With a population of over 96,000, Seychelles is an island nation located off the eastern coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean. Seychelles gained its independence from the United Kingdom in 1976, at which time the population lived at near subsistence level. It certainly does look like an oasis in a desert of sea ; for the archipelagos of the Indian Ocean cannot compare in number with those of the Pacific. Today, Seychelles’ main economic activities are tourism and fishing, and the country aspires to be a financial center.
The political domination by whites seemed unyielding, since by the 1990s the elected leadership of the majority party, and that of most of the several opposition parties, was white. Creole is the native language of 94% of the people; however, English remains the language of government and commerce.
The Seychelles comprises 115 small islands, many of them uninhabited, to the east of Kenya. The US government estimates the total population at 92,000 (July 2015 estimate). The bulk of the population (88%) lives on the main island Mahe (148 sq km), and most of the rest on Praslin (70 sq km) and smaller La Digue about 40km from Mahe. The total area is 455 sq km of land scattered over 650,000 sq km of ocean. . Independent from Great Britain since 1975, the country nevertheless is far more French after years of early French settlement and influence. Since independence, tourism has grown dramatically to become the primary industry of Seychelles, overtaking plantation agriculture. The Seychellois are descended from French planters and African or Malagasy slaves, with British, Chinese, and Indian infusions.
Seychelles has not experienced large-scale political violence since the late 1970s. Seychelles became a Republic within the Commonwealth in June 1976. Initially a coalition government led by President Mancham ruled the country. He was overthrown in a socialist coup on 5 June 1977 and was replaced by Albert Rene, his former Prime Minister. Seychelles had a centrally planned economy and, in the short term, rapid economic development. However, serious imbalances such as large deficits and mounting debts contributed to persistent foreign exchange shortages and slow growth that plagued Seychelles through the first decade of the 21st century.
President Rene ran the country as a one party state for 14 years, surviving three unsuccessful coup plots by exiled opponents involving foreign mercenaries (April 1978, November 1979 and November 1981), and a suppressed mutiny (August 1982). However stability improved during the 1980s and in December 1991, President Rene announced a surprise transition to multi-party democracy. This followed pressure for change from foreign governments and discreet contacts with exiles overseas.
The president controls the security apparatus [detials of which are a bit hazy], which includes the Seychelles People’s Defense Forces (SPDF) of just 500, a National Guard Force, the Army, the Presidential Protection Unit, the 150-person strong Coast Guard, 35 Marines, and police with 575 police officers.
The police commissioner, who reports directly to the minister for home affairs, commands the unarmed police, the armed paramilitary Police Special Support Wing, and the Marine Police Unit, which together have primary responsibility for internal security. When necessary the SPDF assisted police on matters of internal security. Security forces were effective, although impunity was a problem. Police brutality and corruption occurred, particularly the solicitation of bribes.
Military expenditures have fluctuated between 0.82% of GDP (2011) and 2.42% of GDP (2014). Military service age is 18 years of age for voluntary military service (younger with parental consent), though there is no conscription.
Medical facilities are limited, especially on the isolated islands where doctors are often unavailable. There is one main government-run hospital and several localized district clinics on the three main islands.
Bus services are infrequent on some routes, tend to be crowded during rush hours, and may require a transfer. On the islands of Mahé and Praslin, buses operate from early morning to early evening. Driving is only practical on the islands of Mahé and Praslin. Roads on both islands are narrow and wind steeply over mountains, often with sheer drops and hairpin bends. Many roads are not well-maintained.. Traffic safety is hazardous due to a lack of safety barriers and inadequate street lighting.
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