According to Countryaah, the Maldives population is of mixed origin. The islands were probably first populated by Sinhalese from Sri Lanka and Dravids from South India, but these have gradually been mixed with Arabs, among others. The average population density is very high (1,732 residents per km2, 2019). The capital Male (134,200 residents, 2012) is the only real city; most of the residents live in smaller villages. Only 20 islands have more than a thousand residents.
- AllCityPopulation: Find Maldives demographics including latest population, life expectancy, age structure, and urbanization.
The official language and majority language is divehi, an indian language closely related to Sinhalese. English, Arabic and Hindi are also used.
From previously embracing Buddhism, the population switched to Islam in 1153. Virtually everyone is a Sunni Muslim. Other religions must not be proclaimed in public.
In September, an assassination attempt was made against President Yameen as he returned from a pilgrimage to Mecca. A month later, Vice President Ahmed Adheeb and 17 of his supporters were arrested, charged with “crimes of public order,” and of having planned the attack on the president. Ten days later, the president put the country in the state of emergency and allowed the parliament to remove the vice president. In June 2016, Adheeb was sentenced to 15 years in prison for the assault.
The regime used the judiciary to hit political opponents. In February 2016, the head of the Adhaalath party, Sheikh Imran Abdulla, was sentenced to 12 years in prison for terrorism in a trial widely criticized as unfair and politically motivated. The Supreme Court upheld the judgments of former President Nasheed and former Secretary of Defense Mohamed Nazim.
In September 2016, the Commonwealth criticized for the third time the Maldives for its incarceration of opposition politicians and the confusion between political power and legal. The regime responded again by pulling the country out of British state society. (Maldives quits Commonwealth over alleged rights abuses, Guardian 13/10 2016).
The regime announced in June that it planned to resume the execution of death sentences in prisons after the death penalty for 60 years had not been executed. Of the 17 convicted inmates in prisons, at least 5 were convicted of crimes they committed as minors.
The government passed new laws limiting the possibility of peaceful protests and utterances. The legislation was used both against individuals and the media who had their offices searched by security forces.
The opposition organized a new coalition: Maldives United Opposition. It was led by former Vice President Mohamed Jameel and was advised by former President Mohamed Nasheed, who had been granted political asylum in the UK. At the same time, there were signs of increasing divide in the government coalition between supporters of the current president and those who supported former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.
In February 2018, the Supreme Court released nine political prisoners, declaring their cases to go after the court had determined that their “confessions” had resulted from torture. The country’s police chief then declared that he would follow the Supreme Court’s ruling and release the nine. He was then fired by the dictator Yameen. Hundreds of opposition supporters walked the streets to celebrate the release – and were met with teas and pepper spray by police. From his exile in Colombo, the country’s ousted president Nasheed declared that he would stand in a presidential election against dictator Yameen.