Demographics of the Maldives

Demographics of the Maldives
The Maldivian ethnic identity is a blend of the cultures reflecting the peoples who settled on the islands, reinforced by religion and language.
The earliest settlers were probably from southern India and Sri Lanka. They are linguistically and ethnically related to the people in the Indian subcontinent. They are ethnically known as Dhivehis.

Some social stratification exists on the islands. It is not rigid, since rank is based on varied factors, including occupation, wealth, Islamic virtue, and family ties. Instead of a complex caste system, there was merely a distinction between noble (bēfulhu) and common people in the Maldives. Members of the social elite are concentrated in Malé.

A census has been recorded since 1905, which shows that the population of the country remained around 100,000 for the following sixty years. Following independence in 1965, the rate of population growth rose due to improving health. The population doubled by 1978, and the population growth rate peaked at 3.4% in 1985. At the 2006 census, the population had reached 298,968,[65] although the census in 2000 showed that the population growth rate had declined to 1.9%. Life expectancy at birth stood at 46 years in 1978, and later rose to 72. Infant mortality has declined from 127 per thousand in 1977 to 12 per thousand today, and adult literacy reached 99%. Combined school enrollment reached the high 90s.

As of April 2008, more than 70,000 foreign employees, along with 33,000 illegal immigrants, comprised more than one third of the Maldivian population. They consisted mainly of people from the neighbouring South Asian countries of India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Nepal.