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The Republic of Seychelles or more commonly known as Seychelles is an Archipelago consisting of 115 islands which stretch over 1200 kilometers or 720 miles in the western part of the Indian Ocean. Seychelles, is 1593 kilometers or approximately 960 miles east of Kenya; 2813 kilometers or 1690 miles south west of India and 925 kilometers or 560 miles north-east of Madagascar.

Of the 115 islands, about 40 are of volcanic formation, the rest are of coral formation. The major islands are Mahe, Praslin and LaDique and all of volcanic origin. The coral islands are flat and without water. The capital which is Victoria is on the main island Mahe.

The climate of the islands is tropical and humid. It is cooler during the south-east monsoon between May and September. The north-west monsoon from March to May is warmer. The average temperatures are 24 degrees Celsius during the cooler period and 30 degrees Celsius in the warm period.

History

During the sixteenth century, the Seychelle Islands were visited by the Portuguese. The French took possession and settled on St.Anne Island in 1770. During this period, the Seychelles were used as a transit point for African slaves. Some slaves remained in the islands to work on plantations which were now trying to compete in the European Spice Trade. The Seychelles were also used as an exile colony by the French and later the British, for those persons they wished to get rid of, some prominent persons were included. Among those persons exiled included Louis XVII, son of King Louis XVI; King Prempeh of Ghana and the Arch-Bishop Makarios of Cyprus, who later became the President of Cyprus on his return to his country.

From 1794, the Seychelles changed hands between the French and the British several times. Finally in 1811, the British secured their permanent occupation and in 1814, by the Treaty of Paris, both the Seychelles and Mauritius became formally British and Seychelles became a dependent of Mauritius. In 1903, the Seychelle Islands became a separate British Colony. In 1976, Seychelles achieved its independence from Britain and became the Republic of Seychelles.

In 1979 a constitutional change created a one party state until 1993, when the constitution was once again amended to revert to a multi-party system.

The population of Seychelle Islands is approximately 80,000. The official languages are English, French and Creole.

Politics and Government

The Republic of Seychelles is an Independent Democracy with its own constitution and holds free multi-party elections.

Politics

The major political parties of the Seychelle Islands are:

  • The Democratic Party or DP (Hypolite Mancham, Daniel Belle)
  • Seychelles National Party or SNP (Wavel Ramkalawan)
  • Seychelles People's Progressive Front or SPPF (France Albert Rene, Hypolite Michel)

The Last Presidential elections were held between August 31 and September 2001. France Albert Rene of the SPPF won with 54.19% of the vote and serves as President for five years. The next elections are to be held in 2006.

The Legislative Branch or National Assembly is made-up of 34 seats, 25 elected by popular vote and 9 allocated on a proportional basis to parties winning at least 10% of the vote. Members serve five year terms.

Elections for the 25 elected seats of the Legislative Branch were held from December 4 to 6, 2002. The SPPF won 54.3%; SNP 42.6% and the DP 3.1%. The seats by party in the Legislator are: SPPF – 23 seats; SNP – 11 seats.

Government

The Seychelle Islands gained independence from Britain on the 29th of June, 1976. The last constitution which provides for the multi-party system was written on June 18, 1993.

The Head of Government and Chief of State is the President. He is elected every five years by popular vote.

The President heads the Executive Branch of Government and he appoints a Council of Ministers to form the Cabinet.

The Legislative Branch consists of 25 elected members from the various parties whose representatives contest for the districts by popular vote. Nine members are appointed to the national assembly to make up the 34-seat National Assembly.

The legal system is based on English Common Law, French Civil Law and Local Statute and custom. The Judicial Branch consists of The Court of Appeal and The Supreme Court. Judges for both courts are appointed by the President.

Infrastructure

Electrical power depends entirely on fossil fuel generators with an output of 160 million kwh. This capacity satisfies the needs of the islands.

Telephone including mainline and cellular service is effective. Internet service is also available utilizing a satellite earth station provided by Intelsat.

There is one major airport and deep sea port at the main island of Mahe. International air service is available by Air Seychelle and other international airlines. The port in the capital Victoria accepts containerized as well as break bulk cargo for domestic import and export purposes. It also serves as a transshipment port.

Economy

Since independence in 1976, the per capita output of Seychelle Islands has expanded to roughly seven times the subsistence level of the colonial days. Growth has been led by tourism, which employs approximately 30% of the labor force.

Attempts are being made by the government to reduce its dependence on tourism by diversifying the economy and promoting the expansion into farming, fishing, small-scale manufacturing and the further privatization of public enterprises.

The GDP of the Seychelles is $626 million (at 2002 estimates) with a relatively high per capital income of $7,800 (2002 estimate). The labor force is approximately 31,000, with a low unemployment rate.

The major industries other than tourism include fishing, coconut processing, vanilla processing, production of rope from coconut fibre, boat building, printing, furniture and beverages. Agricultural products are coconut, cinnamon, vanilla, sweet potatoes, cassava, bananas, broiler chickens and tuna fish.

Seychelles main exports are canned tuna, frozen fish, cinnamon bark, copra and the re-export of petroleum products.

The offshore financial services sector is in its embryonic stage. Seychelles incorporating of a Seychelle IBC is executed under the governing legislation which is the International Companies Act 1994 and statutory requirements are minimal and flexible which makes incorporating in Seychelles uncomplicated. The Seychelle Islands look to the future growth and success of this sector.