Language(s): Maldivian Dhivehi
Total Area: 298 km²
GDP (in million USD): 1,433
Located southwest off the southern tip of India, the Maldives is composed of groups widely dispersed of islands. The Maldives was one of the victims of the December 2004 Tsunami, causing an estimated US$300 million in damage.
The country draws its income from tourism and from fishing. Maldivian authorities worry about the impact of erosion and possible global warming on their low-lying country; 80% of the area is one meter or less above sea level.
Some of the houses on Malé are built in imitation of those in Colombo. Most residential units throughout the country have brick walls, some of which are also plastered, and roofs of galvanized metal sheets. The poorest homes are made from thatch and sticks. According to a 2000 housing census, there were about 43,556 residential units nationwide. About 96% were detached dwellings. About 325 were apartments. The average dwelling size is from three to six rooms. About 48% of all dwellings had been built from 1990–2000. Nearly 68% of the population relies on rain water as a primary source of water; 43% of all dwellings have septic tanks. About 84% of households have electric lighting, but firewood and oil are the primary heating and cooking fuels.
Foreign investors are not allowed to own land, but are granted lease rights ranging up to 25 years, which can be later extended to 35 years for investments over $10 million.