The Seychelles Islands are well known for their stunning beaches and pristine wildlife, making them an extremely popular destination for honeymooners, nature enthusiasts and sun worshippers. This archipelago off of the mainland Southeast Africa is unique for many reasons. Read on for 10 things you didn’t know about this incredible Indian Ocean nation, the Seychelles.
This article originally appeared in AFKInsider.com.
3 of the archipelago’s 115-plus islands form the cultural and economic hub of Seychelles
The 115 islands of the Seychelles stretch across the Indian Ocean, but its three main islands – Mahé, Praslin, and La Digue – form the main hub of culture and commerce. They are located in the Inner Islands, and contain nearly the entire population of the republic.
The University of Seychelles was established to counteract brain drain
As many of Seychelles’ best and brightest were leaving for universities abroad, the government decided to open the University of Seychelles in 2009. Nicknamed “UniSey,” the university was established in conjunction with the University of London. It partners for collaboration and student exchange with Gibraltar, which is also in the midst of developing its first university.
Seychelles has the smallest population of any African country
With a population of only 90,024, Seychelles has the smallest population of any African country. The next-smallest nation is São Tomé and Principe, which has 100,000 more people.
With no indigenous population, the citizens — Seychellois — descend from immigrants
The majority of immigrants to Seychelles came from France, India, and China, along with many African countries. As the republic has both a French and English colonial history, theses are the two official languages of Seychelles, along with Seychellois Creole.
The opening of the Seychelles International Airport in 1971 led to a tourism-centric shift in the nation’s economy
Initially an agriculturally-focused country, its main plantation crops were cinnamon, vanilla, and copra. The opening of the international airport on the island of Mahé in 1971 was critical in encouraging increased tourism in Seychelles.
The Seychellois rupee was de-pegged in 2008 to encouraged more foreign investment
The national currency of Seychelles, the Seychellois rupee, was initially tied to several international currencies. It was decided to de-peg the rupee and allow it to float freely in 2008 in an attempt to attract further foreign investment into the economy.
Economic freedom has been increasing steadily since 2010
Economic freedom in Seychelles has been increasing each year since 2010, according to the 2013 Index of Economic Freedom, an independent study that measures countries for the degree of limited government, market openness and regulatory efficiency. This has a lot to do with the government’s efforts to privatize certain public enterprises in an attempt to curb the budget deficit.
Seychelles has lost several animal species since human occupation began
The Seychelles has lost several species including the chestnut-flanked white eye, the Seychelles parakeet, and the saltwater crocodile, as well as the majority of its giant tortoises. Partly due to its comparatively shorter period of human occupation – since 1770 – Seychelles has managed to retain more of its biodiversity than other islands including Mauritius and Hawaii.
Seychelles’ Coco de Mer palm tree is famous for its buttocks-shaped seed pods
Nicknamed the “love nut,” the coco de mer palm tree is only found on the islands of Praslin and Curieuse in Seychelles. It produces a “double” coconut that resembles a pair of buttocks, and is the world’s heaviest seed pod.
No oil or gas resources have been found in the waters around Seychelles’ islands
Though much exploration has been done, no natural resources of gas or oil around the waters of Seychelles are known to have been found. Seychelles imports its oil from the Gulf region, specifically Kuwait and Bahrain, and has had to import three times as much oil as is needed internally in order to re-export the surplus in the form of bunker for calling ships and aircraft.
Related content on AFKTravel: