Seychelles


Seychelles
/say shel", -shelz"/, n. (used with a pl. v.)
a republic consisting of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean, NE of Madagascar: a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. 78,142; 175 sq. mi. (455 sq. km). Cap.: Victoria.

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Seychelles

Introduction Seychelles -
Background: A lengthy struggle between France and Great Britain for the islands ended in 1814, when they were ceded to the latter. Independence came in 1976. Socialist rule was brought to a close with a new constitution and free elections in 1993. Geography Seychelles
Location: Eastern Africa, group of islands in the Indian Ocean, northeast of Madagascar
Geographic coordinates: 4 35 S, 55 40 E
Map references: Africa
Area: total: 455 sq km water: 0 sq km land: 455 sq km
Area - comparative: 2.5 times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 491 km
Maritime claims: contiguous zone: 24 NM territorial sea: 12 NM exclusive economic zone: 200 NM continental shelf: 200 NM or to the edge of the continental margin
Climate: tropical marine; humid; cooler season during southeast monsoon (late May to September); warmer season during northwest monsoon (March to May)
Terrain: Mahe Group is granitic, narrow coastal strip, rocky, hilly; others are coral, flat, elevated reefs
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m highest point: Morne Seychellois 905 m
Natural resources: fish, copra, cinnamon trees
Land use: arable land: 2.22% permanent crops: 13.33% other: 84.44% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land: NA sq km
Natural hazards: lies outside the cyclone belt, so severe storms are rare; short droughts possible Environment - current issues: water supply depends on catchments to collect rainwater Environment - international party to: Biodiversity, Climate
agreements: Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution signed, but not ratified: Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol
Geography - note: 40 granitic and about 50 coralline islands People Seychelles -
Population: 80,098 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 27.8% (male 11,238; female 11,002) 15-64 years: 66% (male 25,763; female 27,086) 65 years and over: 6.2% (male 1,667; female 3,342) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.47% (2002 est.)
Birth rate: 17.27 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate: 6.57 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate: -5.99 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.02 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 0.95 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.5 male(s)/ female total population: 0.93 male(s)/ female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 16.86 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.) Life expectancy at birth: total population: 70.97 years female: 76.63 years (2002 est.) male: 65.48 years
Total fertility rate: 1.81 children born/woman (2002 est.) HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: NA% HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/ NA
AIDS:
HIV/AIDS - deaths: NA
Nationality: noun: Seychellois (singular and plural) adjective: Seychellois
Ethnic groups: mixed French, African, Indian, Chinese, and Arab
Religions: Roman Catholic 86.6%, Anglican 6.8%, other Christian 2.5%, other 4.1%
Languages: English (official), French (official), Creole
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write total population: 58% male: 56% female: 60% (1971 est.) Government Seychelles -
Country name: conventional long form: Republic of Seychelles conventional short form: Seychelles
Government type: republic
Capital: Victoria Administrative divisions: 23 administrative districts; Anse aux Pins, Anse Boileau, Anse Etoile, Anse Louis, Anse Royale, Baie Lazare, Baie Sainte Anne, Beau Vallon, Bel Air, Bel Ombre, Cascade, Glacis, Grand' Anse (on Mahe), Grand' Anse (on Praslin), La Digue, La Riviere Anglaise, Mont Buxton, Mont Fleuri, Plaisance, Pointe La Rue, Port Glaud, Saint Louis, Takamaka
Independence: 29 June 1976 (from UK)
National holiday: Constitution Day (National Day), 18 June (1993)
Constitution: 18 June 1993
Legal system: based on English common law, French civil law, and customary law
Suffrage: 17 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: President France Albert RENE (since 5 June 1977); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term; election last held 31 August- 2 September 2001 (next to be held NA 2006) election results: France Albert RENE reelected president; percent of vote - France Albert RENE (SPPF) 54.19%, Wavel RAMKALAWAN (UO) 44.95%, Philippe BOULLE 0.86%; note - the first time that presidential elections have been held separately from legislative elections cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president head of government: President France Albert RENE (since 5 June 1977); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
Legislative branch: unicameral National Assembly or Assemblee Nationale (34 seats - 25 elected by popular vote, 9 allocated on a proportional basis to parties winning at least 10 % of the vote; members serve five-year terms) elections: last held 20-22 March 1998 (next to be held by 2003) election results: percent of vote by party - SPPF 61.7%, UO 26.1%, DP 12.1%; seats by party - SPPF 30, UO 3, DP 1 note: the 9 awarded seats are apportioned according to the percentage that each party won of the total vote
Judicial branch: Court of Appeal; Supreme Court; judges for both courts are appointed by the president Political parties and leaders: Democratic Party or DP [James MANCHAM]; Seychelles National Party or SNP (formerly the United Opposition or UO) [Wavel RAMKALAWAN]; Seychelles People's Progressive Front or SPPF [France Albert RENE] - the governing party Political pressure groups and Roman Catholic Church; trade unions
leaders: International organization ACCT, ACP, AfDB, C, CCC, ECA, FAO,
participation: G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, ICRM, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, InOC, Interpol, IOC, ISO (correspondent), ITU, NAM, OAU, OPCW, SADC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO (observer) Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Claude Sylvestre MOREL chancery: 800 Second Avenue, Suite 400C, New York, NY 10017 FAX: [1] (212) 972-1786 telephone: [1] (212) 972-1785 Diplomatic representation from the the US does not have an embassy in
US: Seychelles; the ambassador to Mauritius is accredited to the Seychelles
Flag description: five oblique bands of blue (hoist side), yellow, red, white, and green (bottom) radiating from the bottom of the hoist side Economy Seychelles
Economy - overview: Since independence in 1976, per capita output in this Indian Ocean archipelago has expanded to roughly seven times the old near-subsistence level. Growth has been led by the tourist sector, which employs about 30% of the labor force and provides more than 70% of hard currency earnings, and by tuna fishing. In recent years the government has encouraged foreign investment in order to upgrade hotels and other services. At the same time, the government has moved to reduce the dependence on tourism by promoting the development of farming, fishing, and small-scale manufacturing. The vulnerability of the tourist sector was illustrated by the sharp drop in 1991-92 due largely to the Gulf war and once again following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the US. Other issues facing the government are the curbing of the budget deficit, including the containment of social welfare costs, and further privatization of public enterprises. Growth slowed in 1998- 2001, due to sluggish tourist and tuna sectors. Also, tight controls on exchange rates and the scarcity of foreign exchange have impaired short-term economic prospects. The black market value of the Seychelles rupee is half the official exchange rate; without a devaluation of the currency the tourist sector should remain sluggish as vacationers seek cheaper destinations such as Comoros, Mauritius, and Madagascar.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $605 million (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 1.5% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $7,600 (2001 est.) GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 3.1% industry: 26.3% services: 70.6% (1999) Population below poverty line: NA% Household income or consumption by lowest 10%: NA%
percentage share: highest 10%: NA% Inflation rate (consumer prices): 6.1% (2001 est.)
Labor force: 30,900 (1996) Labor force - by occupation: industry 19%, services 71%, agriculture 10% (1989)
Unemployment rate: NA%
Budget: revenues: $249 million expenditures: $262 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (1998 est.)
Industries: fishing; tourism; processing of coconuts and vanilla, coir (coconut fiber) rope, boat building, printing, furniture; beverages Industrial production growth rate: NA% Electricity - production: 160 million kWh (2000) Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 100% hydro: 0% other: 0% (2000) nuclear: 0% Electricity - consumption: 148.8 million kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products: coconuts, cinnamon, vanilla, sweet potatoes, cassava (tapioca), bananas; broiler chickens; tuna fish
Exports: $182.6 million (f.o.b., 2001)
Exports - commodities: canned tuna, cinnamon bark, copra, petroleum products (reexports)
Exports - partners: UK 48.1%, Italy 23.1%, France 14.8%, Netherlands 2.7% (1999)
Imports: $360.2 million (f.o.b., 2001)
Imports - commodities: machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, petroleum products, chemicals
Imports - partners: Italy 13.3%, South Africa 10.7%, France 9.9%, UK 8.0%, Singapore 7.7% (1999)
Debt - external: $240 million (1999 est.) Economic aid - recipient: $16.4 million (1995)
Currency: Seychelles rupee (SCR)
Currency code: SCR
Exchange rates: Seychelles rupees per US dollar - 5.7458 (January 2002), 5.8575 (2001), 5.7138 (2000), 5.3426 (1999), 5.2622 (1998), 5.0263 (1997)
Fiscal year: calendar year Communications Seychelles - Telephones - main lines in use: 19,635 (1997) Telephones - mobile cellular: 16,316 (1999)
Telephone system: general assessment: effective system domestic: radiotelephone communications between islands in the archipelago international: direct radiotelephone communications with adjacent island countries and African coastal countries; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Indian Ocean) Radio broadcast stations: AM 1, FM 2, shortwave 2 (1998)
Radios: 42,000 (1997) Television broadcast stations: 2 (plus 9 repeaters) (1997)
Televisions: 11,000 (1997)
Internet country code: .sc Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 1 (2000)
Internet users: 6,000 (2001) Transportation Seychelles -
Railways: 0 km
Highways: total: 280 km paved: 176 km unpaved: 104 km (1997)
Waterways: none
Ports and harbors: Victoria
Merchant marine: total: 2 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 7,086 GRT/10,192 DWT ships by type: cargo 2 note: includes some foreign-owned ships registered here as a flag of convenience: South Africa 2 (2002 est.)
Airports: 14 (2001) Airports - with paved runways: total: 7 2,438 to 3,047 m: 1 914 to 1,523 m: 4 under 914 m: 2 (2001) Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 7 914 to 1,523 m: 3 under 914 m: 4 (2001) Military Seychelles -
Military branches: Army, Coast Guard (includes Air Wing), Presidential Protection Unit (includes Presidential Guard), Police Force (includes Police Mobile Unit, a special weapons and tactics unit capable of assisting the Army in maintaining internal stability) Military manpower - availability: males age 15-49: 23,210 (2002 est.) Military manpower - fit for military males age 15-49: 11,554 (2002 est.)
service: Military expenditures - dollar $11 million (FY01)
figure: Military expenditures - percent of 1.8% (FY01)
GDP: Transnational Issues Seychelles -
Disputes - international: claims the Chagos Archipelago (UK- administered British Indian Ocean Territory)

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officially Republic of Seychelles

Island republic, western Indian Ocean.

Area: 175 sq mi (453 sq km). Population (2002 est.): 83,400. Capital: Victoria. The mixed population is of French, African, and Asian ancestry. Languages: Creole, English, French. Religion: Roman Catholicism. Currency: Seychelles rupee. Located east of northeastern Tanzania, the Seychelles are composed of two main island groups: the Mahé group of 40 central mountainous islands and a second group of over 70 outlying, flat, coralline islands. The country has a developing economy that is heavily dependent on tourism. Exports include fish, copra, and cinnamon. It is a republic with one legislative house; its head of state and government is the president. The first recorded landing on the uninhabited Seychelles was made in 1609 by an expedition of the British East India Company. The archipelago was claimed by the French in 1756 and surrendered to the British in 1810. The Seychelles became a British crown colony in 1903 and a republic within the Commonwealth in 1976. A one-party socialist state since 1979, it began moving toward democracy in the 1990s; it adopted a new constitution in 1993. Multiparty elections have been held since 1991.

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▪ 2009

Area:
455 sq km (176 sq mi)
Population
(2008 est.): 85,500
Capital:
Victoria
Head of state and government:
President James Michel

      The Seychellois economy continued on its downward slump in 2008, a trend that had been exacerbated during the year by a spike in oil and commodity prices and the global food crisis. (See Special Report (Skyrocketing Food Prices: A Global Crisis ).) Amid growing concern over the economy's poor performance, the Seychelles government entered into a debt-restructuring program with the aim of alleviating the $800 million debt burden, which accounted for 175% of the nation's GDP and was one of the highest in the world. Pres. James Michel represented the group of Small Island Developing States before the UN General Assembly in September; he appealed to the Assembly to reprioritize global environmental and trade agreements in order to reverse the developmental stumbling blocks many small island nations faced.

      In late January, after having served more than 30 years on the bench, Vivekanand Alleear resigned his post as chief justice of the Supreme Court. Alleear was appointed to the island nation's highest judicial position in 1994. President Michel confirmed the appointment of Judge Andrew Ranjan Perera as chief justice on August 5 upon the recommendation of the Constitutional Appointments Authority, the body responsible for proposing candidates for the vacant position. In other news, a spate of piracies off the Somalian coast beginning in January forced some 50 commercial and passenger ships to seek refuge in the Seychelles.

Mary Ebeling

▪ 2008

Area:
455 sq km (176 sq mi)
Population
(2007 est.): 84,300
Capital:
Victoria
Head of state and government:
President James Michel

      In response to a five-month boycott of the National Assembly by 11 members of the opposition Seychelles National Party, Seychelles Pres. James Michel dissolved the legislature in March 2007, and the electoral commission called for new elections to be held in May, well ahead of the scheduled October balloting. The opposition protest was aimed at a proposal to ban political parties or religious groups from owning radio stations. In the election Michel's ruling party, the Seychelles People's Progressive Front (which had ruled the country for three decades), won an absolute majority, gaining 23 of the 34 parliamentary seats.

      Seychelles continued efforts to recover from a five-year downturn and to strengthen its economy (one of the strongest in Africa) by forging foreign trade agreements. In February, Chinese Pres. Hu Jintao concluded his eight-country African tour in Victoria, where he met with President Michel, signed a number of cooperation agreements, canceled a debt, and pledged $12 million in aid. Seychelles was readmitted into the Southern African Development Community during the year. The country had left the 15-member organization in 2004 after experiencing an economic decline following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the U.S., which had caused a slump in tourism and fishing, two of Seychelles' key industries.

Mary Ebeling

▪ 2007

Area:
455 sq km (176 sq mi)
Population
(2006 est.): 83,200
Capital:
Victoria
Head of state and government:
President James Michel

      Pres. James Michel, flag bearer of the Seychelles People's Progressive Front party, was returned to office, receiving 53.7% of the vote on July 28–30, 2006, and a clear mandate to continue his government's socialist programs. The election marked Michel's first elected term of office; he had been appointed to the presidency when France-Albert René retired in 2004. Michel had long played a leading role in creating the economic boom based on tourism and fisheries, and as president he focused on their recovery after the devastating 2004 tsunami.

      New investment aimed at reviving the tourist industry attracted new developments valued at about $475 million that were expected to employ more than 1,700 workers. To retain Seychelles's place as the premier fishing state in the southwestern Indian Ocean, the government signed an economic-partnership agreement with the European Union that was designed to increase global market access and competiveness. A study published in May in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences had specific implications for the Seychelles tourism and fishing industries. It reported that unprecedentedly high surface ocean temperatures in 1998 as a result of global warming had killed much of the live coral at the Seychelles reefs and warned of the likelihood of even more severe warming, which would ravage the reefs and adversely affect fish diversity, which had already declined by 50% in heavily impacted sites.

LaRay Denzer

▪ 2006

Area:
455 sq km (176 sq mi)
Population
(2005 est.): 82,800
Capital:
Victoria
Head of state and government:
President James Michel

      In 2005 Seychelles began recovering from the Indian Ocean tsunami that devastated several Asian countries and the east coast of Africa on Dec. 26, 2004. The tsunami claimed two lives in Seychelles and displaced 900 families. The archipelago sustained widespread flood damage to roads and bridges, residential neighbourhoods, hotels and tourist facilities, and fisheries. The largest island, Mahé, bore the brunt of the damage when flooding washed out two bridges connecting the capital city, Victoria, to the airport. Total damage had been estimated at nearly $30 million. The Paris Club, a group of creditor nations, froze debt repayments of tsunami-affected countries, including Seychelles, until the end of 2005 to allow them to focus on recovery efforts. Less than a month after the tsunami, Seychelles representatives attended a meeting of the Small Island Developing States in neighbouring Mauritius to address plans for a tsunami early-warning system and other needs. By July an estimated $1 million in foreign aid had been donated to help rebuild the fishing and farming industries and restore the environment in Seychelles. Tourism numbers had also rebounded strongly by August, another sign that the economy was recovering after the tsunami.

Mary F.E. Ebeling

▪ 2005

Area:
455 sq km (176 sq mi)
Population
(2004 est.): 81,800
Capital:
Victoria
Head of state and government:
Presidents France-Albert René and, from April 14, James Michel

      On Feb. 24, 2004, Pres. France-Albert René, who had served as the president of Seychelles for 27 years and was the longest-serving head of state in the Commonwealth, announced to the parliament that he would leave office early. The news came as a surprise; President René had declared in 2003 that he would step down from office in 2006, at the end of his third term. René had come to power in 1977 after mounting a coup against James Mancham, Seychelles's first democratically elected president. Since 1993 Seychelles had embraced a multiparty democracy. Vice Pres. James Michel was sworn into office on April 14 to replace René. President Michel inherited a serious budget deficit and a national economy that had been in recession for more than 10 years, a condition that critics blamed on years of René's socialist policies. The opposition Seychelles National Party (PNS) welcomed the new president but warned that the worsening economy needed to be addressed. No new elections were scheduled until the end of 2006. René remained chairman of the ruling party, the Seychelles People's Progressive Front (FPPS), which held 23 of the 34 seats in the National Assembly. As part of a crackdown on Seychelles's illegal trade in endangered wildlife, in May six men were sentenced to prison for poaching rare sea turtles. In late December the country was struck by a tsunami that caused some $30 million in damages.

Mary F.E. Ebeling

▪ 2004

Area:
455 sq km (176 sq mi)
Population
(2003 est.): 81,500
Capital:
Victoria
Head of state and government:
President France-Albert René

      In July 2003 the state-run Macro-Economic Reform Programme implemented economic measures to shrink Seychelles's 16% budget deficit. A new trade tax was placed on imports as well as on local goods and services. Three overseas embassies were closed (an estimated savings of about $1.7 million), and the island nation pulled out of the Southern African Development Community (an additional savings of $500,000). Later in the month police arrested four members of the opposition Seychelles National Party (SNP), including its leader, Jean-François Ferrari, the publisher of the independent weekly Regar. The members were arrested as they were collecting signatures for a petition against the new tax. In December 2002 elections, the SNP had increased its share in the 34-member parliament from 1 to 11 seats; the ruling Seychelles People's Progressive Front captured the remaining 23 seats.

      The body of French citizen Therese Blanc, a relative of Ferrari, was discovered on a beach in early September. The event prompted the European Parliament's Committee on Cooperation and Development to ask the government of Pres. France-Albert René for a report on the political and human rights climate in the country. The committee also decided to present an emergency resolution concerning the Seychelles at the European Parliament's October session.

Mary F.E. Ebeling

▪ 2003

Area:
455 sq km (176 sq mi)
Population
(2002 est.): 83,400
Capital:
Victoria
Head of state and government:
President France-Albert René

      In January 2002 the Seychelles National Party's (SNP's) petition to void the previous year's presidential election owing to alleged irregularities was denied by the Constitutional Court. SNP candidate Wavel Ramkalawan had won 45% in a close race against Pres. France-Albert René.

      Parliament was dissolved in October and elections held in December. The president's Seychelles People's Progressive Front won 54.3% of the vote and 23 seats.

      The international press-freedom organization Reporters sans Frontières protested the government's libel suit against the independent paper Regar for an article alleging that Vice Pres. James Alix Michel had benefited from corrupt real-estate deals. Reporters sans Frontières claimed that the latest suit was part of a series of targeted actions against one of the few independent media organizations in the country.

      The slump in the global economy adversely affected Seychelles, which relied heavily on tourism. In March, President René refused to implement economic reforms recommended by the International Monetary Fund. René also denied allegations that members of the al-Qaeda terrorist network had fled Afghanistan and found refuge in Seychelles. The former president of Madagascar, Didier Ratsiraka, was granted passage to Paris via Seychelles in July following the election crisis in his country.

      On September 9 an armed passenger was prevented from hijacking an Air Seychelles jet en route from Mumbai (Bombay). Crewmembers subdued him, and no one was injured.

Mary F.E. Ebeling

▪ 2002

Area:
455 sq km (176 sq mi)
Population
(2001 est.): 80,600
Capital:
Victoria
Head of state and government:
President France-Albert René

      Over three days in early September, the Seychelles held its closest-fought presidential election since independence. Pres. France-Albert René, who had been in office since 1977, took 54% of the vote to win another five-year term. His opponent, Wavel Ramkalawan of the Seychelles National Party, took 45% of the vote. Approximately 50,000 of the islands' 60,000 registered voters decided a contest that had been dominated by economic issues.

      An International Monetary Fund report published at the end of 2000 pointed to slow economic growth and falling foreign exchange reserves. The report also called on the government to remove exchange rate controls on the Seychelles rupee. Unofficial markets were trading foreign currencies with a 100% premium over the official rate.

      In February the Seychelles reached an agreement with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to reform its banking sector. The agreement provided greater regulation of accounts held by offshore companies. The Seychelles also agreed to cooperate with criminal and tax investigators from OECD member states.

      Also in February the government announced it was considering membership in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, a free-trade zone. The move would provide access to southern Africa's market of 300 million people.

Matthew A. Cenzer

▪ 2001

Area:
455 sq km (176 sq mi)
Population
(2000 est.): 81,700
Capital:
Victoria
Head of state and government:
President France-Albert René

      Early in 2000 a high-level delegation from Libya visited the Seychelles. The two countries agreed to establish formal diplomatic relations and to exchange ambassadors. In April Air Seychelles announced the expansion of its fleet. It planned to begin leasing a Boeing 737-700 in 2001 and replace a Boeing 767-200ER with a 767-300ER. The new aircraft would fly to India, Kenya, Mauritius, South Africa, and the United Arab Emirates. The New Zealand Tourism Board (NZTB) demanded that the Seychelles Tourism Marketing Authority cease using the advertising slogan “100 percent pure”; the NZTB claimed to have used the slogan first. Although the Seychelles, which relied primarily on tourism for foreign exchange, had already spent $3 million on its international advertising campaign, it agreed to change its slogan.

      In July the United States agreed to dismantle a radar facility on the island of Mahé that had been designed for satellite tracking and intelligence gathering; it had been shut down at the end of the Cold War. In September the Seychelles became the 30th nation to sign the African Union Constituent Act, which affirmed the goal of African political union.

Matthew A. Cenzer

▪ 2000

Area:
455 sq km (176 sq mi)
Population
(1999 est.): 80,000
Capital:
Victoria
Head of state and government:
President France-Albert René

      In April 1999 the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation, a group that promoted regional trade, admitted Seychelles. Membership followed the government's stated goal of making the country a major centre for offshore financial services. By late 1999 more than 3,000 companies had registered as offshore businesses under the auspices of the Seychelles International Business Authority.

      Former central bank governor and Finance Ministry official Guy Morel announced in April the creation of a new political party, the Social Democratic Party. Morel broke away from the ruling Seychelles People's Progressive Front because of what he called the government's failed economic policies. His action came just before the Organization of African Unity suspended the country's voting privileges for failure to pay its dues. A July report by the African Development Bank criticized the government for a growing budget deficit. Despite its already significant debt, the government announced plans to build a cruise ship harbour at an estimated cost of $100 million.

      Elevated water temperatures continued to damage coral reefs around Seychelles. One study found that 80% of the reefs had been killed or badly damaged. Decay of the barrier reefs raised fears of erosion.

Matthew A. Cenzer

▪ 1999

      Area: 455 sq km (176 sq mi)

      Population (1998 est.): 79,400

      Capital: Victoria

      Head of state and government: President France-Albert René

      Seychelles held national elections in March 1998. Pres. France-Albert René won with 66% of the vote. His closest challenger, Wavel Ramkalawan of the United Opposition party, garnered 27% and led the parliamentary opposition. René's Seychelles People's Progressive Front dominated the parliamentary poll, capturing 61% of the vote and taking 30 of 34 legislative seats.

      The International Monetary Fund recommended decisive action to avert economic crisis caused primarily by a budget deficit of nearly $70 million. In response the government trimmed welfare benefits and considered reducing the country's free health care benefits. René announced plans to introduce school fees, ending a policy of universal free education. Other plans included higher taxes on alcohol, cigarettes, gasoline, and vehicles and a bond issue.

      In May a 60% drop in fish harvests was blamed on increased water temperatures. Although the export fishing industry was not affected, the situation had wider economic implications. Seychelles depended heavily on tourist revenue, and continued warm water could threaten the archipelago's extensive coral reefs and pristine ecology.

MATTHEW A. CENZER

▪ 1998

      Area: 455 sq km (176 sq mi)

      Population (1997 est.): 77,300

      Capital: Victoria

      Head of state and government: President France-Albert René

      On Feb. 2, 1997, a fire in Victoria partially destroyed the international conference centre that was contained within the headquarters of the ruling Seychelles People's Progressive Front. Damage was estimated at $1 million. The police said the fire could have been the result of arson and linked it to an arson attack on the presidential palace in October 1996.

      With an average per capita income of $6,210, Seychelles was no longer dependent upon aid, though it continued to require various forms of technical assistance. Only about 1.1% of the budget was derived from grants. Seychelles qualified for assistance from the European Development Fund, which provided financing for the rehabilitation of the Victoria Market, for the Anse Royale landfill, and for the Nial water-treatment-plant extension.

GUY ARNOLD

      This article updates Seychelles.

▪ 1997

      A republic and member of the Commonwealth, the Seychelles consists of about 100 islands widely scattered over the western Indian Ocean. The main island of Mahé is 1,800 km (1,100 mi) from the east coast of the African continent. Area: 455 sq km (176 sq mi). Pop. (1996 est.): 76,100. Cap.: Victoria. Monetary unit: Seychelles rupee, with (Oct. 11, 1996) a free rate of SR 5 to U.S. $1 (SR 7.87 = £1 sterling). President in 1996, France-Albert René.

      The Seychelles enjoyed an uneventful year in 1996, with steady if moderate economic growth of about 3.9% over the previous year. International aid totaling $13 million a year helped the government finance a range of projects, including protection of the environment and the transport infrastructure and the rehabilitation of the Victoria Market.

      The nation's steady progress in recent years was reflected in Human Development Report 1996, which ranked the Seychelles as 60th in world development terms. Some of the important human development statistics were as follows: life expectancy, 71 years; rate of adult literacy, 88%; and copies of daily newspapers per 100 people, 4. The government spent 12.9% of its total expenditure on education. (GUY ARNOLD)

      This article updates Seychelles.

▪ 1996

      A republic and member of the Commonwealth, the Seychelles consists of about 100 islands widely scattered over the western Indian Ocean. The main island of Mahé is 1,800 km (1,100 mi) from the east coast of the African continent. Area: 455 sq km (176 sq mi). Pop. (1995 est.): 75,000. Cap.: Victoria. Monetary unit: Seychelles rupee, with (Oct. 6, 1995) a free rate of SR 4.84 to U.S. $1 (SR 7.65 = £1 sterling). President in 1995, France-Albert René.

      Seychelles sustained a reasonable rate of growth during 1995, although unemployment, at more than 22%, appeared to be relatively permanent. International debts, at $147.2 million, were less than half the gross national product ($376 million), while per capita income at $5,450 placed the islands well into the middle-income group of countries. Petroleum products accounted for more than 55% of export earnings, with tuna as the second source of export income. Tourism, however, was more important as a source of income than either petroleum or tuna. Britain was Seychelles' principal trading partner for both imports and exports.

      Seychelles continued its attempt to establish the archipelago as an international business centre. New laws were passed that provided tax breaks and reductions in offshore licensing fees. A law passed in November granting immunity from prosecution in criminal proceedings—including extradition—in exchange for a $10 million investment in the Seychelles drew the attention of world law-enforcement agencies. The government also announced plans to move away from a welfare state by requiring payment for services that were once free. During 1994 Seychelles had implemented similar measures to improve the economy. Taxes on luxury goods were increased to discourage imports, and the port of Mahé was privatized, which resulted in the replacement of the state-owned Union Lighterage Co. by four firms specializing in separate activities—ship engineering, ship handling, and cargo handling. (GUY ARNOLD)

      This updates the article Seychelles.

▪ 1995

      A republic and member of the Commonwealth, the Seychelles consists of about 100 islands widely scattered over the western Indian Ocean. The main island of Mahé is 1,800 km (1,100 mi) from the east coast of the African continent. Area: 455 sq km (176 sq mi). Pop. (1994 est.): 71,800. Cap.: Victoria. Monetary unit: Seychelles rupee, with (Oct. 7, 1994) a free rate of SR 4.93 to U.S. $1 (SR 7.85 = £1 sterling). President in 1994, France-Albert René.

      Following his landslide victory in the elections held in July 1993, Pres. France-Albert René and the Seychelles People's Progressive Front (FPPS) were able to concentrate on problems that were related to development. Of increasing importance to Seychelles was its membership in the Indian Ocean Commission, to which Comoros, Madagascar, and Mauritius also belonged. The commission received substantial aid from the European Union for its various regional activities. Among other things, it was responsible for coastal surveys and for protecting plant life and maintaining biodiversity. In addition, the commission had a regional program to develop tourism, which included training programs, sales, promotion and marketing, and backup operations to assist the transfer of management know-how. Finally, there was an Indian Ocean program for automatization of telecommunications.

      Tourism remained the largest source of income for Seychelles, with the annual number of visitors exceeding the total population. In 1993 receipts from tourism amounted to $118 million, but the number of visitors was down in 1994. Petroleum products (processed in the country's oil refinery) earned 53% of the country's foreign exchange and canned tuna an additional 30%.

      Seychelles had a per capita gross national product (GNP) of $5,480, which placed it in the World Bank's upper-middle-income bracket. Its international debt of $154 million was approximately 40% of GNP. Other indicators of progress were an average life expectancy of 70 years, access to safe water for 99% of the population, and a daily caloric intake that satisfied all recommended requirements.

      (GUY ARNOLD)

      This updates the article Seychelles.

▪ 1994

      A republic and member of the Commonwealth, the Seychelles consists of about 100 islands widely scattered over the western Indian Ocean. The main island of Mahé is 1,800 km (1,100 mi) from the east coast of the African continent. Area: 455 sq km (176 sq mi). Pop. (1993 est.): 71,300. Cap.: Victoria. Monetary unit: Seychelles rupee, with (Oct. 4, 1993) a free rate of SR 5.06 to U.S. $1 (SR 7.67 = £1 sterling). President in 1993, France-Albert René.

      In April, Pres. France-Albert René reshuffled his Cabinet, relinquishing the portfolio of defense, which he gave to James Michel, and taking community development in place of industry, which he gave to Esme Jumeau. Michel continued as minister of finance and information; however, he had given up his post as chief of staff of the armed forces the previous November as part of the process of separating the military from the ruling Seychelles People's Progressive Front (FPPS). The constitutional commission, which had had its draft constitution rejected in a November 1992 referendum, was reconvened in January. The opposition Democratic Party, which had withdrawn from the commission in September 1992, agreed to take a full part again.

      On May 7 the 22-member commission unanimously adopted a draft constitution to be put to a referendum in June, and both the FPPS and the Democratic Party called upon the electorate to approve it. In the referendum 73.6% voted for the constitution. The new constitution institutionalized multiparty politics; it provided for a 33-member National Assembly that included appointed members in proportion to votes cast for parties. On July 23 elections under this new constitution confirmed René and his FPPS in power. On August 3 a new Cabinet was announced, and René relinquished all his ministerial portfolios.

      (GUY ARNOLD)

      This updates the article Seychelles.

* * *

Introduction
officially  Republic of Seychelles 
Seychelles, flag of  island republic in the western Indian Ocean, consisting of about 115 islands. Situated between latitude 4° and 11° S and longitude 46° and 56° E, the major islands of Seychelles are located about 1,000 miles (1,600 km) east of Kenya.

Land
      Seychelles is composed of two main island groups: the Mahé group of 40 central, mountainous granitic islands, and a second group of over 70 outer, flat, coralline islands. The islands of the Mahé group are rocky and typically have a narrow coastal strip and a central range of hills. The overall aspect of these islands, with their lush tropical vegetation, is that of high hanging gardens overlooking silver-white beaches and clear lagoons. The coralline islands, rising only a few feet above sea level, are flat with elevated coral reefs at different stages of formation. These islands are largely waterless, and very few have a resident population.

      The climate is tropical-oceanic, with little temperature variation during the year. Daily temperatures rise to about 86 °F (30 °C) in the afternoon and fall to about 73 °F (23 °C) at night. Rainfall varies greatly from island to island; on Mahé, the annual rainfall ranges from 90 inches (2,300 mm) at sea level to 140 inches (3,560 mm) on the mountain slopes. Humidity is persistently high but is ameliorated somewhat in locations windward of the prevailing southeast trade winds. Wildlife includes giant tortoises and green sea turtles.

People
      The original French colonists on the previously uninhabited islands, and their black slaves, were joined in the 19th century by deportees from France. Asians from China, India, and Malaya arrived later in smaller numbers. Widespread intermarriage has resulted in a population of mixed descent. Nearly 90 percent of the people live on Mahé, a great number of them in the capital city, Victoria. Emigration has kept the annual population growth rate to a minimum. More than one-third of the population is less than 15 years old, and about nine-tenths is Roman Catholic. As of July 1981, Creole, also called Seselwa, the mother tongue of most Seychellois, replaced English and French as the prescribed national language, but all three are considered official languages.

Economy
      Seychelles has a mixed, developing economy that is heavily dependent upon tourism. Despite a visible trade deficit and high inflation rates, the economy has experienced steady growth. The gross national product (GNP) is growing more rapidly than the population. The GNP per capita is significantly higher than those found in most of the nearby continental African countries.

      Agriculture accounts for less than one-tenth of the gross domestic product (GDP) and employs about one-tenth of the workforce. Arable land is limited and the soil is generally poor, but coconuts, cinnamon bark, vanilla, and essential oils are produced for export. Seychelles has a modern fishing industry that supplies both domestic and foreign markets. The extraction of guano for export has also become an established economic activity. The nation's relatively small manufacturing sector is composed largely of food-processing plants. Services account for the largest share of the GDP and employ the largest proportion of the workforce. Since the opening of Mahé international airport in 1971, the tourism industry has grown rapidly, currently providing almost three-fourths of all foreign exchange. Seychelles' main imports are petroleum products, machinery, and foodstuffs. Canned tuna, copra, frozen fish, and cinnamon are the most important exports, together with the reexport of petroleum products.

Government and social conditions
      Under the 1993 constitution, Seychelles is a republic with a president who is elected by universal suffrage and serves as the head of state and government, is commander in chief, and is limited to no more than three five-year terms. A 1996 constitutional amendment created the position of vice president, who is appointed by the president. The president also appoints the Council of Ministers to assist him in an advisory capacity. The legislature, the National Assembly, is unicameral; its members serve five-year terms. The judicial branch consists of Magistrate's Courts, subordinate to the Supreme Court; the Supreme Court, which has jurisdiction over civil and criminal matters and also hears appeals from the Magistrate's Courts; and the Court of Appeals, which hears appeals from the Supreme Court.

      The basis of the school system is a free, compulsory, ten-year education. Education standards have risen steadily, and nearly all children of primary-school age attend school. The government operates the only radio station, television station, and daily newspaper in Seychelles. There are several independent weekly and monthly publications.

History
      The first recorded landing on the uninhabited Seychelles was made in 1609 by an expedition of the British East India Company. The archipelago was explored by the Frenchman Lazare Picault in 1742 and 1744 and was formally annexed to France in 1756. The archipelago was named Séchelles, later changed by the British (British Empire) to Seychelles. War between France and Britain led to the surrender of the archipelago to the British in 1810, and it was formally ceded to Great Britain by the Treaty of Paris in 1814. The abolition of slavery in the 1830s deprived the islands' European colonists of their labour force and compelled them to switch from raising cotton and grains to less labour-intensive crops such as coconut, vanilla, and cinnamon. In 1903 Seychelles became a British crown colony. A Legislative Council with elected members was introduced in 1948. In 1970 Seychelles obtained a new constitution, universal adult suffrage, and a governing council with an elected majority; self-government was granted in 1975 and independence in 1976 (within the Commonwealth of Nations). In 1975 a coalition government, with James R. Mancham as president and France-Albert René as prime minister, was formed. In 1977 René became president in a coup d'état.

      In 1979 a new constitution transformed Seychelles into a one-party socialist state, with René's Seychelles People's Progressive Front (SPPF) designated the only legal party. This change was not popular with many Seychellois, and during the 1980s there were several coup attempts.

      Buckling under pressure from their primary sources of foreign aid, the SPPF began moving toward more democratic rule in the early 1990s, with the promulgation of a new constitution and the return of multiparty politics. The country also gradually abandoned its socialist economy and began to follow market-based economic strategies by privatizing most parastatal companies, encouraging foreign investment, and focusing efforts on marketing Seychelles as an offshore business and financial hub.

      As Seychelles entered the 21st century, the SPPF continued to dominate the political scene. After the return of multiparty elections, René was reelected three times before eventually resigning in 2004 to allow Vice President James Michel (SPPF) to succeed him as president. In late 2004 some of Seychelles' islands were hit by a tsunami (Indian Ocean tsunami), which severely damaged the environment and the country's economy.

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

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