Africa

Seychelles country profile

  • 31 August 2016
  • From the section Africa
Map of Seychelles

After an ominous, post-independence start which included a coup, an invasion by mercenaries, an abortive army mutiny and several coup attempts, the Seychelles have attained stability and prosperity.

Today the Indian Ocean archipelago enjoys a high per capita income, good health care and education.

The former British colony's economy depends heavily on the fishing industry and upmarket tourism. Fine beaches and turquoise seas are among the main attractions.

Seychelles also is home to an array of wildlife, including giant tortoises and sea turtles. Much of the land is protected as part of nature reserves.

FACTS

The Republic of Seychelles

Capital: Victoria

  • Population 87,400

  • Area 455 sq km (176 sq miles)

  • Major languages English, French, Creole

  • Major religions Christianity

  • Life expectancy 68 years (men), 78 years (women)

  • Currency Seychelles rupee

Getty Images

LEADER

President: James Michel

Image copyright Getty Images

James Michel succeeded France Albert Rene, who led the country for almost three decades before stepping down in April 2004.

A former vice president, he had served alongside Mr Rene since 1977, when a bloodless coup brought the long-term leader to power.

Mr Michel has pledged to hold a more open dialogue and to involve the private sector in the debt-ridden national economy.

Some analysts have praised him for executing long-needed but painful reforms to liberalise the economy.

A former teacher, Mr Michel entered politics in 1974. He had a 16-year military career and retired from the armed forces in 1993 with the rank of colonel.

In May 2015, Mr Michel won a successive third term by the narrowest of margins beating Seychelles National Party leader Wavel Ramkalawan.

MEDIA

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Seychelles is a favoured destination among holiday makers seeking sunshine and beaches

The government controls much of the islands' media, and operates radio and TV stations and the sole daily newspaper.

Private or pro-opposition publications can be robust in their reporting despite tough libel laws, although steep licensing fees have discouraged the growth of private broadcast media.

By the end of 2015 there were some 50,000 internet users, out of a population of 87,400 (Internetworldstats.com).

TIMELINE

Some key dates in the history of the Seychelles:

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption James Mancham was ousted as president. He later returned from exile to promote tourism

1768 - French planters and their slaves begin settling in the Seychelles.

1794 - Britain annexes the Seychelles, which are then administered from Mauritius until 1903, when it becomes a separate British colony.

1976 - Seychelles become independent and are governed by a coalition, with James Mancham as president and France Rene as prime minister, until a coup in 1977 when Rene becomes president.

1981-1982 - South African-based mercenaries try but fail to restore Mancham to power and an army-led mutiny is thwarted.

2004 - President Rene steps down, replaced by former vice president James Michel; he wins the presidential elections in 2006.

2006 - Parliament bans political or religious organisations from running radio stations, sparking a rare outbreak of unrest.

2009 - Somali pirates move their operations southwards to Seychelles and beyond as patrols are stepped up in the Gulf of Aden. US says it will supply Seychelles with drone spy-planes to help fight piracy. France offers legal help.

Seychelles, European Union sign anti-piracy agreement which will allow EU troops to be deployed on the islands.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Somali pirates, using skiffs such as these ones impounded in the Seychelles, at one time preyed on sea traffic in the islands' sprawling territory

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