Country Listing

Maldives Table of Contents


Armed Forces in National Life

For hundreds of years, Maldives had not experienced security problems and therefore had no need for a military establishment. However, in 1956 Maldives and Britain agreed to the establishment of a Royal Air Force base on Gan, an island on Addu atoll. As part of a 1965 accord, the British gained access to Gan until 1986; however, they pulled out in 1976 because of budgetary retrenchment. In 1977 Maldives rejected a request by the former Soviet Union to lease the Gan facilities. By the early 1980s, Maldives maintained only one security unit, the National Security Service (NSS). This organization, which numbers fewer than 1,000 personnel, performs army, police, and maritime duties. Its mission includes preserving internal security and patrolling the country's territorial waters for illegal fishermen and smugglers. After the 1988 coup attempt, the government expanded the NSS to about 1,500 personnel; by 1990, the NSS had grown to approximately 1,800 personnel.

Data as of August 1994