One of the world’s most ancient and greatest gifts to mankind.
Where tranquility resides in harmony and purity, beautifully synchronized with the warmth of an entire population, Seychelles remains one of the world’s most ancient and greatest gifts to mankind. Wrapped by the azure blue Indian Ocean and engulfed by mother-nature’s untainted raw beauty, Seychelles lies perfectly nestled in the warmth of the tropical sunshine and the sea breeze that traverses along its pristine shorelines.
The Republic Island literally ruptured into existence more than 150 million years ago when the history’s most debilitating and significant seismic event which ended the reign of the Mesozoic era is believed to have caused a fragment of granite from India’s west coast to scatter into an archipelago of shimmering islands. Perhaps a strip of single land at one point in time, Seychelles then lay as islands that co-habited the Indian Ocean and became the only place on earth where granitic rocks are found mid-ocean.
Located to the south of the equator, the islands were known to traders from the Persian Gulf. In the time that ensued, Seychelles then became the subject of exploration by the British East India Company in 1609 and was subsequently explored by the French explorer Lazare Picault in 1742 and 1744.
Clustered into two categories of islands –The ‘Outer’ islands are an array of scattered flat, coralline islands that spread out westwards towards the coast of Africa and include the Aldabra Island – the world’s largest raised coral atoll. The outer islands are secluded isles; mostly unspoiled and untouched by human activity, the islands are a paradise that is one of Mother Nature’s most splendid works.
One of the smallest island nations in the world, the islands of Seychelles is divided into two main groups. First being the granitic ‘inner’, that’s huddled around the main islands Mahé, Praslin and La Digue. This inner cluster is profuse in lush verdant peaks that contrast with the cobalt blue skies, extending skywards from virgin, untainted forests and glorious sandy shores that are kissed by the lapping waves of the cerulean and emerald hues of the Indian Ocean. The inner islands are also home to a majority of Seychellois.
The main island group is abundant in lush, thick vegetation and high hanging gardens that pries over the crystal clear lagoons and the chalky white beaches.
Home to 90% of the nation’s population, Mahé is the largest island of the tropical archipelago with 65 beaches and covers 150 sq. Km. The demographical representations are ripe with diversity and multi-ethnicity which includes Indian, Chinese, African and European ethnicities. Renamed as Victoria, ‘Establissement du roi’ is the capital of Mahé and was renamed as an honor to Queen Victoria.
Resting at the foot of two high mountains – the ‘Morne Seychellois’ stands at 905 meters, the highest peak in Seychelles with ‘Trois Freres’ peak being the second highest. A coastal road snakes around the island which exposes some of the world’s most breathtaking shores. A nature lovers’ heaven, Mahé has preserved and retained its natural bounty of exquisite flora and fauna. The island occupies trails which are traversed by thousands of tourists each year that wind through the mountains which occupy the centre of Mahé.
The islands of Mahé includes rocky formations with a narrow coastal strip and a central hill range, making it a lush and verdant region surrounded by breathtaking foamy ocean lines and white sandy beaches that are idyllic for day-long relaxation and for immersing in the tropical, lustrous wonders the islands have to offer.
Inhabited by a small number of Seychellois and elevated a few feet above the sea level, the second group of islands, the ‘outer’ or the coralline islands is by nature, spread with elevated coral reefs and are flat in formation compared to the Mahé group of islands.
With a population of 7000, Praslin is the second largest island of the archipelago with an area of 37, 56 sq. Km. The island is divided into two districts – Baie Saint Anne and Grand Anse. The island is home to species of rare birds including the black parrot and is also famous as the home for the very large Coco De Mer or double coconut. The Coco de Mer is the world’s largest known nut and the tree is renowned for its incredible life span.
Praslin houses Vallée de Mai, a UNESCO heritage site – the habitat of 15 incredible beaches that provide a safe and secluded getaway for many holiday lovers and travellers. Praslin is the central point for visiting other surrounding islands, most of which provides a habitat for rare and indigenous species of flora and fauna. The site also boasts of one of the world’s most famous beaches in Anse Lazio.
The fourth largest island in the Indian Ocean archipelago, La Digue is populated with 2000 residents and has a square area of 10.1km. First discovered by Lazare Picault, La Digue was initially known as ‘L’Ile Rouge’, a name that represented the red reflections of the granite at sunset. The name La Digue was given to the island after the vessel of explorer Mare Joseph Marion Dufresne’s fleet, expedited by the French to explore the granitic islands.
Accessible by ferry or helicopter, the island can be explored in oxcarts as well as through cycling and walking which helps enjoy its old world charm and natural majesty. With some of the best landscapes to offer, La Digue’s Anse Source d’Argent lagoon brings tourists to its waters, set in a garden of tranquil granitic boulders.
The island shelters some of nature’s delightful creatures including the soft water turtle, as well as the remaining few black paradise flycatchers that are seen across the island of La Digue. And walking up the summit of Nid d’Aigle is a rare delight that fascinates travellers, transporting them to a time and space that stands still as Mother Nature lets you explore her timeless beauty.
While deep sea diving is a prominent leisure activity at La Digue, Anse Severe is a snorkelers’ paradise with deep sea treasures and offers magnificent views of the Indian ocean.
Bursting with an exuberant and abundant variety of exotic flora and fauna, Seychelles is the resident habitat for almost 200 species of plants with 80 indigenous plants including the Coco de Mer (double coconut) which is known worldwide, as the largest and heaviest variety of nut with a crop yield that comes every 10 years; and is found in only two islands of the archipelago – Praslin and Curieuse.
The islands are the home and co-habitat of over 900 identified species of wildlife. Green sea turtles and giant tortoises inhabit the islands bringing a multitude of watchers to their proximity.
The Government takes tremendous strides to safeguard the biodiversity, through nature preserves and natural parks which includes the UNESCO heritage sites of Valleé de Mai National Park and the Aldabra Islands. The Valleé de Mai National Park is a cultivation plot for six palm species rampant across the archipelago including the Coco de Mer.
Aldabra Islands, a large atoll is the conservation area of thousands of giant tortoises, saved from the clutches of extinction due to loss of habitats and human endangerments. They are also the world’s oldest living creatures.
Blessed with an envious abundance of biodiversity Seychelles archipelago is a showcase of nature’s most spectacular elements. With species that are unlikely to be found anywhere in the world, Seychelles lets travellers unravel a sanctuary of the most unique flora and fauna along with creatures that inhabit the island’s verdant landmass and shores.
The jellyfish tree, the paradise flycatcher, the world’s smallest frog, the world’s largest tortoise, the world’s largest fish and the Indian oceans only flightless bird are unique to the archipelago, found only within the boundaries of the islands. Seychelles is also home to wondrous seabird colonies, with 13 species and 17 sub species. Praslin, La Digue Bird, Aride, Frégate, Cousin and Aldabra are islands that provide sustenance to these species and provide seclusion to birdwatchers.
The surrounding oceans invite you to a dip every time the sea waves lap against the white chalk sand of unscathed and alluring beaches. The blue waters are a portal into the magical world of aquatic wonders with processions of luminescent reef fish that dip in and around coral reefs, melding harmoniously with the diverse surroundings that include over 800 species of fish.
Language and Ethnicities
Creole is the lingua franca of Seychellois, while English and French are also recognised as national languages. Seychellois culture is a colorful feast of cultural diversity that brings together European, African and Asian influences. The main religion Catholicism is a direct influence handed down by the French, whilst the nation’s cuisine also remains as having largely been influenced by the French as well as by Asian influences. Asian influences are more prominently seen through trade and business.
Music and dance demonstrate influences from Africa. Sega and Moutya are two of the primary dance performances seen in Seychelles that reflect the customs and traditional influence of the African continent as well as the social and religious relations of the islands. All these influences blend into a concoction of sensual performances that bring out resounding presentations of African culture and ethnicity. Traditionally, dances which were performed under the silhouettes and mild illuminations of the moonlight to the tapping rhythms of African drums in village halls, are still being preserved by the people of Seychelles.
Heavily dependent on the services industry including tourism, Seychelles is a market driven, mixed developing economy. Fisheries and maritime activities also contribute heavily to the economy. Seychelles greatly rely on international trade with petroleum, machinery and consumables. Tuna, frozen fish, essential oils and copra, as well as spices are exported to major destinations such as the UAE, UK, Italy, Netherlands and Sri Lanka. Our Gross National income per capita is greatly higher than that which is evident in other African countries and despite trade deficits the economy experiences steady growth, with the GDP growing rapidly than the population.
The services sector including tourism industry contributes greatly to the economy including the growth of GDP and contributes to the country’s employment needs with almost three-fourths of the country’s employment needs being fulfilled by the sector. The idyllic location, views and natural bounties of the archipelago, as well as the luxury hospitality industry, attracts thousands of holiday goers and travellers who enjoy a myriad of recreational and sporting activities in and around the islands.
With modern facilities in the industry, fisheries have become a growing sector that contributes to the overall economic stability.
Processing of food, animal feed, paint and other goods production, manufacture of alcoholic beverages as well as soft drinks makes up for a fair portion in terms of its contribution to the GDP. The visible trade deficit is compensated by the income generated through tourism activities and also from aid and investments.
Mostly on paved roadways, most of Seychelles roads are on Mahé and Praslin. Ferry services transport people and goods between islands. Air services are carried out via the Point la Rue International Airport, on Victoria, Mahé. In addition some smaller airports and air strips can be found on several islands, which provide inter-island air transportation. Air connections include major cities such as London, Paris, Frankfurt, Rome and Bangkok, whilst, scheduled flights can be obtained by Air Seychelles and chartered flights are also available elsewhere.
Seychelles discovered by Portuguese explorer Vasco de Gama, who named the island ‘Amirantes Islands’
French explorer Lazare Picault explored the islands identifying the largest of the archipelago’s 115 islands.
Kingdom of France takes official possession of Seychelles.
Victoria, capital of Mahé was founded.
Seychelles formally ceded under the British rule, under the Treaty of Paris.
Economic depression impacts Mahé due to the abolition of slavery and the economy was also impacted by the avalanche disaster.
Seychelles colonized under the British Empire becoming a separate colony, separated from dependency on Mauritius.
The Seychelles rupee was created.
1st ever constitutional/electoral system introduced and legislative council with elected majority introduced.
US leased an area in Mahé. Subsequently, an air force satellite was built, bringing in more regular air travel by means of a sea plane from Mumbasa, Kenya.
Receives autonomy as a colony. A coalition government was formed.
Seychelles gains independence, becoming a Republic within the Commonwealth. Mr. James Mancham became the first President of Sri Lanka.
A coup d’état took place on 5th June, resulting in the instating the then Prime Minister Mr. Albert Rene as President.
Seychelles becomes a sovereign nation under a single party rule – a one party socialist state.
Multiparty system re-established, F.A. René after winning 1st democratic elections introducing the first constitution. Gradual move towards a market based economy from a socialist economy.
F.A. Rene re-elected as president with a 54% majority.
F.A. Rene retires, transferring executive powers to James Alex Michel as president. Some of the islands were ravaged by the Tsunami, affecting the environment.
J.A. Michel wins the election with a 53.4% majority.
J.A. Michel re-elected
Mr. James Michel was re-elected as President for a third term.
Mr. Danny Faure becomes President following the resignation of Mr. J.M. Michel in October.