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Map of Maldives

The Maldives was long a sultanate, first under Dutch and then under British protection. It became a republic in 1968, three years after independence. Since 1978, President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom - currently in his sixth term in office - has dominated the islands' political scene. Following riots in the capital Male in August 2004, the president and his government pledged to embark upon democratic reforms, including a more representative political system and expanded political freedoms. Political parties were legalized in 2005. A constituent assembly - termed the "special majlis" - has pledged to complete the drafting of a new constitution by the end of 2007 and first-ever presidential elections under a multi-candidate, multi-party system are slated for November 2008. Tourism and fishing are being developed on the archipelago. Maldivian Dhivehi (a dialect of Sinhala, script derived from Arabic) is spoken.
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