The Seychelles are a chain of 115 islands off the East coast of Africa, in the Indian Ocean. It represents an archipelago of timeless beauty, tranquility and harmony that is famous for its world-beating beaches and for its great diversity which rolls from lush forests down to the warm azure ocean.
Seychelles is home to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the legendary Vallée de Mai on Praslin where the wondrously shaped Coco-de-mer nut grows high on ancient palms and the fabled Aldabra, the world’s largest raised coral atoll, first seen by early Arab seafarers of the 9th century A.D.
Miraculously, the Seychelles is still in pristine condition and relatively untouched by man; I hope it stays that way!
The Seychelles’ climate is one which is always warm and does not reach extremes of heat or cold. The temperature rarely drops below 24°C or rises above 32°C. All but the remotest southern islands lie outside the cyclone belt making Seychelles’ a year round destination for sun worshipers and beach lovers.
Seychelles is a relatively young nation, which can trace the first settlement back to 1770 when the islands were first settled by the French. The islands remained in the French hands until the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo, and was then ceded to Britain under the treaty of Paris in 1814.
During this period Seychelles came to know the enlightened policies of administrators such as Pierre Poivre, the brilliant politicking of Governor Queau de Quinssy and, of course, the terrible repercussions of the French Revolution.
Under the British, Seychelles achieved a population of some 7,000 by the year 1825. Important estates were established during this time producing coconut, food crops, cotton and sugar cane. During this period Seychelles also saw the establishment of Victoria as her capital, the exile of numerous and colourful troublemakers from the Empire, the devastation caused by the famous Avalanche of 1862 and the economic repercussions of the abolition of slavery.
Seychelles achieved independence from Britain in 1976 and became a republic within the commonwealth. Following a period of single party rule by the government of Mr. France Albert René, on December 4, 1991, President René announced a return to the multiparty system of government, 1993 saw the first multiparty presidential and legislative elections held under a new constitution in which President René was victorious. President René also won the 1998 and 2003 elections before transferring the Presidency to James Alix Michel in June 2004.
The current Seychelles are a colorful blend of peoples of different races, cultures and religions. At different times in its history, people of African, European and Asian origin have come to Seychelles, bringing with them their distinct traditions and customs and contributing to the way of life and to the vibrant culture that is today. One can see these influences at work throughout the domains of local art, cuisine, music, dance and architecture.
The architectural design of some of the grand old houses with their steep roofs are representative of a style adapted for comfortable living in the tropics that displays influences from Seychelles’ French and British colonial heritage. Modern architecture attempts to assimilate traditional styles with practical features designed to capture the island breezes. Local artists continue to exhibit diverse styles that echo the multi-ethnic backdrop of the islands and bear testament to the various influences of the island.
Let’s not forget the food! Creole cuisine features the subtleties and nuances of French cooking, the exoticism of Indian dishes and the piquant flavours of the Orient. Grilled fish or octopus coated with a sauce of crushed chilies, ginger and garlic are national favorites as are a variety of delicious curries lovingly prepared with coconut milk and innovative chutney’s made from local fruits such as papaya and golden apple.As may be expected, seafood dishes feature predominantly in the local cuisine, appearing alongside the national staple, rice. Some restaurants specialise in Indian, Chinese or Italian food and many feature popular international and specialist dishes.
I don’t know about you, but I am ready to jump on a plane and be there, like yesterday!
Have you been?