| · Maldives – Just Above Sea Level
The Maldive Republic in the Indian Ocean is a chain of 1,190 coral islands grouped into 26 atolls covering 300 km2. The larger Maldive Islands have an average size of about 1 km2 and are only 1 or 2 metres above sea level. The population is about 350,000 people (200 inhabited islands, plus 80 islands with tourist resorts). The population remains almost totally indigenous except for seven percent who are of mixed foreign descent.
Tourism is the Maldives’ largest industry. Over 90 per cent of government tax revenue comes from import duties and tourism-related taxes. Fishing is the second largest economic activity. The Indian Ocean tsunami in December 2004 left more than 100 dead, 12,000 displaced, and property damage exceeding US$300 million.
All Maldivians are required to be Muslim culturally and legally under threat of life imprisonment. The practice of any other religion and of missionary work is forbidden. Yet materialism, fear and “black magic” abound. Also the islands have the highest divorce rate in the world, and approximately 70 per cent of young men on the main island called Male are addicted to drugs.
Christians Were Imprisoned and Tortured
Only a few Maldivian people have come to faith in Christ in recent years, and some have suffered imprisonment and torture. Yet, owing to the importance of the tourism industry, Christians may still have an inroad for the gospel. Portions of the New Testament exist in the local language, Dhivehi. Gospel radio programmes have been broadcast since 1998 despite all efforts to stop them. In the 1990s the government cracked down on non-Islamic religions. Christians were imprisoned and even tortured, though international attention and pressure secured their release. Maldivian Christians are still being closely watched and are unable to meet together openly. They often suffer loss of family, jobs, public reputation, etc.
One Christian has recently seen three or four Muslims come to faith and another was able to baptise one person. On the same island two people have had dreams about Jesus and they want to know more about Christ. A visitor to the Maldives has said, “It was really weird to be in a country where it is against the law to be a Christian. There weren’t any signs of anything Christian. There is not a single church or anyone wearing a cross. There were no Bibles, if you can imagine.” In spite of the absence of man-made evidence of God’s presence in the islands, you can be sure that He is there. He remembers his promise to Abraham to bless all the peoples of the earth (Gen 12).
Prayer requests for the Maldives:
* Pray that God will reveal Himself in the Maldives through dreams, visions, radio broadcasts, cassettes, and witnessing.
* Pray for the strengthening of the faith of the Maldivian Christians, though they be scattered and in hiding.
* Pray for the financial well-being of Maldivian believers who have suffered material loss owing to their faith.
* Pray that Maldivian Muslims will see the good deeds of Christians and glorify the one and only True God (1 Pet 2:12).
* Pray for the completion of the Bible translation in Dhivehi.
* Pray for the authorities in the Maldives (1 Tim. 2:1-2).
Background on Maldives (World Factbook)
1,190 Coral Islands: less than 200 are inhabited. A third of the population live on Male, the capital island, a 1-hectare concrete jungle.
40% addicts: two-fifths of Maldivian youths use hard drugs (according to a rough U.N. estimate).
The Maldives is 100 % Muslim. Islamist parties surged against President Mohamed Nasheed, the country’s first democratically elected leader (2008 – 2012).
The Maldives was long a sultanate, first under Dutch and then under British protection. It became a republic in 1968, three years after independence. President Maumoon Abdul GAYOOM dominated the islands’ political scene from 1978 – 2008. Following riots in the capital Male in August 2004, the government pledged to embark upon democratic reforms, including a more representative political system and expanded political freedoms. In early February 2012, after several weeks of street protests following his sacking of a top judge, the presidency changed hands to former Vice President Mohammed WAHEED Hassan Maniku. Tourism and fishing are being developed on the archipelago. Maldives officials have played a prominent role in the international climate change discussion (due to the islands’ low elevation and the threat from sea-level rise).
Economy of Maldives
Tourism, Maldives’ largest industry, accounts for 28% of GDP and more than 60% of the Maldives’ foreign exchange receipts. Over 90% of government tax revenue comes from import duties and tourism-related taxes. Fishing is a second leading sector. 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.
About the Maldives
Population: 394,451 (July 2012 est.) World rank #176
Life Expectancy at Birth: 74.69 years. World rank #101
Ethnic groups: South Indians, Sinhalese, Arabs
Religions: Sunni Muslim
Languages: Maldivian Dhivehi (dialect of Sinhala, script derived from Arabic), English spoken by most government officials
Literacy: 96.3% — Male: 96.2%, Female: 96.4%
School life expectancy: 12 years
Madives’ social division – Video
The Government fears religious extremism is threatening the social fabric …