Republic of Seychelles
The Republic of Seychelles - an archipelago of 115 islands in western Indian Ocean - is located near the Maldives, Mauritius, and Madagascar. The island group is divided into two regions – 43 inner islands and 72 outer islands. The inner islands are made of granite while the outer ones consist of small coralline atolls. Mahe is the largest island and home to the nation’s capital city – Victoria.
Until 1730, Seychelles was the hiding place for pirates. Later in 1756, the area was claimed by the French and named ‘Seychelles’ in honor of the then French finance minister Jean Moreau de Sechelles. The British took possession in 1784 and administrated the islands as part of Mauritius. In 1975, Seychelles became self-governing and in the following year, it gained independence as a republic within the Commonwealth.
Even though there is no indigenous population in Seychelles, a significant percentage of the people are descendants of early African slaves and French settlers. Majority of the people are Christians, mainly Catholics. The native language is Creole and it is spoken by around 94% of the Seychellois. Other popular languages include English and French.
The climate is tropical and quite humid. The southwest monsoon period is usually cooler and it extends from late May to September. Whereas, the northwest monsoon time is warmer and it falls between October and May. As most of the islands lie outside the tropical cyclone belt, strong winds are seen rare. The best time to travel depends entirely on what you want to do in Seychelles. April-May and October-November are best for diving and swimming. Fishing season is between October and April. Snorkeling and sailing are available throughout the year.
Seychelles has so much to offer the visitors. It is home to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites – the island of Aldabra and the Vallée de Mai natural reserve. Run by Seychelles Islands Foundation (SIF), Aldabra is the largest raised coral atoll in the world. This 34 km long atoll has the world’s largest population of tortoises. The legendary Vallée de Mai on Praslin Island is a well-preserved palm forest.
The nation boasts many world-known beaches such as Anse Lazio, Anse a la Mouche, Anse Unio, and Anse Patates. There are six marine parks in Seychelles, all designed to protect the rich marine ecosystem.
There are many options to reach Seychelles. Estimated flying time from the U.S to Seychelles International Airport is 30 hours. Air Seychelles is the national airline, which flies several times a week. Another travel alternative is to board a cruise ship. Getting around the island is also very easy. Seychelles has a good public bus transportation system, mainly in Mahe and Praslin. Metered taxis are also easily available and they are government controlled.