This is an annual report produced in
conjunction with the Regional Security Office at the U.S. Embassy in Colombo, Sri
Lanka, which oversees security for Maldives.
U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory at the
date of this report’s publication assesses Maldives at Level 2, indicating
travelers should exercise increased caution
due to terrorism.
Crime and Safety Situation
Embassy in Sri Lanka does not assume responsibility for the professional
ability or integrity of the persons or firms appearing in this report. The
American Citizen Services unit (ACS) cannot recommend a particular individual
or establishment, and assumes no responsibility for the quality of services
OSAC’s Maldives-specific page for
original OSAC reporting, consular messages, and contact information, some of
which may be available only to private-sector representatives with an OSAC
minimal risk from crime in Malé. Most visits to Maldives surrounding the
tourist resorts on remote islands remain relative trouble-free. However, there
have been incidents of petty theft of goods left on beaches or in hotel rooms. Be
aware of your surroundings, especially when traveling to Malé.
been an increase in gang activity, particularly in Malé and in Hulhumalé. Police
have increased efforts to curb gang violence in Malé, but young protestors often
gather in groups to roam the streets of Malé at night. Malé saw a spate of gang
violence in 2014, with several attacks involving the use of edged weapons.
citizens are subject to local laws. If local laws are violated, even
unknowingly, visitors may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Some laws are
also prosecutable in the United States, regardless of local low.
strong seasonal ocean currents. The currents can cause strong undertows and
riptides that lead to a significant number of drownings each year. Five
tourists died in a single week in January 2019 due to these strong currents.
Exercise increased caution in the water. For more information, review OSAC’s Report,
Drowning Prevention and
Water Safety Abroad.
information, review OSAC’s Report, Security in Transit: Airplanes, Public Transport,
and Road Conditions
Only a few
of the islands are large enough to support automobiles. Roads in Malé and the
airport island are brick and generally well-maintained. One-way streets may not be clearly marked, and occasionally change
direction without notice. There are currently no car rental services in Malé,
due to tourist resorts being located on remote islands. Animals and pedestrians
can make driving on unlighted roads at night hazardous. During the two monsoon seasons,
roads can often become flooded. Resorts keep dirt roads on resort islands in
good condition. Roads can become traffic-congested and narrow.
information on self-driving, review OSAC’s Report, Driving Overseas: Best Practices.
transportation in Maldives is by boat or seaplane (air taxi). Maldives has good
safety standards for land, sea, and air travel. Transportation in Malé is
either by foot, by bus, or by readily-available taxis that charge a fixed fee
for any single journey. Maldives announced in January 2019 that it is
introducing meters in taxis. However, it has not yet established a timeline. While meters are not available, agree on a
price before departing to your destination.
Velana International Airport (MLE) is the primary point of entry in
Maldives. It is located on a separate island, connected to Malé by road. Transportation between the airport and Malé, as
well as to nearby resort islands, is mostly by motorized water taxi and
speedboat. Many resorts stop boat transfers between the airport and the resort
island after sunset. Visitors to distant resorts arriving in the country at
night can expect to stay overnight at a hotel in Malé or at the airport hotel. Arrange
for transportation, in advance, through your hotel or resort.
several buses in Maldives that transport passengers from the airport to the
adjoining island, Hulhumalé, every thirty minutes. Not every bus may be able to
there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers
registered in Maldives, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not
assessed the government of Maldives’ Civil Aviation Authority for compliance
with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety
standards. Find further information on the FAA’s safety assessment page.
airport, there have been reports of items stolen from checked baggage or lost. Maintain
awareness of belongings at all times, use Transportation Security
Administration (TSA) approved locks, and retrieve checked bags as soon as
There is moderate
risk from terrorism in Malé. Terrorist groups may conduct attacks with little
or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs,
markets/shopping malls, and local government facilities.
occur on remote islands, which could lengthen the response time of authorities.
Since 2014, al-Qa’ida in the Indian
Subcontinent (AQIS) has elevated the threat landscape in South Asia. The same month
that AQIS announced its formation, ISIS released a recorded call for the
killing of U.S. citizens and anti-ISIS coalition members, encouraging
lone-offender and target-of-opportunity attacks. There have been reports of
Maldivian fighters traveling to Syria to fight alongside militants, including
ISIS and AQ-affiliate al-Nusra Front. Dozens of Maldivians have died fighting
in Syria. An estimated 200 Maldivians, out of a population of approximately
400,000, were fighting in Syria and Iraq, making Maldives the world’s second
largest supplier of foreign fighters per capita, after Tunisia.
U.S. citizens traveling to Maldives should be aware of violent attacks
and threats made against local media, political parties, and civil society. In
the past, there have been killings and violent attacks against secular bloggers
The transnational capabilities of select terrorist groups, ease of
international travel, and the availability of black-market weapons/explosives
require U.S. travelers to be vigilant in their personal security practices,
especially at locations Westerners frequent.
There have been no specific, credible threats (or attacks) directed
against U.S. citizens or interests in Maldives. However, a number of Maldivian
nationals have traveled to Iraq and Syria to join or fight alongside ISIS. This
could have an impact on anti-Western sentiment and activities if/when these
individuals return to the Maldives.
Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence
There is moderate
risk from civil unrest in Malé. Maldives has a history of political protests.
Gangs of young men frequently stage spontaneous protests throughout Malé, often
at night. Some of these protests have involved use of anti-Western rhetoric.
There are no reports of unrest or demonstrations on the resort islands or at the
airport. Travelers should not engage in political activity in Maldives.
In 2015, authorities arrested a former President and the sitting
Minister of Defense on terrorism-related charges, leading to a string of
violent protests and a two-week state of emergency. While the state of
emergency is no longer in force, there remains considerable government
instability, with the potential to inspire civil unrest.
should exercise caution, particularly at night, and should avoid demonstrations
and spontaneous gatherings. Those who encounter demonstrations or large crowds
should avoid confrontation, remain calm, and depart the area quickly.
Maldives experiences severe coastal flooding brought on by the
northeast monsoon (October-December) and the southwest monsoon (May-July). The
heavy rains can be unpredictable and often flood the narrow streets in Malé and
the remote tourist islands. As an island
nation in the Indian Ocean, Maldives remains vulnerable to tsunamis. However,
the last major tsunami to affect Maldives was in 2004.
detectors and fire suppression equipment are concentrated on the popular
tourist resorts, but are sporadic on Malé. However, there have still been
several major fires at resorts and in Malé. A fire burned down several tourist
villas in January 2019; the cause remains under investigation. A hardware store
fire in 2016 created concern over the lack of building safety codes and the
readiness of authorities. For more information on fire safety in hotels, review
OSAC’s Report, Fire
a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the World Intellectual
Property Organization (WIPO), although it has not implemented any intellectual
property rights legislation of its own. Authorities enforce intellectual
property rights by printing cautionary notices in newspapers and attempting to
gain sufficient public recognition. Stores may continue to sell pirated copies
of movies, television shows, music, counterfeit clothing, jewelry, and other
uses the Maldivian rufiyaa (MVR) as its currency. ATMs are available at the
airport, in Hulhumalé, and at major tourist destinations, but dispense only MVR.
An ATM at the Bank of Maldives dispenses U.S. dollars, but only to Bank of
Maldives cardholders. Merchants do not
accept credit cards widely, outside of resorts. There have been reports in
recent years of credit card scams using card skimming devices. For more
information, review OSAC’s report, The Overseas Traveler’s Guide to
ATM Skimmers & Fraud.
violence and discrimination remain a problem in Maldives. Maldives has
presented progressive ideals abroad, but does not enforce many instances of
sexual harassment and discrimination within its borders. A Gender Equality Law enacted
in 2016 legislated equal employment opportunities for women, but remains largely
ineffective due to the lack of implementing policies.
disproportionate punishment for charges of adultery, and can face stiff
penalties including flogging and death by stoning.
sexual activity remains illegal in Maldives due to Islamic Law, which serves as
the foundation for the Maldivian Penal Code. Exercise caution by avoiding
public displays of affection, especially on larger islands.
an ethnically homogenous society. There have been no reports of internal ethnic
While in Maldives,
individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very
different from what you find in the United States. The Maldivian constitution
provides for the rights and freedom from discrimination of persons with
disabilities, and parliament passed a Disability Act in 2010. The new law
requires public places such as supermarkets and parks to have facilities that
will enable access for people with disabilities. Despite the law, most public
places do not yet have access for the disabled, and implementation of the law
may take some time.
Maldivian law prohibits
public observance of any religion other than Islam. Religious gatherings such
as Bible study groups are illegal; however, a family unit may practice its
religion, including Bible readings, within its residence. It is against the law
to invite or encourage Maldivian citizens to attend these gatherings. Offenders
may face jail sentences, expulsion, and/or fines. Although Maldivian law
prohibits importing “idols for religious worship,” tourists traveling to the
resort islands generally may bring items and texts used for personal religious
Drug use is
on the rise among young Maldivians. Authorities strictly enforce drug
possession laws. Penalties for possession of any amount include fines and mandatory
jail time. Authorities may construe possession of any amount of illegal drugs as
trafficking, a charge that may carry a life sentence.
minimal risk from kidnapping in Malé.
incidents of crime to the local police authorities. Remain calm and polite when
interacting with the police to avoid misunderstandings.
Handle Incidents of Police Detention or Harassment
In cases of police detention or harassment, attempt to take note of
the badge numbers of the officers involved and notify the American Citizen
Services (ACS) section of the Embassy as soon as possible at (94) 11-249-8686
or via email. After hours,
please contact the Embassy duty officer at (94) 11-077-725-6307.
Victims of crime should contact the local
police (+960-332-2111) and ACS. The Embassy staff can help you find appropriate
medical care, contact family members/friends, and explain how to transfer funds.
Consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process
and how to find an attorney if needed.
emergency response line is for the police only, and 191 is for maritime emergencies. There is no three-digit number for
medical emergencies; you must use direct hospital numbers.
The Maldives Police Service (MPS) is under the
jurisdiction of the Ministry of Home Affairs. Approximately 3,000 personnel work
at MPS headquarters in Malé and in 77 police stations across the archipelago.
Some of the primary directorates or commands include:
of Police: The senior-most police official
Standards Command: Internal investigations
Operations Command: Malé and Hulhumalé city police
Operation Commands: Police presence in approximate 20 atolls
Investigations: Drug enforcement, serious and organized crime, family and child
protection, economic crime
Security Command: Marine police, specialist and custodial operations
Directorate: Primary intelligence and counterterrorism department
currently two hospitals in Malé: the government-owned Indira Gandhi Memorial
Hospital (IGMH) and the privately owned Abduarahman Don Kaleyfan Hospital
(ADK). The hospitals perform limited general and orthopedic surgery, but
Maldives has no trauma units and a small number of ICU beds. Persons needing
treatments not offered in Maldives will require evacuation (medevac) to the
nearest adequate medical facility, such as in Singapore. Carry adequate
supplies of any needed prescription medicines, along with copies of their
prescriptions, the generic name of the drugs, and a supply of preferred
over-the-counter medications. For more information, refer to OSAC’s Report, Traveling with Medication.
response may be limited due to the distance between tourist resorts and the
hospitals. The quality of medical care in such instances may be uncertain, and
most ambulances are ill equipped. Individuals requiring an ambulance must call the
hospital directly; reach IGMH at (+960 333-5335) or ADK at (+960 331-3553).
Information for Available Medical Services
For medical assistance, refer to the Embassy’s Medical Assistance page.
Air Ambulance Services
Pacific Flight Services, Singapore, (65)
648-3756 owns two Lear jets and contracts with specialty medical teams in
Singapore to respond to medical emergencies. Pacific Flight Services has a
24-hour call center.
International SOS, Singapore, (65) 63-387-800
does not own any planes, but contracts with other companies for the use of
their planes. The company has its own medical teams and a 24-hour call center.
Vaccination and Health Guidance
offers additional information on vaccines and health guidance for Maldives.
chambers are available in Maldives. The largest and longest operating
recompression chamber is on Bandos Island (15 minutes by speedboat from Malé).
The others are located on Cinnamon Alidhoo Resort, Villingili Resort in Addu,
Kuramathi Resort, and Kandholhudhoo Islands.
Country Council Information
There is no
OSAC Country Council in Maldives. Interested
private-sector security managers should contact OSAC’s South & Central
Asia team with any questions.
Embassy Location and Contact Information
Post Presence Maldives: http://mv.usmission.gov
and Hours of Operation
Road, Colombo 3, Sri Lanka
working hours: 0800-1730, Monday-Thursday, and 0800-1200 Friday
Embassy Switchboard: (94) 11-249-8500
Duty Officer: (94) 11-077-725-6307
coverage for multi-post countries
covers Sri Lanka and the Maldives, and the American Citizen Services Unit
provides services to U.S. citizens visiting and residing in Sri Lanka and
with the Embassy in person or online with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).
Resource: Maldives Country Information Sheet