Seychelles, island state east of the African mainland in the Indian Ocean, east of Tanzania and Kenya, and northeast of Madagascar. Counted to Africa. Consists of 154 islands divided into two archipelagos in an ocean area of approximately one million square kilometers. The capital is Victoria on the main island of Mahé. The Seychelles have the least population of the African states.
National anthem is ‘Koste Seselwa’ (‘Seychelles Unite You’).
The name Seychelles is after Jean Moreau de Séchelles, Louis 15 ‘s Minister of Finance.
People and society
Large parts of the population are descendants of African slave laborers who were introduced to the islands. There are also descendants of Indians, Chinese and Arabs, as well as French and, to a lesser extent, British colonial officials. Nearly 90 percent live on Mahé. 53.6 percent of the population is urban (2014).
Roman Catholics make up 76.2 percent of the population and 10.6 percent are Protestants. 2.4 per cent parishes to Hinduism and 1.6 per cent to Islam. (World Factbook 2015; figures for 2010).
About. 70 percent of the population has French names and 20 percent have English.
Life expectancy at birth is 78.98 years for women and 69.66 years for men.
Official languages are the Creole language seselwa (Seychelles) spoken by 89.1 percent of the population, English spoken by 5.1 percent and French spoken by 0.7 percent.
State and politics
Seychelles is a republic in which the president, who is also prime minister and military commander, is elected for five years and can be re-elected twice. The National Assembly is elected for five years and consists of 34 members; 25 are selected from one-man circuits and nine according to a ratio distribution.
The country is divided into 25 administrative districts.
The defense consists of an infantry unit, coast guard and air force. In addition, there is a paramilitary National Guard.
Seychelles is a member of the UN and several of the UN’s special organizations, the World Bank, the World Trade Organization, the Commonwealth, the African Union and the Cotonou Agreement.
Islands in the uninhabited Seychelles were discovered by Portuguese Admiral Vasco da Gama in 1502, but had long been known by Arab traders who sailed in East Africa. The first documented visit was with a British ship in January 1609. French expeditions explored the islands in 1742 and 1744. The Seychelles were occasionally used by pirates before the archipelago was annexed by France in 1756. French settlement with plantation operations began in 1768. The British took control of the archipelago in 1794 and gained formal dominion through the Paris Treaty in 1814.
The Seychelles were administered together with Mauritius, but became their own crown colony in 1903. In both world wars, the Seychelles, because of its strategic location, was an important telecommunications center.
A legislative assembly was elected in 1948 and the first political parties were formed in 1964: the Nationalist Seychelles People’s United Party (SPUP) and the Seychelles Democratic Party (SDP) which wanted the Seychelles to remain under British rule.
In 1974, the Seychelles gained internal autonomy. Full independence was achieved in 1976 with James Mancham (SDP) as president and France Albert René (SDUP) as prime minister. Supporters of the SDUP made an armed coup in 1977 and inaugurated René as president. A constitutional amendment in 1979 made the Seychelles a one-party state with the SDUP as the only legal party under the name of the Seychelles People’s Progressive Front (SDPF), since 2009 the PP (People’s Party).
A new constitution and free elections were introduced in 1993. President René was re-elected in 2001, but resigned in 2004. Vice President James Alix Michel became president, won the election in 2006 and was re-elected in 2011.
The Seychelles were hit by tropical cyclone Felleng in January 2013. Hundreds of buildings were destroyed by torrential rain, floods and landslides.
Economy and business
Most important is the revenues from tourism and sales of canned tuna. Seychelles has one of Africa’s highest average incomes. The population has a high standard of living and there is little poverty. Seychelles is the world’s smallest country with its own currency.
Seychelles have low and poor soil, and are dependent on food imports. Coconuts, tea, vanilla, cinnamon, cassava and sweet potatoes are grown.
A lot of tuna and shrimp are fished, and foreign fishing fleets operating within the country’s 200 nautical mile economic zone also generate significant revenue. Agriculture and fisheries make up 3 per cent of GDP (2014).
The industry is small and concentrated on the processing of raw materials, including coconut oil, canned fruit and tuna, as well as the construction of boats and furniture production. The industry accounts for 14 per cent of GDP (2014). No significant deposits of oil and gas have been identified.
The service sector, primarily with regulated tourist traffic, accounts for 83.1 per cent of GDP (2014).
Knowledge and culture
From the children are 6 years old they get 10 years compulsory schooling and there is free high school until they are 18 years old. There are also private schools and a polytechnic school. The University of Seychelles was founded in 2009.
There is one daily newspaper, and six newspapers that are published weekly or less frequently. It is one state television and radio company that broadcasts on seselwa.
Music and dance are the clearest expressions of local culture and are a fusion of African, Indian and French rhythms. Groups perform local segadance. Folk music includes English waltz, polka, masurka, French music and East African traditional music. In addition come Polynesian and Indian rhythms as well as contributions from neighboring islands of Mauritius and Reunion. Contra dance (based on European contredance) is popular, especially during the annual Festival Creole. One popular artist is Jean Marc Volcy (1966-); he and others have transformed traditional folk music into modern popular music. Other modern forms of music are the percussion music kanmtole and combinations of moutya and reggae called mouggae and of sega and reggae called seggae.
The Seychelles are known for wood carving. Famous painters include Christine Harter (1951-), George Camille (1963-) and Alyssa Adams (1980-).