|Republic of Maldives|
Area 298 sq.km. 1,200 coral islands in 19 administrative groups 600 km southwest of Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean. Only 202 islands are inhabited. These have an average size of less than 1 sq.km and all are between one and two metres above sea level.
Capital Male 70,000. Urbanites 27%.
Indigenous 93%. Maldivians of Dravidian origin.
Foreign 7%. Indian, Sri Lankan, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and some Westerners, mainly in temporary employment.
Literacy 93%. Official language Dhivehi of Sanskrit origin.
Fishing and tourism are the significant foreign exchange earners. Lack of fertile soil and fresh water and the high population density keep the people at subsistence level. HDI 0.716; 93rd/174. Public debt 51% of GNP. Income/person $1,180 (4% of USA).
Long tradition of isolated independence. The nominal British protectorate terminated in 1965. A non-party republic since 1968.
Islam is the only recognized religion. The open practice of all other religions is forbidden. Islam is strongly promoted for national unity and preservation of the government's power.
1 Global warming threatens the survival of the Islands through rising sea levels that could flood and destroy them. Coral mining and a recent rise in sea temperature resulting from el Niño has killed much of the coral that is the foundation of these islands. Pray that this doomsday challenge may cause many to seek the caring God who sent Jesus.
2 The Maldivians are still among the least evangelized on earth. No Christian mission work has ever been permitted nor Christian literature allowed. Yet by various means some Maldivians came to faith in Christ during the 1990s. A severe crack-down by the authorities in 1998 resulted in the imprisonment and torture of 50 Maldivians suspected of being Christian and the expulsion of 19 Christian expatriates from several nations. International prayer and protest levered the release of the Maldivians from prison later in the year. Pray that they may not become discouraged but live for Jesus despite the spiritual pressures under which they live.
3 Maldivian believers are now physically free but carefully watched. They have suffered ostracism, loss of jobs and they cannot openly meet together or read the Scriptures. Pray that their faith may be strengthened and their lives radiate the beauty of Jesus to others. Pray also that the high-handedness of the authorities may provoke many to question the dictatorial imposition of what they should believe.
b) The Scriptures which are being translated into Dhivehi pray that this may be completed soon. Pray also for ways to import Scriptures and Christian literature there is a rigid censorship being applied. Only small portions of scripture are currently available. Pray for the progress of the translation effort and for ways that the people may have free access to the Word in their heart language.
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