Seychelles History

Seychelles History

Discovery and settlement

Arab sailors probably entered the Seychelles as early as the 7th century. Even when the Portuguese seafarer Vasco da Gama discovered the archipelago at the beginning of the 16th century and recorded it on his nautical charts, they were still uninhabited. Due to their location away from the usual sea routes, the islands were still not populated. It was not until 1743 that they were officially taken over by France and named after the then French finance minister, Jean Moreau de Seychelles.

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According to AbbreviationFinder, the main island of Mah¨¦ began to settle in 1770. Plantations were set up on the fertile soils, for the management of which black slaves were brought to the island from the African mainland and from the island of Madagascar. The islands of Praslin, Silhouette, F¨¦licit¨¦ and La Digue were also populated shortly afterwards.

British domination

In the course of the Franco-British wars, the Seychelles were occupied by British soldiers. After the defeat of France, Great Britain was granted the archipelago through the Treaty of Paris (1814). Managed from Mauritius, the islands were used by the British as a penal colony (until 1960).

In 1834, Britain officially banned slavery in its colonies. From the beginning of the 20th century, the cultivation of coconut palms for the production of copra became the most important area of ​​agriculture. In 1903, the Seychelles became an independent British crown colony, and the British governor’s administrative seat became Victoria on Mah¨¦.

In 1948, the Seychelles received limited internal self-government and elections were held on the islands for the first time. However, due to the effective right to vote in the census, only around 10% of the total population were entitled to vote, mostly wealthy large landowners and whites. The right to vote based on tax revenue was abolished in 1959. In the mid-1960s, two political parties formed: the socialist Seychelles People’s United Party (SPUP), led by France-Albert Ren¨¦, and the conservative Seychelles Democratic Party (SDP) by James Mancham. While the SPUP called for the islands’ independence from the British motherland, the SDP advocated staying with the UK.

Independent state

In the first general election in 1967, the SDP prevailed against the socialist party as the strongest political force. This result was almost confirmed in the 1970 and 1974 elections. In 1975, at the urging of Britain, both parties formed a government coalition under Mancham as Prime Minister. A year later, the Seychelles became a republic within the British Commonwealth. Mancham from the SDP became President, Ren¨¦ Prime Minister and thus head of the government.

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In June 1977 there was a coup d’¨¦tat. France-Albert Ren¨¦ took over the office of President, the disempowered James Mancham went into exile in London. Ren¨¦ renamed his socialist party “Seychelles People’s Progressive Front” (SPPF) a year later and raised it to the unity party, opposition groups were banned. In terms of foreign policy, the new president sought close ties to France. In 1984, the Seychelles, along with Madagascar and Mauritius, founded the “Indian Ocean Commission” (IOC) to improve economic relations between these countries.

In 1992 opposition politician James Mancham returned from exile to the Seychelles. In response to political pressure from the main donor countries, France and Great Britain, President-in-Office Ren¨¦ agreed to democratize the country. A new constitution was drawn up, which included the multi-party system. In July 1993, elections were held in which France-Albert Ren¨¦ was confirmed as head of state and government, and his socialist SPPF won 28 of a total of 33 seats in parliament. In March 1998 Ren¨¦ and the socialists were able to assert themselves against the opposition. Early elections were held in September 2001, in which Ren¨¦ was reaffirmed as President. He resigned in April 2004 however, continued to chair the ruling socialist SPPF. His successor was longtime vice president and socialist James Alix Michel. In 2006 and 2011 it was re-elected president.

The University of Seychelles is the country’s first independent university. It was opened in September 2009.

The island nation is severely affected by climate change: it is severely threatened by rising sea levels.

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