Jonathan, my 13 year old son, chose the Seychelles for his recent school project. Here's his introduction to this amazing country:
The Indian Ocean dominates the Seychelles whether we are talking about the immense drops in depth off the coast of the islands or merely the size of what seem to be little specks of islands compared to the big blue bed of water extending for thousands of miles. Very few people know about the Seychelles islands. I was among those people who had no particular idea where or even what was the Seychelles until a couple months ago when my dad announced that there would be a possibility of us going to live there for the summer to come. It was part of a student internship in Theology, as he hoped to later on become an Anglican minister. I was not so big on the fact of my dad becoming a priest but it sure paid off! It was confirmed a couple weeks later. We were going to spend two months in the Seychelles this summer living among the local people. It will be a great trip and will also end up being a totally different experience as
Les Trois Freres
The main islands of the Seychelles consist of granite formations which rise out of the ocean as mountains such as the Trois Freres which overlook Victoria on Mahe Island
we will discover the way of life in the Seychelles, a country almost directly at the opposite end of the world from Canada. Since we’re going to spend our entire summer in the Seychelles, I thought that this Research essay could be a good opportunity to discover more about this exotic destination. In this essay I’ll be talking about the history of this country, its politics and government, the local sports and activities of the Seychellois, its stunning wildlife as well as many other interesting facts about this fascinating country.
About the Islands
The Republic of Seychelles, more commonly known as “Seychelles” is what we call an archipelago, a term we use to describe a series of islands that form a country. The Seychelles are made up of 115 tropical islands located in more or less the middle of the Indian Ocean. The islands stretch out between 4Â° and 10Â° of the equator. The Seychelles holds the title for having the smallest population of any sovereign state of Africa. Having said this, the Seychelles population in 2005 was merely 80 654 habitants that we also call “Seychellois”.
Seychelles is located 1593 kilometers (960 miles) east of Kenya;
Silhouette Island, seen from Mahe
Typical granite boulders found at one end of Beau Vallon beach
2813 kilometers (1690 miles) south west of India and 925 kilometers (560 miles) north-east of Madagascar. Among the hundreds of islands that consists the Seychelles, 40 are of volcanic formation with the rest made from coral. The main islands in the Seychelles where most people live are Praslin, Mahe and La Digue, all originated from volcanic action. These granite islands have hilly landscapes that contain mountains reaching 950m of altitude however the coral based islands are more or less flat and don’t have fresh water. The capital, Victoria is located on the main island, Mahe. Believe it or not but out of all the islands, only 33 of them are actually populated.
In the Seychelles, the seasons are divided in what the people call “monsoons”. The south-east Monsoon between May and September happens to be cooler and averages a daily high of 24 degrees Celsius however the north-west monsoon from March to May is warmer and days can get very hot averaging a temperature of 30 degrees! The Seychelles climate is one of tropic standards: hot and humid but breezy. The annual rainfall average is 2,880 millimeters at sea level and 3,550 millimeters on slopes. The Year
round average in temperature is 28 degrees making the Seychelles one hot destination for tourists and of course the local Seychellois.
The Seychelles were first discovered by Britain in 1609 and it became a favorite pirate destination. Later on in 1770 the French took possession of the islands as they settled in St.Anne Island. During this extended period of time the Seychelles main purpose was as a transit point for African slaves. Among the slaves being exported, some stayed within the island to work on plantations. Being well isolated by the ocean, the Islands were also being used as what is referred to as an exile colony that was used by the French at the time and later by the British for those people they wished to get rid of.
In the years that followed, the French and the British went back and forth exchanging the control over the colony. Finally in 1811 the British secured their control over the islands and in 1903, it was made official. The Seychelles were now a separate British colony. Later on that century on the 29th of June 1976, the Seychelles achieved its full independence from Britain and officially became the Republic of Seychelles.
Politics and Government
Between 1978 and 1993 the country was governed under what we call a single-party socialist system. However this changed when President Rene constitutionally changed the system to a free multi-party election. Nowadays, the Republic of Seychelles is an Independent Democracy with its own constitution that holds free multi-party elections.
The major political parties of the Seychelles are:
• The Democratic Party (DP), James Mancham, Daniel Belle
• Seychelles National Party (SNP), Wavel Ramkalawan
• Seychelles People's Progressive Front (SPPF), France Albert Rene, James Michel
The first president of the Seychelles, James Mancham was later on overthrown by President Rene of the SPPF party in 1977. After a lengthly 27 years in power Rene stepped down on April 24th 2004 to leave his place to his Vice-President James Michel who became the third President of the Seychelles. The last election was in July 06, Michel won the election with a total of 53.7% of the votes. Ever since President Mancham was overthrown the SPPF has held a clear majority over the elections.
When we talk about the Seychellois, we are referring to the local people of the country. The current Seychellois are in fact immigrants descended from France, India, Africa and China. Having said this you may wonder what the actual language used for communication in the Seychelles is. The truth is that the official languages of the country are English, French and Creole. Creole is a French-based language that is mixed together with African. The challenge as I go to the Seychelles will be to learn this language that may seem kind of weird at first. Let me give you a few examples of how funny this may sound to us Canadians but is perfectly normal to the Seychellois.
Creole: Nou tou bezwen travay ansamn pou kree nou lavenir.
French: Nous tous avons besoin de travailler ensemble Ã crÃ©er notre avenir.
English: We have to work together to create our future.
As you can see Creole resembles French a fair bit but surprisingly enough, less than 1% of the population speaks French as a first language while 94% of Seychellois’ mother tongue is Creole. The trick will be to not mix these two languages up once I return to Canada because it will be quite something if I were to say “mon soif” every time I was thirsty! Creole is a language that is based almost entirely on French vocabulary but has words thrown in from diverse languages such as Malagasy, Bantu, Hindi and English.
The local people are very active with diving, sailing, windsurfing and other aquatic sports however the Seychelles only have two sports in which they compete. One is football, known in America as soccer, and the other is athletics (long jump).
In the Seychelles everyone is a fisherman. It is the countries main exploitation along with other major industries such as tourism, coconut processing, vanilla processing, making rope from coconut fiber, boat building, printing, furniture and beverages . As we go live in the Seychelles it would be a smart to make friends with the local fishermen to save us a few rupees, the countries national monetary unit. An American dollar equals 6.1 rupees.
First of all, I would like to take this opportunity to put the Seychelles size in perspective. Picture this…The Seychelles consist of 115 islands which 87% of the overall population live on one island, Mahe. Mahe is an island that stretches out over 155km2 (32km x 8km). Roman Catholic is the dominant religion in the country and is practiced by 90% of the people there. Another 7% of the population is Anglican which is almost literally the same as Catholic. Finally there’s a small 2% that have completely different religious beliefs such as Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam. Along with Seychellois spiritual beliefs, they also tend to believe in other things such as magic, witchcraft and sorcery even though it is disapproved by civil authority. It is common to consult a local seer (known as a bonhomme de bois or a bonne femme de bois) for fortune-telling or to obtain protective amulets or charms, called gris-gris, to bring harm to enemies.
The Main Island
The main island, Mahe is home to nearly 90% of the Seychelles overall population (80,000). The capital Victoria is located on the North east part of the island where the government is established along with the country main commerce point. Mahe’s main tourist attraction is Beau Vallon located on the west coast of the island opposite Victoria. Within Beau Vallon we can find good bathing beaches, windsurfing, parasailing and waterskiing, only a few of the Island’s aquatic sports. Mahe is not only known for its beautiful beaches but also for its hilly landscape and spectacular mountains. Mahe’s tallest peak is “Morne Seychellois” at an altitude of 905m which lies in the Morne Seychellois national park. Mahe is also home to the international airport which opened in 1971.
Flora and Fauna
When people talk about the beauties of the Seychelles much is based on the outstanding wildlife that the Seychelles are home to. Being a new country, these tropical islands haven’t been disturbed by humans for many centuries making the Seychelles a sanctuary for many rare species of plants and birds. There are exactly 81 species of plants found in the Seychelles that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. For example the coco de-Mer coconut is but one of the Seychelles unique vegetation and is the world’s heaviest seed in the vegetable kingdom weighing up to 40lbs. There are also other strange plants native to the Seychelles such as the Bois Meduse that was so weird scientists had to create a new class of plants to contain such a thing! The tropical forest’s of The Seychelles are also home to the jellyfish tree, the carnivorous Pitcher plant and a lot of other unique species of orchids. All these plants share one characteristic and that is that they cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
The Seychelles is a true paradise for bird watchers. There are many rare and endangered birds in the Seychelles such as 30 pairs of Paradise Fly Catchers that can be found on La Digue, and on Praslin we can find the unique black parrot and many other rare tropical birds. It is not for nothing we call it Bird Island. It was named after the huge population of tropical birds that infests the island.
From the smallest frog to the world’s largest tortoise, the Seychelles is home to many exotic species of animal native to the country. The most famous animal in the country would probably be the giant tortoise. The turtles are originally native to Bird Island but nowadays they populate many of the islands. The world’s heaviest turtle was recorded in the Seychelles; he was 304 kilos and was aged of 204 years which is even older than Harriet, Charles Darwin’s turtle who died at the age of 175. Tragically most of these tortoises are disappearing as the country’s population soars upwards. There are many sharks in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean but on land, there are no reptiles or mammals that present an actual threat towards the safety of humans.
Out of all the wildlife nothing beats out its outstanding marine life. The coral reefs that contour the many islands of the Seychelles are not only around the islands made up of coral but after a million years sitting in the ocean, even some of the granite islands have accumulated a ring of coral around its shores. Over 1000 species of fish have been recorded around the islands. Since the use of dynamites has been prohibited in the ocean in the 1960s the marine life has been unafraid of divers. Efforts are being made to conserve this astonishing beauty for divers alike like banning shark fin hunting and coral bleaching.
With all this new information in mind that I have learnt throughout the process of completing this research essay I think that I’m better prepared to affront this new country than I would ever have hoped to be! I have discovered so much about this amazing place and hopefully by the time you will have read through my essay you will know as much as me about this foreign country. Many things about this exotic destination are quite fascinating especially its wildlife and landscape that I have yet to see with my own eyes. This country is quite unique for it is one of the few places that human population is new within the past couple of centuries. Having said this, the islands hold incredible wildlife and nature for it has not yet been contaminated by artificial activity but as the population grows and more and more of the tropical islands open up to industrialization we are putting these rare species at risk. We have to make an effort in helping to preserve what makes the Seychelles such a hot destination.
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