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Bilateral Relations

India-Maldives Relations

As close and friendly neighbours, India and Maldives share ethnic, linguistic, cultural, religious and commercial links steeped in antiquity and enjoy cordial and multi-dimensional relations. India was among the first to recognise Maldives after its independence in 1965 and to establish diplomatic relations with the country. India established its mission at Malé in 1972.

Political relations

Bilateral relations have been nurtured and strengthened by regular contacts at all levels. Since establishment of diplomatic relations, almost all Prime Ministers of India visited the Maldives. Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and former President Mohamed Nasheed made a number of visits to India during their Presidencies.

The last Indian PM’s bilateral visit to Maldives was immediately after the SAARC Summit in November 2011. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, at the invitation of the then President-elect Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, visited Maldives on 17 November 2018 to attend the swearing in ceremony of President Solih. President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih paid his first State Visit after assuming office to India from 16-18 December 2018.

There is a regular exchange of high-level ministerial visits also.EAM Sushma Swaraj paid a visit to Maldives from 17-18 March 2019, at the invitation of H.E. Mr. Abdulla Shahid, Foreign Minister of Maldives.Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid, paid his first visit after assuming office, to India from 24-27 November 2018. Defence Minister of Maldives Ms. Mariya Ahmed Didi visited India in January 2019.

Foreign Minister Dr. Asim who took over from Ms. DunyaMaumoon in July 2016, made his first official visit abroad to India on 15-16 August 2016.  Minister of State for Tourism, Culture & Civil Aviation Dr. Mahesh Sharma also visited Maldives from June 3-5, 2015 to attend UNWTO Regional Ministerial Conference.  Indian Minister of Health and Family Welfare Shri J P Nadda (July 25-27, 2015) visited Maldives to participate in Maldives Golden Jubilee Independence Celebrations; Maldives Minister of Finance Mr. Abdulla Jihad visited India to participate in South Asia Economic Conclave (September 2015); Maldives Minister of Tourism MoosaZameer (February 24-27, 2016); Maldives Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture, Dr Mohamed Shainee, January 2017 to attend the Raisina Dialogue.

Bilateral Assistance

India is a leading development partner of Maldives and has established many of the leading institutions of Maldives including the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH), Faculty of Engineering Technology (FET) and Faculty of Hospitality & Tourism Studies (IMFFHTS). India has offered assistance to Maldives wherever required. After the tsunami that struck Maldives on December 26, 2004, India was the first country to rush relief and aid to Maldives. India provided a budget support aid of Rs.10 crores in view of the serious financial difficulties being faced by Maldives on account of the tsunami and related factors. Assistance of US Dollars equivalent of Rs.100 million in July 2007 towards assistance was given following tidal surges in May 2007.

Development Assistance Programme

The major completed and ongoing development assistance projects executed by India are:

  • Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital; Major renovation of IGMH funded by GoI was completed in June 2017.
  • Faculty of Engineering Technology (now called the Maldives Polytechnic)
  • India-Maldives Faculty of Hospitality & Tourism Studies
  • Technology Adoption Programme in Education Sector in Maldives
  • Composite Training Centre for MNDF
  • Coastal Radar system
  • Construction of National Police Academy (ISLES)
  • Construction of new Ministry of Defence Headquarters


Economic and Commercial relations

India and Maldives signed a trade agreement in 1981, which provides for export of essential commodities. Growing from modest beginnings, India-Maldives bilateral trade now stands at Rs.700 crores. Indian exports to the Maldives include agriculture and poultry produce, sugar, fruits, vegetables, spices, rice, wheat flour (Atta), textiles, drugs and medicines, a variety of engineering and industrial products, sand and aggregate, cement for building etc. Indian imports primarily scrap metals from the Maldives. Under the bilateral agreement, India provides essential food items like rice, wheat flour, sugar, dal, onion, potato and eggs and construction material such as sand and stone aggregates to Maldives on favourable terms.


GDP at market priceUS $   4,280.7 million (Real: 2017)
US $   4,648.3million (Nominal: 2017)
GDP per capitaUS $    8906.4  (2017)
Real GDP Growth Rate (at market price)6.9% (2017)
Total Trade
US$ 2,554.29 million (2017)
US$ 2,355.38 million (2017)
US$ 198.92 million (2017)
Number of Registered Resorts
& Guest House
138 (till August 2018) 496
Tourist Arrivals1.389 million (2017)
Contribution to GDP (2016)Tourism25.4%
 Real Estate8.1%

Indian Business in Maldives

State Bank of India has been playing a vital role in the economic development of the Maldives since February, 1974 by providing loan assistance for promotion of island resorts, export of marine products and business enterprises. Taj Group of India runs two resorts in Maldives, namely Taj Exotica Resort & Spa and Vivanta Coral Reef Resort.  Several other leading companies like Tata Housing also have a presence in Maldives.

People-to-People contacts

Air India operates daily flights to Malé from Thiruvananthapuram, Bangalore and Chennai; Spice Jet of India runs daily flights between Male and Cochin. Island Aviation Service (Maldivian Aero) is operating daily flights to Thiruvananthapuram and Chennai (thrice a week). The proximity of location and improvements in air connectivity in recent years has led to a very substantial increase in the number of Indians visiting Maldives for tourism (around 45,000) and business. India is a preferred destination for Maldivian for education, medical treatment, recreation and business. The number of Maldivians seeking long term visa for pursuing higher studies/medical treatment in India has shown a sharp increase over the last two years.

Cultural relations

Both the countries share long cultural links and continuous efforts are underway to further strengthen these linkages. Exchange of cultural troupes takes place regularly between the countries. Hindi commercial films, TV serials and music are immensely popular in Maldives.The India Cultural Center (ICC), established in Male in July 2011, conducts regular courses in yoga, classical music and dance. ICC programmes have become immensely popular among Maldivians of all ages.

Indian Community

Indians are the second largest expatriate community in the Maldives with approximate strength of around 22,000. Indian expatriate community consists of workers as well as professionals like doctors, teachers, accountants, managers, engineers, nurses and technicians etc. spread over several islands. Of the country’s approximately 400 doctors, over 125 are Indians. Similarly around 25% of teachers in Maldives are Indians, mostly at middle and senior levels.

Useful resources


June 2019

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