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(sāshĕlz`), officially Republic of Seychelles, republic (2015 est. pop. 94,000), c.110 sq mi (285 sq km), comprising approximately 100 islands in the Indian Ocean, c.600 mi (970 km) N of Madagascar and c.1,000 mi (1,600 km) E of Mombasa, Kenya. The capital and only urban center and port is VictoriaVictoria
or Port Victoria,
city (2010 pop. 26,450), capital of the Seychelles, in the Indian Ocean. A port on the NE coast of Mahé Island, Victoria is an administrative, commercial, tourist, and shipping center.
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, located on the largest island, Mahé (c.55 sq mi/140 sq km), where about 90% of the population lives.

Land and People

Mahé and the other principal islands (Praslin, La Digue, Silhouette, and Curieuse) are granitic; there are also around 50 coralline islands. The population is mainly of mixed French, African, South Asian, Chinese, and Arab descent. Over 80% of the population is Roman Catholic, but there are other Christian, Hindu, and Muslim minorities. Most of the inhabitants speak a creole language, although English is the official language.


Coconuts, cinammon, vanilla, sweet potatoes, cassava, and bananas are grown. Tourism, which has expanded greatly since the 1970s, provides the bulk of the country's hard currency earnings. Fishing, agricultural processing, and boat building are the other important industries. Processed fish, cinnamon bark, copra, and vanilla are exported. Machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, petroleum products, and chemicals are imported. Spain, Great Britain, France, Saudi Arabia, and South Africa are important trading partners.


The Seychelles is governed under the constitution of 1993. The president, who is both head of state and head of government, is popularly elected for a five-year term and may serve two terms (prior to 2016, three terms). The unicameral legislature consists of the 34-seat National Assembly. Twenty-five members are elected by popular vote, and nine are chosen proportionally by parties winning at least 10% of the vote. All serve five-year terms. Administratively, the country is divided into 23 districts.


Probably known earlier to the Arabs, the Seychelles were explored by Vasco da GamaGama, Vasco da
, c.1469–1524, Portuguese navigator, the first European to journey by sea to India. His epochal voyage (1497–99) was made at the order of Manuel I.
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 in 1502. In 1756 the French claimed the islands, and colonization by French planters and their slaves from MauritiusMauritius
, officially Republic of Mauritius, republic (2015 est. pop. 1,259,000), 790 sq mi (2,046 sq km), in the SW Indian Ocean. It is part of the Mascarene Islands, c.500 mi (800 km) E of Madagascar.
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 (Île de France) began in 1768. Britain took possession of the Seychelles in 1794 and gained permanent control of them by the Treaty of Paris (1814). The islands were administered as part of Mauritius until 1903, when they were constituted a crown colony. The first elections to a legislative council were held in 1948.

The Seychelles became self-governing in 1975 and gained independence within the Commonwealth of Nations in 1976. The first president, James Mancham, was overthrown in a bloodless coup in 1977 and replaced by Albert René, the head of the Seychelles People's Progressive Front. René suspended the existing constitution and in 1979 established a presidential government and one-party rule. He also introduced significant social reforms, maintained ties with Western nations, and fostered economic diversification. A multiparty democracy was reestablished in the Seychelles under the new constitution of 1993; René won reelection in 1993, 1998, and 2001. He retired in 2004, and was succeeded by his vice president, James Michel. In 2006, Michel was elected president in his own right; he was reelected in 2011 and 2015. In late 2008 the government sought financial rescue package from the International Monetary Fund as the world financial crisis and recession and the islands' high international debt strained the country's finances; as a result the government was forced to adopt austerity measures and fiscal reforms. In Oct., 2016, after the opposition won control of the parliament for the first time, Michel resigned as president; Vice President Danny Faure succeeded him.


See M. Franda, The Seychelles (1982).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a state (since June 28, 1976) situated on a group of islands in the Indian Ocean, northeast of the island of Madagascar. The state includes the Amirantes as well as the other islands between the Seychelles, Madagascar, and the Comoro Islands. Area, 405 sq km. Population, about 69,000 in 1976, including Creoles, Africans (Bantu), Indians, Chinese, French, and others. The official languages are English and French. The predominant religion is Roman Catholicism. The city of Victoria (Mahé Island) is the capital. The most important islands are Mahé, Praslin, Silhouette, and La Digue.

The Seychelles are situated on a submarine bank and are composed of granites and syenites. Depths over the submerged portion of the bank range from 30 to 70 m. The smaller islands are partially coralline. The maximum elevation is 915 m (on Mahé Island). The climate is subequatorial maritime. Average monthly temperatures are 26°-28°C. Annual precipitation totals 4,000 mm, with summer the wettest season. In the island interiors, there are evergreen tropical forests with a large number of indigenous plants, including the fan palm sea coconut. In addition to the elephant tortoise Geochelone gigantea, there are indigenous amphibians and birds; Cousin Island has the only bird sanctuary in the Indian Ocean.

The Seychelles are an agricultural country; the main crop is the coconut palm. Cinnamon, cloves, tea, and plants for essential oils are also grown. Other economic activities include livestock raising, fishing, and tourism. Copra accounts for 50 percent of the country’s exports. The major trading partners are the USA, Great Britain, India, Kenya, and Japan. The monetary unit is the Seychelles rupee.

The Seychelles were discovered by Portuguese navigators in the early 16th century. In the mid-18th century, they were colonized by the French. Seized by the British in the late 18th century, the islands were proclaimed a British possession in 1810 and united with the possession of Mauritius in 1814. The 1880’s and 1890’s witnessed the creation of local administrative organs, such as executive and legislative councils. In 1903 the Seychelles became a crown colony of Great Britain. A national liberation movement emerged after World War II and was especially active in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Strikes took place in 1966 and 1972. In the 1960’s, the People’s United Party and the Democratic Party were created. The former favored independence for the Seychelles, while the latter advocated union with Great Britain. In 1970 the Seychelles were granted internal autonomy; they were proclaimed an independent republic on June 28, 1976.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


Official name: Republic of Seychelles

Capital city: Victoria

Internet country code: .sc

Flag description: Five oblique bands of blue (hoist side), yellow, red, white, and green (bottom) radiating from the bottom of the hoist side

Geographical description: archipelago in the Indian Ocean, northeast of Madagascar

Total area: 176 sq. mi. (455 sq. km.)

Climate: Tropical marine; humid; cooler season during southeast monsoon (late May to September); warmer sea­son during northwest monsoon (March to May)

Nationality: noun: Seychellois (singular and plural); adjec­tive: Seychellois

Population: 81,895 (July 2007 CIA est.)

Ethnic groups: Mixed French, African, Indian, Chinese, and Arab

Languages spoken: Creole 91.8%, English 4.9%, other 3.1%, unspecified 0.2%

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%

Legal Holidays:

All Saints' DayNov 1
Assumption DayAug 15
Christmas DayDec 25
Good FridayApr 22, 2011; Apr 6, 2012; Mar 29, 2013; Apr 18, 2014; Apr 3, 2015; Mar 25, 2016; Apr 14, 2017; Mar 30, 2018; Apr 19, 2019; Apr 10, 2020; Apr 2, 2021; Apr 15, 2022; Apr 7, 2023
Holy SaturdayApr 23, 2011; Apr 7, 2012; Mar 30, 2013; Apr 19, 2014; Apr 4, 2015; Mar 26, 2016; Apr 15, 2017; Mar 31, 2018; Apr 20, 2019; Apr 11, 2020; Apr 3, 2021; Apr 16, 2022; Apr 8, 2023
Immaculate Conception DayDec 8
Independence DayJun 29
Labour DayMay 1
Liberation DayJun 5
National DayJun 18
New Year HolidayJan 1
Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, Fourth Edition. © 2010 by Omnigraphics, Inc.