(July 2014 estimate)
Maldivian Dhivehi, English
1200 coral islands off the shores of Sri Lanka and India form the breathtaking Republic of Maldives, which has enjoyed independence for most of its history. Briefly under Portuguese control and later a protectorate of Britain, Maldives regained full sovereignty in 1965. The sultanate was replaced by a president in 1968, and a republic was declared. A multi-party democracy was established in 2008, bringing limited freedoms.
Vibrant shades of ocean blue, pure white beaches, and glorious sunsets draw many to this tropical wonderland. The average size of each island is merely one square kilometer, with only 202 actually inhabited. But this apparent paradise is reserved only for tourists; beneath an idyllic surface, the realities are dire. Maldives suffers from one of the highest divorce rates in the world, in addition to rising crime rates, increasing gang activity, widespread child abuse, and pervasive drug use among teens. The islands themselves stand in a vulnerable state, as the coral that supports them is being destroyed by coral mining and increasing ocean temperatures. The potential for rising sea levels also threatens to wipe these islands off the map.
While some freedoms have expanded through democracy, there remains no freedom of religion. Islam is the official and only religion; all others are illegal. Only the Gospel of Luke and Acts are currently available in Dhivehi, but even those are not permitted to enter the nation. No mission work or christian literature has ever been legally allowed within the islands. Widespread traditional beliefs in spirits combined with Islam leave many Maldivians trapped in fear. With little to no access to the Gospel within these isolated islands, a true miracle is needed to bring hope and salvation to the people.
(Used with permission from www.prayercast.com/maldives.html.)
The Maldives is a nation in desperate need for prayer. Christians across the world need to learn of the situation being experienced by those believers living there. Though currently, the opportunities for church planting ministry are limited, that does not mean that the gospel is not going forth. Intercessory prayer is a key contribution that can be done by any. Contact the Southeast Asia Director