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  • Maldives has an area of 90,000 sq. km, with the sea encompassing 99.6 per cent.
  • The remaining land is distributed over more than 1,200 islands.
  • Experts predict that 80% of the Maldives will cease to exist by 2050 due to “Global Boiling”.
  • Maldives, with 98 per cent literacy, is a nation of contradictions.
  • These include a constitution that bars non-Sunnis from becoming a Maldivian citizen.
  • Maldives has a nascent civil society, a problem of increasing drug abuse and growing inequality.
  • Maldivian economy is dependent on external factors with a distorted labour market.

Background & Developments: Chinese Visit of Maldivian President

  • Current Maldivian President Muizzu is regarded as “pro-China” and is on a state visit to China.
  • The Maldivian President discussed tourism diversification at China’s “Invest Maldives” Forum.
  • China was the top source of tourists for the Maldives. India, post-COVID, took this position.
  • China was hailed as “the closest ally and developmental partner of Maldives”.
  • The Maldivian President also commended the Belt and Road initiative.
  • Agreements to enhance trade and socioeconomic cooperation will also be considered.
  • Post-election, Maldivian President Muizzu first visited Türkiye, reversing his predecessors trend.
  • Earlier, Maldives’ Vice President also participated in the China-sponsored China-Indian Ocean Region Forum on Development Cooperation (CIORF).
  • Maldives’ first bilateral FTA was signed with China in 2017.

Belt and Road Initiative

  • BRI is an ambitious plan initiated by Chinese President Xi in 2013.
  • It aims to develop new trade routes connecting China with the rest of the world via land and maritime networks to improve regional integration, increase trade and stimulate economic growth.

Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)

India’s historical support to Maldives

  • India is the closest neighbour of Maldives at 70 nautical miles.
  • Buddhism in Maldives was replaced in the 12th century by Islam.
  • During the British protectorate years, Maldives depended on India for essentials and communication.
  • The State Bank of India, the largest bank of Maldives, helped build the country’s tourist economy.
  • The defence cooperation includes helicopters and joint exercises like the Ekuverin and Ekatha.
  • Operation Cactus (Military Coup 1988), Operation Castor (Tsunami Relief 2004), and Operation Neer (Water Shortage 2014) were carried out by India in the Maldives to assist in a crisis.
  • India provides essential items in bulk, like food grains, potatoes and onions, eggs, vegetables, river sand, and construction material, as a special dispensation.
  • In the Yameen govt (Pro-China predecessor of Muizzu) Maldives has accused India of interfering in its domestic affairs, causing its “India First” policy to be eclipsed by a strong India Out” movement.
  • Despite rising convergence, the current government is unlikely to take drastic measures that would alter relations with India.

For details on India-Maldives relations, visit >India-Maldives Relations.

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