The economy of the Maldives
You can find two things in abundance in the Maldives: fish and coconuts. So people live from the export of fish, coconuts and also from cowries. Then there are the tourists. So far the government has not yet succeeded in generating further income. The Maldives have to import almost everything that is quite expensive. 40 out of 100 people in the Maldives live largely from fishing.
Tuna was particularly important in fishing for many years. The fishermen went far out to sea in their traditional boats, the dhonis, to fish for the tuna. This was not done with the net, but with the fishing rod. The heavy tuna landed in the boat and the catch was divided up. Tuna is still caught in this way today. This makes it one of the most environmentally friendly fishing methods of all, because young fish can be sorted out and bycatch avoided.
Even today, many fishermen in the Maldives find their livelihood because they value sustainability and thus ensure that there are still fish in their waters. The fish is then processed further. Not only do the fishermen live from the catch, but Maldivians also find work in fish factories and in boat building. However, there is still a risk that international fishing boats, which catch the fish with nets, will chase the fish away from the small regional fishermen.
Rice in the Maldives?
In return for their exports, the Maldivians import rice, which, along with fish, is one of the islands’ staple foods. There is no cattle breeding and only a small amount of vegetables and fruit. Mainly millet, cassava and sweet potatoes are grown.
Tourism and luxury
The main source of income in the Maldives is tourism. The islands weren’t discovered by tourists until quite late in the 1970s. Then many hotels were built and continue to be built. Many people today live directly or indirectly from tourism.
But you also have to see that a lot of money goes abroad and the profits of the hotels usually do not go straight to the residents. International hotel groups then do the business as well as the Maldivian state, which charges high rent. The money then reaches the people again, at least indirectly. And many people find work in the tourism sector – work that would not exist on the islands without tourism.
Many hotels are luxury hotels that cost a lot of money. This is how the islands are protected from mass tourism. The government is also paying attention to sustainability, at least largely. For a long time tourists were also not allowed to establish contact with the locals. In the meantime you can also visit some of the small islands with their inhabitants and get to know the country and especially the people. Meanwhile, tourism in the middle price range is also growing.
Since the small country lived and lives mainly from tourism, the Corona crisis hit the Maldives hard. After the economy had grown earlier, the national debt rose.
What is a dhoni?
House and boat have been the Maldivians’ most important possessions for centuries. The traditional boats in the Maldives are the dhonis. The hulls of ships used to be made of the hard wood of the coconut palm. Today, other hardwoods are mostly used.
Dhonis are both taxi and bus to get from island to island. You can use them to head for the main town of Malé and shop there before sailing back. Today tourists are also often brought from island to island with these boats. In addition to transporting goods, the boats were also used for fishing.
The shape of these boats has not changed for many centuries. It was not until the 1970s and 1980s that they changed their shape so that modern diesel engines could find a place on the boat.
The garbage problem
The garbage produced by locals and tourists is growing more and more. There is an island called Thilafushi, on which the garbage piles up. Hundreds of meters of rubbish beach grows every day. In fact, this is where the Maldives’ highest mountain is located on this trash island. It’s a garbage island.
In 1992 the government decided to store the garbage here. The municipal waste dump in the capital Malé was too small, so a remedy had to be found. 330 tons of waste land here every day. They are burned without regard to any environmental regulations. The waste is not separated.
Every tourist leaves an average of 3.5 kilograms of garbage behind. The individual hotels load the garbage on boats and ship this garbage to the island, where it is transported on. Guest workers from Bangladesh usually take on this work. They collect usable metals for little money, which are then sold to India. The work is dangerous because toxic fumes, smoke and the risk of explosions prevail. There are almost no animals and plants on the island. Heavy metals and toxic liquids get into the water and the poisoned water does not stop at the other islands.
Cars in the Maldives?
There are cars in the Maldives, a country located in Asia according to carswers, but most of them drive on the main island and in the capital Malé. The island is only two square kilometers, but every year more and more vehicles are released onto the roads. But the most important means of transport, especially between the islands, is still the ship or boat. Seaplanes are also used.