India has sent their foreign secretary Ranjan Mathai to the Maldives to discuss with the new president the deepening crisis in that country. Currently India is the closest nation to that country, both geographically and politically. The strategic location of the Maldive Islands in the Indian Ocean is being eyed by China.
Recently a complete Chinese embassy was opened in the capital city of Male. China has established toe-holds in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka and is rumoured to be trying for a submarine base on one of the many uninhabited islands.
Adding to the complications of a military coup is the rise of Islamic extremism in the Maldives. There have been objections to the serving of alcohol at the tourist resorts. The museum in Male was attacked and valuable statues were destroyed. They were among the most valuable artifacts that the museum contained and dated from before the 12th century when the people followed the Hindu or Buddhist philosophies.
The museum director, Ali Waheed, is quoted:
“We are very sad. This is the physical and archaeological evidence of the country, we have nothing to show (of the pre-Islamic history),’’ Boston.com
This archipelago of coral atolls is also dealing with the rising sea and more extreme weather. Most of the land is less than a metre(39 inches) above the water level now. Fresh water is brackish and needs desalinization to be potable.
The military value of the Maldives cannot be discounted as the islands lie on important shipping routes as well as north of the British possession, the Chagos Archipelago, where military bases of both the UK and the USA have been built.
For detailed information on this country have a look at the CIA factsheet last updated February 7, 2012.