Seychelles is an archipelago of 115 islands located in the Indian Ocean, on the eastern part of the continent. Other nearby island countries and territories include Comoros, Mayotte (region of France), Madagascar, Réunion (region of France) and Mauritius to the south. With a population of about 94,228, it has the smallest population on the continent; however, it does have a larger population than the British overseas territory Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha. The capital is Victoria situated on the island of Mahé.
Pre-European colonization the islands were known by Arab navigators on trading voyages, but were never inhabited. Eventually Seychelles was settled by France in the 18th century, but it wasn’t long before the British fought for control. A lengthy struggle between France and Great Britain for the islands ended in 1814, when they were ceded to the latter. Although the new governor to the islands was British, he governed according to French rules, and allowed previous French customs to remain intact. Independence for the islands came in on June 29th 1976, after the Seychelles People’s United Party was formed and led by France-Albert Rene, campaigning for socialism and freedom from Britain. Socialism was brought to a close with a new constitution and free elections in 1993. President France-Albert Rene, who had served since 1977, was re-elected in 2001, but stepped down in 2004. Vice President James Michel took over the presidency and in July 2006 was elected to a new five-year term. The current president, Danny Faure was sworn in as president in October 2016 and is to complete the five-year term of outgoing President James Michel, who resigned. President Faure was previously a vice president. He is a former finance minister, a governor of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the African Development Bank, according to the BBC.
UNESCO Heritage sites in Seychelles include:
The Aldabra Atoll consists of four large coral islands and a lagoon, surrounded by a coral reef. The islands are home to the world’s largest population of giant tortoises.
The natural palm forest is preserved in almost its original state. It consists of a well-preserved palm forest, flagship species made up of the island endemic coco de mer, as well as five other endemic palms. The coco de mer (Lodoicea maldivica), a monocot tree in the Arecaceae (palm family), has the largest seeds (double nut seed) of any plant in the world. Also unique to the park is its wildlife, including birds such as the rare Seychelles black parrot, mammals, crustaceans, snails, and reptiles. This forest, with its primitive plant and animal species, is a relict from the time when the supercontinent of Gondwana was divided into smaller parts, leaving the Seychelles islands between the present day Madagascar and India.
After proclamation of independence, Seychelles has developed from a largely agricultural society to a market-based diversified economy, with agriculture being supplanted by rapidly rising and heavily dependent upon the service sector in general and the tourism industry in particular.
Although the country is heavily dependent on imported food, however, copra (from coconuts), cinnamon bark, vanilla, tea, limes, and essential oils are exported. Seychelles has a modern fishing industry that supplies both domestic and foreign markets; canned tuna is a particularly important export product. Each year Seychelles draws thousands of tourists, many attracted by the islands’ magnificent venues for scuba diving, surfing, windsurfing, fishing, swimming, and sunbathing. The warm southeasterly trade winds offer ideal conditions for sailing, and the waters around Mahé and the other islands are afloat with small boats. The overall aspect of those islands, with their lush tropical vegetation, is that of high hanging gardens overlooking silver-white beaches and clear lagoons. Seychelles is also home to an array of wildlife, including giant tortoises and sea turtles. Much of the land is protected as part of nature reserves. The country enjoys a high per capita income, good health care and education.
Upon gaining control of the island, the British allowed the French upper class to retain their land. Therefore, Seychelles has no indigenous population, the current Seychellois are composed of people who have immigrated. The largest ethnic groups were those of African, French, Indian and Chinese descent. Through harmonious socioeconomic policies and developments over the years, Seychelles is described as a fusion of peoples and cultures. Numerous Seychellois are considered multiracial: as a result of intermarriages the population is composed of mixed descent – blending from African, Asian and European descent to create a modern creole culture. The official languages are English, French, Seychellois Creole.
Evidence of this harmonious blend is also revealed in Seychellois food, incorporating various aspects of French, Chinese, Indian and African cuisine. Piquancy is one of the greatest assets of the Seychellois cuisine due to the combination of different spices, making it a must-taste experience for when you soon visit the Seychelles. Hundreds of aromas bring a unique exclusivity to the cooking world. Popular dishes includes: Brèdes, a native type of spinach, Carii coco, meat or fish curry with coconut cream, Bourzwa, a red snapper seafood delicacies, Tuna and King Fish are among the favorites, and they are often fried or grilled in a garlic-butter sauce.
Music and dance have always played a prominent role in the Seychelles’ culture and in all types of local festivities. Many traditional bands were formed with the birth of ‘kanmtole’ and ‘kontredans’ — traditional dances of European origin. musical instruments such as, Banjo, Accordion, Triangle, Drums, Violin and Acoustic Guitar are widely used. Several styles such as Sega, Moutya, Maloya, Zouk and Seggae are the most popular styles of music.