Republic since 1976. Gained independence from the UK in 1975.
Head of state:
President James Alix Michel since 2004.
240 volts AC, 50Hz. British three-pin plugs are in use.
An isolated island paradise of daydream material, the Seychelles offer fine beaches, turquoise seas and deliciously warm weather. Rare plantlife thrives on this Indian Ocean archipelago: no less than 81 species are unique survivors from the luxuriant tropical forests that covered the islands until humanity's arrival two centuries ago; outstanding amongst these is the coco-de-mer (sea coconut), native to Praslin, which grows in the Vallée de Mai.
The Seychelles are also a major attraction for birdwatchers. Up to two million sooty terns nest on Bird Island, and on Aride can be found the world's largest colonies of lesser noddies, roseate terns and other tropical birds.
After French colonial rule, under which the islands were named after the royal accountant Vicomte Moreau de Séchelles, the islands were annexed by Britain. For 150 years, isolated from the rest of the world and all but ignored by the major European powers, the Seychelles developed their own colourful traditions, language and culture.