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The Seychelles are the only ocean island chain made of granite, a rock usually reserved for continents. This is because they were originally a part of the ancient continent of Gondwanaland. When this split into South America, India and Africa, primordial Africa and India began floating towards their current positions through what is now the Indian Ocean. First Madagascar split off of India close to Africa, then the Seychelles, almost in the middle of the Indian Ocean. This origin is also why these islands posses many species of plants and animals which could not have travelled there by sea, such as the pitcher plant and the coco-de-mer.

Although the Seychelles were uninhabited until about 200 years ago, it is thought that they were visited by Arab, Phoenecian, and Indian sailors for quite some time before that. The first recorded sighting, though, is in the 16th century by Vasco da Gama of Portugal. He named them the Amarantes, after himself (how exactly Amarantes is related to Vasco da Gama, I don't know. If you do, please tell me via /msg.). A British East India Company ship made landfall in 1609, and a lot of pirates hung out there after that. The governor of Mauritius, Mahé de La Bourdonnais, sent an expedition to the islands in 1742 and the captain named the main island Mahé after him. Some French planters claimed Mahé and seven other islands for their homeland in 1756, renaming them the Seychelles after the French king's accountant, Vicomte Moreau de Séchelles. They didn't actually move there until 1770, when they began to grow sugar cane, sweet potatoes, maize, coffee, cassava, and spices. They also harvested giant tortoises.

The British sailed by the islands 12 times during the 18th century, prompting the islands' governor to lower the French flag until they went by, preemptively surrendering in order to avoid attack. As a result of the Napoleonic wars, the Seychelles were finally ceded to Britain in 1814. The British resettled it with civilians who had had experience farming in India and placed the archipelago under the administration of Mauritius. The French culture lived on, although the British did increase the number of slaves on the islands. After that, nothing really happened politically for about 150 years, allowing a distinct language and culture to arise.

The Seychelles were granted Crown Colony status in 1903 and gained full independence in 1976. Political parties were first formed in 1964, with Albert René heading the Seychelles People's United Party and James Mancham heading the Seychelles Democratic Party. The latter was seen as the party of the economically dominant class, and it won the 1966 and 1970 elections. Tourism had by this time become a major industry, employing a full third of the working population. The first president after independence, James Mancham, believed that tourism offered the best economic hope for the islands and tried to steer the country in that direction.

He didn't have much time to do so, however, as the Seychelles People's United Party staged an armed coup as he attended the 1977 Commonwealth Conference. The party's leader, then-prime minister Albert René, took power in the name of the working class and held it through the 1980's, surviving several foreign-sponsored attempts to topple him. For instance, some South Africans tried to invade the country but were revealed at the airport, where they shot two people and hijacked a plane home. He shipped in North Korean and Tanzanian soldiers to cement his rule. The state became increasingly authoritarian and the SPUP dominated politics, outlawing the other parties in 1981, forcing them to set up resistance movements in Australia, Britain and South Africa.

The tourist trade dried up under the political conditions, and France and Britain refused the Seychelles aid money unless they introduced multi-party politics, which they did in 1991. Albert René himself announced it to the renamed Seychelles People's Party congress by saying that presidential elections for a five year term would be held in 1992. James Mancham returned to the islands to head the Democratic Party. Many other parties were introduced, such as the People's Progressive Party (again renamed, this time from Seychelles People's Party), the Democratic Party, the Liberal Party and the Parti Seselwa. They all competed for seats on the constitutional commission, but the People's Progressive Party won most of them. When the presidential elections were held, though, the two main contenders were James Mancham and Albert René. René came out the victor. The PPP (Albert René's party) retained most of their seats in the legislature as well. In spite of this, the government did try to take steps to liberalize the economy, attracting overseas investment and whatnot.

In early 1995, the Democratic Party suffered from internal tensions to the extent that the only directly elected member of the legislature was dismissed from office. His name was Christopher Gill, and he promptly started a New Democratic Party. An amalgamation of groups, headed by Parti Seselwa leader Wavel Ramkalawan and calling themselves the United Opposition, also formed at this time. Things got pretty tense there for a while.

In 1998, Albert René again held presidential elections. He again won, this time with a full two thirds of the vote. The ruling party also carried 30 out of 34 seats in the National Assembly, with the United Opposition taking three seats and the Democratic Party one. Mancham dropped out of active political life after the election. Not too much has happened since then, although the Seychelles have announced their intention to establish a diplomatic mission to Malaysia.

Sources: http://www.virgin.net/travel/guides/africa/seychelles/historyandgovernment.htm

Did I miss something or screw up outright? Well, for God's sake, man, tell me about it! Just /msg sludgeeel.

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