The Maldives is voting in a heavily-criticised election that will be closely watched by India and China.
The Indian Ocean archipelago is best-known overseas for its clear waters and high-end resorts but its government stands accused of crushing dissent.
President Abdulla Yameen has embraced China, while his opponent, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, is seen as leaning towards India and the West.
The European Union and US have voiced concerns about the election.
Both have threatened to impose targeted sanctions if the democratic situation does not improve.
Police raided opposition headquarters on the eve of the vote, according to local reports.
Polls opened at 08:00 (03:00 GMT) on Sunday.