History of the Seychelles

When was the Seychelles discovered?

The outer islands of the Seychelles were first discovered in 1501 by Portuguese explorer João de Nova, who discovered the Farquhar islands at this time. Vasco de Gama then discovered the Amirantes during his second trip to India, and the Seychelles was included on Portuguese maps for the first time in 1506. The first of the Inner Islands to be found was North Island, before French Captain Lazare Picault discovered Mahé in 1742.


Colonial History: When did the Seychelles gain independence?

The Seychelles was colonised by both the French and the British at different points in its history. The French took possession of the islands in 1756, before Great Britain took the islands over towards the end of the 18th Century. This remained the status quo until the final quarter of the 20th Century. The Seychelles gained their independence from the United Kingdom in 1976, becoming a member of the British Commonwealth.


Timeline of Seychelles History

Approximately 200 million years ago, the supercontinent of Gondwana drifted apart, leaving behind it some splinters of rock in the Indian Ocean, which these days make up the region’s island nations.

7th Century: It is believed that Arabic sailors probably found the first uninhabited Seychelles islands at this time.

1501: Portuguese explorer João de Nova discovers the Farquhar Islands.

1502: Vasco de Gama spots the Amirantes during his second trip to India.

1506: The Seychelles are included on Portuguese maps for the first time.


1609: Alexander Sharpeigh of the East India Company lands on North Island by chance.

1742: Captain Lazare Picault discovers Mahé during a research expedition.

1756: The Seychelles officially fall under French possession, and are named for the French Minister of Finance, Jean Moreau de Séchelles.

1770: The first slaves arrive on Sainte Anne Island from nearby French colony Mauritius.


1772: The Jardin du Roi spice garden is planted at Anse Royale.

1778: Victoria is established.

1794: The Seychelles are taken over by Great Britain. French administrator, Jean Baptiste de Quéau Quinssy, who had ruled up to that point, will continue in his role until 1827.

1811: The British conquer Mauritius. The Seychelles also change hands officially at this point. The first coconut plantations are set up on the islands.

1812: The slave trade is outlawed in the Seychelles.

1853: The Catholic Church establishes its first mission station.

1862: A landslide destroys parts of Victoria.

1903: The Seychelles become an autonomous colony.

1948: The first Seychelles government is elected.

1964: The Seychelles Democracy Party and the Seychelles People’s Party are established.

1972: The airport on Mahé is completed and opened by Queen Elizabeth II.

1976: The Seychelles gain their independence from the United Kingdom. The President is James R. Mancham.

1977: Following a coup, new President France Albert René takes control and introduces a socialist party dictatorship.

1982: The Aldabra Atoll is added to the UNESCO World Heritage list.

1983: The Vallée de Mai on Praslin is added to the UNESCO World Heritage list.

1993: A new constitution with a multi-party system is adopted. René is re-elected. He will also gain re-election in 1998 and 2002.

2004: René resigns. His deputy, James Michel, takes his place, and will be re-elected again in 2006, 2011, and 2015.

2008: The Seychelles Rupee depreciates by around 50%. Foreign tourists are no longer forced to use the currency.


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