A former political prisoner, Mohamed 'Anni' Nasheed was elected in the Maldives' first multi-party presidential elections in October 2008, ending President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom's 30-year autocratic rule.
A new constitution ratified in August 2008 had provided for the separation of powers between the executive and the legislative, a bill of rights and the first multi-party presidential elections.
After falling short of an absolute majority in the first round, Mr Nasheed united opposition support in the run-off, winning 54% of the vote to Mr Gayoom's 46%.
Mohamed Nasheed had long been at the forefront of efforts to push Mr Gayoom towards democratisation, organising the Maldives' main opposition party while exile in Britain.
Before seeking refuge abroad, he was repeatedly jailed for his political activities, and says he was tortured twice while in prison.
He returned from the UK to the Maldives in 2005, after parliament voted to lift a ban on political parties.
After the election, the new president promised a "smooth transition to democracy" and more freedom, as well as action to combat corruption, widely seen to have flourished in decades of authoritarian rule.
He has insisted he would not bring corruption charges against his predecessor.
The challenges facing the new president also include threats to the largely tourism-based economy posed by the global credit crisis, a widespread drugs problem and growing radical Islamist activity.
Mr Nasheed faced a rocky relationship with parliament, dominated by the opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) and its allies.
In June 2010, the cabinet resigned en masse, accusing the opposition of blocking legislation. Faced with possible deadlock, Mr Nasheed reappointed the same government a week later.
The move came as two key opposition MPs were under house arrest pending an investigation into allegations that they had bribed independent MPs for their support.
Born in 1967, Mr Nasheed was educated in Sri Lanka and Britain, and has a degree in maritime engineering.
From : BBC News