|Republic of Seychelles
République des Seychelles
|Motto: "Finis Coronat Opus" (Latin)
"The End Crowns the Work"
|Anthem: Koste Seselwa
(and largest city)
|Official language(s)||Seychellois Creole, English and French|
|Vernacular||Seychellois Creole, French, English|
|Independence||from the United Kingdom|
|-||Date||29 June 1976|
|-||Total||451 km2 (197th)
174 sq mi
|-||2009 estimate||84,000 (195th)|
|GDP (PPP)||2008 estimate|
|GDP (nominal)||2008 estimate|
|HDI (2007)||▲ 0.843 (high) (50th)|
|Currency||Seychellois rupee (
|Time zone||SCT (UTC+4)|
|-||Summer (DST)||not observed (UTC+4)|
|Drives on the||left|
Seychelles (pronounced /seɪˈʃɛl/ say-SHEL or /seɪˈʃɛlz/ say-SHELZ; French: [seʃɛl]), officially the Republic of Seychelles (French: République des Seychelles; Creole: Repiblik Sesel), is an archipelago nation of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean, some 1,500 kilometres (932 mi) east of mainland Africa, northeast of the island of Madagascar.
Other nearby island countries and territories include Zanzibar to the west, Mauritius and Réunion to the south, Comoros and Mayotte to the southwest. The Seychelles has the smallest population of any African state.
While Austronesian seafarers or Arab traders may have been the first to visit the uninhabited Seychelles, the first known European recorded sighting of them took place in 1502, by the Portuguese Admiral Vasco da Gama, who passed through the Amirantes and named them after himself (islands of the Admiral). The first recorded landing and first written account was by the crew of the English East Indiaman Ascension in 1609.
As a transit point for trading between Africa and Asia, they were occasionally used by pirates until the French began to take control of the islands starting in 1756 when a Stone of Possession was laid by Captain Nicholas Morphey. The islands were named after Jean Moreau de Séchelles, Louis XV’s Minister of Finance.
The British contested control over the islands with the French between 1794 and 1810. Jean Baptiste Quéau de Quincy, French administrator of Seychelles during the years of war with the United Kingdom, declined to resist when armed enemy warships arrived. Instead, he successfully negotiated the status of capitulation to Britain, which gave the settlers a privileged position of neutrality.
Britain eventually assumed full control upon the surrender of Mauritius in 1810, and this was formalised in 1814 at the Treaty of Paris. The Seychelles became a crown colony separate from Mauritius in 1903 and independence was granted in 1976, as a republic within the Commonwealth. In 1977, a coup d'état ousted the first president of the republic, James Mancham, replacing him with France Albert René. The 1979 constitution declared a socialist one-party state, which lasted until 1991. The first draft of a new constitution failed to receive the requisite 60 percent of voters in 1992, but an amended version was approved in 1993.
The Seychelles president, who is both head of state and head of government, is elected by popular vote for a five-year term of office. The previous president, France Albert René, first came to power in a coup d'état in 1977, one year after independence.
He was democratically elected after the constitutional reforms of 1992. He stepped down in 2004 in favor of his vice-president, James Michel, who was re-elected in 2006. The cabinet is presided over and appointed by the president, subject to the approval of a majority of the legislature.
The unicameral Seychellois parliament, the National Assembly or Assemblée Nationale, consists of 34 members, of whom 25 are elected directly by popular vote, while the remaining nine seats are appointed proportionally according to the percentage of votes received by each party. All members serve five-year terms.
Politics is a topic of hot debate in the country. The main rival parties are the Seychelles People's Progressive Front (SPPF), as of 2009 the SPPF became the People's Party (PP) or Parti Lepep (LP), and the Seychelles National Party (SNP). Politics has been an integral part of the lives of the Seychellois since its inception in the early sixties. The range of opinion spans socialist and liberal democratic ideology.
The Seychelles performed excellently on the 2008 Ibrahim Index of African Governance, ranking 2nd out of 48 sub-Saharan African countries. Particularly good were its scores in Safety and Security, Participation and Human Rights, and Human development. The Ibrahim Index is a comprehensive measure of African governance, based on a number of different variables which reflect the success with which governments deliver essential political goods to its citizens
Seychelles is divided into twenty-five administrative regions that comprise all of the inner islands. Eight of the districts make up the capital of Seychelles and are referred to as Greater Victoria. Another 14 districts are considered the rural part of the main island of Mahé with two districts on Praslin and one on La Digue which also includes respective satellite islands. The rest of the Outer Islands are not considered part of any district.
Until the mid-1800s, little formal education was available in Seychelles. Both the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches opened mission schools in 1851. The missions continued to operate the schools — the teachers were monks and nuns from abroad — even after the government became responsible for them in 1944. After a technical college opened in 1970, a supply of locally trained teachers became available, and many new schools were established. Since 1981 a system of free education has been in effect requiring attendance by all children in grades one to nine, beginning at age five. Ninety percent of all children also attend nursery school at age four.
The literacy rate for school-aged children had risen to more than 90 percent by the late 1980s. Many older Seychellois had not been taught to read or write in their childhood, but adult education classes helped raise adult literacy from 60 percent to a claimed 85 percent in 1991.
Currently the public school system consists of 23 crèches, 25 primary schools and 13 secondary schools. The schools are located on Mahé, Praslin, La Digue and Silhouette. There are also three private schools: École Française, International School and the Independent school. All three private schools are located on Mahé, but the International School has a branch on Praslin. There are seven post secondary (non-tertiary) schools. They are the Seychelles Polytechnic, School of Advanced Level Studies, National Institute of Education, Seychelles Institute of Technology, Maritime Training Centre, Seychelles Agricultural and Horticultural Training Centre and the National Institute for Health and Social Studies.
The current administration has advanced plans to open a University on the islands in an attempt to slow down the brain drain that has occurred in the past. Initiated in conjunction with the University of London, the Seychelles are launching education programmes which will include teaching and lead to the award of the recognised qualifications from the University of London.
An island nation, the Seychelles is located to the northeast of Madagascar and about 1,600 km (994 mi) east of Kenya. The number of islands in the archipelago is often given as 115 but the Constitution of the Republic of Seychelles lists 155. The islands as per the Constitution are divided into various groups as follows.
There are 42 granitic islands, in descending order of size: Mahé, Praslin, Silhouette, La Digue, Curieuse, Félicité, Frégate, St. Anne, North, Cerf, Marianne, Grand Sœur, Thérèse, Aride, Conception, Petite Sœur, Cousin, Cousine, Long, Récif, Round (Praslin), Anonyme, Mamelles, Moyenne, Ile aux Vaches Marines, L'Islette, Beacon (Ile Sèche), Cachée, Cocos, Round (Mahé), L'Ilot Frégate, Booby, Chauve Souris (Mahé), Chauve Souris (Praslin), Ile La Fouche, Hodoul, L'Ilot, Rat, Souris, St. Pierre (Praslin), Zavé, Harrison Rocks (Grand Rocher).
There are 29 coral islands in the Amirantes group, west of the granitics: Desroches, Poivre Atoll (comprising three islands — Poivre, Florentin and South Island), Alphonse, D'Arros, St. Joseph Atoll (comprising 14 islands — St. Joseph Ile aux Fouquets, Ressource, Petit Carcassaye, Grand Carcassaye, Benjamin, Bancs Ferrari, Chiens, Pélicans, Vars, Ile Paul, Banc de Sable, Banc aux Cocos and Ile aux Poules), Marie Louise, Desnoeufs, African Banks (comprising two islands — African Banks and South Island), Rémire, St. François, Boudeuse, Etoile, Bijoutier.
There are 13 coral islands in the Farquhar Group, south-southwest of the Amirantes: Farquhar Atoll (comprising 10 islands — Bancs de Sable Déposés Ile aux Goëlettes Lapins Ile du Milieu North Manaha South Manaha Middle Manaha North Island and South Island), Providence Atoll (comprising two islands — Providence and Bancs Providence) and St Pierre.
There are 67 raised coral islands in the Aldabra Group, west of the Farquhar Group: Aldabra Atoll (comprising 46 islands — Grande Terre, Picard, Polymnie, Malabar, Ile Michel, Ile Esprit, Ile aux Moustiques, Ilot Parc, Ilot Emile, Ilot Yangue, Ilot Magnan, Ile Lanier, Champignon des Os, Euphrate, Grand Mentor, Grand Ilot, Gros Ilot Gionnet, Gros Ilot Sésame, Heron Rock, Hide Island, Ile aux Aigrettes, Ile aux Cèdres, Iles Chalands, Ile Fangame, Ile Héron, Ile Michel, Ile Squacco, Ile Sylvestre, Ile Verte, Ilot Déder, Ilot du Sud, Ilot du Milieu, Ilot du Nord, Ilot Dubois, Ilot Macoa, Ilot Marquoix, Ilots Niçois, Ilot Salade, Middle Row Island, Noddy Rock, North Row Island, Petit Mentor, Petit Mentor Endans, Petits Ilots, Pink Rock and Table Ronde), Assumption, Astove and Cosmoledo Atoll (comprising 19 islands — Menai, Ile du Nord (West North), Ile Nord-Est (East North), Ile du Trou, Goëlettes, Grand Polyte, Petit Polyte, Grand Ile (Wizard), Pagode, Ile du Sud-Ouest (South), Ile aux Moustiques, Ile Baleine, Ile aux Chauve-Souris, Ile aux Macaques, Ile aux Rats, Ile du Nord-Ouest, Ile Observation, Ile Sud-Est and Ilot la Croix).
Since independence in 1976, per capita output has expanded to roughly seven times the old near-subsistence level. Growth has been led by the tourist sector, which employs about 30% of the labour force and provides more than 70% of hard currency earnings, and by tuna fishing. In recent years the government has encouraged foreign investment in order to upgrade hotels and other services. These incentives have given rise to an enormous amount of investment in real estate projects and new (mostly five star) resort properties. Hilton, Four Seasons and Banyan Tree are all new entrants to Seychelles. Development projects projected in the hundreds of millions of dollars each are in the beginning stages for Emirates Airlines, Qatar Airways, Raffles, Shangri-La. Other private developments such as Ile Aurore, Per Aquam and Eden Island are projected at over $2 billion.
At the same time, the government has moved to reduce the dependence on tourism by promoting the development of farming, fishing, small-scale manufacturing and most recently the offshore sector. The vulnerability of the tourist sector was illustrated by the sharp drop in 1991–1992 due largely to the country's significantly overvalued exchange rate and the Gulf War, and once again following the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.
Other issues facing the government are the curbing of the budget deficit, including the containment of social welfare costs, and further privatisation of public enterprises. The government has a pervasive presence in economic activity, with public enterprises active in petroleum product distribution, insurance (has now been privatized), banking (is being privatized very soon), imports of basic products (now being privatized), telecommunications (four private ISP/telecom companies), and a wide range of other businesses. Beginning at the turn of the millennium the Seychelles Petroleum Company (SEPEC) started to develop the first fleet of modern petroleum double-hull tankers (five vessels), which was completed by late 2007/early 2008 with the possibility to build more in the near future. The Seychelles President claims that this has opened the door to a new industry
for his country and encouraged economic growth by further removing over-reliance on traditional trades like fisheries and tourism, which is now falling rapidly as the country's main income but nevertheless, has experienced significant growth in recent years.
Growth slowed in 1998–2001, due to sluggish tourist and tuna sectors. Also, tight controls on exchange rates and the scarcity of foreign exchange have impaired short-term economic prospects. The black market value of the Seychellois rupee is anywhere from two thirds to one half the official exchange rate. The next few years were also a bit slow due to the worldwide economic downturn and the fear of flying brought on by September 11, 2001. More recently though, tourism has roared back at a record pace setting successive records in 2006 and again in 2007 for number of visitors. The increased availability of flights to and from the archipelago due in part to new entrants Emirates and Qatar airlines is also beginning to show. New five star properties and the devaluation of the currency by nearly 33% by the Seychelles Government is having a positive influence on the tourism sector as well. Both at official exchange rates and at purchasing power parity (PPP), Seychelles remains the richest territory in Africa in terms of GDP per capita (US$9,440.095 at real exchange rates and US$17,560.062 at PPP 2008 estimate),
Because of economic contraction (the economy declined by about 2% in 2004 and 2005 and lost another 1.4% in 2006 according to the International Monetary Fund) the country was moving downwards in terms of per capita income. However, the economy came roaring back in 2007, growing by 5.3% due in part to the record tourism numbers but also the booming building and offshore industries which also continue to set records. The IMF has forecast further growth in 2008 with continuing increase in the GDP per capita. (See footnote and 5. Report for Selected Countries and Subjects [Seychelles]).
Seychelles is, per capita, the most highly indebted country in the world according to the World Bank, with total public debt around 122.8% of GDP. Approximately two thirds of this debt is owed domestically, with the balance due to multilaterals, bilaterals, and commercial banks. Current external debt is estimated at 35.5% according to the IMF (2007). The country is in arrears to most of its international creditors and has had to resort to pledged commercial debt to continue to be able to borrow. This high debt burden is a direct consequence of the overvalued exchange rate. In essence, the country is living beyond its means, and financing its lifestyle by borrowing domestically and internationally.
Seychelles is also the smallest country in the world that has a completely independent currency - one that is neither pegged, nor an adopted foreign currency, nor a common currency used within a larger monetary union. When the Seychellois rupee became freely floated on November 3, 2008, its value quickly fell drastically.
The rupee traded at an average 19.97 per euro by noon in the capital Victoria, compared with 11.3421 last week, according to Caroline Abel, head of monetary analysis and statistics at the Central Bank of Seychelles. It traded at 15.58 per dollar, from 8.9090, she said. Against the pound, it dropped to 25.02, from 14.3227.
The decision to let the currency trade freely is part of a package of measures approved by the International Monetary Fund, which on October 31 agreed to give the Seychelles an emergency loan to help it meet spiraling debt-servicing costs. The country's $800 million external foreign debt is equivalent to almost 175 percent of gross domestic product.
As the islands of the Seychelles had no indigenous population, the current Seychellois are composed of people who have immigrated to the island. The largest ethnic groups are those of French, African, Indian, and Chinese descent. French and English are official languages along with Seychellois Creole, which is primarily based upon French.
According to the 2002 census, most Seychellois are Christians: 82.3% are Roman Catholic, 6.4% are Anglican, and 4.5% are of other Christian denominations. There are also small minorities that practice Hinduism (2.1%) and Islam (1.1%). Other non-Christian faiths account for 1.5% of the population while a further 2.1% were non-religious or did not specify a religion.
Seychellois society is essentially matriarchal. Mothers tend to be dominant in the household, controlling most current expenditures and looking after the interests of the children. Unwed mothers are the societal norm, and the law requires fathers to support their children. Men are important for their earning ability, but their domestic role is relatively peripheral. Older women can usually count on financial support from family members living at home or contributions from the earnings of grown children.
The music of Seychelles is diverse. The folk music of the islands incorporates multiple influences in a syncretic fashion, including European contredanse, polka and mazurka, French folk and pop, sega from Mauritius and Réunion, taarab, soukous and other pan-African genres, and Polynesian, Indian and Arcadian music. A complex form of percussion music called contombley is popular, as is Moutya, a fusion of native folk rhythms with Kenyan benga developed by Ton Pa.
Traditionally, despite a greater connection with Great Britain (e.g., in education, which follows the International General Certificate of Education (IGCSE) and "A" (advanced) Level curriculum and has a branch of The University of Manchester as one of its highest educational institutions, and on many aspects of the law) a British Sunday Telegraph' travel journalist and many other notable foreign observers have stated that "the culture remains emphatically French" and about 70% of the population have a family name of French origin, compared with only about 20% family names of English origin. The two are often mixed, such that inhabitants receive an English first name and a French family name or vice-versa (e.g., Jean-Pierre Kingsmith). Most people are of mixed origins, often of white Europeans with black Africans where the whites are mainly French and the blacks are mainly East Africans.
Environmental legislation is very strict, and every tourism project must undergo an environmental review and a lengthy process of consultations with the public and conservationists. The Seychelles is a world leader in sustainable tourism. The end result of this sustainable development is an intact and stable natural environment, which attracts financially strong visitors (150,000 in 2007) rather than short term mass tourism. Since 1993 a law guarantees the citizens the right to a clean environment and at the same time obligates them to protect this environment. The country holds a record for the highest percentage of land under natural conservation—nearly 50% of the total land area of the Seychelles.
Like many fragile island ecosystems, the Seychelles saw the loss of biodiversity during early human history, including the disappearance of most of the giant tortoises from the granitic islands, the felling of coastal and mid-level forests, and the extinction of species such as the chestnut flanked white eye, the Seychelles Parakeet, the Seychelles Black Terrapin and the saltwater crocodile. However, extinctions were far fewer than on islands such as Mauritius or Hawaii, partly due to a shorter period of human occupation (since 1770). The Seychelles today is known for success stories in protecting its flora and fauna. The rare Seychelles Black Parrot, the national bird of the country, is now protected.
The granitic islands of Seychelles are home to about 75 endemic plant species, with a further 25 or so species in the Aldabra group. Particularly well-known is the Coco de mer, a species of palm that grows only on the islands of Praslin and neighbouring Curieuse. Sometimes nicknamed the "love nut" because of its suggestive shape, the coco-de-mer produces the world's heaviest seed pods. The jellyfish tree is to be found in only a few locations today. This strange and ancient plant has resisted all efforts to propagate it. Other unique plant species include the Wrights Gardenia found only on Aride Island Special Reserve.
The Aldabra Giant Tortoise now populates many of the islands of the Seychelles. The Aldabra population is the largest in the world. These unique reptiles can be found even in captive herds. It has been reported that the granitic islands of Seychelles supported distinct species of Seychelles giant tortoises; the status of the different populations is currently unclear.
There are several unique varieties of Orchids on the Islands.
Seychelles hosts some of the largest seabird colonies in the world.
The marine life around the islands, especially the more remote coral islands, can be spectacular. More than 1,000 species of fish have been recorded. Since the use of spearguns and dynamite for fishing was banned through efforts of local conservationists in the 1960s, the wildlife is unafraid of snorkelers and divers. Coral bleaching in 1998 has unfortunately damaged most reefs, but some reefs show healthy recovery (e.g. Silhouette Island).
Although multinational oil companies have explored the waters around the islands, no oil or gas has been found. In 2005, a deal was signed with US firm Petroquest, giving it exploration rights to about 30,000 km2 around Constant, Topaz, Farquhar and Coëtivy islands until 2014. Seychelles imports oil from the Gulf in the form of refined petroleum derivatives at the rate of about 5,700 barrels per day. In recent years oil has been imported from Kuwait and also from Bahrain. Seychelles imports three times more oil than is needed for internal uses because it re-exports the surplus oil in the form of bunker for ships and aircraft calling at Mahé. There are no refining capacities on the islands. Oil and gas imports, distribution and re-export are the responsibility of Seychelles Petroleum (Sepec), while oil exploration is the responsibility of the Seychelles National Oil Company (SNOC).
|Currency||Seychelles rupee (SCR)|
|Area||total: 455 km2
water: 0 km2
land: 455 km2
|Population||80,098 (July 2002 est.)|
|Language||English (official), French (official), Creole (official)|
|Religion||Roman Catholic 86.6%, Anglican 6.7%, other Christian 2.5%, other 4.1%|
The Seychelles were disputed between France and Great Britain during the age of colonialism, with Britain ending up in control in 1814 after the Napoleonic Wars. The islands achieved independence in 1976, however free elections did not occur until 1993. The politics of this island group remain in something of a state of flux, although this should not bother the tourist seeking a relaxing beach vacation.
No visa is required for all nationalities, though all foreigners must have passport valid for at least 6 months, and must have proof of accommodation bookings before arrival. An initial entry permit is granted for 1 month but can be extended for a maximum of 3 months at a time up to a maximum of 1 year in total. See the official travel web-site  for more details.
The only international gateway to the Seychelles is Seychelles International Airport (SEZ) near Victoria. Air Seychelles  flies to London, Paris, Johannesburg, Rome, Milan, Frankfurt, Mauritius and Singapore via Boeing 767 aircraft. International service is also available from Nairobi (Kenya Airways ), Dubai (Emirates ) and Doha (Qatar Airways ), and regular charter services from Frankfurt (Condor ) and Amsterdam (Martinair ).
The strict controls imposed on cruising yachts in the early 1990s have been gradually lifted and rules and regulations are no longer so complicated. However, some restrictions remain in force, mostly for the sake of environmental protection as most of the islands are surrounded by coral reefs near the surface.
Air Seychelles  operates multiple daily flights between Mahe and Praslin. Over two dozen flights vary in frequency from 15 minute to 2 hour intervals, depending on time of day.
Air Seychelles also operates once daily or several times per week between Mahe and the islands of Bird, Denis, Fregate, Desroches and Alphonse. Assumption Island and Coetivy can be reached by air charter.
Helicopter Seychelles  provides shuttles between the main islands Mahe, Praslin and La Digue as well as charter flights to/from most of the inner and outer islands. Helicopter Seychelles is the only scenic flight operator in the Seychelles. Depending on the timeframe, these scenic flights cover the main islands of Mahé, Praslin, La Digue and the surrounding smaller islands of Cousine, Félicité, Grande Seour, Curieuse and Cousin.
It is also possible to take small boats from Mahe direct to La Digue, although departures can be unreliable, there is limited wet weather cover and the journey takes about 3 hours (but that's cheaper than an Indian Ocean Island cruise!)
Having a car is really a good idea. It is easier to find a good view point. You can only rent on Mahé and Praslin. You can find a car for only 45E per day but keep in mind that renters must be at least 21, have a valid driver's license, and have at least three years of driving experience.
Taxis are also popular means of transportation for both short trips and day rental and can be obtained almost anywhere.
Seychelles Public Transport Corporation (SPTC) runs daily bus services on the islands of Praslin and Mahe from morning to evening on nearly every available road on the island. The bus usually passes by every 15 minutes.
Seychelles is hot and humid, with an average yearly temperature of 84°F (29°C), and average sea temperature rarely dropping below 81°F (27°C). However, the heat is usually mitigated by refreshing sea breezes, especially by the beaches. The cooler season in Seychelles is during the southeast monsoon season (May to September) and the warmer season is during the northwest monsoon (November to March). April and October are "changeover months" between the two monsoons, when the wind is variable. The northwest monsoon season tends to be warmer with more rain, while the southeast monsoon season is usually drier and cooler.
Visit the beaches. Many of the beaches are untouched by man's influence and are refreshingly uncrowded. They offer clear blue skies and a tranquility you will rarely find. Visit the Vallee de Mai which is a world heritage site, and home to the world's largest seed: the coco de mer.
Aldabra Atoll: The world's largest coral atoll that stretches about 22 miles east to west and encloses a huge tidal lagoon. Aldabra is the original home of the giant land tortoise and tiger sharks and manta rays can also often be seen here.
Watersports: The warm Indian Ocean waters make Seychelles the perfect place for the water enthusiasts. Explore on the board of a yacht, power boat, catamaran or sailboat. Windsurfing is also popular and the best time for this activity is usually around May and October, at the start and end of the trade winds.
Surfing, scuba diving, snorkeling, and fishing are also extremely popular and can be done almost anywhere in Seychelles.
Land Sports: Golf, tennis, squash, badminton, horseback riding, biking and hiking are some of the recreational activities available on the Seychelles Islands. Bike rentals and walking tours are great ways to sightsee and since distances are relatively short and the scenery is beautiful, walking is probably the best way to see the islands. Bird watching is also popular and the islands are home to many of the worlds most treasured and rare species of animals. The best place to do so is Cousin Island which although only 1 km (0.6 miles) in diameter, is home to more than 300,000 birds.
Nightlife: Do not miss most popular Nightclub "Lovenut" in the center of Victoria, 100meters walk from central Taxi station.
Seychelles also contains numerous markets, art galleries and shops, colonial Creole-style plantation houses, and the main island of Mahé has six museums, a botanical garden, and several national monuments.
The University of the Seychelles  has a medical degree for Americans.
Public education has been free and mandatory for a ten years period of primary schooling, for children ages six to 16 since 1980. Primary education is followed by five years of secondary education. Seychelles does not provide education at university level, but there is a teacher training college and a polytechnic institute, and as mentioned above, the University of Seychelles - American Institute of Medicine does exist. Because of the absence of higher education facilities, many students study abroad, mostly in the United Kingdom.
Working and doing business in the Seychelles can be difficult due to the the humidity and heat. Forget about wearing a suit or anything resembling one; rather, opt for a light cotton shirt and pants. The atmosphere in the Seychelles is relaxed and it can take a lot of effort to achieve very little.
Tourism is one of the most important sectors of the economy. In fact, about 15 percent of the work force is directly employed in tourism, and employment in banking, transportation, construction, and other activities is closely tied to the tourist industry.
The islands' currency is the Seychelles rupee (SCR). ATM machines usually have the best conversion rates, however, airports and banks also conveniently exchange money.
Trading in foreign currency, long illegal, was legalized in November 2008, with the rupee trading at around 20 rupees to the euro. This has also wiped out the previously wide-spread black market, which offered up to twice the official rate. The Euro buys you 15 Rupees on 8 Oct. 2009.
The best place for shopping is Victoria, the capital, and more specifically the market at the city center, Seychelles Buy and Sell . There are also a few outlets on the island, Praslin, but few shopping areas on the other islands. Larger hotels have boutiques but shopping in Seychelles is not one of the major attractions.
While visiting, be sure to buy the classic and traditional Seychelles souvenir, the coco-de-mer, or the 'nut of the sea,' a nut from trees native to the islands in the Seychelles - but this requires an export licence. Other locally made souvenirs, although not as unique, can be purchased like sea shell and pearl jewelery, textiles, and straw hats, in addition to needlework & crochet, paintings by local artists, and woodwork.
Most service providers already include a service charge of 5% - 10%. Tipping is not obligatory in the Seychelles, however, any extra change is greatly appreciated.
Seychellois cuisine has been greatly influenced by the islands' rich cultures. Creole cooking, varied seafood dishes, coconuts and curries are the most popular. The main product of the country, fish, is cooked in a variety of ways. Especially the red snapper is very tasty and well known to visitors.
Cheapest food: Collect coconuts on the beach and learn how to open their terrible cover (not the shell, that's easy; they have a thick cover of natural fibres; to open it: hit the coconut very strongly many times on the edges, sooner or later the fibres break up).
Seychelles offers a fantastic nightlife scene that caters to tourists. The active nightlife is mostly located around the larger hotels and in addition to theatres, cinemas and discos, there are numerous fun and trendy restaurants.
If you enjoy a good beer you must try the local Seybrew beer, it tastes similar to a light Bavarian style beer and is a must to get you through those balmy days. You can save yourself a packet buying the beer from stores on the side of the road like the locals do rather than from hotels. A dark Takamaka Rum on the beach under the stars is the best way to end a day on the Seychelles.
The Seychelles are not tolerant of backpackers turning up at the airport without accommodation booked. Most accommodations are relatively expensive and some islands have only one hotel. In fact, some of the islands aren't even permanently inhabited and accommodation can be found on fewer than 10. Your best bet for a budget bed is renting an apartment or bungalow, which can be rented at very reasonable rates. Also keep in mind that hotel prices greatly increase and accommodation can be hard to find during the peak seasons from December to January and July to August. Holidays such as Easter can also get very busy.
Contrary to previous reports of a low crime rate the Seychelles is now suffering from a crystal meth amphetemine epidemic leading to a high risk of robbery. All visitors should take extreme care. The police are ineffective and the court system suffers from corruption. The country does have the 2nd highest number of rapes per capita in the world (to put this in perspective, however: Australia is no. 3 and Canada no. 5 in this statistic). Try to avoid any dark bylanes, and be careful not to leave your bag unattended on sparsely occupied beaches; most locals are poor and would love to get their hands on a wad of dollars or euros. Swimming alone on isolated beaches is not advisable. If sailing don't bring valuables or if you do become adept at finding great hiding places.
Chikungunya virus is a disease spread by mosquitos, and causes flu-like symptoms. It is increasing in concern and although it is rare to die from it, the joint pain it causes can last for months. Insect repellent can help deter mosquitos but not much else can be done as a precaution. The disease is native to East Africa and occasionally is introduced and quickly eradicated.
Tap water is safe to drink in most areas of the Seychelles, but water quality is variable in undeveloped areas. It is recommended to drink bottled water only and to avoid bodies of fresh water like lakes, rivers, ponds, etc.
The environment is a treasured aspect of Seychelles and there are more than 1,000 recorded species of fish around the islands and Aldabra, just one of the islands, is home to the largest population of giant tortoises in the world.
There are only six embassies/High Commisions and another dozen or so consulates. The Chinese embassy is an attraction itself while the multilevel, colonial-era Victoria House on the corner of Francis Rachel & State House Streets is home to several of these consulates.
Many tourists travel to these areas because of their similarity to Seychelles yet cheaper accommodations and other expenses.
|This article is an outline and needs more content. It has a template, but there is not enough information present. Please plunge forward and help it grow!|
SEYCHELLES, an archipelago in the Indian Ocean, consisting of forty-five islands - besides a number of rocks or islets - situated between 3° 38' and 5° 45' S., and 52° 55' and 53° 50' E. Together with the Amirantes, Cosmoledo, Aldabra and other islands they form the British colony of Seychelles. The outlying islands lie south-west of the Seychelles group and between that archipelago and Madagascar. In all ninety islands with a total area of over 156 sq. in. are under the Seychelles government. There are in addition 40,000 to so,000 sq. m. of coral banks within the bounds of the colony.
The Seychelles lie, with two exceptions, towards the centre of a large submarine bank and are all within the so fathoms line. Mahe, the largest and most central island, is 934 m. N.N.W. of Mauritius, 970 m. E. by N. of Zanzibar and 600 m. N.E. of the northernmost point of Madagascar. The other chief islands form two principal groups: (i.) Praslin, 26 m. N.N.E. of Mahe, and the adjacent smaller islands of La Digue, Felicite, East Silver, West Silver, Curieuse and Aride; (ii.) Silhouette, 14 m. W. by N. of Mahe, and North Island. The most easterly island is Frigate, the most southerly Platte; on the northern edge of the reef are Bird and Denis islands. The general aspect of the islands is one of great beauty and fertility, and in the opinion of General C. G. Gordon they formed the Garden of Eden.
Mahe is 17 m. long, and from 4 to 7 broad and of highly irregular shape, with an area of about 55 sq. m. There are small areas of lowlands, chiefly at the mouths of the river valleys, but most of the island is mountainous, and in general the hills rise abruptly from the sea. There are ten heights between r000 and woo ft., and seven over 2000 ft. The highest point is Morne Seychellois, 2993 ft.; next comes Trois Freres, 2390 ft. Both these mountains are in the northern half of the island. The main ridge runs north and south along the line of the greatest diameter, and from the heights descend many torrents, the v% hole island being well watered. The principal harbour, Port Victoria, is on the north-east coast in 4° 37' S., 55° 27' E. It is approached by a deep channel through the coral reef which fringes the entire eastern side of the island. Of the small islands close to Mahe the chief are St Anne and Cerf, off the east, and Conception and Therese off the west coast.
Praslin Island is 8 m. long and from I to 3 m. broad, has an area of about 27 sq. m. and its highest point is 1260 ft.; La Digue covers 4 sq. m. and its greatest height is 1175 ft.: Silhouette is roughly circular in shape, covers 8 sq. m. and culminates in Mon Plaisir, 2473 ft. None of the other islands exceeds Li sq. m.
|Table of contents|
Except Bird and Denis islands, which are of coralline limestone, the Seychelles are of granite, with in places fringing reefs of coral based on granite foundations. The granite is of the same formation or closely related to that of Madagascar and throughout the islands is closely uniform in its composition, but exhibits dikes of finer grain. The rocks are deeply furrowed and cut into ridges, evidence of the long period over which they have been subjected to atmospheric influences. There is no sign of marine action over four-fifths of the islands, which nowhere exhibit any trace of volcanic action, recent or remote. The islands are regarded as a remnant of the continental land which in remote geological ages united South Africa and India. J. Stanley Gardiner supposes that when first cut off the Seychelles were the size of the present bank - about 12,000 sq. m. This cutting off was caused largely by subsidence, though partly by marine action. The subsequent dwindling of the 12,000 sq. m. to 156 divided into many small islands is attributed to marine action which had its chief force in the Eocene and Miocene periods. (Cf. "The Indian Ocean," Geo. Journ. vol. xxviii., 1906).
The climate is healthy and equable, and for a tropical country the temperature is moderate. It varies on the coast from about 68° to 88° F., falling at night in the higher regions to 60° or 55° F. The mean coast temperature slightly exceeds 79° F. The south-east monsoon blows from May to October, which is the dry season, and the west-north-west monsoon from December to March. During April and November the winds are variable. The average annual rainfall on the coast is 10o 8 in.; it increases to about 120 in. at a height of 600 ft. and at heights exceeding 2000 ft. is about 150 in. The Seychelles lie outside the track of the hurricanes which occasionally devastate Reunion and Mauritius and are also immune from earthquakes. The public health is good, and fevers and plague are unknown.
Both flora and fauna include species and genera peculiar to the Seychelles. Of these the best known is the Lodoicea sechellarum, a palm tree indigenous only in Praslin Island - but since introduced into Curieuse - noted for its fruit, the so-called Maldive double coco-nut or coco de mer. The nut was long known only from sea-borne specimens cast up on the Maldive and other coasts, was thought to grow on a submarine palm, and, being esteemed a sovereign antidote to poisons (Lusiad, x. 136), commanded exorbitant prices in the East. This palm will grow to a height of 100 ft., and shows enormous fern-like leaves. Another tree found only in the islands is the capucin (Northea sechellarum), whose massive dead trunks are a striking feature in the landscape. This tree has almost completely fallen a victim to the ravages of a green beetle, probably introduced from Mauritius. The islands were formerly densely wooded, but only patches of forest remain. The central mountain zone of Mahe was in 1909 acquired by the government for reafforestation purposes. This zone also included one of the last remaining portions of indigenous forest. The forests of the coast belt resembled those of the coral islands of the neighbouring parts of the Indian Ocean. Characteristic of this region are the mangrove and Pandanus, and, a little inland, the banyan (Ficus), Pisonia and Hernandia. The coco-nut, now a conspicuous feature of the coast flora, is probably not indigenous. The forests of the granitic land, of which typical patches remain, had the characteristics of a tropical moist region, palms, shrubs, climbing and tree ferns growing luxuriantly, the trees on the mountain sides, such as the Pandanus sechellarum sending down roots over the rocks and boulders from 70 to 100 ft. Of timber trees the bois gayac has disappeared, but bois de fer (Stadtmannia sideroxylon) and bois de natte (Maba sechellarum) still flourish on Silhouette Island. Besides the cutting down for building purposes of the timber trees the jungle was largely cleared for the plantation of vanilla; while a multitude of other tropical plants have been introduced tending to the extermination of the indigenous flora. The most important of the trees introduced since 1900 are various kinds of rubber, including Para (Hevea Brasiliensis), which grows well. For other introduced plants see below, Industries. The indigenous fauna, so far as its limited range affords comparison, resembles that of Madagascar. It is deficient in mammals, of which the only varieties are the rat and bat. The dugong, which formerly frequented the waters of the islands, does so no longer. The reptiles include certain lizards and snakes; the crocodile, once common, has been exterminated. Land tortoises have also disappeared,' but one freshwater species (Sternothaerus sinuatus) is still found; and the adjacent seas contain many turtles. Three coecilians, three batrachians (including a mountain-frequenting frog) and three fresh-water crustaceans are also indigenous, and about twenty-six species of land shells. The islands are the home of a large number of birds, including terns, gannets and white egrets, though most of the indigenous species are extinct. The neighbouring seas abound in fish. Among the domestic animals introduced are the ass and pig.
Like Mauritius, Reunion and Rodriguez the Seychelles were uninhabited when first visited by Europeans; though fragments of ruins found on Praslin and Frigate islands may indicate the presence of man in earlier centuries. The islands were colonized by Mauritian and Bourbon creoles; the white element, still prevailingly French, has been strengthened by the settlement of several British families. The first planters introduced slaves from Mauritius, and the negro element has been increased by the introduction of freed slaves from East Africa. There has been also an immigration of Chinese and, in larger numbers, of Indians (mainly from the Malabar coast). An official report issued in 1910 stated that the greater part of the valuable town property had passed into the hands of Indians, and that Indians and Chinese had the bulk of the retail trade. Of the coloured population those born in the Seychelles of negro, or negro-Indian blood are known as "enfants des files." They speak a rude creole patois, based on French but with a large admixture of Indian, Bantu and English words. The Seychellois are of fine physique, and are excellent and fearless sailors.
At the census of 1881 the inhabitants numbered 14,081, in 1891 the figure was 16,603 and in 1901 the population numbered 19,237, of whom 9805 were males and 9432 females. The population on December 31st, 1909, was officially estimated at 22,409, or 149.59 persons per sq. m. The pure white population is about 600. About two-thirds of the inhabitants are Roman Catholics.
Apart from fisheries the wealth of the islands depends upon agriculture, and the industries connected therewith. These are fostered by the government, which in 1901 created an agricultural board and established a botanic station at Victoria. Spices (cloves, cinnamon, nutmegs) were the chief articles of trade in the 18th century, and these with cotton, coffee, tobacco, sugar, maize and rice were the main crops grown until about 1850. Bananas, yams, &c., were also largely cultivated, and there was considerable trade in coco-nut oil, timber, fish and fish oil and tortoise-shell, whaling being carried on, chiefly by Americans and French, in the neighbouring seas. Subsequently cocoa was cultivated extensively, and from about 1890 vanilla largely superseded the other crops; in 1899 the vanilla exported was valued at over £roo,000 out of a total export of £140,000, and from 1896 to 1903 the crop represented more than half the total value of the exports. Owing to increased competition, and in some degree to careless harvesting, there was a great fall in prices after 1900, and the Seychellois, though still producing vanilla in large quantities, paid greater attention to the products of the coconut palm - copra, soap, coco-nut oil and coco-nuts - to the development of the mangrove bark industry, the collection of guano, the cultivation of rubber trees, the preparation of banana flour, the growing of sugar canes, and the distillation of rum and essential oils. The tortoise-shell and calipee fisheries and the export of salt fish are important industries. Minor exports are cocoa, coco-de-mer and beche-de-mer. From the leaves of the coco-de-mer are made baskets and hats.
1 The gigantic land tortoise (Testudo elephantina) is found only in the Aldabra Islands.
The imports consist chiefly of cotton goods and hardware from Great Britain; rice, flour and cotton from India, sugar and rum from Mauritius, coffee from Aden, wines and spirits and clothing from France. The value of the imports and exports (exclusive of specie), for the six years1901-1906was: imports, £360,520; exports, £377, 61 3. The increase of trade is indicated by the figures for 1907 (a record year) to 1909. In the three years the value of imports was £233,863, that of exports £355,306. Over 75% of the total trade is with Great Britain or British possessions. The medium of exchange is the Indian rupee (=16d.), with the subsidiary coinage of Mauritius.
The only town of any size is the capital, Port Victoria (or Mahe), picturesquely situated at the head of an excellent harbour. Many of the houses are built of massive coral, Porites gaimardi, hewn into square building blocks which at a distance glisten like white marble. The port is a coaling station of the British navy and is connected by telegraphic cables with Zanzibar and Mauritius. There is no inland telegraph system. All the islands are well provided with metalled roads. Regular monthly communication with Marseilles is maintained by the Messageries Maritimes steamers. German and British lines serve the South African and Indian ports. The government employ steam vessels for passenger and mail services between the islands, and there are large numbers of sailing craft belonging to the islanders.
Government, Revenue, &c. - Seychelles is a crown colony administered by a governor, assisted by nominated executive and legislative councils. Revenue is derived chiefly from customs, licences, court fees and the post office, while among the principal heads of expenditure figure telegraph and steamer subsidies and the education, medical, legal and police departments. For the ten years1899-1908the average yearly revenue was £28,726; the average yearly expenditure £27,304. A public debt of £20,000, repayable in thirty annual instalments, was contracted in 1899. The law in force is based on the Code Napoleon, considerably modified, however, by local ordinances. The simplification and codification of the laws was carried out during1899-1904(see the Colonial Office annual reports, especially that for 1903, § 37). Education is under the control, of a government board and, besides primary schools, there are institutions for higher education and a Carnegie Library. Grants are made to schools of all denominations. The creole patois is unsuited to be a medium of instruction, and English is used as far as possible, though its acquisition by the peasantry is that of a foreign language. The same difficulty, to an almost equal degree, would apply to the use of French as a medium.
The Seychelles are marked on Portuguese charts dated 1502. The first recorded visit to the islands was made in 1609 by an English ship; then for 133 years there is no documentary evidence of any further visit. The second recorded visit, in 1742, was made by Captain Lazare Picault, who, returning two years later, formally annexed the islands to France. Though then uninhabited there is a strong tradition, probably well founded, that the Seychelles had been from Arab times a rendezvous of the pirates and corsairs who infested the high seas between South Africa and India. Picault, who acted as agent of the celebrated Mahe de la Bourdonnais, governor of the Ile de France (Mauritius), named the principal island Mahe and the group Iles de la Bourdonnais, a style changed in 1756, when the islands were renamed after Moreau de Sechelles, at that time controleur des finances under Louis XV. The first permanent settlement was made about 1768, when the town of Mahe was. founded. Soon afterwards Pierre Poivre, intendant of Ile de France, seeing the freedom of the Seychelles archipelago from hurricanes, caused spice plantations to be made there, with the object of wresting from the Dutch the monopoly they then enjoyed of the spice trade. The existence of these plantations was kept secret, and it was with that object that they were destroyed by fire by the French on the appearance in the harbour in 1778 of a vessel flying the British flag. The ship, however, proved to be a French slaver who had hoisted the Union Jack fearing to find the British in possession. Mahe proved very useful to French ships during the wars of the Revolution, and this led to its capture by the British in 1794, but no troops were left to garrison the place, and the administration went on as before. In 1806 the island capitulated to the captain of another British ship, but again no garrison was left, and it was not until after the capture of Mauritius in 1810 that the Seychelles were occupied by the British, to whom they were ceded by the treaty of Paris in 1814. Throughout this period Mons. J. B. Queau de Quincy (1748-1827) administered the islands. This remarkable man, a Parisian by birth, became governor of the Seychelles in 1789 under the monarchy, continued to serve under the First Republic, and Napoleon I., - acknowledging the British authority when ships of that nationality entered the harbour, - and when the Seychelles were made a dependency of Mauritius was appointed by the British agent-civil. In all he governed the islands thirty-eight years, dying in 1827. His tomb is in Government House garden. Under de Quincey's administration the islands prospered; the cultivation of cotton and coffee was then begun, much of the land being deforested for this purpose - a deforestation practically completed when vanilla was introduced. In 1834 the abolition of slavery led to a decline in the prosperity of the islands, but as many of the slaves captured by British cruisers off the east coast of Africa were landed at Seychelles economic conditions were gradually ameliorated. There was also a slight immigration of coolies from India. From 1810 until 1872 the administration was dependent upon Mauritius; from that date onward greater powers were given to the local authorities, until in 1903 Seychelles was erected into a separate colony with its own governor. The over-dependence placed on one product caused waves of depression to alternate with waves of prosperity, and the depression following the fall in the price of vanilla was aggravated by periods of drought, "agricultural sloth and careless extravagance." 1 But during1905-1910successful efforts were made to broaden the economic resources of the colony. A natural field for the energies of the surplus population was also found in colonization work in British East Africa. The islands were chosen in 1897 as the place of deportation of Prempeh, ex-king of Ashanti, and in 1 9 01 Mwanga, ex-king of Uganda, and Kabarega, ex-king of Unyoro were also deported thither. Mwanga died at the Seychelles in May 1903.
The outlying islands forming part of the colony of Seychelles consist of several widely scattered groups and have a total population of about 900. The Amirante archipelago is situated on a submarine bank west and south-west of the Seychelles, the nearest island being about 120 m. from Mahe. The archipelago consists of a number of coral islets and atolls comprising the African Islands (4), the St Joseph group (8), the Poivre Islands (9) and the Alphonso group (3). Farther south and within 170 m. of Madagascar is the Providence group (3) formed by the piling up of sand on a surface reef of crescent shape. The Cosmoledo Islands, 12 in number, lie some 210 m. west of Providence Island, while 70 m. further west are the Aldabra Islands (q.v.). The chief island in the Cosmoledo group is 9 m. long by 6 broad. Coetivy (transferred from Mauritius to the Seychelles in 1908) lies about 100 m. S.S.E. of Platte. The majority of the outlying islands are extremely fertile, coco-nut trees and maize growing luxuriantly. Several of the islands contain valuable deposits of guano and phosphate of lime, and their waters are frequented by edible and shell turtle. Like the Amirantes all the other islands named are of coral formation.
See Unpublished Documents on the History of the Seychelles Islands Anterior to 18zo, with a cartography and a bibliography compiled by A. A. Fauvel (Mahe, 1909); Ancient Maps of Seychelles Archipelago, a portfolio containing 28 maps (Mahe, 1909); J. Stanley Gardiner, "The Seychelles Archipelago" (with bibliographical notes), in Geo. Jnl. vol. 29 (1907) and "The Indian Ocean," Geo. Jnl. vol. 28 (1906). See also the annual reports on the Seychelles issued by the Colonial Office; those from 1901 onward contain valuable botanical reports. For the dependencies see R. Dupont, Report on a Visit of Investigation to St Pierre, Astove, Cosmoledo, Assumption and the Aldabra Group of the Seychelles Islands (Seychelles, 1907).
Seychelles f. pl.