The Republic of Seychelles comprises 115 islands occupying a land area of 455 km² and an Exclusive Economic Zone of 1.4 million km² in the western Indian Ocean. It represents an archipelago of legendary beauty that extends from between 4 and 10 degrees south of the equator and which lies between 480km and 1,600km from the east coast of Africa. Of these 115 islands, 41 constitute the oldest mid-oceanic granite islands on earth while a further 74 form the low-lying coral atolls and reef islands of the Outer Islands.
The granitic islands of the Seychelles archipelago cluster around the main island of Mahé, home to the international airport and the capital, Victoria, and its satellites Praslin and La Digue. Together, these Inner Islands form the cultural and economic hub of the nation and contain the majority of Seychelles’ tourism facilities as well as its most stunning beaches.
Seychelles’ enviable climate is always warm and without extremes. In this tropical haven the temperature seldom drops below 24°C or rises above 32°C. All but the remotest southern islands lie comfortably outside the cyclone belt making Seychelles’ a year round destination for sun worshippers and beach lovers.
During the north-west trade winds that visit between the months of October and March, the sea is generally calm and the weather warm and humid, with average winds of 8-12 knots.
In January and February the islands receive their life-giving rains, rejuvenating the rivers and streams and teasing the vibrant foliage into rainbows of colour.
The months between May and September bring drier, cooler weather, and livelier seas – particularly on south-eastern coasts – and winds of 10-20 knots.
Today, the 81,000 strong Seychellois population continues to reflect its multi-ethnic roots. Traditionally, the islands have attracted a broad diversity of peoples from the four corners of the earth that has included freed slaves, European settlers, political exiles, adventurers, traders of Arab and Persian origin as well as Chinese and Indians.
Practically every nation on earth has been represented in this melting pot of cultures, each one contributing its special influence to today’s vibrant yet tranquil society.
There are three official languages in Seychelles: Creole (a lilting, French-based patois), English and French. Many Seychellois also speak fluent Italian or German.
The cosmopolitan Seychellois are a colourful blend of peoples of different races, cultures and religions. At different times in its history, people of African, European and Asian origin have come to Seychelles, bringing with them their distinct traditions and customs and contributing to the way of life and to the vibrant Seychellois culture.
Seychelles’ 115 islands fall under two distinct groups. The tall granite, Inner Islands cluster mainly within the relatively shallow Seychelles’ plateau, 4° south of the equator and roughly 1800 km. distant from the east coast of Africa while the low-lying coralline cays, atolls and reef islands of the Outer Islands lie mainly beyond the plateau up to 10° south of the equator.
These Outer Islands are divided into five groups: the Amirantes group lying 230km distant from Mahé, the Southern Coral Group, Alphonse Group, Farquhar Group and finally the Aldabra Group, some 1150km from Mahé.
There are 43 Inner Islands in all — 41 granitic and 2 coralline and a total of 72 coralline Outer Islands.
The Inner Islands which are mostly granitic, cluster mainly around the principal islands of Mahé, Praslin and La Digue, forming the cultural and economic hub of Seychelles, as well as the centre of its tourism industry.Together they are home to the majority of Seychelles’ accommodation facilities as well almost the entire population of the archipelago. There are 43 Inner islands in total – 41 granitic and 2 coralline.
The Outer Islands are those situated beyond the Seychelles plateau. They comprise 72 low-lying sand cays and atolls lying anywhere between 230km and 1150km from Mahé. Less visited than their granitic cousins due to their relative remoteness, these pristine miniature worlds, some little more than sand spits or lonely rocky outcrops, offer untouched habitats for many species of wildlife.
Only two islands among the Outer Island groups, namely Alphonse and Desroches, currently offer accommodation facilities. They boast luxuriously appointed lodges as well as unparalleled opportunities for sailing, fishing and diving in places where few have gone before.