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Eastern Africa- Indian Ocean
total: 455 sq km
land: 455 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Total: 0 km
the cooler season during southeast monsoon (late May to September);
the warmer season during northwest monsoon (March to May)
Mahe Group is volcanic with a narrow coastal strip and rocky, hilly interior; others are coral, flat, elevated reefs
mean elevation: NA
elevation extremes: lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
highest point: Morne Seychellois 905 m
fish, coconuts (copra), cinnamon trees
agricultural land: 6.5%
arable land 2.2%; permanent crops 4.3%; permanent pasture 0%
other: 5% (2011 est.)
3 sq km (2012)
Population – distribution:
more than three-quarters of the population lives on the main island of Mahe; Praslin contains less than 10%; a smaller percent on La Digue and the outer islands
lies outside the cyclone belt, so severe storms are rare;
occasional short droughts
People and Society
As the islands of Seychelles had no indigenous population, the current Seychellois are people who have immigrated. The largest ethnic groups were those of African, French, Indian and Chinese descent. The median age of the Seychellois was 32 years. Seychelles’ modern population is composed of the descendants of French and later British settlers, Africans, and Indian, Chinese, and Middle Eastern traders and is concentrated on three of its 155 islands – the vast majority on Mahe and lesser numbers on Praslin and La Digue. Seychelles’ population grew rapidly during the second half of the 20th century, largely due to natural increase, but the pace has slowed because of fertility decline.
The total fertility rate dropped sharply from 4.0 children per woman in 1980 to 1.9 in 2015, mainly as a result of a family planning program, free education and health care, and increased female labor force participation. Life expectancy has increased steadily, but women on average live 9 years longer than men, a difference that is higher than that typical of developed countries. The combination of reduced fertility and increased longevity has resulted in an aging population, which will put pressure on the government’s provision of pensions and health care. Seychelles’ sustained investment in social welfare services, such as free primary health care and education up to the post-secondary level, has enabled the country to achieve a high human development index score – among the highest in Africa.
Despite some of its health and education indicators being nearly on par with Western countries, Seychelles has a high level of income inequality. An increasing number of migrant workers – mainly young men – have been coming to Seychelles in recent years to work in the construction and tourism industries. As of 2011, foreign workers made up nearly a quarter of the workforce. Indians are the largest non-Seychellois population – representing half of the country’s foreigners – followed by Malagasy.
93,920 (July 2017 est.)
mixed French, African, Indian, Chinese, and Arab
Seychellois Creole (official) 89.1%, English (official) 5.1%, French (official) 0.7%, other 3.8%, unspecified 1.4% (2010 est.)
Roman Catholic 76.2%, Protestant 10.5% (Anglican 6.1%, Pentecostal Assembly 1.5%, Seventh Day Adventist 1.2%, other Protestant 1.7), other Christian 2.4%, Hindu 2.4%, Muslim 1.6%, other non-Christian 1.1%, unspecified 4.8%, none 0.9% (2010 est.)
Ethnicity, Language, and Religion
90% of the populations inhabit the main island of Seychellois known as Mahe. The remaining 10% inhabit the other islands though not all islands are inhabited. The major ethnic groups in Seychelles are the Seychellois African, also known as Creole, along with people of Indian and Chinese origin. The Creole is the leading ethnic group of Seychelles, accounting for 84,000 members of the population. Their history is traced back when Africans (mostly the East Africans and people of Madagascar) were brought to the islands as slaves to work in the sugarcane and coffee farms owned by the French. The group known as Indo-Seychellois are the second largest ethnic group in Seychelles with a total population of approximately 5,524. The Chinese population in Seychelles number approximately 1,100 people among the total population in the country, and they are also known as Sino-Seychellois.
French and English are official languages along with Seychellois Creole, which is primarily based upon French. However, nowadays the language is often laced with English words and phrases. Including second-language speakers, Seychellois is the most-spoken official language in Seychelles, followed by French, and lastly by English. 87% of the population speaks Seychellois, 51% speaks French, and 38% speaks English.
The great majority of the population practices Christianity. According to the most recent estimates, Roman Catholics constituted about 87% of the Christian community; Anglicans totaled another 7%. Other Christian churches include Baptists, Seventh-Day Adventists, the Assemblies of God, the Pentecostal Church, Nazarites, and Jehovah’s Witnesses. Hindus, Muslims, and Baha’is are also present. The constitution provides for freedom of religion and there is no state religion; however, the government does offer sometimes substantial financial assistance to churches from the state budget, primarily in the form of grants, through an application process that is open to all.
Formal education in Seychelles began in the mid-1800s with the opening of Roman Catholic and Anglican mission schools staffed by foreign teachers. The government assumed responsibility for these schools in 1944. When the government opened a technical college in 1970, the country had a supply of locally trained teachers and was able to establish more schools. A system of free and compulsory education was established in 1981 for children in grades one through nine. Seychelles is the only country in Africa that has already fully achieved education for all, in line with the six Education For All (EFA) goals set out by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO, for attainment in 2015, according to a new report published by UNESCO’s Regional Office in Dakar.
Students are taught to read and write in Creole until grade three when they are taught in English in some subjects. Education in French begins in grade six. When students finish their compulsory education, they are given the opportunity to attend a National Youth Service (NYS) program where they receive training in academics and in life skills. In 1991, the enrollment in NYS was 1,394 students. Students who do not attend NYS can volunteer for a six-month government work program in which they are paid a small stipend while training. Education for students is free and compulsory from ages 5 to 16 in primary and secondary schools. Prior to age five, schools called creches to provide pre-primary education. All creches have formally organized early childhood care and development.
Primary education is designated as grades one through six and secondary education continues for another five years. However, only three years of secondary are compulsory. Special education is also provided within the spectrum of primary and secondary education. Students who complete their secondary education can attend Seychelles Polytechnic College where they are able to receive pre-university training in teacher education, business, humanities and science, and hotels/tourism. Since no university exists in Seychelles, further education is usually done through scholarship programs in other countries.
There are a total of 68 schools in Seychelles. The public school system consists of 23 crèches, 25 primary schools and 13 secondary schools. They are located on Mahé, Praslin, La Digue, and Silhouette. Additionally, there are three private schools: École Française, International School, and the Independent School. All the private schools are on Mahé, and the International School has a branch on Praslin. There are seven post-secondary (non-tertiary) schools: the Seychelles Polytechnic, School of Advanced Level Studies, Seychelles Tourism Academy, University of Seychelles Education, Seychelles Institute of Technology, Maritime Training Center, Seychelles Agricultural and Horticultural Training Center and the National Institute for Health and Social Studies.
Since independence in 1976, per capita output in this Indian Ocean archipelago has expanded to roughly seven times the pre-independence, near-subsistence level, moving the island into the high-income group of countries. Growth has been led by the tourist sector, which directly employs about 26% of the labor force and directly and indirectly accounts for more than 55% of GDP, and by tuna fishing. In recent years, the government has encouraged foreign investment to upgrade hotels and tourism industry services. At the same time, the government has moved to reduce the dependence on tourism by promoting the development of the offshore financial, information, and communication sectors, and renewable energy.
Seychelles’ economy has benefited from continued robust growth in tourist arrivals, which rose by 15.4% in 2017 to a record high of 349,861 (more than three times its resident population). Other real activity indicators have also been strong, especially in the services sectors, which accounts for close to three-quarters of the economy. Electricity consumption rose by 4%, and total data traffic by 60%, in the first three quarters of 2017 compared to the same period in 2016. Overall, real GDP is estimated to have grown by 4.2% in 2017. To meet the associated, strong growth in demand for labor, Seychelles has relied increasingly on expatriate workers.
With a formal unemployment rate of 4.5%, Seychelles is at full employment. Rising labor demand has been met by a surge in expatriate workers—their numbers, as measured by new and renewed Gainful Occupation Permits, approximately doubling since 2014, to 16,792 in 2016. Foreign workers are employed mostly in construction and tourism and account for about a quarter of the total workforce. Effective 1 January 2017, Seychelles was no longer eligible for trade benefits under the US African Growth and Opportunities Act after having gained developed country status. The Seychellois Government met the IMF’s performance criteria for 2017 but recognizes a need to make additional progress to reduce high-income inequality, represented by a Gini coefficient of 46.8.
The baseline scenario assumes Seychelles will maintain prudent fiscal policy aimed at reducing the government’s indebtedness. The 2018 Budget sets a target of a primary surplus of 2.5% of GDP. Although reduced from previous years’ targets of 3%, this surplus remains consistent with the authorities’ medium-term objective of reducing the debt-to-GDP ratio to 50% by 2021. This will require continued expenditure control as well as new, permanent measures to raise revenues beyond and above the one-off measures taken in 2017. The government plans to shift from a flat-rate tax to a progressive income tax in mid-2018. This would effectively lessen the tax burden on those with a lower ability to pay but possibly increase the challenge of generating offsetting revenues to fund pro-poor public expenditure. Inflation is expected to remain moderate at about 3.5%. The positive base effect of the 2017 administered price increases should be offset by the projected higher fuel import prices.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$2.736 billion (2017 est.)
$2.606 billion (2016 est.)
$2.494 billion (2015 est.)
note: data are in 2017 dollars
GDP (official exchange rate):
$1.479 billion (2017 est.)
GDP – real growth rate:
5% (2017 est.)
4.5% (2016 est.)
5% (2015 est.)
GDP – per capita (PPP):
$28,700 (2017 est.)
$27,700 (2016 est.)
$26,800 (2015 est.)
Gross national saving:
16.6% of GDP (2017 est.)
11.8% of GDP (2016 est.)
15.2% of GDP (2015 est.)
GDP – composition, by sector of origin:
services: 74% (2006)
Agriculture – products:
rice, coffee, cocoa, palm kernels, palm oil, peanuts, cashews; poultry, cattle, sheep, pigs; fish
diamond mining; iron ore, rutile and bauxite mining; small-scale manufacturing (beverages, textiles, footwear)
Population below poverty line:
39.3% (2013 est.)
revenues: $571.8 million
expenditures: $557.2 million (2017 est.)
Although tourism plays a major role in Seychelles’ economy, agriculture remains an important sector – and as a result, efforts are being made at the highest level to revitalize the agricultural and fishing industries with a four-year investment strategy. About 10 percent of the potential agricultural land (limited by shallow and infertile soils), estimated at 6,000 ha, is currently used for agriculture. Agriculture is characterized by small family farms of 0.25–0.5 ha that practice mixed cropping. There are about 400 registered crop production farms; 47 registered commercial layer farms and 10 registered commercial broiler farms; 1,500 pig fattening units and 32 pigs breeding units.
The total area of the islands suitable for agriculture is around 400 hectares and the sharply-defined wet and dry seasons can make things challenging. To offset the often-cheap imported products, the government has taken various steps to decrease dependency on imported foods, including reduced trade tax on fertilizers and equipment and deregulating production and marketing. The islands’ climate makes them unsuitable for growing rice and other grains. The breeding of livestock including cattle, pigs, and chickens has remained steady, although it is hampered to a degree by developments such as housing on the agricultural land. According to Nature Seychelles, the local economy suffered a setback because of the global market – such as cheap chicken imports having a detrimental effect on Seychelles’ own chicken farmers.
Two traditional crops of cinnamon and copra – dried coconut which produces an oil – used to be of greater export significance in years gone by. In recent years, this has declined because it’s difficult to offset the high costs of production against low-cost competitors on the international market. Similarly, vanilla was of great importance in the past but it is now produced on a smaller scale. Tea grown on the slopes of Mahé – a more recent plantation crop – serves mainly local consumers. Having said that, luxury foodstuffs such as premium quality tropical fruits are fetching higher prices in supermarkets in Europe, thanks to being cultivated to the highest environmental standards and being branded with Seychelles’ exclusivity.
population without electricity: 2,795
electrification – total population: 97%
electrification – urban areas: 97%
electrification – rural areas: 97% (2012)
Electricity – production:
409 million kWh (2016 est.)
Electricity – consumption:
365.9 million kWh (2016 est.)
Electricity – exports:
0 million kWh (2015 est.)
Electricity – imports:
0 billion kWh (2015 est.)
Electricity – installed generating capacity:
87,000 kW (2015 est.)
Electricity – from fossil fuels:
92% of total installed capacity (2015 est.)
Electricity – from nuclear fuels:
0% of total installed capacity (2015 est.)
Telephones – fixed lines:
total subscriptions: 20,836
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 22 (July 2016 est.
Telephones – mobile cellular:
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 162 (July 2016 est.)
Internet country code:
percent of population: 56.5% (July 2016 est.)
The manufacturing sector in Seychelles has a significant impact on the country’s economy. In 2011 manufacturing contributed 8.8% of to the total GDP of Seychelles. Seychelles is classified 74 out of 185 countries by the World Bank for ease of doing business, a ranking based on how conducive the regulatory environment is to the opening and operation of a local firm. Industrial production is estimated to be growing at a rate of 4%. Seychelles’ main industries include tourism, fishing, farming, oil drilling, and manufacturing. Most manufacturers are small-scale and consist largely of food processing plants. The manufacture of beer, cigarettes, chemicals, and furniture, among other items, also plays a significant role within the sector. Recent developments in global warming have harmed the fishing industry in Seychelles, particularly concerning the fishing of tuna.
Offshore financial services have become increasingly important to Seychelles’ economy since the early 2000s. The Seychelles International Business Authority (SIBA) helps ensure that professional standards are adhered to within offshore industries and allows for certain fiscal advantages. Exports of goods and services made up 45.6% of GDP in 2011 according to the World Bank, an overall decline of 5 points since 2010. The main export industries include canned and frozen fish, cinnamon, copra, and petroleum products, which are exported primarily to France, the UK and J, pan. In 2012, Seychelles was estimated to have exports equating to US$493.3 million (est. CIA World Factbook).
The 2013 Global Competitiveness Report scores and ranks the sophistication of production processes around the world, where a low country score of 1 means “no sophistication and labor intensive” and a high score of 7 means production processes are the “world’s best and apply the most efficient technologies”. In this respect, Seychelles ranks 101 out of 144 countries with a score of 3.2 out of 7.0.
Banking and Finance
The banking system of the Republic of Seychelles is a state system of financial institutions. The structure of the banking system of Seychelles comprises the Central Bank of Seychelles and traditional commercial and offshore banking institutions. Additionally, the banking system includes specialized financial institutions and foreign exchange offices. The №14 “Financial Institutions Act”, which was adopted at the end of 2004, is the fundamental legislative act that regulates the activities of the banking institutions on the territory of the Republic of Seychelles.
Speaking about the state banking sector of Seychelles, it must be mentioned that since the last decades it has been developing alongside with the stable economic growth of the state. The diversification of the local economy and the development of the financial sector have actively contributed to the improvement of the banking sector. The foreign investments, which are continuously lured into the offshore zone, have become a basis for establishing a modern banking system that meets all the highest international standards.
The banking system of the Republic of Seychelles was created based on the experience of the most developed countries with the appropriate systems. Availability and provision of the following financial tools should be singled out among the main areas of the local banking activities. The opportunities provided by a remote banking service are worth mentioning separately. The Seychelles banking institutions provide a possibility of accessing personal accounts remotely via the Internet. This service greatly facilitates the way of managing offshore companies and allows managing financial assets from any point of the globe. Today there is no need to visit a banking institution in order to use the full range of advantages of the financial banking services.
All the functions of the main state financial regulator were entrusted to the Monetary Authority. It was responsible for the management of the state currency reserves, issuance of the national currency and national debt management. The Authority performed functions of the Central banking authority and acted as the main governmental fiscal authority. It was also the ultimate lender to the banks, which were on the verge of bankruptcy. The continuous development of the state banking sector has contributed to the transformation of the Monetary Authority into the main state financial regulator.
Tourism is the most important nongovernment sector of Seychelles’ economy. About 15 percent of the formal workforce is directly employed in tourism, and employment in construction, banking, transportation, and other activities is closely tied to the tourist industry. Tourists enjoy Seychelles’ coral beaches and opportunities for water sports. Wildlife in the archipelago is also a major attraction. Stunning and unspoiled, the Seychelles star in countless tropical island fantasies. Beautiful boulder-strewn beaches, virgin jungles, thriving coral reefs, and UNESCO-listed nature reserves are just some of the many attractions of the archipelago’s 115 coral and granite islands, which are the peaks of a vast underwater plateau.
Seychelles lie east of Kenya, near the equator. Almost half their total land area is protected, and many of the islands and atolls are contained within marine sanctuaries. On land, you can hike mountain trails, bask on the ravishing beaches, rock climb, photograph the unique flora and fauna, and dine on mouthwatering Créole cuisine. Aquatic pursuits abound in the clear, azure water. Diving, snorkeling, surfing, and sailing are all world class, and Seychelles boasts some of the richest fishing grounds in the world.
Place of Attraction
One of Mahé’s most beautiful beaches, this small and secluded crescent of sand on the island’s south coast is a favorite surfing spot thanks to its frequent big swells and wild waves. The lack of a protective reef makes swimming a little rough when tradewinds blow from the southeast, but sunbathers, beachcombers, and photographers will enjoy this picturesque, palm-framed strand at any time of year. Turtles nest along the powdery shores here.
The largest island of the archipelago and one of the most popular places to visit in Seychelles, Mahé boasts of verdant forests, highest mountain ranges of Seychelles, and over 65 beaches with a vast diversity of flora and fauna. The island is also famous for the Beau Vallon beach and the numerous tourist attractions of the Victoria city – one of the tiniest capital cities of the world.
Praslin, or the Isle de Palme, is most popular for the Vallée de Mai UNESCO World Heritage Site and the coco de mer that grows here in abundance. Home to Anse Lazio and Anse Georgette that are coveted as two of the most beautiful beaches of the world, the island is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Seychelles.
The pretty village of Baie Lazare on Mahé was named after 18th-century French explorer Lazare Picault, who landed here when the French government sent him to explore the islands. One of the area’s main tourist attractions is the neo-Gothic Baie Lazare Church, dedicated to St. Francis of Assisi, which provides a panoramic view of the area. The stunning beaches of Anse Soleil and Petite Anse are favorites, with their striking azure water and dazzling white sand.
Bird Island, formerly known as the Îles aux Vaches, is home to dugongs (sea cows) and over a million migratory birds that are found here during May – November. Among the most popular places to visit in Seychelles for bird watching, the island boasts of a large number of fairy terns, sooty terns, noddy terns, saunders’s terns, cardinals, ground doves, crested terns, plovers, and Giant land tortoises on this island.
The world’s largest raised coral atoll, Aldabra Island is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The island is known to have a volcanic origin. Tourists can spot numerous bird and animal species on the island. These include tiger sharks, manta rays, white-throated Aldabra rail (the only flightless bird in the Indian Ocean), dimorphic egrets, Aldabra sacred ibis, Malagasy kestrel, and giant land tortoises.
Historians believe that the reason Seychelles remained unsettled and unexplored for so long was because the trade winds didn’t blow in their direction, although Malays from Borneo may have settled in Seychelles for a brief period of time between 200 AD and 300 AD. There is also some evidence that navigators of Arab trading ships in medieval times knew of the islands’ existence. An Arab merchant writing in 851 AD made reference to islands beyond the Maldives, which he called the Tall Islands. Historians today believe this was most likely a reference to Seychelles.
Seychelles was uninhabited throughout most of recorded history. Yet long before the early 16th century, when sailors from an English East India Company ship that had lost its course first set foot on one of its islands, Seychelles exerted a subtle influence on the mercantile world. Arab traders did a brisk business in the coco de mer nuts that only grow on the Seychelles islands of Praslin and Curieuse. These curiously twinned palm nuts are hollow and float long distances. They were highly valued by Arabs and Europeans alike who would decorate their shells with precious jewels and display them in private galleries.
The Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama discovered the Seychelles Islands (then uninhabited) in 1502. The Admiral sighted a group of coral islands he named Les Amirantes (Admiral Islands) after himself. In 1517, the Portuguese mapped the area, keeping the name Amirantes for the coral islands and dubbing the nearby granite islands, the Seven Sisters. Englishmen were the first to alight on the shores of Seychelles. Early in the year 1609, an English East India Company trading vessel called the Ascension was set upon by natives near the Portuguese island of Pemba. The ship lost its course. On January 19, the Ascension’s boatswain sighted North Island, and the ship made anchorage in its natural harbor. “It is a very good refreshing place for wood, water, cooker nuts, fish and fowl,” the East India Company merchant John Jourdain wrote in his journal, “without any fear or danger except the allagartes for you cannot discern that ever any people had been there before us.” The British, however, made no attempt to settle the islands.
The Arrival of French
Towards the end of the 17th century, pirates arrived in the Indian Ocean from the Caribbean and made a base in Madagascar, from where they preyed upon vessels approaching and leaving the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf. The French had occupied the Isle de France (now Mauritius) since 1715. This colony was growing in importance, and in 1735 an energetic administrator, Bertrand-François Mahé de La Bourdonnais (1699–1753) was appointed. His brief was to protect the French sea route to India. La Bourdonnais, himself a sailor, turned his attention to making a speedier passage from Mauritius to India. To this end, in 1742, he sent an expedition under the command of Lazare Picault to accurately chart the islands northeast of Madagascar.
On 21 November 1742, the Elisabeth and the Charles anchored off Mahé at Anse Boileau (not Baie Lazare, later mistakenly named as Picault’s landing place). They found a land of plenty. In fact, Picault named the island Ile d’Abondance. Picault’s mapping was poor, so in 1744 he was sent back and renamed the main island Mahé (in honor of his patron Mahé de La Bourdonnais), and the group the Iles de la Bourdonnais. He had high hopes for the Iles de la Bourdonnais. However, the islands were once more forgotten when La Bourdonnais was replaced in 1746.
The outbreak in 1754 of what would become the Seven Years’ War between England and France reminded the authorities on Mauritius about the islands. Two ships were sent to claim them, commanded by Corneille Nicholas Morphey. He renamed the largest island Isle de Séchelles in honor of Viscount Jean Moreau de Séchelles, Minister of Finance during the reign of Louis XV (later Anglicised as Seychelles). This name was later used for the island group, whilst Mahé was again used for the largest granitic island. Morphey took possession for the French king and the French East India Company on 1 November 1756. Although the French first claimed the islands in 1756, colonization did not begin until 1768, when a party of 22 Frenchmen arrived, bringing with them a number of slaves. As competition grew among European nations for the lucrative trade with India and Asia, more and more seamen called at the islands to provision their vessels and to pick up commodities useful for trade.
In 1769, the navigators Rochon and Grenier proved that a faster route to India could safely be taken via Seychelles, and thus the importance of the islands’ strategic position was realized. Meanwhile, Poivre had finally obtained seedlings of nutmeg and clove and 10,000 nutmeg seeds. His attempts to propagate them on Mauritius and Bourbon (later named Réunion) met with little success, and he thought again of Seychelles. It was considered fortuitous when Brayer du Barré (unknown-1777) arrived on Mauritius with royal permission to run a settlement on St Anne at his own expense.
On 12 August 1770, 15 white colonists, seven slaves, five Indians and one black woman settled on St Anne. Du Barré stayed in Mauritius seeking funds. After reports of initial success, he begged the government for more money. However, reports reached the authorities that ship captains could get no supplies of fresh produce from the islands. Du Barré’s appeals for help to Mauritius and Versailles fell on deaf ears. In desperation, he went to Seychelles to try and rescue the situation, but to no avail. A ruined man, he left for India and died there shortly afterward. In 1790, as a result of the French Revolution, the settlers formed a Colonial Assembly and decided they would run their colony themselves, according to their own constitution. Land in Seychelles should only go to the children of existing colonists, who should dispose of the colony’s produce as they chose, not as Mauritius dictated. They deemed the abolition of slavery impossible because they believed that without free labor, the colony could not survive.
Jean-Baptiste Queau de Quincy (1748–1827) took command of the colony in 1794. A wily man, he used skill and expediency to steer Seychelles through the years of war ahead. In 1794, the British Commodore, Henry Newcome, gave Quincy an hour in which to surrender. The French and British battled for control of the islands between 1794 and 1814. French bases were blockaded in 1794 and again in 1804; on each occasion, the French capitulated. Under the Treaty of Paris (1814), the islands, together with Mauritius, were ceded to Britain. Both before and after the session, the islands were administered from Mauritius as dependent territories. When the British made clear that they would enforce the ban on slavery throughout the Empire, many of the French landowners who had continued to import African slaves, largely from Mauritius and Réunion, departed for Africa and elsewhere, taking their slaves with them. However, with slavery ended, thousands of liberated slaves and others came to the islands. Indian labor was introduced to work on the plantations and some Chinese immigrants became shopkeepers.
The first civilian administrator of the British regime was Edward Madge. He had a bitter feud with Quincy, who remained in the administration as Justice of the Peace. In the following years, the islands became a backwater ticking over quietly. Seychellois landowners had a pleasant life, though making ends meet given the fickle markets for their produce was not always easy. The British had allowed all customary French practices to remain in place. The administrator may have been British, reporting to London, but he governed according to French rules. The biggest grievance the colonists had with their new masters was the colony’s dependence on Mauritius.
The other cloud on the planters’ horizon was British anti-slavery legislation. In 1835, slavery was completely abolished. The plantations were already in decline, their soils exhausted by years of cultivation without investment in renewing fertility. Some planters took their slaves and left. The liberated slaves had no land, and most squatted on the estates they had tended in bondage, and the colony entered a period of stagnation. There were no exports and no money to pay for new infrastructure. Seychelles yearned to be a colony in its own right, and the authorities in the mother colony, Mauritius, supported them. Sir Arthur Gordon, the Mauritian governor, sent a petition on their behalf to London. Concessions were made, but Seychelles did not become a Crown Colony in its own right until 1903, when its first Governor, Sir Ernest Bickham Sweet-Escott took office.
The Planters Association lobbied for the white landowners, but until 1937 those who worked for them had no voice. The League of Coloured Peoples was formed to demand a minimum wage, a wage tribunal and free health care for all. During World War II, a seaplane depot was established on St Anne to monitor regional shipping. A garrison was stationed in the islands and a battery built at Pointe Conan to protect the harbor. Some 2,000 Seychellois men served in the Pioneer Companies in Egypt, Palestine, and Italy. At home, Seychelles had turmoil of its own. The first political party, the Taxpayers Association, was formed in 1939. A British governor described it as “the embodiment of every reactionary force in Seychelles”, and it was entirely concerned with protecting the interests of the plantocracy. After the war, they also benefited by being granted the vote, which was limited to literate property owners; just 2,000 in a population of 36,000. At the first elections, in 1948, most of those elected to the Legislative Council were predictably members of the Planters and Taxpayers Association.
The rise of political movements that benefitted Seychelles residents who were not landowners didn’t take place until the 1960s. The left-leaning Seychelles People’s United Party (SPUP) was formed in 1964, espousing a platform of socialism and independence from Britain. The Seychelles Democratic Party (SDP), formed that same year, represented the interests of landowners and lobbied for a stronger relationship with Britain. A constitutional convention was held in London in March 1970, and in November of that same year, James Mancham, the leader of the SDP, became the island nation’s chief minister.
in November 1970 brought a new constitution into effect, with Mancham as Chief Minister. Further elections were held in April 1974, in which both major political parties campaigned for independence. Following this election, negotiations with the British resulted in an agreement under which Seychelles became an independent republic within the Commonwealth on June 29, 1976. The newly knighted Sir James Mancham became the country’s first President, with René as Prime Minister. These negotiations also restored the islands of Aldabra, Farquhar, and Des Roches, which had been transferred from Seychelles in November 1965 to form part of the new British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT), to Seychelles upon independence.
In 1977, a coup d’état by France Albert René ousted the first president of the republic, James Mancham. In the 1980s there were a series of coup attempts against President René, some of which were supported by South Africa. In 1981, Mike Hoare led a team of 43 South African mercenaries masquerading as holidaying rugby players in the 1981 Seychelles coup d’état attempt. In 1986, an attempted coup led by the Seychelles Minister of Defence, Ogilvy Berlouis, caused President René to request assistance from India. In Operation Flowers are Blooming, the Indian naval vessel INS Vindhyagiri arrived in Port Victoria to help avert the coup.
December 4, 1991, President René announced a return to the multiparty system of government after almost 16 years of one-party rule. On December 27, 1991, the Constitution of Seychelles was amended to allow for the registration of political parties. In 2004, René turned the presidency over to his former vice president and long-time comrade, James Michel. Michel won the 2006 presidential elections against SNP leader Wavel Ramkalawan with 53.5% of the vote. In October 2015 Michel called for an early presidential election, rather than wait until it was due in 2016. On December 19 Michel was declared the winner by a very narrow margin, taking 50.15 percent of the vote, with only 193 votes between him and Ramkalawan.