SEYCHELLES, one of the most beautiful tropical islands in the world, is home to the love-nut, the worldâ€™s largest seed. Officially known as Coco de mer, the love-nut was nick-named so because of its suggestive shape. It is a species of palm that grows only on two islands of Seychelles, Praslin and
It is the natural heritage of the Seychelles that make it one of the worldâ€™s favourite tourist destinations. It is home to spectacular marine life and endemic plant, some of the largest seabird colonies in the world and animal species like the Seychelles giant tortoises.
Located in the Indian Ocean, The Seychelles lies Northeast of Madagascar, east of Kenya, west of Zanzibar, South of Mauritius and Reunion and southwest of Comoros and Mayotte. Seychelles is a group of 115 islands and 40 islets, covering over 1.3 million square kilometres of the western Indian Ocean, and a land area of 444 square kms. They are either coral atolls or granitic in origin with narrow coastal strips and hills of over 900m high.
The smallest nation in the world issuing its own currency, Seychelles has reaped from its beauty and location. Tourism employs 30% of the islandsâ€™ population and provides over 70% of hard currency earnings. This has formed the basis of the islandsâ€™ economic growth since independence, making Seychelles the richest country in Africa in terms of GDP per capita.
World Bank records, however, rank Seychelles as the worldâ€™s most highly indebted country per capita with a total public debt of 122.8% of GDP. This is a direct result of its overvalued exchange rate. It is now into arrears with most of its international creditors and is living beyond its means by borrowing more.
The government is working to reduce the countryâ€™s dependence on tourism by putting more emphasis on farming, fishing and manufacturing. This followed the blows suffered by the tourism industry during the Gulf War and the 2001 September 11 attacks on America.
A good number of public enterprises are still under government control, including petroleum product distribution, banking, imports of basic products and telecommunications.
Seychelles main export partners are the UK, France, Italy and Germany, while the import partners are Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain, France, Italy, Singapore and the UK.
History of Seychelles
Arab traders were the first to inhabit Seychelles.
They were first sighted by Vasco Da Gama in 1502, a Portuguese Admiral who named the islands after himself. He called them Amriantes, which means Islands of the Admiral. The islands became a transit point between Asia and Africa.
They were used by Pirates until the French took control in 1756 and named them Seychelles in honour of their finance minister, Jean Moreau de SÃ©chelles.
By 1794, the islands were a cause for conflict between France and Britain. Britain persistently sent heavy warships to the island, until she finally took full control from France in 1812.
Chinese, Indian tradesmen and former slaves settled on the island during the 19th Century.
Seychelles gained independence on June 29, 1976 as a republic within the Commonwealth, with James Mancham as the first president. He was, however, ousted in 1977 and replaced with France Albert Rene.
A constitution declaring the island as a socialist one-party state was drafted in 1977 and was not amended until 1992.
Today, the President of Seychelles serves as both the head of state and the head of government. The current president is Reneâ€™s former vice-president, James Michel.
Capital City: Victoria
Major Islands: Mahe, Praslin and La Digue.
Currency: The Seychelles Rupee.
Official languages: Seychelles Creole (kreol seselwa), English and French
Population: (2002 est.) 80,098
Elevation: Morne Seychellois at 905 m.
Agriculture: Coconuts, cinnamon, vanilla, sweet potatoes, cassava, bananas, broiler
chicken, tuna fish.
Seychelles: One of the most favourite tourist spots