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The Maldivian economy has seen phenomenal growth throughout the 80s and early 90s. During the late 90s the emphasis has been more on stabilizing the growth and attaining sustainability.

The Maldivian economic miracle was characterized by a marked shift away from primary commodity exports to value added exports and services.

The GDP estimated at RF 1,048.1 Million in 1991, had grown to Rf 1,121 by 1992 and RF 1,190 million in 1993 (at 1985 constant prices) The per capita GDP RF 4,857 (US$ 684) in 1992 and RF 4,993 (US$ 703) in 1993. The average growth rate was 6.2% from 1992 to 1993.

The main industries are tourism, fishing, shipping and commerce. Tourism is the main foreign exchange earner.


The fisheries sector is one of the main foreign exchange earning sectors. Although the fisheries sectors contribution to GDP has fallen from 16.11% (1984) of GDP to 11.8% (1994), this was a relative reduction resulting from faster growth in other sectors. The sector remains strong and vibrant and in absolute terms the value of the fisheries sectors contribution has increased from Rf 85.0 Million in 1984 to Rf 149.5 Million in 1994.
In the past two decades the Maldives has brought important innovations to this traditional sector. The age-old sailboat was replaced with the mechanized boat. A tuna-canning factory was established at Felivaru and Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs) were placed in strategic locations. In recent years, the government opened up the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Maldives for fisheries and the increase in the number of vessels in this zone has enhanced the growth of the fisheries sector.

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The tourism sector is the largest foreign exchange earning sector. Tourist arrival has increased from 83814 in 1984 to 279,655 in 1994. Furthermore there has also been a large increase in bed capacity from 4724 to 10,108 in 10 years. The huge demand from the emerging economies in Asia helped to more than offset the decrease in arrivals from Europe due to recessions. This also decreased the dependence on Europes economic condition. In 1994 the number of tourist totaling 279,655 exceeded the local population of 244,644

Fisheries: Where's the Bite Gone?

Exporters have known for some time that the quality of Maldive fish was becoming crucial. But they were not particularly concerned since Sri Lanka, the main market for dried and salted fish, was still hooked on 'umbala kada'. This illusion of security was shattered dramatically last year. The writing on the wall is now clear....
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