Seychelles’ destiny - and extraordinary good fortune - was
to be discovered, in historical terms, comparatively recently.
It was just over 200 years ago that settlers first set foot on
these verdant isles to find them teeming with a kaleidoscope of
life forms - vast colonies of land and sea birds, giant tortoises
and flying foxes (giant fruit bats)- that had existed, unmolested
and in splendid isolation, for millions of years.
A name synonymous with the world’s most beautiful islands,
each one a gemstone set in the perfect azure of the Indian Ocean,
today the Seychelles archipelago is home to no less than two UNESCO
World Heritage Sites and is also a sanctuary
for myriad natural treasures that together have earned it the
reputation as the ‘Galapagos of the Indian Ocean’.
Located between 6 and 10 degrees south of the equator amid 1,300,00
square kilometres of sparkling ocean, these 115 secluded islands
with a total population of merely 81,000 that still bask in the
original beauty of their island home. The islands of the Seychelles
have to be counted among the best kept secrets on earth and, without
doubt, rank among the safest and purest destinations anywhere.
Seychelles: the world’s smallest micro-continent?
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. They represent the mountain
peaks of the ancient super-continent of Pangea that once encompassed
the total landmass of a young, evolving planet and are thought
to have erupted from the earth’s core some 750 million years
Around 200 million years ago, the forces determining continental
drift split Pangea into Laurasia (modern Europe, Asia and North
America) and Gondwanaland (South America, Africa, Antarctica,
Australasia and India). 75 million years later Madagascar, Seychelles
and India separated as one landmass, carrying with them certain
species of fauna, such as the flying fox, that remain common to
both locations, before Seychelles finally split from India about
65 million years ago.
North Island, and its close neighbour Silhouette, contain the
only evidence of volcanic ash found above sea level in Seychelles,
are both granitic islands but thought to be considerably younger
than Mahé, Praslin and La Digue, their syenite formation
probably dating 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 thousand, years.
Seychelles purity positioning
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
as 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
Respect for other crucial factors such as the preservation of
the social values of local communities as well as the fragile
and prolific bio-diversity eco-systems such as coral reefs and
mangroves remain very much at the heart of planning initiatives.
Seychelles takes its role of 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 and also 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
This impressive national heritage that has remained virtually
untouched for millions of years, 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.
Racially harmonious and politically stable, Seychelles is one
of the last true sanctuaries on the planet where man can still
live healthily and in harmony with nature, benefiting from a carefree,
island-style way of living and enjoying the space to breathe pure
air and to roam free.
Reefs and Coral
Seychelles is a prime diving location located at the northern
bank of the submerged Mascarene Plateau, a submerged volcanic
ridge stretching from Seychelles to Mauritius.
Covering an area of 115,000 square kilometres with depths ranging
from eight to 150 metres, it is more extensive than even Australia’s
Great Barrier Reef and is at present the focus of a study by the
Shoals of Capricorn, a research programme sponsored by the Royal
Geographical Society and the Institute of British Geographers.
As corals tend to be extremely slow-growing organisms- some as
old as 10,000 years – supporting large numbers of fish and
other marine flora and fauna within a balanced and harmonious
environment, the phenomenon of coral bleaching that has taken
place periodically since the 1980’s has been a cause of
much global concern.
Starving the corals of their ability to photosynthesise, high
sea temperatures in 1998 affected corals in the shallow waters
close to the equator and had an impact on corals in Seychelles
and other areas of the Mascarene Plateau but these are now regenerating.
Seychelles has three official national languages; Creole, English
and French with German and Italian also widely spoken. Creole,
derived from old French with some additional loan words from Africa
and Madagascar, is now a written as well as a spoken language,
a fact that has contributed much to the development of the Creole
Seychelles location 6 degrees below the equator, results in a
warm, tropical climate throughout the year. Seychelles lies outside
the cyclone belt, making for an equitable year-round climate with
the hightest average monthly temperature seldom going above 32
degrees C and seldom going below 27 degrees C on average. The
trade winds that early Arab traders used to travel the length
of the east African coast are still a dominant climatic feature
with the cool, dry southeast trade winds blowing from May to September
and the wetter, north west trades from December to March. December
and January are usually the wettest months with around 300 mm
of rain being recorded on average.
Seychelles is easily accessible by air with Air Seychelles, the
national carrier, flying from Johannesburg, Nairobi, London and
other European, Middle and Far Eastern capitals. Seychelles maintains
tourist offices in France, Germany, Italy, Kenya, Sweden, South
Africa, Spain and the United Kingdom. British Airways, Air France
and other good airlines also fly to the Seychelles.
Deep sea fishing
Saltwater fly fishing
Relaxing on the beach
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