Racially harmonious and politically stable, Seychelles is one of the last true sanctuaries on the planet where people can still live healthily and in harmony with nature, benefiting from a carefree, island-style way of life and enjoying the space to breathe pure air and roam free.
The 43 inner islands that cluster around the principal islands of Mahé, Praslin and La Digue are the world's only oceanic islands of granitic composition. North Island, and its close neighbour Silhouette Island contain the only evidence of volcanic ash found above sea level in Seychelles. They are both granitic islands but are thought to be considerably younger than Mahé, Praslin and La Digue. Their syenite formation probably dates back to about 90 million years ago when Seychelles and India separated.
Seychelles' Outer Islands are coralline and made up of coral or volcanic rocks from deep within the earth's crust. Produced by seismic events, these islands are mere juveniles in comparison to their aged granitic peers and date back only a few million, or perhaps even a thousand years. Seychelles' magnificent islands possess unrivalled beauty ranging from the verdant mist forests of virgin granite peaks to the powder-soft sands of secluded beaches and together represent the ultimate tropical destination for the discerning traveller, living up to the country's slogan - "Seychelles - as pure as it gets."
Tourism is the mainstay of the nation's economy and is considered one of the chief components in the sustainable development of the country, benefiting from policies, planning and marketing structures that take into account both the conservation of natural and cultural resources as well as the carrying capacity of the islands. Respect for other crucial factors such as the preservation of the social values of local communities, as well as the fragile and prolific biodiverse ecosystems, such as coral reefs and mangroves, remain very much at the heart of planning initiatives.
Seychelles takes its role as custodian of a truly unique environment very seriously and, over many years, enlightened conservationist policies have set aside nearly 50% of a limited landmass as natural reserves. Seychelles boasts two UNESCO World Heritage Sites - Aldabra, the world's largest raised coral atoll (approximately 500 square kilometres) that is home to 150 000 giant tortoises and an abundance of flora and fauna, as well as the Vallée-de-Mai on Praslin, the only place on earth where you will find the fabled coco-de-mer (the world's heaviest seed) and the rare Black Parrot. This impressive national heritage has remained virtually untouched for millions of years and today combines with other real advantages, such as the absence of venomous creatures, tropical disease (there is no malaria), cyclones, crime and poverty, to make Seychelles a most desirable tourist destination.
Seychelles Ecology & Wildlife
The Republic of the Seychelles is made up of a cluster of 115 islands that lies scattered across 950 000 square kilometres of the warm Indian Ocean. This cluster, lying just south of the equator and beyond the cyclone belt, surrounded by warm waters and generally hot and humid weather, truly seems to epitomise the expression 'tropical island paradise'.
The Seychellois themselves, of which only 80 000 inhabit the archipelago, call their home "Forever Eden" and it is no wonder, for life is prolific here. More than 1 000 flowering plant species grow in lush and colourful profusion, over 220 bird species are recorded, and insects, amphibians and reptiles abound - amongst them the smallest frog and the largest land tortoise in the world. Mammals are less abundant as befits island ecosystems, with the most common being the famous flying fox, a large fruit bat.
It is the unique nature of the environment here that is most exciting however. Having been separated from its African and proto-Asian influences for aeons the Seychelles islands are blessed with a high proportion of endemic species which occur nowhere else on Earth. Included among the 81 endemic plant species is the bizarre coco-de-mer; a palm that occurs naturally on only two islands (Praslin and Curieuse) and which produces the largest seed in the world (weighing as much as 25kg at maturity). Even the coco-de-mer is widespread when compared with the jellyfish tree; only a handful of individual trees (its stigmas resembling jellyfish tentacles) are known to exist! The 17 endemic bird species boast similarly dramatic statistics. Species such as the Seychelles Magpie Robin, Seychelles White-Eye, Seychelles Paradise Flycatcher and the Seychelles Warbler have had the dubious distinction of being among the world's rarest bird species within the last few decades. Fortunately, where once the Seychelles was infamous for its extinctions, from the giant land tortoises to the saltwater crocodile, it has more recently become better known for its conservation successes. The Seychelles Magpie-Robin and the Seychelles Warbler for example were rescued from disappearing altogether and, in an impressive effort to preserve its unique natural heritage, the Seychelles National Environment Commission has created a system of national parks and reserves covering no less than 42% of the land and 260km2 of the surrounding waters.
Once beyond the plateau of an underwater ridge on which the Seychelles rests, the shallow coastal waters give way to depths that plunge more than 2km. The ocean surrounding the islands themselves ranges in depth from eight to 150 metres and covers an area of 115 000 square kilometres (more extensive than the Great Barrier Reef). Coral and marine life thrive in number and diversity with more than 1 000 species of fish recorded and in excess of 250 hard and soft coral species occurring on the various reefs. Evocatively named sweetlips, fusiliers, batfish, parrotfish, angelfish, and butterflyfish add to the tropical allure and with turtles and dolphins thrill snorkellers and scuba divers alike.
Quick Seychelles Facts
Population: 81 000
Geographic coordinates: 4 35 S, 55 40 E
Area: 455 sq km
CurrencyThe local currency is the Seychelles Rupee (SCR), made up of 100 cents. Notes come in denominations of SCR10, 25, 50 and 100 and coins from SCR5 and 1, and 5, 10 and 25 cents. Travellers' cheques and foreign currencies can be changed at banks or hotels.
LanguagesSeychelles has three official languages: Creole, English and French.
Time differenceSeychelles is four hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time and three hours ahead of Central European time in winter and two hours in summer.
ClimateThe islands enjoy a pleasant tropical climate year-round and, as they are situated outside the cyclone belt, there are no extremes of weather. The temperature seldom drops below 24 degrees or rises above 33 degree Celsius. Globally changing climatic conditions make it difficult to predict exact weather patterns.
From October to March the islands are affected by the north-west trade winds. This is when the sea is generally calm with warm tropical water. From May to September, the weather is generally drier and cooler, with choppy seas, particularly on the south-eastern coast, which is when the south-east trade winds occur. The wettest months are December and January.
Need more info?
Please contact our Safari Experts now.