Seychelles Tourist Office
2nd Floor, 111 Baker St
London W1M 1FE
Tel: 0171 224 1670, Fax: 0171 486 1352

Physical geography

Seychelles lies in an archipelago occupying the western part of the Indian Ocean and spread over an Exclusive Economic Zone of 1.3 million sq km. The main part of the island group is situated between 4° and 5° south of the equator at a longitude of between 55 and 56° east. The largest and main island, Mahe, lies some 1,800km east of the East African coast and to the northeast of Madagascar. Mahe is 27km long and 8km wide. Some 115 islands form the Seychelles group. Most are coraline and are spread over a large area towards the south and southeast. Some 32 of these islands are granitic.

Seychelles is divided into several groups and two large categories - the 'inner' and 'outer islands'. The inner islands in the north, close to Mahe in the central part of the archipelago, are granite with tropical vegetation inland. They represent 48 per cent of the total land surface of the republic.

The distance to the outer islands in the west and southwest ranges from 100km to Bird and Denis, to 1,090km to Aldabra. The distant islands are all coral, sandy, low lying and covered with palm trees, often only a few metres above sea level.


The weather is generally warm and humid and the year is divided into two seasons, influenced by the Trade Winds with transition periods of unsettled weather in the interim. An average of 12 hours of daylight each day throughout the year. The Southeast Trade Winds blow from May to September and then it is relatively dry. The wind builds up as the season progresses causing choppy seas, but keeps temperatures at a pleasant average of between 24 and 30°C with cooling breezes, lower humidity and light rainfall. Each island's weather varies a little, however. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Demography</H3> The population in mid-1995 was estimated at 75,304. About 90 per cent of the population live on the main island of Mahe. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>A brief history</H3> Little more than 250 years ago all 115 islands in this archipelago were uninhabited. But in 1742 a French ship under the command of Lazare Picault and despatched by Mahe de Labourdonnais, French Governor of Mauritius, sailed into the calm waters of a small bay in the southwest corner of Mahe, aptly named Baie Lazare, and anchored. <P>From a political standpoint Seychelles first became a part of history when in 1756 Captain Nicholas Morphey of the French Navy placed the stone of possession on the island of Mahe as an indication that Seychelles would henceforth be French territory. Not long afterwards the largest island was named Mahe after the Governor of Mauritius. The name of the whole group was in honour of Vicomte Moreau des Sechelles, the French Controller General of Finance, later anglicised to Seychelles. <P>The first settlers arrived in 1770 at St Anne island. In the late 18th century the British tried to rule the waves of the Indian Ocean. At the height of the Napoleonic War, Commandant Chevalier Jean Baptiste Queau de Quinssy was given charge of the Seychelles. His first major task was to face invasion of a British naval squadron which demanded he give up the islands in the name of His Majesty. In 1814 Seychelles along with Mauritius were ceded to Great Britain under the terms of the Treaty of Paris. The British, recognising de Quinssy's dedication and popularity, invited the Frenchman to stay on as the first British Governor. He accepted and graciously altered his name to 'de Quincy. Today, there is still a street in Victoria named after him... spelt both ways. De Quincy remained as Commandant until his death. <P>It was not until 1903 that Seychelles became a British Crown colony, separate from Mauritius. <P>Following the take-over by the British the Seychelles enjoyed an uneventful 19th century, and the 20th century dawned in much the same fashion. The islands were scarcely touched by the two World Wars, even though Britain was in the midst of both. The first real bank opened for business in 1959 and the first airport on Mahe in 1971. <P>Political wrangling, began in the 1960s and a gradual constitutional reform came about. A coalition government was formed in 1975 and the following year Seychelles gained independence from Great Britain declaring a republican form of government with a President and Prime Minister. <P>There was still social unrest in the country and on 5 June 1977 a coup d'etat took place installing a single party state and Mr France Albert Rene as President of the Republic. <P>In December 1991, following the political changes on the international scene, the President announced multi-party elections for July 1992 for the drafting of a new constitution. Presidential elections were held the following year and Mr Rene was elected President. <P>Seychelles is currently a multi-party state and an independent republic within the British Commonwealth. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Religions</H3> The vast majority of the Seychellois are Roman Catholic, approximately 80 per cent. Other Christian denominations include the Church of England and Seventh Day Adventists. Other faiths include Islam, Hinduism and Bahai. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Languages spoken by nationals</H3> Seychelles is trilingual. Creole is the official language. English is the language of law and commerce and French is also spoken. The majority of the population speak all three. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Time</H3> Seychelles is four hours ahead of GMT (three hours ahead of British Summer Time) or three hours ahead of Central European Time in winter and two ahead in the summer. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Currency</H3> The currency unit is the Seychelles Rupee (SR) which is divided into 100 cents. Credit cards accepted are American Express, Visa, Access, Mastercard and Diners Club. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Official holidays (all offices and shops closed) </H3> 1 January, New Year's Day - Good Friday - 1st May, Labour Day - Corpus Christi - 5 June, Liberation Day - 18 June, National Day - 29 June, Independence Day - 15 August, Assumption - 1 November, All Saints Day - 8 December, Immaculate Conception - 25 December, Christmas Day - 26 December, Boxing Day. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>What one should not fail to see</H3> Victoria town centre and fish market, Botanical Gardens, craft village, Creole Institute, Jardin du Roi, Jardin Bagatelle, six nature trails and walks, 68 beautiful beaches to visit including Beau Vallon and Intendance beaches. <P>Praslin - Vallee de Mai - World Heritage Site, Anse Lazio beach, Cote' d'Or beach. <P>La Digue - L'Union Estate, Anse Source d'Argent, Grande Anse, Petite Anse. <P>Recommended excursions: St Anne Marine National Park, Cousin Island - bird reserve - Aride Island - nature reserve - Curieuse Island - nature reserve - Vallee de Mai - Praslin. <P>Other islands - Silhouette, Bird, Denis, Desroches. Fregate is opening summer 1997. Day trips are not possible to these islands. A minimum of one or two nights stay is required. <P>Island hopping is highly recommended. Each island has a different experience to offer, although natural beauty and lovely beaches are found everywhere. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>How to dress</H3> Women - light cotton dresses, slacks and shorts at any time of the year. Formal dress is seldom worn in the evening. <P>Men - lightweight slacks or shorts and open-neck shirts. Slacks and shirts are fine in the evening. All clothing should be lightweight and easily washable. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Main holiday sports</H3> Seychelles also offers excellent fishing and diving. Desroches island is considered the best spot for the more adventurous diver and Denis island for fishing. Yacht charters both crewed and bareboat are available. Helicopter charters are also available. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>What to eat and drink</H3> When it comes to food Seychelles offers a mouth-watering choice of dishes, ranging form the unusual and exotic to the familiar and famous. As well as Creole, there is Chinese, Italian, Japanese, Indian and French cuisine to sample. Creole cuisine blends together a magical mixture of fruit, fish, fresh vegetables and spices. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Frontier formalities</H3> Visas are not required. A valid passport, onward or return ticket, accommodation and sufficient funds to cover the stay are required. A one-month visitor's pass is issued by the Immigration authorities on arrival if these requirements are met. This may be renewed for up to three months free of charge. Camping is not allowed. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Main travel routes</H3> Direct airline services are provided by Air Seychelles, British Airways, Air France and Kenya Airways covering Europe, Africa, Middle East, Asia and other Indian Ocean Islands. <P>There is a bus service on Mahe and Praslin between 5.30 and 7pm. Cars are easy to hire. Taxis stand at major hotels, the international airport and Victoria's central taxi station. There are also regular flights between Mahe and Praslin and ferries between Mahe, Praslin and La Digue. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Representatives abroad</H3> Seychelles: PO Box 92, Mahe, Tel: 248 22 5313, Fax: 248 224035. <P>Benelux: 157 Blvd du Jubilee, 1020 Brussels, Tel: 32 2 425 5989, Fax: 32 2 426 0629. <P>France: 32 Rue de Ponthiey, 75008 Paris, Tel: 33 1 42 89 97 77, Fax: 33 1 42 89 97 70. <P>Germany: Hoch St 15, D60313, Frankfurt am Main, Tel: 49 69 29 20 64, Fax: 49 69 29 62 30. <P>India: Tace Representations (India) Pvt Ltd, F-12 Connaught Place, New Delhi 1100D1, Tel: 91 1 133 1122, Fax: 91 1 133 50270 <P>Italy: Via Giulia 66, 00186 Rome, Tel: 39 5 686 056, Fax: 39 6 6868 8127. <P>Japan: Hieidaira 22,3 OTSU 520, Osaka, Tel: 81 775 29 26 14, Fax: 81 775 29 24 40. <P>Kenya: 3rd Floor, Jubilee Insurance Bldg, PO Box 30702 Nairobi, Tel: 254 2 221335, Fax: 254 2 219787. <P>Spain: Gran Via, 6-41 Pila, 28013 Madrid, Tel: 34 1 524 7426, Fax: 34 1 524 7476. <P>UK, Ireland and Scandinavia: 2nd Floor, 111 Baker St, London W1M 1FE, Tel: 44 171 224 1670, Fax: 44 171 486 1352. <P>USA: 235 East 40th St, Room 24A, New York NY 10016, Tel: 1 212 678 9766, Fax: 1 212 922 9177. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><P><I>We have been able to publish the present tourist information on Seychelles thanks to the co-operation of the Seychelles Tourist Office. <!-- End of article --> <P> <CENTER><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="4"></CENTER> <P> <CENTER><A HREF=#TOP><IMG SRC="Countrypics/WhiteTopbut.gif" BORDER="0" hspace="5"></A> <A HREF="../../../watanetwork/NTOs/Countrieslist/"><IMG SRC="Countrypics/WhiteNTObut.gif" BORDER="0" hspace="5"></A></CENTER> </TD> </TR> </TABLE> </BODY> </HTML>