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.
It features in the 2017 leak dubbed the Paradise Papers, which reveal the financial dealings of politicians, celebrities, corporate giants and business leaders.
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.
The Republic of Seychelles
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
President: Wavel Ramkalawan
An Anglican priest and veteran opposition presidential contender, Wavel Ramkalawan won the October 2020 election in the first peaceful transfer of presidential power between different parties since independence in 1976.
His Linyon Demokratik Seselwa liberal coalition also increased its parliamentary majority in simultaneous legislative elections.
He took over from President Danny Faure, whose United Seychelles party had held the presidency in various guises since 1977.
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.
Some key dates in the history of the Seychelles:
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.