Republic of Seychelles
Currency: 1 Seychelles rupee (Sre$) = 100 cents.
Dialing code: 248.
Time: GMT +4.
Local time now:
Region: Indian Ocean Islands.
Main cities : Anse Royal.
Land and Resources: Seychelles consists of an archipelago of some 115 islands, scattered across the western Indian Ocean, northeast of the island of Madagascar. The country consists of two distinct island groups: the Mahé group in the north and the low-lying coral islands stretching to the south. The 32 islands of the Mahé group are formed of granitic rocks and have hilly interiors. All the country’s principal islands belong to this group; they include Mahé Island (the largest), Praslin, Silhouette, and La Digue. The 83 coral islands are largely without water resources, and most are uninhabited.
Climate: Tropical marine; humid; cooler season during southeast monsoon (late May to September); warmer season during northwest monsoon (March to May).
Government: Executive power is held by a president. A member of the Commonwealth of Nations.
Population: Seychellois. Most people are of mixed French and African descent; Indian and Chinese minorities are also present.
Languages: The official languages are Creole (a patois based on French), English, and French.
Religion: Predominantly Christian, most of them Roman Catholics.
1 January - New Year
1 May - Labour Day
5 June - Liberation Day
18 June - National Day
29 June - Independence Day
15 August - Assumption/La Digue Festival
1 November- All Saints’ Day
8 December - Immaculate Conception
25 December - Christmas Day
Visa: No foreigners require a visa to enter Seychelles. A one-month visitor’s permit is issued on arrival and may be extended on application. All visitors do, however, require a passport valid for the duration of their visit, return or onward ticket, sufficient funds to cover their stay, and proof of accommodation.
Customs regulations: The following items may be imported by persons of 18 years or older without incurring customs duty: 400 cigarettes or 500g of tobacco; 2l of spirits or 2l of wine; 200ml of perfume or eau de toilette; food items not exceeding SRs3000; one video camera and one camera; musical instrument; portable electronic or electric equipment; sports requisites and other leisure equipment. The import of non-prescribed drugs and all firearms, including air pistols, air rifles and spearfishing guns, and plants and plant products, animals and animal products, radioactive substances and apparatus, dangerous drugs, biological specimens, fireworks and explosives, medicines and poisons are prohibited, unless prior authorisation has been granted. Video tapes must be declared and may be retained for security reasons. The import of animals and food and other agricultural produce is strictly controlled and subject to licensing. Restricted exports: Shells, unprocessed coco-de-mer, processed or live fish and live tortoises may not be exported.
Transportation: The Seychelles International Airport and the capital city of Victoria are also easily accessible by bus or taxi. Air Seychelles provides an efficient network of scheduled and chartered services from Mahé to Alphonse, Bird, Denis, Praslin, Silhouette and Desroches islands. Helicopter provides an inter-island shuttle service and scenic flights. Charter flights can be arranged from any heli-stop. Privately owned schooners provide regular inter-island connections between Mahé, Praslin and La Digue. Boats can be chartered privately to get to the other islands. Traffic drives on the left. There are paved roads only on La Digue, Mahé and Praslin; elsewhere the roads are sandy tracks. Visitors should be aware that Mah is mountainous with narrow, winding roads, rarely with safety barriers. SPTC buses run on a regular basis on Mahé and Praslin from 0530-1900. There are taxis on Mahé and Praslin with government-controlled rates. Car hire is available.
Sightseeing: Top quality hotels and resorts on the main island shores. The popular holiday island of Praslin: beach Anse Lazio; Vallee de Mai (the ‘coco de mer’ palm, world’s rarest birds); an oyster farm with a touch pool and aquarium (and of course the black pearls are on sale in the onsite jewellery store); George Camille’s studio at Cote d’Or on Praslin Island.
The island of Mahe: one of the island’s beautiful national parks, offering good hiking and stunning scenery; excellent dive centres; various watersports operators.
Victoria: the busy daily market, a cathedral and a clock tower built as a copy of the one housing Big Ben in London; the Seychelles Natural History Museum; the Seychelles National History Museum; Botanical Gardens. Guided tours are offered from Victoria harbour to the St Anne National Marine Park. Glass bottomed boat trips are also available. During the last week of October each year the Seychelles capital, Victoria, becomes a gaily decorated party town for the celebration of the annual Creole festival. Music, dancing and dramatic productions are staged and local art and crafts displayed and sold.
The mile long beach encircling beautiful Beau Vallon Bay on the northern coast of Mahe Island is the most popular resort area in the Seychelles, boasting several hotels, a selection of restaurants and dive and watersport centres. The Marine Park of Bay Ternay is also easily accessible from the resort.
Money: The country’s foreign exchange regulations require visitors to pay for most services, including hotels, car hire, guided tours and scuba diving, in foreign currency, preferably US Dollars or Euros. Sterling is often rejected. Credit cards are widely welcomed throughout the Seychelles. Rupees can only be used in local shops, markets, and bars and restaurants not connected to hotels. Money can be exchanged at banks and the airport on Mahe.
Communications: Direct lines to most countries are available at most hotels. There is excellent GSM coverage for mobile telephones, and most hotels offer a postal service, email and internet connection. There are internet cafes in Victoria.
Shops and cafes: A busy daily market in Victoria (closed on Sundays), where local crafts are on sale along with fish, fruit and vegetables. The city is also something of an art centre, and works by local artists are popular buys at local galleries. Local handicrafts include work with textiles (such as batik), fibres (such as basketwares, table-mats and hats) and wood (such as traditional furniture, ornaments and model boats). Pottery and paintings may also be bought. Special souvenirs might include jewellery made from green snail shells. Tea-growing and manufacturing in the Seychelles is done on a small scale. Local tea can be bought in the shops or when visiting the tea factory on Mahé, where many blends of tea may be sampled at the Tea Tavern. Vanilla is cultivated as a climbing plant around the base of trees as it can be pollinated by hand. Pods can be bought in shops and used as flavouring. Cinnamon grows wild on all the islands. It can be bought as oil or in quills made from dried bark which can be freshly grated before use. Shopping hours: Mon-Fri 0900-1600, Sat 0800-1200. Some shops close weekdays 1200-1300.
Tipping: Charges for most services include service charge of between 5 and 10%, so tipping is therefore not obligatory, but it is appreciated for exceptional service.
Health and safety: No vaccinations are required for entry, but immunisation against hepatitis A and typhoid are highly recommended. Medical facilities on the islands are limited, but there is a government hospital in Victoria and some private clinics. Medical insurance with full evacuation cover is necessary. Visitors are advised to bring their own medication to avert the risk of travellers’ diarrhoea, as well as sun block and insect repellent, local supplies being erratic and costly. Tap water meets World Health Organisation standards, but most visitors prefer to drink bottled water, which is widely available. Fruit and vegetables should be peeled and meat well-cooked before being eaten. Violent crime is unlikely and most visits are trouble-free, but there have recently been some incidents of theft and assault in the Seychelles, targeted mainly at residents. Visitors should be vigilant, particularly after dark in Victoria and in isolated areas. Avoid taking valuables to the beach, where they could be pilfered by petty thieves.
Electricity: 220 volts AC, 50 Hz. Plugs are of the English type, with three square pins.
Important phone numbers:
Hospital - 999 / 38 80 00 Embassies:
51, avenue Mozart
Tel: + 33 1 18.104.22.168
Fax: + 33 1 22.214.171.124
Honourary Consulate of the Seychelles
Rm. 1702 Tai Yau Building
Tel: + 852 2549 5339
PO Box 4PE, 2nd Floor, Eros House, 11 Baker Street
W1M 1FE London
Tel: +44 171 224 1660
Fax: +44 171 487 5756
820 Second Avenue, Suite 900F
New York NW 10017
Tel: +1 212 687-9766
Fax: +1 212 808 4973
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