Maldives Economy Facts

Economical overview

The backbone of the Maldives economy is tourism and fishing exports. Both industries are sensitive to economic crises in the outside world. During the 2010s, the Maldives took large loans from mainly China to develop the infrastructure.

The first tourist resort was built in 1972, but tourism has gained momentum since the country’s first international airport was completed in 1981. The hotel facilities have been located on previously deserted islands. Around 100 islands have been built with hotels. In the 2010s, the tourism industry continued to expand, the number of tourists increased rapidly and tourism’s share of the country’s GDP rose.

  • Major imports by Maldives, covering a full list of top products imported by the country and trade value for each product category.

The fishing industry gained momentum when the 1980s and 1990s focused on a transition from traditional coconut palm boats to motorboats. In addition, the industry was positively affected by the liberalization of the largely state-controlled economy. Fish is the majority of Maldives’ goods exports. It is mainly tuna that is sold abroad, mainly in frozen, dried or preserved form.

Supported by strong growth in tourism and fishing, other industries have also benefited, including the transport and construction sectors. Tax revenues, not least from tourism, have been used, among other things, to build roads.

  • Check this abbreviation website to find three letter ISO codes for all countries in the world, including MDV which represents the country of Maldives. Check findjobdescriptions to learn more about Maldives.

The Indian Ocean catastrophe disaster on December 26, 2004, destroyed many islands and caused major material damage. Both fishing and tourism were hit by a break and growth was negative in 2005. However, the recovery went unexpectedly fast and soon the country was able to show a good growth rate again. The global economic crisis that erupted in the fall of 2008 reached the Maldives in the form of declining revenues from tourism. The economy shrank in 2009, but grew sharply again the following year. Since then, growth has fluctuated but has largely been good.

There is a deficit in Maldives’ foreign trade (imports are greater than exports) and in the state’s finances. The deficits have been covered by loans and a debt mountain has been built up. During the Yamin government, from 2013 to 2018, the Maldives borrowed large sums from China and the deficit in trade with China grew sharply. At the end of 2019, the Maldives’ debt to China was estimated to be around $ 1.4 billion. Another major lender and aid provider is Saudi Arabia.


GDP per person

US $ 10,224 (2018)

Total GDP

US $ 5,272 million (2018)

GDP growth

6.1 percent (2018)

Agriculture’s share of GDP

5.6 percent (2017)

Manufacturing industry’s share of GDP

2.2 percent (2017)

The service sector’s share of GDP

67.4 percent (2017)


1.5 percent (2019)

Government debt’s share of GDP

68.0 percent (2018)

External debt

US $ 1,365 million (2017)



Merchandise exports

US $ 339 million (2018)


US $ 2,760 million (2018)

Current account

– US $ 1,338 million (2018)

Commodity trade’s share of GDP

63 percent (2018)

Main export goods

fish and fish products

Largest trading partner

Thailand, Sri Lanka, United Kingdom, France, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, India, Malaysia

Maldives Economy Facts

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