Have you ever wondered about the meaning for the name of the country Seychelles? Somehow to me, it has always felt like it should be a derivative of ‘sea shells’, especially given that it is an island country located in the middle of the Indian ocean. I picture sandy beaches, blue waters, coconuts, and then ‘sea shells‘ seems like a perfect name for such a beautiful place. How far am I from the truth?
Well, it turns out that the Seychelles islands were named after Jean Moreau de Séchelles, Louis XV‘s Minister of Finance, in 1756 when the French set a Stone of Possession on the islands Mahé. Before then, it was a transit point for trade between Africa and Asia. The first visitors to the island were probably Arab traders, but the earliest recorded sighting by Europeans took place in 1502 by the Portuguese Admiral Vasco da Gama, who passed through the Amirantes and named them after himself (islands of the Admiral). The earliest recorded landing was in January 1609, by the crew of the “Ascension” under Captain Alexander Sharpeigh during the fourth voyage of the British East India Company.
The islands went under British control in 1814 after the Napoleonic wars. Seychelles became a crown colony separate from Mauritius in 1903. In 1976, Seychelles became independent from the United Kingdom as a republic within the Commonwealth.
Seychelles is located in the Indian Ocean, northeast of Madagascar and about 1,600 km (994 mi) east of Kenya. The capital of the 115–island country, Victoria, lies 1,500 km (932 mi) east of mainland East Africa. The majority of its islands are uninhabited with many dedicated as nature reserves. With a population of roughly 94,228, it has the smallest population of any sovereign African country. Its population is a melting pot of African, French, Indian, and Chinese, where the largest group is of African descent. The food and music duly reflect this fusion of cultures.
After proclamation of independence from the United Kingdom in 1976, Seychelles has developed from a largely agricultural society (main exports were cinnamon, vanilla, and copra) to a market-based diversified economy, with agriculture being supplanted by rapidly rising service and public sectors as well as tourism. Seychelles is among the world’s leading countries to protect lands for threatened species, allocating 42% of its territory for conservation. Seychelles today is known for success stories in protecting its flora and fauna.
Thus, if you visit Seychelles today, be amazed by its ‘sea shells’, sandy beaches, beautiful fauna, and flora. Enjoy!