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Seychelles history

The history of the Seychelles before European colonization is almost entirely unknown
The history of the Seychelles before European colonization is almost entirely unknown. Settlers from Borneo, who eventually populated Madagascar may have visited the islands during the third and fourth centuries BCE. Arab navigators traveling the Indian Ocean most likely knew of the islands, though they did not stay there. Arabs traded the enormous coco de mer nuts, found only in the Seychelles, many years before Europeans arrived. Though the Arabs claimed to have found the nuts washed up in the Maldives, it is known that the coco de mer sinks in water, so their account may not be credible.

The human history of the Seychelles is not very long. Nobody lived on the islands until the 1600s, when it was discovered by European traders and explorers. It was 1609 when the British East India Company arrived in the Seychelles. The islands quickly became a refuge for pirates. The French were the first to claim the Seychelles Islands as their own in 1756 as part of the colony of Maritius, and they were the first to send settlers here. In 1770, 21 French people and 7 slaves arrived to start a community on Ste. Anne Island. That was the first human habitat on the Seychelles. These settlers grew crops and ate tortoises for meat.

Eventually, the British wanted the Seychelles for their own. The French appeared to give up the islands without resistance, but they were deceiving the British. As soon as the British conquerors left, they raised the French flag again. The change from French to British back to French really didn’t have much impact on the settlers’ lives. The Seychelles became a British colony in 1814. Before that time many slaves had been brought to the Seychelles. The British abolished slavery in the Seychelles in 1835, but many newly-freed slaves decided to stay. Under British rule, the Seychelles reached a population of 7,000 by the year 1825. Many large estates were established to grow food crops like coconut and sugar cane, as well as cotton. It was around this time that the Seychelles established Victoria as the capital and became home of many exiles from the British empire.

The freed slaves owned no land, and many worked sporadically in order to survive. At this time there were no exports and no money. After awhile, plantation owners discovered they could grow coconuts with far less labor than cotton, rice, and sugar - three very labor-intensive crops. The British continued to patrol along the East African coast, raiding dhows from Arabia transporting slaves back to the Middle East. Slaves that were freed south of the equator were taken to the Seychelles, where they became apprentices to the coconut plantation owners. There they worked the land and in return received wages and rations. Some 2,400 liberated slaves were taken to the Seychelles from 1861 to 1874.

In 1903, the Seychelles were made a crown colony and separated from Mauritius. During World War I, there was much disruption on the Seychelles Islands. Exports stopped, and visitors stayed away, and this was devastating to the economy. After the war things got better to some extent, and workers formed unions to fight for better wages, healthcare for poor people, and land reform.

World War II also caused havoc on the Seychelles, and led to a change in politics. The first political party was formed in 1948, and only educated land owners could vote. This was about 2,000 of the total population of 35,000. So the elected council represented the educated landowners’ interests. But afterwards, there were other political changes, and more political parties to engage in government. Reforms and resolutions were passed to benefit the citizens of the Seychelles.

In 1976, the Seychelles gained their independence from the British and became a republic within a commonwealth. They are still members of the Commonwealth of Nations. The first president of the Seychelles islands was James Mancham. By 1977, the islands had one-party rule that took place under a man named Albert Rene. But in 1991, Rene announced that the Seychelles would go back to a multiparty government. In 1993, the country held its first combined presidential and legislative elections. President Albert Rene won, and won again in 1998 and in 2003. In June 2004, the new president was elected: Alix James Michel.

In 1996, the government of the Seychelles started the Economic Citizenship Program. It provides foreigners with the opportunity to pay $25,000 and get a Seychelles Island passport. Another law, this one erected in 1995, granted immunity from criminal prosecution to parties that invested at least $10 million in the Seychelles. This greatly increased the country’s revenue. The Seychelles Islands are considered a prosperous country. The Seychellois are a blend of cultures and languages. Today, tourism is by far the largest contributor to the economy of the Seychelles Islands.

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