Seychelles was uninhabited prior to being encountered by Europeans in the 16th century. It faced competing French and British interests until coming under full British control in the late 18th century. Since proclaiming independence from the United Kingdom in 1976, it has developed from a largely agricultural society to a market-based diversified economy, characterized by rapidly rising service, public sector, and tourism activities. From 1976 to 2015, nominal GDP grew nearly 700%, and purchasing power parity nearly 1600%. Since the late 2010s, the government has taken steps to encourage foreign investment.
Today, Seychelles boasts the highest nominal per capita GDP of any African nation. It has the second-highest Human Development Index of any African country after Mauritius. It is one of only two African countries classified as a high-income economy by the World Bank (the other being Mauritius).
Seychellois culture and society is an eclectic mix of French, British, and African influences, with more recent infusions of Chinese and Indian elements. The country is a member of the United Nations, the African Union, the Southern African Development Community, and the Commonwealth of Nations.
Creole: Repiblik Sesel
English: Republic of Seychelles
French: République des Seychelles
Independence: 29 June 1976,(from the United Kingdom)
Actual Time: Tue-Nov-2 22:31
Time Zone: SCT – Seychelles Times
Local Time = UTC +4h
Country Calling Code: +248
Capital City: Victoria (pop. 27,500)
Type: Multiple-party republic.
Independence: 29 June 1976 (from the UK).Geography:
Location: Eastern Africa, a group of about 115 islands scattered over 1.3 million km² of the western Indian Ocean, northeast of Madagascar.
Area: 455 km² (176 sq km)
Major Islands: Mahe, Praslin and La Digue.
Terrain: About half of the islands are of granitic origin, with narrow coastal strips and central ranges of hills rising to more than 900 m; highest point: Morne Seychellois at 905 m.
The other half are coral atolls, many uninhabitable.Climate: Tropical marine; humid; cooler season during southeast monsoon (late May to September); warmer season during northwest monsoon (March to May).People:
Nationality: Noun and adjective–Seychellois.
Population 98,000 (2021)
Ethnic groups: Creole (European, Asian, and African).
Religions: Catholic 86%, Anglican Church 7%, other Christians 2.5%, other 4.1%.
Languages: Official languages are Seychelles Creole (kreol seselwa), English, and French.
Literacy: between 60-80%.Natural resources: Fish, copra, cinnamon trees.Agriculture products: Coconuts, cinnamon, vanilla, sweet potatoes, cassava (tapioca), bananas, broiler chickens, tuna fish.
Industries: Fishing, tourism, orocessing of coconuts and vanilla, coir (coconut fiber) rope, boat building, printing, furniture, beverages.
Exports – commodities: Canned tuna, frozen fish, petroleum products (reexports)
Imports – commodities: machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, petroleum products, chemicals, other manufactured goods
Currency: Seychelles Rupee (SCR)
Seychelles is divided into twenty-six administrative regions comprising 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 (Îles Eloignées) are the last district recently created by the tourism ministry.
La Rivière Anglaise (English River)
Baie Sainte Anne (Anse Volbert)
Grand’Anse Praslin (Grande Anse)
La Digue and remaining Inner Islands
La Digue (Anse Réunion)
The majority of the islands are uninhabited, with many dedicated as nature reserves. Seychelles largest island Mahe is located at a distance of 835 mi (1,344 km), from Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital over the Somali Sea.
A group of 44 islands (42 granitic and 2 coralline) occupy the shallow waters of the Seychelles Bank and are collectively referred to as the inner islands. They have a total area of 244 km2, accounting for 54% of the total land area of the Seychelles and 98% of the entire population.
The islands are divided into groups as follows.
There are 42 granitic islands known as the Granitic Seychelles. These are in descending order of size: Mahé, Praslin, Silhouette Island, La Digue, Curieuse, Félicité, Frégate, Ste-Anne, North, Cerf, Marianne, Grand Sœur, Thérèse, Aride Island, Conception, Petite Sœur, Cousin Island, Cousine, Long, Récif, Round (Praslin), Anonyme, Mamelles, Moyenne, Île aux Vaches Marines, L’Islette, Beacon (Île Sèche), Cachée, Cocos, Round (Mahé), L’Ilot Frégate, Booby, Chauve-Souris (Mahé), Chauve-Souris (Praslin), Île La Fouche, Hodoul, L’Ilot, Rat, Souris, St. Pierre (Praslin), Zavé, Harrison Rocks (Grand Rocher).
Vallée De Mai National Park
Seychelles is among the world’s leading countries to protect lands for threatened species, allocating 42% of its territory for conservation. Like many fragile island ecosystems, Seychelles saw the loss of biodiversity when humans first settled in the area, 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, and the saltwater crocodile. However, extinctions were far fewer than on islands such as Mauritius or Hawaii, partly due to a shorter period of colonizer occupation. 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.
Seychelles is home to two terrestrial ecoregions: Granitic Seychelles forests and Aldabra Island xeric scrub. The country had a 2019 Forest Landscape Integrity Index mean score of 10/10, ranking it first globally out of 172 countries.
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, compared to agriculture which today employs about 3% of the labour force. Despite the growth of tourism, farming and fishing continue to employ some people, as do industries that process coconuts and vanilla.
As of 2013, the main export products are processed fish (60%) and non-fillet frozen fish (22%).[
The prime agricultural products currently produced in Seychelles include sweet potatoes, vanilla, coconuts and cinnamon. These products provide much of the economic support of the locals. Frozen and canned fish, copra, cinnamon and vanilla are the main export commodities.
13. Silhouette Island
Since the worldwide economic crises of 2008, the Seychelles government has prioritised a 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, banking, imports of basic products, telecommunications and a wide range of other businesses. According to the 2013 Index of Economic Freedom, which measures the degree of limited government, market openness, regulatory efficiency, rule of law, and other factors, economic freedom has been increasing each year since 2010.
The national currency of Seychelles is the Seychellois rupee. Initially tied to a basket of international currencies, it was unpegged and allowed to be devalued and float freely in 2008 on the presumed hopes of attracting further foreign investment in the Seychelles economy.
Seychelles has emerged as the least corrupt country in Africa in the latest Corruption Perception Index report released by Transparency International in January 2020.
Seychellois culture has been shaped by a combination of European, African, and Asian influences. The main European influence is French, recognizable in Seselwa, the Creole language that is the lingua franca of the islands, and in Seychellois food and religion; the French introduced Roman Catholicism, the religion of the majority of the islanders. African influence is revealed in local music and dance as well as in Seselwa. Asian elements are evident in the islands’ cuisine but are particularly dominant in business and trade.
Holidays observed in Seychelles include Liberation Day, which commemorates the anniversary of the 1977 coup, on June 5; National Day, June 18; Independence Day, June 29; the Feast of the Assumption, August 15; All Saints’ Day, November 1; the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8; and Christmas, December 25.
Because of the exorbitant expense of the large and lavish wedding receptions that are part of Seychellois tradition, many couples never marry; instead, they may choose to live en ménage, achieving a de facto union by cohabitating without marriage. There is little or no social stigma related to living en ménage, and the arrangement is recognized by the couple’s family and friends. The instance of couples living en ménage increases particularly among lower income groups.
Dance plays an important role in Seychellois society. Both the séga and the moutya, two of the most famous dances performed in Seychelles, mirror traditional African customs. The sensual dances blend religion and social relations, two elements central to African life. The complicated and compelling dance movements were traditionally carried out under moonlight to the beat of African drums. Dances were once regular events in village halls, but these have largely died out in recent years; now dances take place in modern nightclubs.(Britannica)
Festivals in Seychelles
Bazar Labrine-Dusk Bazaar Festival is a paradise for all food lovers who can indulge themselves with a lot of local delicacies. It takes place in Beau Vallon on every Wednesdays in open-air atmosphere.
Seychelles Sailing Cup: At the end of January, catamarans, yachts, and traditional pirogues come to the regattas of the Seychelles Sailing Cup on Praslin. There is also a deep-sea fishing competition as part of the event, which is hosted by a Belgian sailing organization for one week each year.
Seychelles Eco-Friendly Marathon, also called Eco-Healing Seychelles marathon, starts at the Beau Vallon Bay, Mahé, and attracts sports enthusiasts from around the world. The full course of the marathon is about 42km. The event is one of the major events that take place in February on the northern peninsula of Mahé.
Semaine de la Francophonie: Celebrating French culture in mid-March, Semaine de la Francophonie is a similar entity to that which is enjoyed in Franco-influenced destinations around the world. The week-long party takes place on Mahé Island and features an array of art exhibitions and literary readings, along with French music, song, fashion and food.
In March, the International Deep-Sea Fishing Competition is held on Mahé, where the tourist office and the International Game Fishing Association (IGFA) take the lead.
Seychelles International Carnival celebrated each year since 2011 is considered to be one of the world’s best carnivals. And quite rightly so. This noisy, colorful, joyous celebration of international harmony spread over three days at various locations on Mahé Island is comparable to the famous event in Rio de Janeiro. The largest party in the island capital offers live shows, open-air discos, and an extended parade across the town.
FetAfrik or Africa Day is celebrated annually on 25th May. It is a colorful artistic festival that celebrates the African origin in Seychelles with combination of Creole and African culture in Seychellois way of celebration.
Seychelles Arts Festival, organized annually by the National Art Council, is held in May. The festival offers a platform for local artists to exhibit their talents and works of art. It also offers courses for visitors to learn different forms of art. Top chefs serve up the best local dishes. Dance and music bands come up with their performances to entertain the public.
Festival of Classical Music: This event takes place every year on Mahe. Most of the concerts are held in Beau Vallon Bay. Music lovers enjoy performances of young and well – known musicians from various countries.
Round Table Beau Vallon Regatta: This is mostly a water festival comprising of water games such as yacht race, swimming, and other races. Since Beau Vallon is busy during the high season tourists who come during August and September should pre-book hotels for them.
Praslin Culinary festival & Arts Fiesta is another international event held annually in Seychelles. The celebration includes exhibitions of local artists, culinary events and traditional Thai music and dance.
Windsurfing Race is a sporting event held on Mahe in September. The event is organized by the Seychelles Yachting Association every year.( webplus.info)
The Creole Festival
Seychelles Ocean Festival
The Feast of the Assumption of Mary
3. Seychelles Cuisine – Food of Seychelles
Seychelles’ cuisine reflects hues of flavours of France, Africa, India and Europe. Being an island country, the staple food consists of a number of fish and shellfish dishes along with coconut, mangoes and breadfruit. Ladob and shark curry are other finger-licking dishes which must be given a shot. Ladob, when served as a dessert, is a creamy sauce made of sweet potato, plantain, coconut milk, nutmeg and vanilla.
You really cannot resist the savoury version of Ladob which is cooked with salt, a bit of spice, plantain and cassava. On the other hand, shark curry is prepared with a mashed, skinned shark in bilimbi juice, lime, salt and aromatic spices. If you are in Seychelles, then you really cannot miss the lip-smacking bat curry (Civet de chauve souris), cassava pudding, fruit bat and Satini Rekin all of which are inspired by flavours of France, Africa and India.
OCTOPUS CURRY (A POPULAR MAIN DISH FROM THE SEYCHELLES)
Octopus curry is an absolute beloved dish in Seychelles. It truly reflects the fusion of culture that makes up the tiny island nation. Octopus curry is a creole dish. The original version comes from the Island of Praslin and is served in nearly every restaurant there. I served it over white rice but you can also make it a little fancier and serve it over saffron rice as well
And if you are a wine lover, then you must try the Seychelles specialities: palm wine calou(or kalou), bakka rum, Seybrew and Eku. The cuisine of Seychelles is a unique combination of flavours of different regions and you cannot resist yourself from trying it.
Sources: Wikipedia, Nationonline.com, Britannica, Traveltriangle.com, webplusinfo.com, Planetware.com, Myholiday.com