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Seychelles

Geography

Seychelles is an island State located in the South-Western Indian Ocean. The total land area of Seychelles is 455.3 square kilometres, consisting of 115 islands. The exclusive economic zone of Seychelles covers an impressive 1.374 million square kilometres of the Indian Ocean.

With a land area of 148 square kilometres the island of Mahe, the seat of the government, constitutes about one-third of the total land area. The two other islands of major importance as to size and population are Praslin and La Digue; 33.6 km and 48 km from Mahe, respectively.

The population of Seychelles originates from French and British settlers, African plantation workers and traders from India, China and the Middle East. The population of the Seychelles stood at just over 81,000 at the end of the year 2002. Christianity is the dominant religion, with some 86% of the population Roman Catholic and 7% Anglican.

History

The Arab traders were the first to have spotted the islands, the French were the first settlers. Later on during the 16th century the islands were frequented and some were even named by the Portuguese. The French took possession of Seychelles in 1742, they started settlement permanently in 1770 and ruled Seychelles for 40 years. Pierre Poivre started the first plantation industry in Seychelles in 1771 to compete with the Dutch in the European spice trade. From 1794 and for the next thirteen years which followed, the islands changed hands seven times between the French and the British. In 1814 the Treaty of Paris incorporated both Seychelles and Mauritius as part of the British Empire. In 1903 Seychelles formally attained the status of a separate British Crown Colony. Seychelles attained Independence from the British in 1976. In 1992 Seychelles became a true multi-party democracy. A new Constitution was promulgated in June 1993 subsequent to its approval through a national referendum. Seychelles is currently divided into twenty-five political districts, each with a seat at the National Assembly.

Economy

The most important sectors of the economy of Seychelles are fisheries and tourism. The export of canned tuna, fresh and frozen fish constitutes about 83% of the value of Seychelles' exports of goods or about 10% of total foreign exchange earnings.

Being among the most beautiful and exclusive holiday destinations in the world, Seychelles derives a considerable part of its income from tourism. At the same time Seychelles has consequently applied a very careful approach in order not to degrade itself into a mass-tourism location and preserve its unique nature and character. Therefore, a holiday in Seychelles may be somewhat expensive - but is very much worth the money.

An increasingly important part of the Seychelles economy is the Seychelles International Trade Zone (SITZ), consisting of an increasing number of companies involved in the light manufacturing, processing and re-distribution, light assembly, internet order processing, management service operations and other technology oriented businesses.

The private sector in Seychelles currently employs just under 60% of the country's population.

In spite of the numerous constraints related to its small size, Seychelles is a country that successfully manages its economic and social development in a sustainable and environmentally-friendly way.

According to the UNDP Human Development Report 2003 (http://hdr.undp.org), Seychelles ranks at number 36 in worldwide ranking of human development, which assesses countries on basis of indicators such as GDP, access to education, health and housing, literacy, life expectancy, respect for human rights, democracy and transparency. Seychelles is the only African country that falls within the High Human Development Index category. Seychelles has a a 91% literacy rate, life expectancy of 72.6 years and GDP per capita of over USD 17,000.

Double Taxation Treaties

Seychelles has growing number of international agreements for the avoidance of double taxation. Such agreements have been concluded with South Africa, Botswana, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mauritius, Oman, Thailand and Zimbabwe. The latest information on Seychelles double taxation treaties as well as Seychelles offshore legislation, IBC and Special Licence Companies can be obtained at Seychelles Offshore Companies Newsline.

Climate

The islands lie outside the cyclone belt but receive monsoon rains from November to February with the northwest trade winds. This hot (31oC) and humid season (90% relative humidity) gives way to a period of cooler weather from May to September though the temperature rarely falls below 23C, and rougher seas when the trade winds blow from the southeast. Unlike some other offshore jurisdictions, Seychelles does not get ravaged by often tropical cyclones and tornadoes, thus ensuring a constant operation of its communications and services networks.

Air Services

The Seychelles is linked to major European destinations (London, Munich, Paris, Zurich, Rome etc) as well as to the Persian Gulf and India (Dubai and Mumbai respectively), Asia (Singapore) and South Africa (Johannesburg). Air Seychelles, British Airways, Air France, Air Mauritius, Kenya Airways ensure more than one hundred flights per week to and from the Seychelles.

Telecommunications

International communications are provided by two international companies: Cable & Wireless and AirTel. The competition ensures an excellent level of communications, as both companies provide fixed line and mobile phone services. There are two leading Internet Service Providers (Atlas and Kokonet) ensuring a rapid development of internet coverage.

Financial Services and Transactions

These are offered by numerous banks established in the capital, Victoria, and for many they also offer decentralised services on Mahe, Praslin and La Digue, the major islands. Barclays, Nuovobanq and Banque Francaise Commerciale are among the most recognized international names.

The national currency is Seychelles Rupee (SCR) and has relatively stable exchange rates against the major world currencies.

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