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Seychelles

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Seychelles, island republic in the western Indian Ocean, northeast of Madagascar. The Seychelles are an archipelago of some 115 islands with a total land area of 454 sq km (175 sq mi).

People

The population of the Seychelles (2008 estimate) is 82,247. The capital, principal city, and leading port is Victoria on Mahe Island. About 90 percent of the country’s population lives on Mahe. Most people are of mixed French and African descent; Indian and Chinese minorities are also present. The official languages are Creole (a patois based on French), English, and French. Some 98 percent of the population is Christian, most of them Roman Catholic.

Economy

Tourism and tuna fishing are the principal drivers of the Seychelles economy. Receipts from tourism were $227 million in 2006, when 141,000 tourists visited the country. Seychelles fishers net enough tuna to satisfy domestic need and supply a significant canning industry. Various fruits are grown for domestic consumption, but the staple food, rice, must be imported. Besides canned tuna, exports include petroleum (imported and then reexported), copra, and cinnamon bark. Guano is the country’s only mineral resource. An international airport and major port are located at Victoria.

In 2006 the national budget included $443 million in revenue and $407 in expenditure. The unit of currency is the Seychelles rupee (5.50 rupees equal U.S. $1; 2006 average).

Government

Under the country’s 1993 constitution, executive power is held by a president, who is popularly elected to a five-year term. The president appoints a council of ministers to act as an advisory body. Legislative power is vested in the National Assembly, which has 25 popularly elected members and 9 members selected on a proportional basis. The Seychelles People’s Progressive Front (SPPF) is the leading political group; opposition parties were legalized in 1991. The Seychelles is a member of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC), and the Commonwealth of Nations.

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