The Maldives economy is mainly based on fishing and tourism. There is a shortage of cultivable land and there are no mineral resources. The fragmentation of the many islands impedes economic development. A large part of the population lives outside or on the brink of the monetary economy through fishing, coconut harvesting or farming for housing needs. Fisheries and agriculture account for about 15 percent of official employment. Of the fish catch, 2/3 are tuna, a large part of which is exported. In agriculture, maize, jams and millet are grown mainly. As the population increase, the country has become more and more dependent on imports. The industry accounts for about 15 percent of employment and consists mainly of the food industry based on fishing, but there is also textile manufacturing and shipbuilding.
According to Countryaah, the most important trading partners are Thailand, Singapore and Sri Lanka. The international airport is located on the island of Hulule, near Male. The 2004 Indian Ocean Flood catastrophe caused a temporary disruption to the country’s tourism industry. Despite this and the international financial crisis during the late 1990s, the country’s economy has performed relatively well.
Tourism and gastronomy
Maldives tourism is focused on sun and bathing tourists. The Muslim religion’s demands for alcohol prohibition are complied with, which limits the market. The hotel capacity is distributed over a hundred islands with sandy beaches, coral reefs, swimming and sport diving as main attractions. To limit the effects of tourism on the country, tourists live fairly apart from the majority of the population and everyday society. The number of foreign visitors in 2012 amounted to 958,000. The tsunami disaster in 2004 and the financial crisis in 2008 meant temporary declines for the tourism industry.
The spices play an important role in Maldivian cuisine, and the use of chili, curry, garlic and ginger for the thoughts of India and Sri Lanka. Coconut is also a flavoring. Food intake is largely based on fish (often tuna or sea bass), rice, sweet potato and millet. Not infrequently the fish is dried and torn down into the pots. Fish curries, fish buns (galas), fish soup (often on tuna, garrudia), fish omelets and fish cakes are examples of fish dishes – most are eaten with unleavened bread (roschi). Tea is the most common meal drink.