Lying approximately 1,000 miles east of the African continent in the Indian Ocean, the 115 islands that make up the Republic of Seychelles, an independent country since 1976, have the smallest population of any member of the African Union – only 91,000 people. The vast majority of the population is on Mahe Island, home of the country’s capital, Victoria. Two other northern, granitic islands are home to most of the rest of the citizens.
While first discovered in the early 1600s, the French laid claim to the islands in 1756 and named the islands after Jean Moreau de Séchelles, Louis XV‘s Minister of Finance. Britain took control of the islands in 1810, after Napoleon’s defeat. The independent nation was created in 1976 as a republic within the British Commonwealth.
Tourism is the mainstay of the economy, with nearly one in three residents employed in the tourism industry. Fishing and farming remain important; primary crops include sweet potatoes, vanilla, coconuts and cinnamon.
Given its location near the equator, the weather is fairly consistent through the seasons. The islands are extremely fortunate to be outside the normal track of cyclones and other major weather disturbance, making the seas and beaches idyllic for visitors.
The southern islands are predominantly coral islands (the coral grew up on the remains of individual volcanoes), with Aldabra Island being the second largest atoll island in the world. These atoll islands look considerably different from the northern, granitic islands. We will be traveling from north (Mahe Island) to south (Aldabra Island and Astove Island) and photographs in upcoming blogs will illustrate the differences.