Seychelles

Introduction A lengthy struggle between France and Great Britain for the islands ended in 1814, when they were ceded to the latter. Independence came in 1976. Socialist rule 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.
History

The early (pre-European colonisation) history of Isle de Séchelles - Seychelles is unknown. Malays from Borneo, who eventually settled on Madagascar, perhaps lingered here circa 200-300 BC. Arab navigators on trading voyages across the Indian Ocean, were probably aware of the islands, although they did not settle them. A manuscript dated AD 851, written by an Arab merchant, refers to the Maldives and higher islands beyond them, possibly Seychelles. Arabs were trading coco de mer nuts, found only in Seychelles, long before European discovery of the islands. The nuts sink in water, so it is unlikely they were found, as the Arabs claimed, washed ashore in the Maldives.

Age of Discoveries

In 1502, Vasco da Gama, crossing from India to East Africa, sighted islands which became known as the Amirantes. The granitic islands began to appear on Portuguese charts as the Seven Sisters.

In March 1608, a trading fleet of the English East India Company set sail for India. Lost in a storm, the Ascension's crew saw "high land" on 19 January 1609 and headed for it. They anchored "as in a pond". They found plentiful fresh water, fish, coconuts, birds, turtles and giant tortoises with which to replenish their stores. The Ascension sailed, and reported what they had found, but the British took no action.

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 Gulf.

The French had occupied the Ile de France (renamed Mauritius by the British in 1810) since 1710. This colony was growing in importance, and in 1735 an energetic administrator, Bertrand François de la Bourdonnais (1699-1723) 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'Abondonce. Picault's mapping was poor, so in 1744 he was sent back and renamed the main island Mahé, 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 Labourdonnais was replaced in 1746.

French rule

The outbreak of 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 honour of Viscount Jean Moreau de Séchelles, Minister of Finance during the reign of Louis XV (later Anglicised as Seychelles). This was later used for the island group, whilst Mahé was again used for the largest granitic island. Morphey took possession for his king and the French East India Company on 1 November 1756.

The end of the Seven Years War, France's loss of Canada and its status in India, caused the decline of the French East India Company, which had formerly controlled Mauritius. This settlement, and thus Seychelles, now came under direct royal authority. The new intendant of Mauritius, Pierre Poivre (1719-1786), was determined to break the Dutch monopoly of the lucrative spice trade, he thought Mahé would be perfect for spice cultivation.

In 1768, Nicolas Dufresne arranged a commercial venture, sending ships to collect timber and tortoises from the Seychelles. During this expedition, French sovereignty was extended to cover all the islands of the granitic group on Christmas Day.

In 1769, the navigators Rochon and Grenier proved that a faster route to India could safely be taken via the Seychelles and thus the importance of Seychelles' strategic position became realised. 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 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 negress 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 the Seychelles to try and rescue the situation, but to no avail. A ruined man, he left for India and died there shortly afterwards.

In 1771, Poivre sent Antoine Gillot to Seychelles to establish a spice garden. By August 1772, Du Barré's people had abandoned St Anne and moved to Mahé or returned home. Gillot worked on at Anse Royale, establishing nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon and pepper plants.

When British ships were seen around Seychelles, the authorities were spurred into action, despatching a garrison under Lieutenant de Romainville. They built Etablissement du Roi (Royal Settlement) on the site of modern Victoria. Gillot was nominally in charge of the civilian colonists, but had no real authority over them. Mauritius sent as replacement a man of stronger mettle, Jean Baptiste Philogene de Malavois. He drew up 30 decrees which protected the timber and tortoises. In future, only sound farming techniques and careful husbanding of resources would be tolerated. He assumed command of the settlement in 1788.

The Quincy era

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. The deemed the abolition of slavery impossible, because they believed that without free labour, the colony could not survive.

Jean-Baptiste Queau de Quinssy (1748-1827), whose name was later Anglicised to Quincy, took command of the colony in 1794. A wily man, used skill and expediency to steer Seychelles through the years of war ahead. Seychelles acted as a haven for French corsairs (pirates carrying lettres de marque entitling them to prey legally on enemy shipping). Quincy hoped this might go unnoticed, but in 1794 a squadron of three British ships arrived. The British commodore, Henry Newcome, gave Quincy an hour in which to surrender. Through skilful negotiations, Quincy obtained a guarantee of his honour and property and surrendered.

The British made no effort to take over the Seychelles; it was considered a waste of resources. The settlers decided that unless they were sent a garrison, they could not be expected to defend the French flag. Therefore they would remain neutral, supplying all comers. The strategy worked. The colony flourished. Quincy's favourable terms of capitulation were renewed seven times during the visits of British ships.

On 11 July, 1801 the French frigate Chiffonne arrived with a cargo of French prisoners sent into exile by Napoleon. Then HMS Sybille arrived. Quincy had to try to defend the Chiffonne, but after a brief battle, the Chiffonne was taken. Captain Adam of the Sybille wanted to know why Quincy had interfered, in contravention of his capitulation terms. Quincy managed to talk his way out of the difficulty, and even persuaded Adam to agree to Seychelles' vessels flying a flag bearing the words "Seychelles Capitulation", allowing them to pass through the British blockade of Mauritius unmolested.

15 September 1801 was the date of a memorable sea battle just off the settlement. The British ship Victor was seriously disabled by damage to her rigging, but she was able to manoeuvre broadside to the French vessel La Flêche and rake her with incessant fire. La Flêche began to sink. Rather than surrender her, her captain ran her aground, torching her before abandoning ship. The opposing commanders met ashore afterwards, the Englishman warmly congratulating his French counterpart on his courage and skill during the battle

The British tightened the blockade on the French Indian Ocean colonies. Réunion surrendered, followed in December 1810 by Mauritius. In April 1811, Captain Beaver arrived in Seychelles on the Nisus to announce the preferential terms of Quincy's capitulation should stand, but Seychelles must recognise the terms of the Mauritian surrender. Beaver left behind a Royal Marine, Lieutenant Bartholomew Sullivan, to monitor the Seychelles situation.

British rule

There was little Sullivan could do alone to stop the settlers continuing to provision French frigates and slavers. Slave ownership was not then against British law, although slave trading was. Sullivan, later given the title of Civil Agent, played cat and mouse with the pro-slaver colonists. Once, acting on a tip off, Sullivan was rowed over to Praslin and was able to confiscate a cargo of newly landed slaves. It was but a small triumph amidst many frustrations, and Sullivan, complaining that the Seychellois had "no sense of honour, shame or honesty", resigned.

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. The plantocracy believed they could not farm without free labour. Some planters took their slaves and left. The liberated slaves had no land, and most squatted on the estates they had tended in bondage, working sporadically to keep themselves from starvation, but generally refusing to work at all. It was a poor sort of freedom, and the colony entered a period of stagnation. There were no exports, and no money to pay for new infrastructure.

The situation was only improved when planters realised they could grow coconuts with less labour and more profit than the traditional crops of cotton, sugar, rice, and maize. Soon, they also had a source of virtually free labour once again. The British took their anti-slavery stance seriously, and operated patrols along the East African coast, raiding Arab dhows transporting slaves to the Middle East. Slaves liberated south of the Equator were brought to Seychelles, and apprenticed to plantation owners. They worked the land in return for rations and wages. Over a period of thirteen years from 1861, around 2,400 men, women and children were brought to Seychelles.

The town, called Victoria since 1841, began to grow. Licences granted in 1879 give some idea of the range of businesses in the town. There was a druggist, two auctioneers, five retailers, four liquor stores, a notary, an attorney, a jeweller, and a watchmaker.

There was a disaster on 12 October 1862, when torrential rain and strong winds hit Mahé. An avalanche of mud and rocks fell on the town from the hills. It has been estimated that over 70 persons lost their lives.

Crown Colony

Seychelles yearned to be a colony in its own right, and the authorities in the mother colony 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. Befitting its new status, the colony acquired a botanical gardens, and a clock tower in the heart of Victoria.

The British, like the French before them, saw Seychelles as a useful place to exile troublesome political prisoners. Over the years, Seychelles became a home to prisoners from Zanzibar, Egypt, Cyprus and Palestine, to name but a few. The first in the line of exiles was the ex-Sultan of Perak who arrived in 1875 after his implication in the murder of the British Resident of Perak. Like many of the exiles who followed, he settled well into Seychelles life and became genuinely fond of the islands. He took home with him one of the popular local tunes, and incorporated it into the national anthem of his country. With new words, it later became the national anthem of Malaysia.

Perhaps the most famous of the political prisoners was Archbishop Makarios, who arrived in 1956. He likewise fell in love with his prison. "When our ship leaves harbour," he wrote, "we shall take with us many good and kindly memories of the Seychelles...may God bless them all."

World War I caused great hardship in the islands. Ships could not bring in essential goods, nor take away exports. Wages fell; prices soared by 150 percent. Many turned to crime and the prisons were bursting. Joining the Seychelles Labour Contingent, formed at the request of General Smuts, seemed to offer an escape. It was no easy option however. The force, 800 strong, was sent to East Africa. After just five months, so many had died from dysentery, malaria and beriberi. The corps was sent home. In all, 335 men died.

By the end of the World War I, the population of Seychelles was 24,000, and they were feeling neglected by Whitehall. There was agitation from the newly formed Planters Association for greater representation in the governance of Seychelles affairs. After 1929 a more liberal flow of funds was ensured by the Colonial Development Act, but it was a time of economic depression; the price of copra was falling and so were wages. Workers petitioned the government about their poor working conditions and the burden of tax they had to bear. Governor Sir Arthur Grimble instigated some reforms, exempting lower income groups from taxation. He was keen to create model housing and distribute smallholdings for the landless. Many of this reforms were not approved until World War II had broken out, and everything was put on hold.

The Planters Association lobbied for the white land owners, 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 harbour. 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.

In 1958, the French bought back the Glorioso islands from the Seychelles.

Independence

It was not until 1964 that any new political movements were created. In that year, the Seychelles People's United Party (SPUP) was formed. Led by France Albert Rene, they campaigned for independence from Britain. James Mancham's Seychelles Democratic Party (SDP), created the same year, by contrast wanted closer integration with Britain.

In March 1970, colonial and political representatives of Seychelles met in London for a constitutional convention, with the Seychelles Democratic Party (SDP) of James Mancham advocating closer integration with the UK, and the Seychelles People's United Party (SPUP) of France-Albert René advocating independence. Elections 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 the 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.

One-party state

On June 5, 1977, a coup d'état saw Mancham deposed while overseas, and France-Albert René became President. The Seychelles became a one-party state, with the SPUP becoming the Seychelles People's Progressive Front (SPPF).

In 1981, the country experienced a failed coup attempt by Mike Hoare and a team of South African backed mercenaries. John Perkins has alleged that this was part of a covert action to re-install the pro-American former president in the face of concerns about United States access to its military bases in Diego Garcia.

The government was threatened again by an army mutiny in August 1982, but it was quelled after 2 days when loyal troops, reinforced by Tanzanian forces, recaptured rebel-held installations.

In 1984 after the assassination of the exile Leader SNM/MPR in London Mr Gerrard Houreau, The Seychelles community in Exile put together a programm titled SIROP - Seychelles International Repatriation and Onward Programm involving the Alliance,CDU, DP, SNP and SNP it required the exile to negotiate a peaceful return supported by a strong economic programm. This program had very important international support. It was linked to political process, events of change in Poland - the COMECON, Fall of Berlin Wall, Germany reunification and changes in USSR. Also important political change in South Africa and OAU.

Democracy restored

At an Extraordinary Congress of the Seychelles People's Progressive Front (SPPF) on December 4, 1991, President Rene 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. Among the exiles returning to Seychelles was James Mancham, who returned in April 1992 to revive his party, the Democratic Party (DP). By the end of that month, eight political parties had registered to contest the first stage of the transition process: election to the constitutional commission, which took place on July 23-26, 1992.

The constitutional commission was made up of 22 elected members, 14 from the SPPF and 8 from the DP. It commenced work on August 27, 1992 with both President Rene and Mancham calling for national reconciliation and consensus on a new democratic constitution. A consensus text was agreed upon on May 7, 1993, and a referendum to approve it was called for June 15-18. The draft was approved with 73.9% of the electorate in favor of it and 24.1% against.

July 23-26, 1993 saw the first multiparty presidential and legislative elections held under the new constitution, as well as a resounding victory for President Rene. Three political groups contested the elections--the SPPF, the DP, and the United Opposition (UO)--a coalition of three smaller political parties, including Parti Seselwa. Two other smaller opposition parties threw in their lot with the DP. All participating parties and international observer groups accepted the results as "free and fair."

Three candidates contested the March 20-22, 1998 presidential election--Albert Rene, SPPF; James Mancham, DP; and Wavel Ramkalawan--and once again President Rene and his SPPF party won a landslide victory. The President's popularity in elections jumped to 66.6% in 1998 from 59.5% in 1993, while the SPPF garnered 61.7% of the total votes cast in the 1998 National Assembly election, compared to 56.5% in 1993.

Geography Location: archipelago in the Indian Ocean, northeast of Madagascar
Geographic coordinates: 4 35 S, 55 40 E
Map references: Africa
Area: total: 455 sq km
land: 455 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Area - comparative: 2.5 times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 491 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin
Climate: tropical marine; humid; cooler season during southeast monsoon (late May to September); warmer season during northwest monsoon (March to May)
Terrain: Mahe Group is granitic, narrow coastal strip, rocky, hilly; others are coral, flat, elevated reefs
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
highest point: Morne Seychellois 905 m
Natural resources: fish, copra, cinnamon trees
Land use: arable land: 2.17%
permanent crops: 13.04%
other: 84.79% (2005)
Irrigated land: NA
Natural hazards: lies outside the cyclone belt, so severe storms are rare; short droughts possible
Environment - current issues: water supply depends on catchments to collect rainwater
Environment - international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note: 41 granitic and about 75 coralline islands
Politics

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 stood down in 2004 in favour 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 9 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 and steamy debate in the country - The main rival parties are the Seychelles People's Progressive Front (SPPF) and the Seychelles National Party (SNP). Since the inception of politics in the early sixties, politics has been an integral part of the Seychellois lives. The range of opinion spans socialist and liberal democrat ideology.

The Seychelles are part of the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC), La Francophonie (the union of French Speaking countries) and Commonwealth organisation.

People Population: 82,247 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 24.9% (male 10,337/female 10,108)
15-64 years: 69.1% (male 27,752/female 29,048)
65 years and over: 6.1% (male 1,575/female 3,427) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 28.7 years
male: 27.6 years
female: 29.8 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.428% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 15.6 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 6.21 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: -5.11 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.96 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.46 male(s)/female
total population: 0.93 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 14.36 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 18.18 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 10.42 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 72.6 years
male: 67.27 years
female: 78.1 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.73 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: NA
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: NA
HIV/AIDS - deaths: NA
Nationality: noun: Seychellois (singular and plural)
adjective: Seychellois
Ethnic groups: mixed French, African, Indian, Chinese, and Arab
Religions: Roman Catholic 82.3%, Anglican 6.4%, Seventh Day Adventist 1.1%, other Christian 3.4%, Hindu 2.1%, Muslim 1.1%, other non-Christian 1.5%, unspecified 1.5%, none 0.6% (2002 census)
Languages: Creole 91.8%, English 4.9% (official), other 3.1%, unspecified 0.2% (2002 census)
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 91.8%
male: 91.4%
female: 92.3% (2002 census)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education): total: 15 years
male: 14 years
female: 15 years (2007)
Education expenditures: 6.5% of GDP (2006)
Government Country name: conventional long form: Republic of Seychelles
conventional short form: Seychelles
local long form: Republic of Seychelles
local short form: Seychelles
Government type: republic
Capital: name: Victoria
geographic coordinates: 4 38 S, 55 27 E
time difference: UTC+4 (9 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions: 23 administrative districts; Anse aux Pins, Anse Boileau, Anse Etoile, Anse Louis, Anse Royale, Baie Lazare, Baie Sainte Anne, Beau Vallon, Bel Air, Bel Ombre, Cascade, Glacis, Grand' Anse (on Mahe), Grand' Anse (on Praslin), La Digue, La Riviere Anglaise, Mont Buxton, Mont Fleuri, Plaisance, Pointe La Rue, Port Glaud, Saint Louis, Takamaka
Independence: 29 June 1976 (from UK)
National holiday: Constitution Day (National Day), 18 June (1993)
Constitution: 18 June 1993
Legal system: based on English common law, French civil law, and customary law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage: 17 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: President James Alix MICHEL (since 14 April 2004); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President James MICHEL (since 14 April 2004)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president
elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (eligible for two more terms); election last held 28-30 July 2006 (next to be held in 2011)
election results: President James MICHEL elected president; percent of vote - James MICHEL 53.73%, Wavel RAMKALAWAN 45.71%, Philippe BOULLE 0.56%; note - this was the first election in which President James MICHEL participated; he was originally sworn in as president after former president France Albert RENE stepped down in April 2004
Legislative branch: unicameral National Assembly or Assemblee Nationale (34 seats; 25 members elected by popular vote, 9 allocated on a proportional basis to parties winning at least 10% of the vote; to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held 10-12 May 2007 (next to be held in 2012)
election results: percent of vote by party - SPPF 56.2%, SNP 43.8%; seats by party - SPPF 23, SNP 11
Judicial branch: Court of Appeal; Supreme Court; judges for both courts are appointed by the president
Political parties and leaders: Democratic Party or DP [James MANCHAM, Paul CHOW]; Seychelles National Party or SNP [Wavel RAMKALAWAN] (formerly the United Opposition or UO); Seychelles People's Progressive Front or SPPF [France Albert RENE, James MICHEL] (the governing party)
Political pressure groups and leaders: Roman Catholic Church
other: trade unions
International organization participation: ACP, AfDB, AU, C, COMESA, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt (signatory), ICRM, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, InOC, Interpol, IOC, ISO (correspondent), ITU, ITUC, MIGA, NAM, OIF, OPCW, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO (observer)
Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Jean Ronald JUMEAU
chancery: 800 Second Avenue, Suite 400C, New York, NY 10017
telephone: [1] (212) 972-1785
FAX: [1] (212) 972-1786
Diplomatic representation from the US: the US does not have an embassy in Seychelles; the ambassador to Mauritius is accredited to Seychelles
Flag description: five oblique bands of blue (hoist side), yellow, red, white, and green (bottom) radiating from the bottom of the hoist side
Culture

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 state however, provides one of the best pension schemes in the developing world, which can rival many advanced nations and the country provides an unconditional social care for its most vulnerable (i.e. orphans, aging and disabled population).

The music of Seychelles is diverse. The folk music of the islands incorporates multiple influences in a syncretic fashion, including English 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.

As of 1992, some ninety percent of the population was Roman Catholic and approximately seven percent Anglican. Other religions have been introduced with Islam being one of the fastest growing. Traditionally, despite a greater connection with Great Britain ( i.e. in Education, which follows the GCSE and 'A' (advanced) Level curriculum and have 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 has stated that "the culture remains emphatically French" and about 70% of the population have a French sounding Family name, compared with only about 20% English sounding family names, the two are often mixed with the First name, such that you get 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.

Economy Economy - overview: 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 upper-middle income group of countries. Growth has been led by the tourist sector, which employs about 30% of the labor force and provides more than 70% of hard currency earnings, and by tuna fishing. In recent years, the government has encouraged foreign investment to upgrade hotels and other services. At the same time, the government has moved to reduce the dependence on tourism by promoting the development of farming, fishing, and small-scale manufacturing. Sharp drops illustrated the vulnerability of the tourist sector in 1991-92 due largely to the Gulf War and once again following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the US. Economic growth slowed in 1998-2002 and fell in 2003-04, due to sluggish tourist and tuna sectors, but resumed in 2005-07. Real GDP grew by 5.8% in 2007, driven by tourism and a boom in tourism-related construction. The Seychelles rupee was allowed to depreciate in 2006 after being overvalued for years and fell by 10% in the first 9 months of 2007.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $1.378 billion (2007 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate): $710 million (2007 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 5.3% (2007 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP): $16,600 (2007 est.)
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 2.1%
industry: 28.3%
services: 69.6% (2007 est.)
Labor force: 39,560 (2006)
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: 3%
industry: 23%
services: 74% (2006)
Unemployment rate: 2% (2006 est.)
Population below poverty line: NA%
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Investment (gross fixed): 8.9% of GDP (2007 est.)
Budget: revenues: $372.3 million
expenditures: $362.2 million (2007 est.)
Fiscal year: calendar year
Public debt: 92.3% of GDP (2007 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 5.3% (2007 est.)
Central bank discount rate: 5.13% (31 December 2007)
Commercial bank prime lending rate: 10.89% (31 December 2007)
Stock of money: $330.8 million (31 December 2007)
Stock of quasi money: $249 million (31 December 2007)
Stock of domestic credit: $660.2 million (31 December 2007)
Agriculture - products: coconuts, cinnamon, vanilla, sweet potatoes, cassava (tapioca), bananas; poultry; tuna
Industries: fishing, tourism, processing of coconuts and vanilla, coir (coconut fiber) rope, boat building, printing, furniture; beverages
Industrial production growth rate: 7% (2007 est.)
Electricity - production: 252 million kWh (2006)
Electricity - consumption: 216.6 million kWh (2006)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2005)
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2005)
Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Oil - production: 0 bbl/day (2006)
Oil - consumption: 6,453 bbl/day (2006)
Oil - exports: 0 bbl/day (2006)
Oil - imports: 6,453 bbl/day (2006)
Oil - proved reserves: 0 bbl (1 January 2006)
Natural gas - production: 0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - consumption: 0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - exports: 0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - imports: 0 cu m (2005)
Natural gas - proved reserves: 0 cu m (1 January 2006 est.)
Current account balance: -$272 million (2007 est.)
Exports: $395 million f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Exports - commodities: canned tuna, frozen fish, cinnamon bark, copra, petroleum products (reexports)
Exports - partners: UK 23.3%, France 19.5%, Mauritius 10.9%, Japan 8.2%, Italy 5.6%, Spain 5.1% (2007)
Imports: $823 million f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Imports - commodities: machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, petroleum products, chemicals
Imports - partners: Saudi Arabia 17%, Germany 10.4%, France 7.9%, Spain 7.4%, South Africa 6.2%, Singapore 5.6% (2007)
Economic aid - recipient: $18.81 million (2005)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $40.8 million (31 December 2007 est.)
Debt - external: $1.059 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares: $NA
Currency (code): Seychelles rupee (SCR)
Currency code: SCR
Exchange rates: Seychelles rupees (SCR) per US dollar - 6.5 (2007), 5.5 (2006), 5.5 (2005), 5.5 (2004), 5.4007 (2003)
Communications Telephones - main lines in use: 22,700 (2007)
Telephones - mobile cellular: 77,300 (2007)
Telephone system: general assessment: effective system
domestic: combined fixed-line and mobile-cellular teledensity is nearly 125 telephones per 100 persons; radiotelephone communications between islands in the archipelago
international: country code - 248; direct radiotelephone communications with adjacent island countries and African coastal countries; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Indian Ocean)
Radio broadcast stations: AM 1, FM 1, shortwave 2 (2001)
Radios: 42,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations: 2 (plus 9 repeaters) (1997)
Televisions: 11,000 (1997)
Internet country code: .sc
Internet hosts: 284 (2008)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 1 (2000)
Internet users: 32,000 (2007)
Transportation Airports: 15 (2007)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 9
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 6
under 914 m: 2 (2007)
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 6
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 4 (2007)
Roadways: total: 458 km
paved: 440 km
unpaved: 18 km (2003)
Merchant marine: total: 8
by type: cargo 1, carrier 1, chemical tanker 6
foreign-owned: 3 (Hong Kong 1, Nigeria 1, South Africa 1) (2008)
Ports and terminals: Victoria
Military Military branches: Seychelles Defense Force: Army, Coast Guard (includes Naval Wing, Air Wing), National Guard (2005)
Military service age and obligation: 18 years of age for voluntary military service (younger with parental consent); no conscription (2008)
Manpower available for military service: males age 16-49: 23,598
females age 16-49: 24,424 (2008 est.)
Manpower fit for military service: males age 16-49: 17,942
females age 16-49: 20,436 (2008 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually: male: 770
female: 750 (2008 est.)
Military expenditures: 2% of GDP (2006 est.)
Transnational Issues Disputes - international: together with Mauritius, Seychelles claims the Chagos Archipelago (UK-administered British Indian Ocean Territory)