Seychelles (iFrench, officially the Republic of Seychelles (French: Republique des Seychelles; Creole: Repiblik Sesel), is an island country spanning an archipelago of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean, some 1,500 kilometres (932 mi) east of mainland Africa, northeast of the island of Madagascar. It is part of the Mascarene Islands along with Mauritius and R?union.
Other nearby island countries and territories include Zanzibar to the west, R?union to the south, Comoros and Mayotte to the southwest. Seychelles, with an estimated population of 86,525, has the smallest population of any African state.
Austronesian seafarers or Arab traders were the first to visit the uninhabited Seychelles. The earliest recorded sighting by Europeans took place in 1502 by the Portuguese Admiral Vasco da Gama, who passed through the Amirantes and named them after himself (islands of the Admiral).
A transit point for trade between Africa and Asia, the islands were occasionally used by pirates until the French began to take control starting in 1756 when a Stone of Possession was laid by Captain Nicholas Morphey. The islands were named after Jean Moreau de Sechelles, Louis XVs Minister of Finance. The British contested control over the islands between 1794 and 1810. Jean Baptiste Queau de Quincy, French administrator of Seychelles during the years of war with the United Kingdom, declined to resist when armed enemy warships arrived. Instead, he successfully negotiated the status of capitulation to Britain which gave the settlers a privileged position of neutrality.
Britain eventually assumed full control upon the surrender of Mauritius in 1810, formalised in 1814 at the Treaty of Paris. Seychelles became a crown colony separate from Mauritius in 1903. Elections were held in 1966 and 1970. Independence was granted in 1976 as a republic within the Commonwealth. In 1977, a coup Etat d' ousted the first president of the republic, James Mancham, who was replaced by France Albert Ren?. The 1979 constitution declared a socialist one-party state, which lasted until 1991. The first draft of a new constitution failed to receive the requisite 60 percent of voters in 1992, but an amended version was approved in 1993.
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 music of Seychelles is diverse. The folk music of the islands incorporates multiple influences in a syncretic fashion, including African rhythms, aesthetic and instrumentation such as the zez and the bom (known in Brazil as berimbau), European contredanse, polka and mazurka, French folk and pop, sega from Mauritius and R?union, 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.
Traditionally, despite a greater connection with Great Britain (e.g., in education, which follows the International General Certificate of Education (IGCSE), and on many aspects of the law) many foreign observers have stated that "the culture remains emphatically French" and about 70% of the population have a family name of French origin, compared with only about 20% family names of English origin. The two are often mixed, such that inhabitants receive an English first name and a French family name or vice-versa (e.g., Jean-Pierre Kingsmith).
Visit the beaches.
Many of the beaches are untouched by man's influence and are refreshingly uncrowded. They offer clear blue skies and a tranquility you will rarely find. A hike along the coastline from Beau Vallon to Anse Major will take about 1.5-2 hours and your reward will be a small deserted beach that's fit for a king. The scenery along the hike is breath-taking. Not all beaches are suitable for swimming depending on the time of year, due to the seasonal winds. Do not ignore warning signs indicating that a beach is hazardous for swimming, no matter how appealing the waters may look.
Vallee de Mai
is a national park and world heritage site, home to amazing flora and fauna, including the world's largest seed: the coco de mer. Entrance fee: Free for residents, 315 rupees (~20Euros) for foreigners (Sept 2010).
The world's largest coral atoll that stretches about 22 miles east to west and encloses a huge tidal lagoon. Aldabra is the original home of the giant land tortoise and tiger sharks and manta rays can also often be seen here.