Situated just below the Equator, the Seychelles can be compared to the Garden of Eden, filled with fragrant and intoxicating scents. A magical archipelago of sparkling coral reefs, the islands, often uninhabited, are surrounded by powder-white beaches of finest sand.
I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination!
Islands & Geography
Seychelles is an archipelago of islands located in the Indian Ocean, between latitudes 4° and 11° S and longitudes 46° and 56° E (GPS coordinates of Seychelles – Latitude: -4.6839 & Longitude: 55.4495), comprising of 115 islands, where 42 are designated as granitic islands and 73 as coral islands.
As island country, it’s nearest foreign mainland country is Madagascar, being apart some 1100 km (700 miles), Somalia, some 1350 km (835 miles) and Kenya being 1600 km (1000 miles) away.
The distance from the Seychelles to the Maldives in the east (it’s biggest competitor when it comes to tourism), is approximately 2140 km (1330 miles).
Seychelles has a tropical climate: warm and very humid with strong maritime influences.
A constant 26–32 degrees Celsius (79-90 Fahrenheit) throughout the year, and even though there is no distinct dry or wet season, probability of heavy showers is higher between November and February. Even if you are caught outside during rain, you would experience it as nice warm shower. High winds and thunderstorms are rare as unlike neighboring Mauritius, the Seychelles islands are situated outside of the cyclonic belt.
Trade winds blow in from the south-east from May to September, making the islands cooler and drier.
The recorded history of Seychelles dates back to the 4th Portuguese India Armada led by Vasco da Gama, though it was likely already known to Arab navigators for many centuries. On 15 March 1503, a notary Thomé Lopes noted the sighting of an elevated island, most certainly Silhouette Island.
First ever recorded landing on Seychelles Islands was by the men of the “English East India Company” ship “Ascension”, which arrived in Seychelles in January 1609. The islands were first claimed by France in 1756, but remained uninhabited until the first settlers arrived on board French ship “Thélemaque”, which arrived on 27 August 1770 and landed first 22 colonists. The name “Seychelles” derives from the Vicomte des Séchelles, Louis XV’s finance minister.
Culture, Society & Religion
Seychelles is a country rich in religious and social tradition born from a confluence of cultures that echo origins in Africa, Asia and even South America, with a love for harmony in society.
Seychellois exhibit a true melting pot of different races. The women are said to be French enough to have beautiful curves, Asian enough to be exotic, English enough to have impeccable manners and African enough to have rhythm and black magic in them!
Seychellois people, in general, are characterized by their laid-back, easy-go-lucky, or I would say, #chill attitude.
When it comes to religion, more than 80 percent of the Seychellois population is Roman Catholic and nearly 6% are Anglican, so Sunday masses are well attended.
Music & Dance
The music and dance that evolved in Seychelles reflects its melting pot of cultures.
There are three types of music with a dance that are commonly associated with Seychelles – the moutia, sega, and contredanse.
African rhythms are apparent in both the moutia and séga dances.
Even though traditional Creole architecture homes are now being replaced through progress or advancement and although they are fewer in numbers, many, with their intricate roof structures are still standing today.
Plantation estates were built around cinnamon, coconut, and vanilla industries. The traditional plantation estate focused on a courtyard with an owner’s or manager’s house, (the kitchen was usually separate from the house) the kalorife (drying oven for copra), and storage houses.
Typical town houses had a general Victorian form, but with its roofs and walls made of corrugated iron sheets.
The variety of Creole cuisine is evidence of the diverse mix of culture and races found in Seychelles. Local Creole cuisine is a fusion of French, Indian and Oriental influences, and the chief characteristic is the blending of spices.
Seychellois cuisine is marked particularly by the delicious flavors of ‘pomme d’amour’ (Tomatoes), ‘zonyons’ (Onions), gusto vanilla, ‘zenzam’ (Ginger), ‘lay’ (Garlic) and ‘piman’ (Chillies). The influence of Indian culinary roots are seen in the ‘cari’ (Curry), ‘chatini’ (Chutney) and ‘achar’ (Pickles), which are must-have accompaniments with almost all the mouthwatering delicacies on the islands.
Flora & Fauna
The millions of years of isolation before man came to the Seychelles, enabled a unique assembly of plants and animals to develop on these tiny fragments of land. It was General Gordon (of Khartoum fame) who was first convinced that the Vallée de Mai on Praslin was the original site of the Garden of Eden.
With variety of plants, animals, birds and marine life, the archipelago proudly boasts of its Aldabra tortoises, Coco de Mer (sea coconut, endemic to the islands of Praslin and Curieuse), Seychelles black parrot and shoals of colorful fish, thanks to its tranquil and unspoiled nature for thousands of years before the setup of human civilization.
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