The Republic of Seychelles
Seychelles is located in the Indian Ocean about 1,600 kilometers (1,000 miles) east of Kenya. The nation is an archipelago of 115 tropical islands. With a land area of approximately 455 square kilometers and a population approaching 90,000, Seychelles is one of the world’s smallest nations, but boasts a stable government and a per capita GDP of US $11,200, one of the highest in the region and all of Africa.
Seychelles gained its independence from the United Kingdom in 1976, with Sir James Mancham elected its first president. The Seychelles People’s Progressive Front (SPPF), led by Mancham’s runner-up in the election, France Albert René, took power in a 1977 coup. One-party rule was brought to a close with a new constitution and free elections in 1993, with René maintaining the presidency by popular election until he stepped down in June 2004, handing power over peacefully to his Vice President, James Michel.
Michel has gone on to win two subsequent presidential elections in 2006 and 2011, with his SPPF party, now renamed Parti Lepep, maintaining control of the unicameral 34-seat National Assembly in legislative elections.
The islands’ principal economic activities are tourism and fisheries. The majority of the population is Roman Catholic, with smaller Anglican, Muslim, Hindu and other Christian denominations. Creole is the main spoken language, but the country has three official languages: Creole, French and English.