Location: Indian Ocean
Time zone: GMT/UTC plus 5 hours
Daylight savings time: no
Current time: 19:05
Dialling code: +960
Internet suffix: .mv
The Maldives is an island chain country in the Indian Ocean known for its beautiful atolls and pleasant climate.
While the country can suffer from political tensions, the extremely popular resort islands are almost always unaffected.
The vast majority of trips to the country are incident-free (and usually blissful) but in the event of an unplanned crisis (such as a natural disaster or personal accident or illness) there may be little available in the way of public assistance or adequate healthcare.
Overall security situation: mostly secure
Crime rate: very low
Murder rate: moderate
Gun ownership levels: average
Kidnapping hotspot: no
Maritime piracy hotspot: no
Do landmines/unexploded munitions pose a significant risk in parts of the country: no
When examining the security environment of the Maldives, it is best to divide the country into two parts. The resort islands where most foreigners visit are extremely safe, with low crime and overall stability.
Malé island, however, is where the majority of the country’s inhabitants reside. Conditions are somewhat different here from a security perspective, although the vast majority of foreign travellers will not set foot on the island.
Wherever you are in the Maldives, the crime rate is very low, but the capital, as the centre of government, can sometimes be the focal point of political tensions. As such, demonstrations can sometimes take place. The authorities may also use excessive force to control events, bringing an additional level of risk to anyone in the area, although events can be easily avoided and casualties are normally minimal.
There is a residual risk of terrorism on the island, with some, mostly low-level incidents taking place in recent years.
Overall, however, the country could be described as safe. For foreigners travelling to the resort islands, separated by many miles from the capital, conditions can be thought of as extremely safe.
Aviation safety levels: potential concerns
Annual road fatality rates: low
Vehicles drive on the: left
Infrastructure quality: poor
Urban ATM availability: moderate
Electricity supply: 230V 50Hz
Electricity supply reliability: relatively consistent
Plug types: C, D, G, J, K and L
Plug type C (2 round pins, not grounded/earthed, common in Europe, South America and Asia)
Plug type D (3 round pins, top pin is larger than the others, grounded/earthed, mainly used in India, socket compatible with plug type C, unsafe socket compatibility with plug types E and F)
Plug type G (3 rectangular pins, grounded/earthed, mainly used in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Malta, Malaysia and Singapore)
Plug type J (3 round pins, grounded/earthed, used almost exclusively in Switzerland, Lichtenstein and Rwanda, socket compatible with plug type C)
Plug type K (2 round pins, 1 semi-circular pin, grounded/earthed, used almost exclusively in Denmark and Greenland, socket compatible with plug type C, unsafe socket compatibility with plug types E and F)
Plug type L (3 round pins on a horizontal plane, grounded/earthed, used almost exclusively in Italy and Chile)
Is tap water drinkable: no
Healthcare quality: poor
Infectious disease prevalence: moderate
Travellers should consult a medical practitioner prior to their trip but the following vaccines may be considered before travelling to the country, depending on factors such as specific destination, planned activities, intended time and length of stay as well as personal medical conditions (in some cases no additional vaccines may be required at all):
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Standard vaccinations (ie those commonly used in the developed world, such as diphtheria, measles, mumps, polio, rubella, tuberculosis and tetanus)
Malaria risk: none
Yellow fever presence: no
Dengue fever prevalence: frequent cases
Rabies prevalence: low risk
HIV prevalence in society: low
Hepatitis A prevalence: high
Hepatitis B prevalence: low
Hepatitis E prevalence: not highly endemic
Cholera status: low risk
Chikungunya virus presence: present
Zika virus presence: not recently reported
Japanese encephalitis presence: no
Cutaneous leishmaniasis presence: non-endemic
Visceral leishmaniasis presence: non-endemic
Onchocerciasis presence: non-endemic
Schistosomiasis presence: none
Tick-borne encephalitis status: low/non-existent risk
Chagas disease presence: none
Typhoid fever presence: sporadic
African trypanosomiasis presence: none
Plague status: not thought to be present
Rift Valley fever status: not present
Lassa fever status: not present
Polio status: not endemic
Ebola outbreaks: no
Meningococcal meningitis hotspot: no
Climate: tropical; hot, humid; dry, northeast monsoon (November to March); rainy, southwest monsoon (June to August)
Terrain: flat, with white sandy beaches
Natural disaster risk: low (although the low-level of the islands leaves them vulnerable to any sea-level-related future disasters should they occur)
Natural hazards: tsunamis; storm surge; some seismic activity; vulnerability to sea level rises
Tropical storms: few/none
Volcanic activity: low/none
Previous earthquake(s) with over 1,000 fatalities: no
Government type: republic
Socio-economic development score: 7/10 (high levels of socio-economic development)
Adult literacy rate: 99.3%
Unemployment rate: moderately high
Civil liberties: some restrictions, usually mild
Investment rating: not rated
Corruption levels: high
Same-sex sexual activity: illegal
Death penalty: official punishment but not used in practice
Languages: Dhivehi (official), English also widely spoken
Ethnic groups: South Indians, Sinhalese, Arabs
Beliefs: Sunni Muslim (official)
- The following advice has been compiled by travel safety specialists and ex-special forces personnel.
- However, please note that it is of a general nature only and may not reflect the reality of your circumstances.
- Ensure you have proper insurance cover in place.
- Select good quality accommodation and properly prepare for any tasks, excursions or other activities you have to undertake.
- Be mindful of local laws and cultural norms, bearing in mind that they might be different to what you are accustomed to.
- Try to use reputable airlines.
- Check the safety records of any companies you use to charter flights.
- Check the weather forecast in advance of travel – particularly for domestic flights.
- Consider delaying your trip or using an alternative means of transport rather than taking a risky flight.
- Bear in mind that healthcare facilities and services may be less extensive than what you are used to at home.
- Facilities and services may be particularly limited in rural areas.
- Pharmacies may not offer the same medications you might be accustomed to being able to purchase at home.
- If you use any medications on a regular basis, consider taking extra supplies.
- It may also be advisable to have them accompanied by a note from your doctor.
- In the event of serious or complicated illness or injury it may be necessary for a patient to be evacuated out of the country.
- Ensure that there is sufficient medical insurance in place to cover such an event.
- If rainfall, flooding, extreme temperatures or other types of severe weather are a concern, check the local weather patterns to find out if there are times of the year where the risk is much higher.
- Consider avoiding travel to at-risk destinations during these times.
- Try to stay in good quality accommodation.
- Take appropriate clothing and footwear.
- Take appropriate protection for any sensitive equipment you wish to bring.
- Note that storms, flooding and other types of harsh weather can overload infrastructure, lead to traffic jams and power cuts.
- Flooding and heavy rainfall can also raise the risk of landslides, as well as insect- and water-borne diseases in some parts of the world.
- As such, be prepared to delay, alter or even cancel travel plans to affected or high-risk areas.
Religious or conservative attitudes
- Exercise sensitivity in societies which place a high value on perceived morality, even if it goes against personal beliefs and values.
- Research what local cultural practises, attitudes, values and laws you will need to be mindful of before travelling.
- Note that some behaviours, interactions and attire may also attract unwanted attention, cause offence or trigger a hostile response.
- Note that some subjects may be taboo so avoid discussing them with people if you think it might cause offence.
- Be prepared to respond at short notice to any seismic activity.
- Create an emergency plan to follow in the event of an incident that involves a communications breakdown, so you can meet colleagues at a designated meeting point if you are separated and cannot get in contact with one another.
- Practise drills such as “drop, seek cover and hold on” procedure so that you can take shelter as soon as an incident occurs.
- Know the location of your nearest medical kit and medically trained personnel.
- Knowledge of basic first aid will also be very useful.
- Get away from glass or anything that could fall if shaking starts.
- Consider carrying a whistle that can be used to alert first responders in the event that you are trapped after an earthquake – although bear in mind that in some circumstances and/or locations there may not be much in the way of first response capabilities, particularly following a damaging earthquake.
- In the event of an incident, avoid damaged buildings that might still be at risk of collapse.
- Be prepared for aftershocks.
- Note that earthquakes can trigger tsunamis and landslides so be prepared to move out of harm’s way once the shaking has stopped.
- You may need to move very quickly and with limited time.
- Civil unrest can lead to road closures and even curfews, which can affect your travel plans.
- Be prepared for delays and route alterations.
- Avoid demonstrations as they can turn violent.
- If demonstrations take place on a frequent basis, research the trends which tend to accompany them.
- Where do they tend to take place? Do they tend to turn violent? Do attendees target specific types of building or representative interests associated with a specific nationality, industry, political group (such as party political offices, state buildings or foreign-owned businesses)?
- Once you have identified the sorts of risks, trends and areas of higher risk to be avoided you can start planning to minimise your exposure.
- Research and familiarise yourself with your destination in advance of travel.
- Find out what the local criminal trends are and identify any potential hotspots, such as certain neighbourhoods.
- You may wish to avoid the higher risk areas, but this is not always practical.
- As such, in higher risk areas exercise caution and be aware of your surroundings.
- Note that jewellery, watches, mobile phones, laptops or other items may mark you out as a potential target for petty thieves.
- Be careful with your wallet and cash.
- Note that crime trends can change, and the level of risk can become higher, after dark.
- In general, use your gut instincts and be prepared avoid situations, places or people that seem suspicious, odd or wrong in some way.
- Terrorism can pose a risk, even in otherwise mostly safe countries.
- Assess the trends and tactics of any relevant terrorist organisations with the potential for targeting your location and identify potential targets.
- Be vigilant in and around these areas, which could include crowded places, symbolic or sensitive political sites, or busy restaurant, nightlife or tourist spots.
- Use your judgement on the frequency of incidents taking place. Just because an incident has taken place in a certain city does not mean that the city will regularly be hit again – use rational judgement to decide whether or not there is a likelihood that you will be caught up in any future incidents.
- Be aware of your surroundings and be prepared to react at short notice in the event of an incident.
- In the event of an incident, get out of the area quickly if it is safe to do so.
- Alternatively hide and try to keep out of harm’s way.
- In most cases you should only try to help other people if it is safe for you to do so.
- Keep quiet and notify the relevant authorities, colleagues or loved ones only when you are out of danger.
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