Seychelles remained uninhabited throughout much of recorded history. Many historians believe that the reason for this was simply that trade winds did not blow in the direction of the islands meaning sailors and explorers were less likely to stumble upon the nation, rendering it undiscovered. Some believe that Malay people settled for a short time between 200-300AD and there is recorded evidence to suggest that Arab merchants knew of the existence of islands beyond Maldives which they called the Tall Islands in the 9th century. However, it would not be until the 16th century that Europeans would make contact.
At the beginning of the 16th century, a Portuguese explorer Vasco de Gama was crossing from India to Africa when he spotted a group of coral islands. He named the group of islands Les Amirantes (Admiral Islands) after himself. The Portuguese continued to map the area and named the granite islands the Seven Sisters. The 17th century witnessed the English East India Company anchor in the harbour of North Island. The British ventured onto the islands and explored, however, they made no attempt to settle. With no colonisation interests in Seychelles, the only visitors for the next century and a half were pirates.
The French East India Company sent explorers to map the main island of Mahé after they had successfully settled Mauritius. During the Seven Years' War, the French returned to Seychelles to claim the islands officially. Mahé was renamed Isle de Séchelles after France’s minister of finance. As time passed, the name was Anglicised to Seychelles and was applied to the whole archipelago. The first concerted settlement efforts were carried out in 1770. In 1790, after the French Revolution, the colonists who lived in Seychelles declared their independence first from Mauritius and then from France and remained independent for the next twenty years.
It was during the beginning of the 19th century that Britain took an interest in the islands and in 1811, Britain completely took over the islands. Slavery was still legal in Britain at this time, however, slave trading was illegal. Despite this, many rich colonists supported the ships carrying slaves that were docked in Seychelles’ harbours. These people clashed with the British, forcing many wealthy slave owners to emigrate away from the islands. Within a decade, Seychelles had lost almost half of its population. A British policy was observed in Seychelles which involved raiding Arab ships that were suspected of carrying human cargo. Those slaves on board were freed and between 1861-1874, around 2,500 men, women and children were resettled in Seychelles.
By 1903, the island nation had become an official British Crown Colony. However, the British did not pay much attention to the goings on in Seychelles and as such, much of the previous French language and culture was maintained. Towards the beginning of the Second World War, the people of Seychelles desired home rule. The first political party was formed by wealthy landowners in 1939. It wasn’t until the 1960s that a political party representing the needs of non-landowners was established. In 1964, the Seychelles People’s United Party was formed, wanting socialism and independence. Independence was granted on 29 June 1976 and James Mancham, the leader of the Seychelle’s Democratic Party, became the first president.
For the most part, Seychelles has remained a relatively isolated island paradise. This isolation has allowed a unique and interesting culture to develop. Some of the world’s most natural and unspoiled landscapes are available throughout Seychelles. Considered by many to be merely a honeymoon destination, Seychelles offers much more. Beautiful beaches, diverse and unique wildlife and a laid-back lifestyle await visitors who venture to this island wonderland.
Seychelles Travel Information
At Goway we believe that a well-informed traveller is a safer traveller. With this in mind, we have compiled an easy-to-navigate travel information section dedicated to Seychelles.
Learn about the history and culture of Seychelles, the must-try food and drink, and what to pack in your suitcase. Read about Seychelles's nature and wildlife, weather and geography, along with 'Country Quickfacts' compiled by our travel experts. Our globetrotting tips, as well as our visa and health information, will help ensure you're properly prepared for a safe and enjoyable trip. The only way you could possibly learn more is by embarking on your journey and discovering Seychelles for yourself. Start exploring… book one of our Seychelles vacations today!
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