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History of Seychelles

The First Inhabitants

The human history of The Seychelles Islands is short, since nobody lived on the islands until the 1700s, when European explorers, traders and pirates began stumbling on the islands. The first to actually claim the Seychelles as their own, and to send settlers, were the French. In 1770 21 brave French settlers arrived with seven slaves to begin a community on Ste Anne Island. This is how the human history of the Seycelles Islands began. They grew local crops and ate tortoises for a few decades until the British decided they wanted the Seychelles. The French gave up the islands without any fight at all. However, this was in name only, and once the British conquerors left, the French flag was raised again. The turnover meant very little to the small settlement of people living there. The Seychelles officially became a British dependency in 1814. In the meantime, more and more slaves were sent to the Seychelles. In 1835, when the British abolished slavery, many freed slaves came here to live. The language was still French, since not many white British people came here to live.

Becoming British

The Brits did little with the Seychelles Islands but send their freed slaves and their exiled prisoners here. Exiled Brits didn't see the exile as much of a punishment, though, since they enjoyed living a tropical life, for the most part. In 1903, the Seychelles officially became a colony, which meant government went back to the Queen in England. Politics weren't much of a discussion topic in the Seychelles, and they didn't even form any political parties until 1964. At that time two parties were formed: Seychelles People's United Party (SPUP) and Seychelles Democratic Party (SDP).

The Rise of Tourism

Twelve years later, the two parties worked together and independence was granted from the British. The founder of the SDP, James Mancham, then worked hard travelling around the globe, establishing the Seychelles as a desirable vacation destination. He was something of a playboy, and his flamboyant ways got him, and the Seychelles, noticed. Soon, wealthy Arab investors were buying large tracts of land, and celebrities were coming to the Seychelles on vacation. Tourism dollars were flowing in. The problem was, the money coming in wasn't getting evenly distributed, so some got wealthy, while others remained cash poor. The Seychelles had become a playground for the rich.

Power Struggles

The unequal distributin of tourism wealth caused discontent, and the leader of Seychelle's SPUP, which was heavily socialist, staged a coup. Albert Rene was his name, and he was also a lawyer. He hired some Tanzanian and North Korean soldiers to back him up, although the coup was bloodless and quick. This was in 1977. He also outlawed Mancham's SDP as well. Four years later, his rule was challenged by Colonol Mike Hoare, a warlord from the Congo. The plot was colorful: his men posed as South African Rugby players on vacation coming to the Seychelles. They packed their guns in their luggage and were promptly discovered at the airport. The plot was bungled so they hijacked a plane to fee home.

Throughout the rest of the 1970s and the 1980s, Rene maintained power through many attempts to take him out of power. He survived mutinites and coup attempts and is still in power today. Standards of health and the economy have slowly improved, and Rene has slowly moved towards privatization and a free-market economy. Tourism waned in the 1980s while all the power struggles were taking place, but it has made a comeback and is now 18% of the economy.

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