Allo, welcome to the Seychelles, the beautiful island kingdom in the Indian Ocean!
The Seychelles are located about 1600 kilometres from the coasts of Kenya and Tanzania. They are made up of more than hundred little islands. Some of them are so small, that they are not detectible on a map. Some are mountainous islands, yet most of them arose from corals. There is a shortage of drinkable water on the islands, which is why most of them are uninhabited. The best known islands are Mahé, Praslin and La Digue. The highest mountain of the group of islands is the Morne Seychellois with a height of 910m. It is a popular destination amongst hikers and climbers, because at the summit, the view over the islands is superb.
The Seychelles are close to the equator, which is why the sun shines for 12 hours a day. All year round, there is a summery climate with 26-29°C. But with that climate comes the monsoon. The northwest-monsoon lasts from December until March. From May until September comes the stormy period of the southeast-monsoon. The knowledge of the monsoon seasons was very important for navigators, who were still using sailing ships.
Coral reefs are the richest in species among the habitats of the world. Annually, the Seychellois, which is how the population is called, fish more than a megaton of fish out of the sea. That is why their economy depends on the existence of the corals. The reefs are also water breakers and protect the coasts from erosion. A lot of money has been invested into building ecofriendly anchorages, which protect the corals. Because the heavy anchors had damaged many corals before. Did you know? Because of warming of the seawater in the southern hemisphere, three quarters of the coral populations on the Seychelles have died.
Victoria – the Capital of the Seychelles
The majority of the Seychellois live on the largest island Mahé, on which the capital of the Seychelles is located. Victoria is known for its colourful markets and botanical gardens. The town’s landmark is the Victoria Clocktower, which can be found in the centre of the city on Independence Avenue. If you’re interested in the history of the Seychelles, you should visit the national museum in Victoria. There you can find an exhibition on the slavery era and freebooting.
Peoples and Languages
The majority of the Seychellois are Creoles. That is what the descendants of former slaves and European settlers are called. A few Europeans, Indians, Arabs and Chinese also live on the Seychelles. The Creoles call themselves Seselwa. One of the official languages of the Seychelles therefore is Creole or Seselwa. Apart from that are English and French also official languages. The majority of the population are Christian and belong to the Roman Catholic church. Where mothers are in charge On the Seychelles, the mother is the centre of the family and all the children have to help her with the housework and with fetching water. Going to the beach and collecting shells and crabs is a pleasure for the children, and sometimes they even find a squid. A tasty soup is cooked with them.
Celebrations and Holidays
The majority of the Seychellois are Catholic, which is why they celebrate the Christian holidays such as Christmas and Easter. On the 5th of June Liberation Day is celebrated and Independence Day on the 29th of June. There are numerous celebrations and events on the Seychelles. In Victoria, a big fishing competition is held every April, in which fishermen from all islands of the Seychelles participate. In May, the “FetAfrik” takes place, a big art and culture festival. In October, the “Festival Kreol” is celebrated. For an entire week, music and dances of the Seychelles are presented there. A famous musical style is “Sega”, a type of dance music, which cannot be absent on any celebration on the Seychelles.
Schools and Education
Nowadays, school attendance is compulsory on the Seychelles and strict attention is payed that all children come to class. The Creole language, which all children grow up with, is the language of education in the first year. After that, everything is taught in English. English and French are main subjects. At school, close attention is payed that all children learn both foreign languages. No school fees are charged, because all children are supposed to be able to go to school, no matter what their parents earn. Nevertheless, the costs for school books and notebooks tear a hole in the family’s small housekeeping money. After six years of primary school, the students can either start a technical apprenticeship or go on to secondary school to get their diploma. However, they cannot go to university on the Seychelles, because there are no universities. Most of them go to North Africa or Europe to study. Did you know? During the British colonial rule, there was no school for indigenous children. Only since the independence in 1976, schools were built and programs for educating older inhabitants were introduced. Today, almost all islanders can read and write.
What Children play
Children often have to help at home. But when the housework is done, they meet on the streets or on the beach and play very similar games to the those of the children in Europe. The boys usually play football or go snorkelling and dive for rare fish. Girl like to play singing games, ball games or categories games. Sack racing is also very popular, which is what the girls on the photo on the top left are playing. They also learn the traditional dances from a very early age, and their mother sew the colourful costumes for them
Economy and Natural Resources
The majority of the population lives off fishing and tourism. The coral riffs host all kinds of fish in great and abundant amounts. Apart from that, the Republic of the Seychelles has developed in to one of the most popular tropical travel destinations. Tourism created a great number of jobs and is the most important economic sector today. Nevertheless, the republic tries to protect and preserve its nature. The Seychelles are oases in the sea and have barely changed over the course of millions of years. The Seychellois want it to stay that way. That is why there have declared almost half the land area and a large part of the water area as natural reserves. The Seychelles are therefore the country with the biggest ratio of natural reserves. Beside fishing and tourism, coconut palms are the country’s main export product. Through tropical timbers such as dragon’s blood trees, the republic obtains additional earnings.
Among the most important sights on the Seychelles are the large cinnamon and vanilla plantations. On Praslin Island, the world-famous Coco de Mer can be found. This is a fruit of the double coconut palm, the largest species of coconuts in the world. Why is it called the coconut of the ocean? On several islands the “Coco de Mer”- seeds washed up. Because their origin could not be found out, it was assumed that this coconut had to grow under water. Also worth seeing is Bird Island. Here lives the oldest giant tortoise in the world, which has been named Esmeralda by tour guides.
The Seychelles have a unique ecosystem. Admittedly, there is barely any big game like on the African mainland. However, the islands have exotic species and rare creatures, which cannot be found anywhere else. That is why they are called endemic. Among the endemic inhabitants are the giant tortoises on the Aldabra Atoll. Whoever has the courage to do so can even swim by their side for some while. Sometimes, these fascinating animals can also be found on the beach, where they bury their eggs in the sand. The Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve is located on Praslin Island. It is regarded one of the most famous landmarks of the Seychelles and is classed among the World Heritage natural sites. The Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve is known for its unbelievable variety of bird species. Here you can observe the endangered black parrots. Almost nowhere in the whole world can these beautiful parrots be found as feral animals.
There were no indigenous people on the Seychelles. Presumably, Arabic traders had discovered the islands first, but they did not settle on them. The first European, who explored the Seychelles, was Vasco da Gama. With his crew, he set foot on the uninhabited grounds in 1502. Three years later, the Seychelles were drawn onto European charts. Only 133 years later, more European navigators arrived on the islands. The governor of the French colony at the time sent an expedition to the Seychelles. In his honour, the main island Mahé received his name. Soon the islands became a French colony, and later an English one. The English founded the capital Victoria, in honour of their queen Victoria. Through taxes and compulsory charges, the island residents became more and more impoverished. Their discontent grew, and in 1963 the first party was founded to defend themselves against the foreign rule. But only in 1976, the Seychellois were able to successfully contend for their independence. The old clock tower – on the right side in the image – still stands in Victoria. It was restored and as a memorial reminds of the period of foreign rule.
The Republic of the Seychelles Today
Soon after the Seychelles became independent, the first politicians founded a republic. Shortly afterwards, there was a coup, because the first government was not liberal. The president and the members of the government were ousted and a socialist government came into power. They were under the influence of the Eastern bloc at that time, the Soviet Union. Many were dissatisfied with them as well. Opposition movements were formed and from 1991 the democratisation of the Seychelles began. Multiple parties offered themselves for election. They reformed the constitution and improved the schools and education. Ever since then, the first tourist centres started developing.
The “treasure of Labuse” traces back to the time of the legendary French Barbary Corsairs Olivier Levasseur. He was nicknamed “The Buzzard”. His marvellous treasures are apparently still hidden on one of the Seychelles islands. Especially the island Moyenne is said to be a possible location of the treasure. For over a hundred years, the legend has attracted treasure hunters from all over the world on to the islands. But nobody has found it yet!