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The Republic of Seychelles consists of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean, more than 900 miles from continental East Africa. Its nearest neighbor is Madagascar, more than a thousand miles to the southwest.

Although the Seychelles islands perhaps the oldest islands on the planet, they were uninhabited when discovered by an English crew in 1609. The islands had been visited prior to that time because some tombs were found on the main island, but it is not believed that they were inhabited for any length of time until the mid-1700s.

The islands were visited from time to time by pirates until the French claimed possession in 1756. While France was at war with Britain, from 1794 to 1810, the British controlled the islands, meeting with no resistance from the French administrator. The British administered the islands from Mauritius until 1903, when Seychelles became a Crown Colony.

Seychelles became independent in 1976, but the country's first elected president was deposed in a coup the following year, and the country was ruled as a one-party state until 1991, during which there were a series of attempted coups. In 1991, Seychelles returned to a multi-party system. There have been no attempted coups since 1986, and elections have been peaceful.

Seychelles is a presidential republic, in which an elected president is head of state and head of government.

When Britain took control of Seychelles during the Napoleonic Wars, the French who owned land were allowed to remain on their land under a negotiated truce. The French had slaves on the land, and when the British outlawed slavery in 1835, African workers still came to the islands for work. The British also used indentured servants from India, resulting in an Indian population on the island. Over the years, the different people and cultures were joined as the differing groups intermarried, resulting in a multiracial population on the islands today.

French, English, and Seychellois Creole are the official languages of Seychelles. Seychellois is based in French, but with a blend of English. Most Seychellois are Christian, Roman Catholic being the dominant denomination. Hinduism and Islam are minority religions.

Until the mid-1800s, there were few opportunities for formal education on the islands. Catholic and Anglican schools were opened in 1851, and the Catholic Church later opened a secondary school. A teacher training college was established in 1959, after which several new schools were opened. A formal public school educational system didn't begin until the 1980s, and grades one through nine are now compulsory.

The islands that make up Seychelles are widely dispersed. They Seychelles islands can be divided into five groups: Granitic Seychelles, the Amirantes Group, the Farquhar Group, and the Aldabra Group.

The granitic island group are made of the same stuff that continents are made from. While most ocean islands originate from coral or volcanic rock, which grew from the ocean. There are forty-five granite-based islands, the largest of which are Mahé, Praslin, Silhouette Island, La Digue, Curieuse, Félicité, Frégate, Ste-Anne, North, and Cerf. Denis and Bird are two coral islands south of the granitic islands, and Coëtivy and Platte are coral islands to the south.

The Amirantes Group consists of twenty-nine coral islands. The inhabited ones are Marie Louise, Desroches, D'Arros, Poivre, and Remire.

The Farquhar islands are among the outer islands of Seychelles, located more than four hundred miles southwest of the country's capital. This group includes two atolls and one separate island, as well as a couple of submerged reefs. There is only one settlement, on North Island, with a population of twenty, although there is an abandoned settlement on Providence Island.

The islands of the Aldabra Group are also part of the outer islands of Seychelles, situated in the southwestern portion of the island country, more than six hundred miles from the capital. This group of one hundred islands includes three inhabited islands and one that is uninhabited. Its main settlement is on Assumption Island, which hosts a military base. Another village is on Aldabra, which is a research station. A village on Astove had a population of only two at the time of the last census, and there is an abandoned village on Menai Island.

When the Seychelles International Airport was opened in 1971, tourism became an important industry for the islands, quickly out-earning the country's copra and coconut plantations. In recent years, however, the government has acted to reduce the country's dependence on the tourist industry, promoting farming, fishing, and small-scale manufacturing, as well as its offshore financial sector. In 2015, Seychelles entered into an agreement with India to develop Assumption Island.



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