Cruising to the Seychelles

Background

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. The most recent presidential elections were held in 2001; President RENE, who had served since 1977, was re-elected. In April 2004 RENE stepped down and Vice President James MICHEL was sworn in as president.

Geography

Location: archipelago in the Indian Ocean, northeast of Madagascar
Geographic coordinates: 4 35 S, 55 40 E
Map references: Africa
Area: total: 455 sq km

Coastline

491 km

Maritime claims

Territorial sea: 12 nm
Contiguous zone: 24 nm
Exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin

Climate

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

Terrain

Mahe Group is granitic, narrow coastal strip, rocky, hilly; others are coral, flat, elevated reefs

Elevation extremes

Lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
Highest point: Morne Seychellois 905 m

Economy

Since independence in 1976, per capita output in this Indian Ocean archipelago has expanded to roughly seven times the old near-subsistence level. 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 in order 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. Sharp drops illustrated the vulnerability of the tourist sector in 1991-92 due largely to the Gulf War, and once again following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the US.

Growth slowed in 1998-2002, and fell in 2003, due to sluggish tourist and tuna sectors, but resumed in 2004, erasing a persistent budget deficit. Growth turned negative again in 2005. Tight controls on exchange rates and the scarcity of foreign exchange have impaired short-term economic prospects.

The black-market value of the Seychelles rupee is half the official exchange rate; without a devaluation of the currency, the tourist sector may remain sluggish as vacationers seek cheaper destinations such as Comoros, Mauritius, and Madagascar.

Transportation

Airports: 15 (2005)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 8
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 7
Roadways: total: 280 km

Merchant marine

Total: 5 ships (1000 GRT or over) 69,777 GRT/112,464 DWT
By type: cargo 1, chemical tanker 4
Foreign-owned: 3 (Cyprus 1, Nigeria 1, South Africa 1) (2005)

Sailing Specifics: Ports and terminals

Victoria

Disputes

Together with Mauritius, Seychelles claims the Chagos Archipelago (UK-administered British Indian Ocean Territory)

Other Sailing Destinations in the Region

Bahrain - Christmas Islands - Cocos Keeling - Comoros - Djibouti - Eritrea - India - Jordan - Kenya - Kuwait - Madagascar - Maldives - Mauritius - Mayotte - Mozambique - Oman - Pakistan - Qatar - Reunion Island - Saudi Arabia - Seychelles - Somalia - Sri Lanka - Sudan - Tanzania - United Arab Emirates - Yemen

Further Reading

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