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Seychelles

Seychelles

Seychelles officially the Republic of Seychelles is an archipelago nation of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean, some 1,500 kilometres east of mainland Africa, northeast of the island of Madagascar. Other nearby island countries and territories include Zanzibar to the west, Mauritius and Runion to the south, Comoros and Mayotte to the southwest, and the Suvadives of the Maldives to the northeast.

Background History

A lengthy struggle between France and Great Britain for the islands ended in 1814, when they were ceded to the latter. Independence came in 1976. Socialist rule was brought to a close with a new constitution and free elections in 1993. President France-Albert Rene, who had served since 1977, was re-elected in 2001, but stepped down in 2004. Vice President James Michel took over the presidency and in July 2006 was elected to a new five-year term.

Government

Country Name:

  • conventional long form: Republic of Seychelles
  • conventional short form: Seychelles

Capital:

  • name: Victoria
  • population: 28,000
  • geographic coordinates: 20 09 S, 57 29 E
  • time difference: UTC+4 (9 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Independence:

  • 29 June 1976 (from the UK)

Government Type:

  • republic

Executive Branch:

  • chief of state: President James Alix Michel (since 14 April 2004)
  • head of government: President James Alix Michel (since 14 April 2004)
  • elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (eligible for two more terms); election last held on 19-21 May 2011 (next to be held in 2016)

Legislative Branch:

  • structure: unicameral National Assembly

Judicial Branch:

  • structure: Court of Appeal; Supreme Court; judges for both courts are appointed by the president

People & Society

Population:

  • 90,024 (global rank: 196)
  • growth rate: 0.922% (global rank: 122)

Nationality:

  • noun: Seychellois (singular and plural)
  • adjective: Seychellois

Major Cities:

  • Victoria (capital) 26,000

Ethnic Groups:

  • mixed French, African, Indian, Chinese, and Arab

Religions:

  • Roman Catholic 82.3%, Protestant 7.5% (Anglican 6.4%, Seventh-Day Adventist 1.1%), other Christian 3.4%, Hindu 2.1%, Muslim 1.1%, other non-Christian 1.5%, unspecified 1.5%, none 0.6%

Languages:

  • Creole 91.8%, English (official) 4.9%, other 3.1%, unspecified 0.2%

Life Expectancy at Birth:

  • total population: 73.77 years (global rank: 114)
  • male: 69.14 years
  • female: 78.54 years

Infant Mortality:

  • total population: 11.35 deaths/1,000 live births (global rank: 136)
  • male: 14.23 deaths/1,000 live births
  • female: 8.39 deaths/1,000 live births

HIV/AIDS (2009 est.):

  • adult prevalence rate: NA
  • people living with AIDS: NA

Literacy:

  • definition: age 15 and over can read and write
  • total population: 91.8%
  • male: 91.4%
  • female: 92.3%

Economy

Since independence in 1976, per capita output in this Indian Ocean archipelago has expanded to roughly seven times the pre-independence, near-subsistence level, moving the island into the upper-middle income group of countries. Growth has been led by the tourist sector, which employs about 30% of the labor force and provides more than 70% of hard currency earnings, and by tuna fishing. In recent years, the government has encouraged foreign investment to upgrade hotels and other services. At the same time, the government has moved to reduce the dependence on tourism by promoting the development of farming, fishing, and small-scale manufacturing. The Seychelles rupee was allowed to depreciate in 2006 after being overvalued for years and fell by 10% in the first 9 months of 2007. Despite these actions, the Seychelles economy struggled to maintain its gains and in 2008 suffered from food and oil price shocks, a foreign exchange shortage, high inflation, large financing gaps, and the global recession. In July 2008 the government defaulted on a Euro amortizing note worth roughly US$80 million, leading to a downgrading of Seychelles credit rating. In an effort to obtain loans to service its debt, Seychelles in November 2008 signed a standby arrangement with the IMF that mandated floating the exchange rate, removing foreign exchange controls, cutting government spending, and tightening monetary policy. In response to Seychelles' successful implementation of these policies, the IMF upgraded Seychelles to a three-year extended fund facility (EFF) of $31 million in December 2009. In 2008, GDP fell more than 1% due to declining tourism and the initial effects of liberalization, but the economy recovered in 2010-11 after the reforms took hold and tourism increased. Seychelles is attempting to implement further structural reforms, including overhauling the tax system, reorganizing of state enterprises, and deregulating the finance and communications sectors.

Gross Domestic Product:

  • GDP (PPP): $2.244 billion (global rank: 185)
  • GDP per capita (PPP): $24,700 (global rank: 54)
  • real growth rate: 5% (global rank: 70)
  • composition by sector: agriculture: 1.9%, industry: 18.7%, services: 79.3%

Currency:

  • currency: Seychelles Ruppee (SCR)
  • exchange rate (per US Dollar): 12.26

Poverty:

  • population below poverty line: NA
  • unemployment rate: 2%

Agricultural Products:

  • coconuts, cinnamon, vanilla, sweet potatoes, cassava (tapioca), copra, bananas; poultry; tuna

Industries:

  • fishing, tourism, processing of coconuts and vanilla, coir (coconut fiber) rope, boat building, printing, furniture; beverages

Export Commodities:

  • canned tuna, frozen fish, cinnamon bark, copra, petroleum products (reexports)

Import Commodities:

  • machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, petroleum products, chemicals, other manufactured goods

Geography

Location:

  • archipelago in the Indian Ocean, northeast of Madagascar

Area:

  • total: 455 sq km (global rank: 198)
  • land: 455 sq km
  • water: 0 sq km

Climate:

  • tropical marine; humid; cooler season during southeast monsoon (late May to September); warmer season during northwest monsoon (March to May)

Land Use:

  • arable land: 2.17%
  • permanent crops: 13.04%
  • other: 84.79%

Natural Resources:

  • arable land, fish

Current Environmental Issues:

  • fish, copra, cinnamon trees

Transnational Issues

  • international disputes: Mauritius and Seychelles claim the Chagos Islands (UK-administered British Indian Ocean Territory)

For more info please contact:
African Studies
(310) 825-3686
africa@international.ucla.edu

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