Currently viewing country profile for Seychelles
After an ominous, post-independence start which saw them lurch from a coup, through an invasion by mercenaries to an abortive army mutiny and several coup attempts, the Seychelles have attained stability and prosperity.
Citizens of the Indian Ocean archipelago enjoy a high per capita income, good health care and education.
But just a year after independence in 1976, the Seychelles appeared to be heading down the path of instability which has plagued many African states.
The prime minister, France Albert Rene, overthrew the president, James Mancham, and embarked on a programme aimed at giving poorer people a greater share of the country's wealth.
His coup, though bloodless, resulted in about 10,000 islanders fleeing the country. Four years later, with the help of Tanzanian troops, Mr Rene thwarted an attempt by South African mercenaries to restore Mr Mancham.
An army mutiny in 1982, followed by several attempted coups, suffered a similar fate.
But in 1991, possibly in response to pressure from foreign creditors and aid donors, Mr Rene restored multi-party democracy.
The country's economy depends heavily on a fishing industry and upmarket tourism; the latter is vulnerable to downturns in the global travel market. Fine beaches and turquoise seas are among the main attractions.
The archipelago is home to an array of wildlife, including giant tortoises and sea turtles. Much of the land is given over to nature reserves.
- Full name: The Republic of Seychelles
- Population: 87,300 (UN, 2009)
- Capital: Victoria
- Area: 455 sq km (176 sq miles)
- Major languages: English, French, Creole
- Major religion: Christianity
- Life expectancy: n/a
- Monetary unit: 1 Seychelles rupee = 100 cents
- Main exports: Fish, cinnamon bark, copra, petroleum products (re-exports)
- GNI per capita: US $8,480 (World Bank, 2009)
- Internet domain: .sc
- International dialling code: +248
President: James Michel
James Michel succeeded France Albert Rene, who led the country for almost three decades before stepping down in April 2004.
In July 2006 Mr Michel won a five-year term in presidential elections.
A former vice president, he had served alongside Mr Rene since 1977, when a bloodless coup brought the long-term leader to power.
Mr Michel pledged to hold a more open dialogue and to involve the private sector in the debt-ridden national economy. Some analysts have praised him for executing long-needed but painful reforms to liberalise the economy.
Mr Michel, a former teacher, entered politics in 1974. He had a 16-year military career and retired from the armed forces in 1993 with the rank of colonel.
The president is the head of state and appoints the Council of Ministers - an advisory body. Most members of the legislative body, the national assembly, are directly elected. Michel also holds the defence, police, information, and risk and disaster management portfolios.
In the 2006 elections he gained nearly 54% of the vote compared with the almost 46% won by Anglican priest Wavel Ramkalawan. In the 2001 polls Ramkalawan won 45% compared with Rene's 54%.
In the May 2007 elections, the Seychelles People's Progressive Front retained all 23 out of the 34 seats in the national assembly. The opposition Seychelles National Party (SNP) took the remaining 11 seats.
The government controls much of the islands' media, and operates radio and TV stations and the sole daily newspaper.
Freedom of speech has improved since one-party rule was abolished in 1993, and private or pro-opposition publications have been robust in their reporting despite tough libel laws. Steep licensing fees have discouraged the growth of private broadcast media.
Multi-channel cable and satellite TV are widely available. BBC World Service (106.2 MHz) and Radio France Internationale are available on FM.
By March 2008, there were 32,000 internet users - more than 30% of the population (Internetworldstats).
- Seychelles Nation - government daily
- The People - ruling party weekly
- Le Nouveau Seychelles Weekly - opposition weekly
- Regar - opposition weekly
- SBC TV - state-run, operated by Seychelles Broadcasting Corporation (SBC)
- SBC - operates national mediumwave (AM) service and music station Paradise FM
- Seychelles Agence Press
A chronology of key events:
1502 - Portugal's Vasco da Gama explores the Seychelles.
1768 - French planters and their slaves begin settling in the Seychelles.
1794 - Britain annexes the Seychelles, which are then administered from Mauritius.
1903 - Seychelles become a separate British colony.
1948 - First elections to a legislative council take place.
1964 - First political parties are formed: France Albert Rene's socialist Seychelles People's United Party and James Mancham's pro-business Seychelles Democratic Party.
1966, 1970 - The Seychelles Democratic Party wins legislative elections.
1976 - Seychelles become independent and are governed by a coalition, with James Mancham as president and France Rene as prime minister.
1977 - Rene's supporters stage a coup against Mancham ostensibly without Rene's knowledge; Rene installed as president.
1978 - Rene enacts a new constitution, turning the Seychelles into a one-party state.
1981 - South African-based mercenaries try but fail to restore Mancham to power.
1982 - Army mutiny thwarted.
1991 - President Rene restores multiparty democracy.
1993, 1998 - Rene re-elected in multiparty ballots.
1998 - Rene's Seychelles Progressive People's Front wins 30 out of 34 seats in parliamentary elections.
2001 September - President Rene wins another term in office with 54% of the votes, beating opposition candidate Wavel Ramkalawan who won 45% of the votes.
2002 December - President Rene's Seychelles Progressive People's Front wins parliamentary elections, but the opposition Seychelles National Party increases its presence from one to 11 seats.
2003 July - Economic reforms are introduced under which Seychelles will pull out of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and close three diplomatic missions.
2004 April - President Rene steps down, replaced by former vice president James Michel.
2004 December - Widespread damage is reported after giant waves, generated by an underwater earthquake off Indonesia, hit three islands.
2006 July - President Michel wins presidential race.
2006 October - Parliament bans political or religious organisations from running radio stations, sparking a rare outbreak of unrest.
2007 May - The ruling SPPF wins early elections. They were brought forward after opposition MPs boycotted parliament over moves to ban political parties from owning radio stations.
2008 November - International Monetary Fund agrees a two-year $26-million rescue package for the indebted Seychelles economy.
2009 January - President Michel asks creditors to cancel half the archipelago's $800 million foreign debt. The economy has been hit by reduced tourist traffic and turmoil in the world's financial markets.
2009 April - Somali pirates move their operations southwards to Seychelles and beyond as patrols are stepped up in the Gulf of Aden.
2009 October - US says it will supply Seychelles with drone spy-planes to help fight piracy. France offers legal help.
2009 November - Seychelles, European Union sign anti-piracy agreement which will allow EU troops to be deployed on the islands.
World Bank approves $9 million loan to help indebted Seychelles to restore economic stability.
2010 July - First successful prosecution of pirates in Seychelles. Eleven Somalis are jailed.
2010 August - Seychelles signs up to International Criminal Court.
2011 May - Presidential elections.
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