,709 people work in agriculture and industry.
- The unemployment rate in the Maldives is low, with job opportunities for a large majority of people in the country. Due to increased economic development in the service industry, the unemployment rate in the Maldives has a projection of continuous decrease.
- Poverty rates in the Maldives have also steadily dropped as the economy of the country grows. In 2002, almost 23 percent of the population lived below the poverty line (defined as having anywhere between $1.90 and $3.10 a day). This number dropped to 15.7 percent by 2009, but poverty and hunger remain an issue in the Maldives. According to 2014-2016 estimates from the Asian Development Bank, 8.5 percent of the population suffers from undernourishment.
- Life expectancy in the Maldives has risen drastically catalyzed by rapid infrastructural and economic expansion. In 1960, the average lifetime of people in the country was approximately 37 years and has more than doubled to 77 years in 2016.
- School enrollment in the Maldives has surprisingly decreased since the country’s economic development. In 2012, 82 percent of primary school students completed their full studies, while this number was as high as 94 percent in 1996. This drop in academic persistence could be attributed to parental restriction and development of tourism industry that offers employment in early life stages.
- Despite lower primary school enrollment in the Maldives, the adult literacy rate in the country has increased and is currently at 98.61 percent. In young adults aged from 15 to 24, the literacy rate is at even higher 99.27 percent. Male and female literacy rates are relatively equal with 98.52 percent and 98.69 percent, respectively.
- Nearly half of Maldivians live in urban conditions (46.5 percent of the population). Urbanization in the country is a result of a migration shift as 44 percent of Maldivians shifted their place of residence, most to urban areas. This is most likely due to better work opportunities in the developed service industry.
- In the capital city of Malé, issues with population density have arisen, as 126,000 people (almost third of the population) claim to reside in the city. Of this number, only 57,000 are registered as residents. Population density is extremely high in Malé, with 59,570 people per square mile.
The Maldives has transformed its economy over the last few decades to become a luxury tourism hotspot. A drastic increase in the service industry, along with the small albeit present agricultural industry has allowed the country to improve its standard of living. Although the economy has rapidly grown, poverty for some people in the Maldives remains a reality. With a more diversified economy and population density issue resolved on the island nation, poverty will continue to decrease in the Maldives.
– Matthew Cline