Island group and republic in the Indian Ocean, approximately 1,000 mi E of Mombasa, Kenya. Its chief island s are Mahe, Praslin, La Digue, Silhouette, and Curieuse. Known to Arabs and Europeans long before it was claimed by the French in 1744, it was first colonized in 1768 by French planters and slaves from Mauritius. Taken by the British in 1794 and made a dependency of Mauritius in 1810, the island s came under British control by the Treaty of Paris in 1814. Made a Crown colony in 1903, they became independent in 1976. The first president, James Mancham, was overthrown in a bloodless coup in 1977 and replaced by Albert Rene, the head of the Seychelles People’s Progressive Front. Rene suspended the existing constitution and established one-party rule. In 1982 a group of mercenaries from South Africa tried unsuccessfully to capture the island s and topple its left-leaning government. Although multiparty democracy was reestablished in the Seychelles under the new constitution of 1993, Rene won reelection in 1993, 1998, and 2001. He retired in April 2004, and was succeeded by his vice president, James Michel. The capital and port city is Victoria.
Mainly visitors of this archipelago, composed of 155 islands in the Indian Ocean are busy sailing, diving, fishing and relaxing holiday. The most popular islands - Mahe, Praslin and La Digue. Mahe has 65 beaches with white sand, as well as many restaurants, cafes, bars and casino, located in the tiny island's capital, Victoria. Seychelles are several UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Aldabra Atoll and natural reserve Vallée de Mai, called the Garden of Eden. The main language - Creole, but many speak in English and French.