The Republic of Seychelles consists of 115 small islands. The archipelago is situated in the Indian Ocean, close to the eastern end of the Somali Sea. Victoria is the biggest city and the nation’s capital, lying east of Africa. It is one of the most sparsely populated nations in the world.
The country was a wilderness before the 16th century until the Europeans discovered it. A prolonged skirmish between the British and the French ended in the 18th century when Seychelles came under the control of the British Colonial Empire.
The country gained its independence in 1976, and since then, it has grown from an agricultural economy to a market-based economy with diverse sectors. The service sector, public sector and tourism contribute the most to the economy. The government is also trying to encourage foreign investment in the country.
Nonetheless, it has seen much development and ranks second after Mauritius in the Human Development Index of any African country.
The levels of corruption are low, and the government has taken significant steps to boost economic growth and development. The nation was marked by plantations in the colonial era, and the principal exports were cinnamon, copra and vanilla. During that period, about 34% of the population worked in plantations, and 21% worked for the government.
After independence, the per capita output increased, and growth was led by tourism which currently employs over 30% of the citizens. Those employed in agriculture have come down to 3% only. Despite the expansion in the services and telecommunications sector, farming and fishing employ several people, and so do factories processing and packaging vanilla and coconuts for export. Apart from these, processed fish and no-fillet fish are also exported.
Owing to the country’s geographical location and scenic beauty, the government decided to invest in developing the tourism sector. Hence, there was an increase in hotel development in the 1970s and 1980s. Many famous ones like the Bougainville Hotel and the Coral Strand Smart Choice opened during this time.
In recent years, many private businesses have also entered real estate projects and are transforming properties. However, the tourist industry is quite volatile, a fact realised by the government after the impact of the Gulf War was felt in the late 1990s.
Hence, the government has decreased its dependence solely on tourism and is engaged in promoting new farming techniques, fishing, manufacturing, and developing a stable offshore financial sector.
The country is not rich in natural resources, particularly oil and natural gas. Though many multinational companies explored the nearby waters, nothing was found. The island nation imports oil from the Middle East, mainly Kuwait and Bahrain.
It imports more oil and petroleum derivatives than needed, as the rest is used as a bunker for vessels and aeroplanes arriving at Mahe. The islands do not have any refining plants, and so the distribution and re-export of the energy resources are done by Seychelles Petroleum.
Ports in Seychelles
The island has one major cargo port, the port of Victoria. There are also small pleasure ports serving inter-island ferries and passenger’s vessels.
The Seychelles Port Authority was founded in 2004 to manage the country’s ports. It adopted a business-oriented approach for the better management of all shipping activities. SPA acts as a landlord authority and is responsible for modernising and upgrading all domestic and international port infrastructure and also for ensuring the safety and security of all ports and terminals.
Port of Victoria is the only Industrial Fishing, Cruise and Super Yachts port destination in the southwestern Indian Ocean. It is an active member of the Association of Ports of the Indian Ocean. It works to engage the private sector and other ports in the region for the development of port-related activities.
It is located on the northeastern coast of Mahe, the biggest island of the Seychelles archipelago. It spans over 157 square kilometres and has a population of around 80,000. The island has beautiful natural gardens and tall mountain peaks, while the surrounding waters have coral reefs, perfect for diving and snorkelling.
The port has an open roadstead and an inner harbour sheltered by a chain of island and coral reef formations. The port has two berths for handling cargo.
About 800 vessels visit Victoria port annually. The imports include 200,000 tons of conventional cargo, 35,000 tons of bulk cement and 17,000 tons of oil. Around 15,000 tons of general cargo and other miscellaneous goods are exported from this facility.
It also tranships roughly 70,000 tons of fish every year. Other products like guano, vanilla, coconut oil, raw coconuts, tortoiseshell and vanilla are also exported.
A new pier is being constructed on the island of Praslin, about 40 kilometres northeast of Mahe, for accomodating tourist ships, general cargo and petroleum goods.
Cruise ships visiting the island dock at Victoria port cruise terminal. It is the region’s deepest harbour, situated on the island’s northeastern coast. The cruise terminal is just a 20-minute away from the main city. Tourists can walk and rent a cab or a bike. The Seychelles International Airport is also close to the cruise terminal.
Although Creole is the official language, French and English are spoken and understood by the locals. The cruising season is all year-round, and though the cruise terminal is not fully modern, it offers basic amenities.
The island has 68 picturesque white sand beaches, two close to the cruise terminal. The most famous is Beau Vallon Beach. The Natural History Museum is a must-visit to take a peak into the nation’s history. It also has some interesting displays and sculptures of extinct water creatures and a shipwreck dating to the 1500s.
One can also visit the historic courthouse and the Kaz Zanana, the residence of a famous artist, George Camille, which is an architectural masterpiece.
The Botanical garden covers more than 15 acres of land area. It is on the island’s southern side, lined with orchids, native trees and flowers. One can see giant tortoises here. The Morne Seychellois National Park is close to this place.
The Seychelles Tea and Coffee Company is situated at the top of a mountain. Visitors can see their exciting coffee production process here.
It is a tiny coastal village on the northwest shores of Mahe, close to the Port Launay National Park. It has a beautiful and calm beach and breathtaking views. The region has small natural lagoons that allow visitors to enjoy swimming and snorkelling.
When there is a low tide, the shallow waters allow the people to cross over to L’Islette island on foot. The peaceful and enchanting environs make it one of the ideal places for romantic couples.
The port is easily accessible to all tourists. Those visiting from nearby islands can come via boat, while others can arrive through the coastal road via taxis or buses. The beach has rocks, so that it might be a little dangerous for small children.
However, it has many seafood restaurants selling a variety of local dishes. It also has many local shops selling bead jewellery and souvenirs, a supermarket and the famous Deplace Restaurant.
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Zahra is an alumna of Miranda House, University of Delhi. She is an avid writer, possessing immaculate research and editing skills. Author of several academic papers, she has also worked as a freelance writer, producing many technical, creative and marketing pieces. A true aesthete at heart, she loves books a little more than anything else.