In 1502 Vasco da Gama sailed the Emirates, and in 1609 landed an expedition from the British East India Company. In 1756, France annexed the uninhabited islands, which were named after French Finance Minister Jean Moreau de Séchelles (1690-1760). The first colonists arrived around 1770 to exploit the archipelago’s natural wealth with the help of slaves from Africa. In 1794, the United Kingdom occupied the Seychelles, which by the Treaty of Paris in 1814 became British property and in 1903 became the British Crown Colony.
In 1976, Seychelles became independent with the conservative James R. Mancham as president, but the following year a group of 60 opposites, who received military training in Tanzania, landed on the main island of Mahé and deposed Mancham. He was succeeded by the leader of the Socialist Party, Prime Minister France-Albert René. See abbreviationfinder for geography, history, society, politics, and economy of Seychelles. The Seychelles’ history was then edged by a number of failed coup attempts; the most serious occurred in 1981, when South African mercenaries arrived by air from Swaziland to – allegedly – reinstate the west-friendly Mancham. During the years 1979–91, the Seychelles was a one-party socialist state. The trend has subsequently shifted towards political pluralism (multi-party system was introduced in 1993) and market economy. Among other things, state monopoly has been wound up.
The dominant political party was for a long time the Party Lepep (PL, the ‘People’s Party’). The party (which until 2009 was called the Seychelles People’s Progressive Front, SPPF) got its own majority in all parliamentary elections until 2011. This year, the election of the main opposition parties, which partly considered the electoral system to favor PL, and partly accused the government of electoral fraud in connection with the presidential election earlier in the year. This was the victory of PL’s candidate James Michel, who in 2004 took over the presidential post from René, who has been in power for almost 27 years. Michel also won the presidential election in 2006, 2011 and 2015. After a rule that the president can only sit for two terms of office is written into the constitution, Michel resigned in 2016 and was succeeded by the vice presidentDanny Faure. In the same year, PL lost its majority in the People’s Assembly for the first time when the newly formed coalition Linyon Democracy Seselwa (LDS, ‘Seychelles Democratic Alliance’) received 19 of 33 seats in the parliamentary elections against 14 for PL.
Since the 1990s, the regime’s efforts have mainly focused on reducing the internal turmoil, which poses a threat to the tourism industry. In 1996, a law was introduced that would guarantee legal protection for people who invested at least US $ 10 million. The western industrialized countries feared that the law would turn Seychelles into a center for illegal financial transactions and pushed the government to repeal it in 2000. A new investment law introduced in 2005 has led to increased foreign investment. In 2009, the country got almost half its government debt struck by the so-called Paris Club.
The country’s economy rests largely on income from tourism and fishing. However, both industries have been affected by the presence of Somali pirates in Seychelles territory and the authorities have appealed to the international community for help defending their waters. In 2010, the Seychelles entered into an agreement with the EU that allows prosecution of suspected pirates and the same year the first judgments were announced.