Country in the Indian Ocean
Coordinates: 435S 5540E / 4.583S 55.667E / -4.583; 55.667
Seychelles (; French:[sl] or [sel]), officially the Republic of Seychelles (French: Rpublique des Seychelles; Creole: La Repiblik Sesel), is an archipelagic island country in the Indian Ocean. It consists of 115 islands. Its capital and largest city, Victoria, lies 1,500 kilometres (932mi) east of mainland Africa. Other nearby island countries and territories include Comoros, Mayotte (territory of France), Madagascar, Runion (territory of France), and Mauritius to the south; as well as the Maldives and Chagos Archipelago to the east. With a population of roughly 94,367, it has the smallest population of any sovereign African country.
Seychelles was uninhabited prior to being encountered by Europeans in the 16th century. It faced competing French and British interests until coming under full British control in the late 19th century. Since proclaiming independence from the United Kingdom in 1976, Seychelles has developed from a largely agricultural society to a market-based diversified economy, characterized by rapidly rising service, public sector, and tourism activities. From 1976 until 2015, nominal GDP grew nearly sevenfold, and purchasing power parity increased nearly sixteenfold. Since the late 2010s, the government has taken steps to encourage foreign investment.
Today, Seychelles boasts the highest nominal per capita GDP of any African nation. It is the first African country with an HDI score exceeding 0.800, and therefore the only country in the continent with a very high Human Development Index. It is the only country in Africa classified as a high-income economy by the World Bank. Despite its relative prosperity, poverty remains widespread, and the country has one of the highest levels of economic inequality and unequal wealth distribution, with the upper and ruling class commanding a vast proportion of the country's wealth.
Seychellois culture and society is an eclectic mix of French, British and African influences, with more recent infusions of Chinese and Indian elements. The country is a member of the United Nations, the African Union, the Southern African Development Community, and the Commonwealth of Nations.
Seychelles were uninhabited throughout most of recorded history. Some scholars assume that Austronesian seafarers and later Maldivian and Arab traders were the first to visit the uninhabited Seychelles. This assumption is based on the discovery of tombs, visible until 1910. The earliest recorded sighting by Europeans took place on 15 March 1503, recorded by Thom Lopes aboard "Rui Mendes de Brito" part 4th Portuguese India Armada, commanded by the Portuguese Admiral Vasco da Gama. Da Gama's ships passed close to an elevated island, probably Silhouette Island and the following day Desroches Island. The earliest recorded landing was in January 1609, by the crew of the "Ascension" under Captain Alexander Sharpeigh during the fourth voyage of the British East India Company.
A transit point for trade between Africa and Asia, the islands were said to be occasionally used by pirates until the French began to take control starting in 1756 when a Stone of Possession was laid on Mah by Captain Nicholas Morphey. The islands were named after Jean Moreau de Schelles, Louis XV's Minister of Finance.
The British frigate "Orpheus" commanded by Captain Henry Newcome arrived at Mah on 16 May 1794. Terms of capitulation were drawn up and the next day Seychelles was surrendered to Britain. Jean Baptiste Quau de Quincy, the French administrator of Seychelles during the years of war with the United Kingdom, declined to resist when armed enemy warships arrived. Instead, he successfully negotiated the status of capitulation to Britain which gave the settlers a privileged position of neutrality.
Britain eventually assumed full control upon the surrender of Mauritius in 1810, formalised in 1814 at the Treaty of Paris. Seychelles became a crown colony separate from Mauritius in 1903. Elections were held in 1966 and 1970.
Independence was granted in 1976 and it became a republic at the same time. It has been a member of Commonwealth. In the 1970s Seychelles was "the place to be seen, a playground for film stars and the international jet set". In 1977, a coup d'tat by France Albert Ren ousted the first president of the republic, James Mancham. Ren discouraged over-dependence on tourism and declared that he wanted "to keep the Seychelles for the Seychellois".
The 1979 constitution declared a socialist one-party state, which lasted until 1991.
In the 1980s there were a series of coup attempts against President Ren, some of which were supported by South Africa. In 1981, Mike Hoare led a team of 43 South African mercenaries masquerading as holidaying rugby players in the 1981 Seychelles coup d'tat attempt. There was a gun battle at the airport, and most of the mercenaries later escaped in a hijacked Air India plane. The leader of this hijacking was German mercenary D. Clodo, a former member of the Rhodesian SAS. Clodo later stood trial in South Africa (where he was acquitted) as well as in his home country Germany for air piracy.
In 1986, an attempted coup led by the Seychelles Minister of Defence, Ogilvy Berlouis, caused President Ren to request assistance from India. In Operation Flowers are Blooming, the Indian naval vessel INS Vindhyagiri arrived in Port Victoria to help avert the coup.
The first draft of a new constitution failed to receive the requisite 60% of voters in 1992, but an amended version was approved in 1993.
In January 2013, Seychelles declared a state of emergency; the tropical cyclone Felleng caused torrential rain, and flooding and landslides destroyed hundreds of houses.
The Seychelles president, who is head of state and head of government, is elected by popular vote for a five-year term of office. The cabinet is presided over and appointed by the president, subject to the approval of a majority of the legislature.
The unicameral Seychellois parliament, the National Assembly or Assemble Nationale, consists of 34 members, 25 of whom are elected directly by popular vote, while the remaining nine seats are appointed proportionally according to the percentage of votes received by each party. All members serve five-year terms.
The Supreme Court of Seychelles, created in 1903, is the highest trial court in Seychelles and the first court of appeal from all the lower courts and tribunals. The highest court of law in Seychelles is the Seychelles Court of Appeal, which is the court of final appeal in the country.
Seychelles' previous president France Albert Ren came to power after his supporters overthrew the first president James Mancham on 5 June 1977 in a coup d'tat and installed him as president. Ren was at that time the prime minister. Ren ruled as a strongman under a socialist one-party system until in 1993, when he was forced to introduce a multi-party system. He stepped down in 2004 in favour of his vice-president, James Michel, who was reelected in 2006 and again in 2011. On 28 September 2016, the Office of the President announced that Michel would step down effective 16 October, and that Vice President Danny Faure would complete the rest of Michel's term.
The primary political parties are the ruling socialist People's Party (PP), known until 2009 as the Seychelles People's Progressive Front (SPPF) now called United Seychelles (US), and the socially liberal Seychelles National Party (SNP).
Seychelles is a member of the African Union (AU), the francophone Indian Ocean Commission (IOC), La Francophonie, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Commonwealth. From 1979 to 1981, the United States was involved in the failed 1981 coup attempt. Under the Obama administration, the US began running drone operations out of Seychelles. In the Spring of 2013, members of the Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Africa mentored troops in Seychelles, along with a variety of other African nations.
Seychelles is divided into twenty-six administrative regions comprising all of the inner islands. Eight of the districts make up the capital of Seychelles and are referred to as Greater Victoria. Another 14 districts are considered the rural part of the main island of Mah with two districts on Praslin and one on La Digue which also includes respective satellite islands. The rest of the Outer Islands (les Eloignes) are the last district recently created by the tourism ministry.
An island nation, Seychelles is located in the Indian Ocean, northeast of Madagascar and about 1,600km (994mi) east of Kenya. The Constitution of Seychelles lists 155 named islands and a further 7 reclaimed islands have been created subsequent to the publication of the Constitution. The majority of the islands are uninhabited, with many dedicated as nature reserves.
A group of 44 islands (42 granitic and 2 coralline) occupy the shallow waters of the Seychelles Bank and are collectively referred to as the inner islands. They have a total area of 244km2, accounting for 54% of the total land area of the Seychelles and 98% of the entire population.
The islands are divided into groups as follows.
There are 42 granitic islands known as the Granitic Seychelles. These are in descending order of size: Mah, Praslin, Silhouette Island, La Digue, Curieuse, Flicit, Frgate, Ste-Anne, North, Cerf, Marianne, Grand Sur, Thrse, Aride Island, Conception, Petite Sur, Cousin Island, Cousine, Long, Rcif, Round (Praslin), Anonyme, Mamelles, Moyenne, le aux Vaches Marines, L'Islette, Beacon (le Sche), Cache, Cocos, Round (Mah), L'Ilot Frgate, Booby, Chauve-Souris (Mah), Chauve-Souris (Praslin), le La Fouche, Hodoul, L'Ilot, Rat, Souris, St. Pierre (Praslin), Zav, Harrison Rocks (Grand Rocher).
There are two coral sand cays north of the granitics on the edge of the Seychelles Bank: Denis and Bird.
There are two coral islands south of the Granitics: Cotivy and Platte.
There are 29 coral islands in the Amirantes group, west of the granitics: Desroches, Poivre Atoll (comprising three islandsPoivre, Florentin and South Island), Alphonse, D'Arros, St. Joseph Atoll (comprising 14 islandsSt. Joseph, le aux Fouquets, Resource, Petit Carcassaye, Grand Carcassaye, Benjamin, Bancs Ferrari, Chiens, Plicans, Vars, le Paul, Banc de Sable, Banc aux Cocos and le aux Poules), Marie Louise, Desnufs, African Banks (comprising two islandsAfrican Banks and South Island), Rmire, St. Franois, Boudeuse, toile, Bijoutier.
There are 13 coral islands in the Farquhar Group, south-southwest of the Amirantes: Farquhar Atoll (comprising 10 islandsBancs de Sable, Dposs, le aux Golettes, Lapins, le du Milieu, North Manaha, South Manaha, Middle Manaha, North Island and South Island), Providence Atoll (comprising two islandsProvidence and Bancs Providence) and St Pierre.
There are 67 raised coral islands in the Aldabra Group, west of the Farquhar Group: Aldabra Atoll (comprising 46 islandsGrande Terre, Picard, Polymnie, Malabar, le Michel, le Esprit, le aux Moustiques, Ilot Parc, Ilot mile, Ilot Yangue, Ilot Magnan, le Lanier, Champignon des Os, Euphrate, Grand Mentor, Grand Ilot, Gros Ilot Gionnet, Gros Ilot Ssame, Hron Rock, Hide Island, le aux Aigrettes, le aux Cdres, les Chalands, le Fangame, le Hron, le Michel, le Squacco, le Sylvestre, le Verte, Ilot Dder, Ilot du Sud, Ilot du Milieu, Ilot du Nord, Ilot Dubois, Ilot Macoa, Ilot Marquoix, Ilots Niois, Ilot Salade, Middle Row Island, Noddy Rock, North Row Island, Petit Mentor, Petit Mentor Endans, Petits Ilots, Pink Rock and Table Ronde), Assumption Island, Astove and Cosmoledo Atoll (comprising 19 islandsMenai, le du Nord (West North), le Nord-Est (East North), le du Trou, Golettes, Grand Polyte, Petit Polyte, Grand le (Wizard), Pagode, le du Sud-Ouest (South), le aux Moustiques, le Baleine, le aux Chauve-Souris, le aux Macaques, le aux Rats, le du Nord-Ouest, le Observation, le Sud-Est and Ilot la Croix).
In addition to these 155 islands as per the Constitution of Seychelles there are 7 reclaimed islands: Ile Perseverance, Ile Aurore, Romainville, Eden Island, Eve, Ile du Port and Ile Soleil.
South Island, African Banks has been eroded by the sea. At St Joseph Atoll, Banc de Sable and Pelican Island have also eroded, while Grand Carcassaye and Petit Carcassaye have merged to form one island. There are also several unnamed islands at Aldabra, St Joseph Atoll and Cosmoledo. Pti Astove, though named, failed to make it into the Constitution for unknown reasons.
The climate is equable although quite humid, as the islands are small, classified by Kppen-Geiger system as tropical rain forest (Af). The temperature varies little throughout the year. Temperatures on Mah vary from 24 to 30C (75 to 86F), and rainfall ranges from 2,900mm (114in) annually at Victoria to 3,600mm (142in) on the mountain slopes. Precipitation is somewhat less on the other islands.
During the coolest months, July and August, the average low is about 24C (75F). The southeast trade winds blow regularly from May to November, and this is the most pleasant time of the year. The hot months are from December to April, with higher humidity (80%). March and April are the hottest months, but the temperature seldom exceeds 31C (88F). Most of the islands lie outside the cyclone belt, so high winds are rare.
Seychelles is among the world's leading countries to protect lands for threatened species, allocating 42% of its territory for conservation. Like many fragile island ecosystems, Seychelles saw the loss of biodiversity when humans first settled in the area, including the disappearance of most of the giant tortoises from the granitic islands, the felling of coastal and mid-level forests, and the extinction of species such as the chestnut flanked white eye, the Seychelles parakeet, and the saltwater crocodile. However, extinctions were far fewer than on islands such as Mauritius or Hawaii, partly due to a shorter period of human occupation (since 1770). Seychelles today is known for success stories in protecting its flora and fauna. The rare Seychelles black parrot, the national bird of the country, is now protected.
The granitic islands of Seychelles are home to about 75 endemic plant species, with a further 25 or so species in the Aldabra group. Particularly well known is the coco de mer, a species of palm that grows only on the islands of Praslin and neighbouring Curieuse. Sometimes nicknamed the "love nut" because the shape of its "double" coconut resembles buttocks, the coco-de-mer produces the world's heaviest seed. The jellyfish tree is to be found in only a few locations on Mahe. This strange and ancient plant in a genus of its own (Medusagyne) seems to reproduce only in cultivation and not in the wild. Other unique plant species include Wright's gardenia (Rothmannia annae) found only on Aride Island Special Reserve.
The freshwater crab genus Seychellum is endemic to the granitic Seychelles, and a further 26 species of crabs and five species of hermit crabs live on the islands.
The Aldabra giant tortoise now populates many of the islands of Seychelles; the Aldabra population is the largest remaining. These unique reptiles can be found even in captive herds. The granitic islands of Seychelles may support distinct species of Seychelles giant tortoises; the status of the different populations is currently unclear.
There are several unique species of orchid on the islands.
Seychelles hosts some of the largest seabird colonies in the world, notably on the outer islands of Aldabra and Cosmoledo. In granitic Seychelles the largest colonies are on Aride Island including the world's largest numbers of two species. Sooty terns also breed on the islands. Other birds include Cattle egrets (Bubulcus ibis) and Fairy terns (Gygis alba).
The marine life around the islands, especially the more remote coral islands, can be spectacular. More than 1,000 species of fish have been recorded.
Since the use of spearguns and dynamite for fishing was banned through efforts of local conservationists in the 1960s, the wildlife is unafraid of snorkelers and divers. Coral bleaching in 1998 has damaged most reefs, but some reefs show healthy recovery (e.g., Silhouette Island).
Despite huge disparities across nations, Seychelles claims to have achieved nearly all of its Millennium Development Goals. 17 MDGS and 169 targets have been achieved. Environmental protection is becoming a cultural value.
Their government's Seychelles Climate Guide describes the nation's climate as rainy, with a dry season with an ocean economy in the ocean regions. The Southeast Trades is on the decline but still fairly strong. Reportedly, weather patterns there are becoming less predictable.
When the British gained control of the islands during the Napoleonic Wars, they allowed the French upper class to retain their land. Both the French and British settlers used enslaved Africans, and although the British prohibited slavery in 1835, African workers continued to come. Thus the Gran blan ("big whites") of French origin dominated economic and political life. The British administration employed Indians on indentured servitude to the same degree as in Mauritius resulting in a small Indian population. The Indians, like a similar minority of Chinese, were confined to a merchant class.
Through harmonious socioeconomic policies and developments over the years, today Seychelles is described as a fusion of peoples and cultures. Numerous Seychellois are considered multiracial: blending from African, Asian and European descent to create a modern creole culture. Evidence of this harmonious blend is also revealed in Seychellois food, incorporating various aspects of French, Chinese, Indian and African cuisine.
As the islands of the Seychelles had no indigenous population, the current Seychellois descend from people who immigrated, of which the largest ethnic groups were those of African, French, Indian and Chinese origin. The median age of the Seychellois is 32 years.
French and English are official languages along with Seychellois Creole, which is primarily based upon French. However, nowadays the language is often laced with English words and phrases. Including second-language speakers, Seychellois is the most-spoken official language in the Seychelles, followed by French and English. 87% of the population speaks Seychelles Creole, 51% speaks French, and 38% speaks English. Most business and official meetings are conducted in English and nearly all official websites are in English. National Assembly business is conducted in Creole, but laws are passed and published in English.
Religious Affiliation in the Seychelles (2010 Census)
Other Christian (6.9%)
Other Non-Christian (1.1%)
No religion (0.9%)
Not stated (4.8%)
According to the 2010 census, most Seychellois are Christians: 76.2% were Roman Catholic, pastorally served by the exempt Diocese of Port Victoria or Seychelles (immediately dependent on the Holy See); 10.6% were Protestant, (Anglican 6.1%, Pentecostal Assembly 1.5%, Seventh-Day Adventist 1.2%, other Protestant 1.6%).
Hinduism is the second largest religion, with more than 2.4% of the population. The Hindu following in Seychelles has seen an increase in the community with the organization of the Seychelles Hindu Kovil Sangam and the consecration of the Navasakti Vinayagar Temple.A reported 6% of the population of Seychelles are ethnic Indians, but only 2.4% are Hindus.
Islam is followed by another 1.6% of the population. Other faiths accounted for 1.1% of the population, while a further 5.9% were non-religious or did not specify a religion.
During the plantation era, cinnamon, vanilla and copra were the chief exports. In 1965, during a three-month visit to the islands, futurist Donald Prell prepared for the then-crown colony Governor General an economic report containing a scenario for the future of the economy. Quoting from his report, in the 1960s, about 33% of the working population worked at plantations, and 20% worked in the public or government sector.The Indian Ocean Tracking Station on Mah used by the Air Force Satellite Control Network was closed in August 1996 after the Seychelles government attempted to raise the rent to more than $10,000,000 per year.
Since independence in 1976,... per capita output has expanded to roughly seven times the old near-subsistence level. Growth has been led by the tourist sector, which employs about 30% of the labour force, compared to agriculture which today employs about 3% of the labour force. Despite the growth of tourism, farming and fishing continue to employ some people, as do industries that process coconuts and vanilla.
As of 2013[update], the main export products are processed fish (60%) and non-fillet frozen fish (22%).
The prime agricultural products currently produced in Seychelles include sweet potatoes, vanilla, coconuts and cinnamon. These products provide much of the economic support of the locals. Frozen and canned fish, copra, cinnamon and vanilla are the main export commodities.
Since the worldwide economic crises of 2008, the Seychelles government has prioritised a curbing of the budget deficit, including the containment of social welfare costs and further privatisation of public enterprises. The government has a pervasive presence in economic activity, with public enterprises active in petroleum product distribution, banking, imports of basic products, telecommunications and a wide range of other businesses. According to the 2013 Index of Economic Freedom, which measures the degree of limited government, market openness, regulatory efficiency, rule of law, and other factors, economic freedom has been increasing each year since 2010.
The national currency of Seychelles is the Seychellois rupee. Initially tied to a basket of international currencies, it was depegged and allowed to be devalued and float freely in 2008 on the presumed hopes of attracting further foreign investment in the Seychelles economy.
In 1971, with the opening of Seychelles International Airport, tourism became a significant industry, essentially dividing the economy into plantations and tourism. The tourism sector paid better, and the plantation economy could only expand so far. The plantation sector of the economy declined in prominence, and tourism became the primary industry of Seychelles.
In recent years the government has encouraged foreign investment to upgrade hotels and other services. These incentives have given rise to an enormous amount of investment in real estate projects and new resort properties, such as project TIME, distributed by the World Bank, along with its predecessor project MAGIC. Despite its growth, the vulnerability of the tourist sector was illustrated by the sharp drop in 19911992 due largely to the Gulf War.
Since then the government has moved to reduce the dependence on tourism by promoting the development of farming, fishing, small-scale manufacturing and most recently the offshore financial sector, through the establishment of the Financial Services Authority and the enactment of several pieces of legislation (such as the International Corporate Service Providers Act, the International Business Companies Act, the Securities Act, the Mutual Funds and Hedge Fund Act, amongst others). In March 2015, Seychelles allocated Assumption Island to be developed by India.
Although multinational oil companies have explored the waters around the islands, no oil or gas has been found. In 2005, a deal was signed with US firm Petroquest, giving it exploration rights to about 30,000km2 around Constant, Topaz, Farquhar and Cotivy islands until 2014. Seychelles imports oil from the Persian Gulf in the form of refined petroleum derivatives at the rate of about 5,700 barrels per day (910m3/d).
In recent years oil has been imported from Kuwait and also from Bahrain. Seychelles imports three times more oil than is needed for internal uses because it re-exports the surplus oil in the form of bunker for ships and aircraft calling at Mah. There are no refining capacities on the islands. Oil and gas imports, distribution and re-export are the responsibility of Seychelles Petroleum (Sepec), while oil exploration is the responsibility of the Seychelles National Oil Company (SNOC).
For such a small country, Seychelles has a vibrant art scene that encompasses painters, sculptors, writers and poets, artisans of many types, musicians and dancers.
The Seychelles has a diverse and upcoming group of artists who draw inspiration from the Islands around them.
A National Art Gallery was inaugurated in 1994 on the occasion of the official opening of the National Cultural Centre which housed the National Library and the National Archives with other offices of the Ministry of Culture.
The Minister of Culture then said that an exhibition which featured the works of artists, painters and sculptors was a testimony to the development of art in Seychelles as a creative form of expression and gave a view of the state of contemporary art in Seychelles.
Contemporary Seychelles artists trained in universities the world over since the independence of the country in 1976, particularly, have been free to express themselves in a variety of styles.
Painters have traditionally taken inspiration from the richness of Seychelles natural beauty to produce a wide range of works using mediums ranging from water-colours to oils, acrylics, collages, metals, aluminium, wood, fabrics, gouache, varnishes, recycled materials, pastels, charcoal, embossing, etching, and giclee prints. Local sculptors produce fine works in wood, stone, bronze and cartonnage.
Art in Seychelles, Then and Now Is a recently published hardback that provides a unique overview of both contemporary art in Seychelles as well as exploring aspects of the history and development of visual art.
Fifty artists collaborated in the project through interview and the provision of work which collectively articulates an energised and increasingly diverse range of outcomes.
Generously illustrated in colour, the book annotates the work of practicing artists through their own words and provides a narrative timeline dating back to the first habitation of the islands in the 18th century.
Music and dance have always played a prominent role in Seychelles culture and in all types of local festivities. Rooted in African, Malagasy and European cultures, music is played to the accompaniment of drums such as the Tambour and Tam-Tam and simple string instruments. The violin and guitar are relatively recent foreign imports which play a prominent role in today's music.
The lively Sega dance with its elegant hip-swaying and shuffling of the feet is still popular as is the traditional Moutya, a mysterious, erotic dance dating back to the days of slavery when it was often used as an outlet for strong emotions and as a way of expressing discontent.
The music of Seychelles is diverse, a reflection of the fusion of cultures through its history. The folk music of the islands incorporates multiple influences in a syncretic fashion, including African rhythms, aesthetic and instrumentationsuch as the zez and the bom (known in Brazil as berimbau), European contredanse, polka and mazurka, French folk and pop, sega from Mauritius and Runion, taarab, soukous and other pan-African genres, and Polynesian, Indian and Arcadian music.
A form of percussion music called contombley is popular, as is Moutya, a fusion of native folk rhythms with Kenyan benga. Kontredans (based on European contredanse) is popular, especially in District and School competitions during the annual Festival Kreol (International Creole Festival). Moutya playing and dancing can often be seen at beach bazaars. Their main languages are Seychellois Creole of the French language, French and English.
Staple foods include fish, seafood and shellfish dishes, often accompanied with rice. Fish dishes are cooked in several ways, such as steamed, grilled, wrapped in banana leaves, baked, salted and smoked. Curry dishes with rice are also a significant aspect of the country's cuisine.
Additional food staples include coconut, breadfruit, mangoes and kordonnyen fish. Dishes are often garnished with fresh flowers.
The main daily newspaper is the Seychelles Nation, dedicated to local government views and current affairs and topics. Other political parties operate other papers such as Regar. Foreign newspapers and magazines are readily available in most bookshops and newsagents. The papers are mostly written in Seychellois Creole, French and English.
The main television and radio network is operated by the Seychelles Broadcasting Corporation which offers locally produced news and discussion programmes in the Seychellois Creole language. Broadcasts run between 3pm and 11:30pm on weekdays and longer hours during the weekends. There are also imported English and French language television programmes imported on Seychellois terrestrial television and international satellite television has grown rapidly in recent years.
The most popular sport in Seychelles is basketball, which has particularly developed last decade. The country's national team qualified for the 2015 African Games, its greatest accomplishment to date. There, the team competed against some of the continent's largest countries such as Egypt.
Seychellois society is essentially matriarchal. Mothers tend to be dominant in the household, controlling most expenditures and looking after the interests of the children. Unwed mothers are the societal norm, and the law requires fathers to support their children. Men are important for their earning ability, but their domestic role is relatively peripheral.
Until the mid-19th century, little formal education was available in Seychelles. The Catholic and Anglican churches opened mission schools in 1851. The Catholic mission later operated boys' and girls' secondary schools with religious brothers and nuns from abroad even after the government became responsible for them in 1944.
A teacher training college opened in 1959, when the supply of locally trained teachers began to grow, and in short time many new schools were established. Since 1981 a system of free education has been in effect, requiring attendance by all children in grades one to nine, beginning at age five. Ninety percent of all children attend nursery school at age four.
The literacy rate for school-age children rose to more than 90% by the late 1980s. Many older Seychellois had not been taught to read or write in their childhood; adult education classes helped raise adult literacy from 60% to a claimed 100% in 2014.
There are a total of 68 schools in Seychelles. The public school system consists of 23 crches, 25 primary schools and 13 secondary schools. They are located on Mah, Praslin, La Digue and Silhouette. Additionally, there are three private schools: cole Franaise, International School and the independent school. All the private schools are on Mah, and the International School has a branch on Praslin. There are seven post-secondary (non-tertiary) schools: the Seychelles Polytechnic, School of Advanced Level Studies, Seychelles Tourism Academy, University of Seychelles Education, Seychelles Institute of Technology, Maritime Training Center, Seychelles Agricultural and Horticultural Training Center and the National Institute for Health and Social Studies.
The administration launched plans to open a university in an attempt to slow down the brain drain that has occurred. University of Seychelles, initiated in conjunction with the University of London, opened on 17 September 2009 in three locations, and offers qualifications from the University of London.
The Military of Seychelles is the Seychelles People's Defence Force which consists of a number of distinct branches: an Infantry Unit and Coast Guard, Air Force and a Presidential Protection Unit. India has played and continues to play a key role developing the military of Seychelles. After handing over two SDB Mk5 patrol vessels namely INS Tarasa and INS Tarmugli to Seychelles Coast Guard, built by GRSE which were subsequently renamed SCG Constant and SCG Topaz, India also gifted a Dornier Maritime Patrol aircraft built by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. India also signed a pact to develop Assumption Island, one of the 115 islands that make up the country. Spread over 11km2 (4sqmi), it is strategically located in the Indian Ocean, north of Madagascar. The island is being leased for the development of strategic assets by India. In 2018, Seychelles signed the UN treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
In 2014, Seychelles had the highest incarceration rate in the world of 799 prisoners per 100,000 population, exceeding the United States' rate by 15%. However, the country's actual population is less than 100,000; as of September 2014, Seychelles had 735 actual prisoners, 6% of whom were female, incarcerated in three prisons.
Seychelles is a key participant in the fight against Indian Ocean piracy primarily committed by Somali pirates. Former president James Michel said that piracy costs between $7million $12million a year to the international community: "The pirates cost 4% of the Seychelles GDP, including direct and indirect costs for the loss of boats, fishing, and tourism, and the indirect investment for the maritime security." These are factors affecting local fishing one of the country's main national resources which had a 46% loss in 20082009. International contributions of patrol boats, planes or drones have been provided to help Seychelles combat sea piracy.