Climate Change Overview

Country Summary

This page presents high-level information for Maldives's climate zones and its seasonal cycle for mean temperature and precipitation for the latest climatology, 1991-2020. Climate zone classifications are derived from the Köppen-Geiger climate classification system, which divides climates into five main climate groups divided based on seasonal precipitation and temperature patterns. The five main groups are A (tropical), B (dry), C (temperate), D (continental), and E (polar). All climates except for those in the E group are assigned a seasonal precipitation sub-group (second letter).  Climate classifications are identified by hovering your mouse over the legend. A narrative overview of Maldives's country context and climate is provided following the visualizations.

Maldives is an archipelago of 26 low-lying coral atolls in the Indian Ocean, southwest of the Indian subcontinent. The country consists of just under 1,192 small tropical islands out of which about 358 are used for economic activities and human settlement. Local inhabitants occupy around 198 of these 358 islands, with the remainder mostly known as “one-island-one-resort” or “resort-islands”. While the double chain of islets is around 860 kilometers (km) long and varies from 80 to 120 km in width, the total land area of the Maldives is estimated to be approximately 298 km2, making the country the sixth smallest in terms of land area, as well as one of the world’s most geographically dispersed sovereign states. Maldives is also one of the west and flattest countries in the world, as over 80% of the total land area is less than 1 meter above mean sea level. Due to its location over the equator in the Indian Ocean, Maldives experiences a typical equatorial monsoonal climate. 

Maldives experiences warm and humid climate throughout the year, with seasonal fluctuations in temperature and rainfall due to the monsoon. With a population of 533,900 in 2019 Maldives is also a unique society in terms of its cultural and ethnographic heritage, with its people known as the Dhivehin. More than 30% of the population live in the capital city Malé. The driving force of Maldives’ economy is tourism, which contributes about one third of the gross domestic product (GDP) and is also the fastest growing economic sector within the country. Though the contribution of fisheries and agriculture to GDP has declined to 3.5% and 1.7% respectively, these sectors are a major source of income and subsistence for rural communities. Maldives has managed to attain upper middle-income status and reduced poverty mainly through the successful development of high-end tourism. However, heavy reliance on tourism, which directly accounts for a quarter of GDP, makes the economy vulnerable to external shocks. 

Maldives’ current development challenges stem from risks from climate change, disaster resilience and environmental sustainability with rising levels of solid waste. Specifically, the country’s economy and society are particularly sensitive to sea level rise, coastal storms, and flooding, since a vast portion of the tourism industry’s infrastructure, fisheries sector, population and housing structures, and over critical infrastructure (including communications, the four international airports and over 100 harbors), are primarily located in regions that are within 100 m of the coastline. The country has high vulnerability due to extreme weather events, temperature increases, flooding, and sea level rise. The country has committed to increasing its adaptive capacity, reduce beach erosion and land lost from uncontrolled human settlements.