Aside from the calm and warmth of palms and sunshine, or the added lure of crystal waters, this island group has a certain mystique enticed by a rich and almost fantastical history that includes tales of fearsome pirates, hidden treasure, and explorers seeking to taste nature's 'Eden'.
The islands were possibly known to the Arabs as early as the 9th Century AD, but officially the islands were sighted by the Portuguese explorer Vasco Da Gama in 1502. The British made their first arrival in 1609, but made no claim to the islands. In 1756, the islands were formally claimed in the name of the King of France, creating the first French settlement on the Island of Mahé. These first settlers originally grew spices such as nutmeg, vanilla and cloves and later developed plantations growing cotton and sugar cane.
The British gained control following the Treaty of Paris in 1814, but despite this the people have always kept their French influences. At this time the Seychelles was used by slave traders as a stop off from Africa. The slave trade was abolished in Britain in the early 19th century and slavery itself was abolished in 1834.
Between 1814 and 1825 the population of the Seychelles grew from 3,500 to 7,000 and food crops, cotton, sugar cane, and coconuts were grown on estates on the islands. 1862 saw a devastating mud slide following a week of heavy rain on Mahé. Around 80 residents were killed as their wooden houses were taken by the mud and rocks as they headed towards the capital Victoria.
The introduction of artificial vanilla bought poverty to the islands in the early 20th century and new crops had to be introduced. Disquiet regarding British rule grew and in 1976 a coalition government established independence, with James Mancham as President and Albert Rene as Prime Minister. Albert Rene then organized a coup d’état declaring himself as President of the Republic in 1977.
Following years of international pressure, the Seychelles finally reverted back to a multi-party democratic system in 1993. Elections have been held every five years since then, under the watchful eye of international observers.
Theories on hidden pirates treasure have continued to this day. Treasure hunters have produced old parchments claiming to be treasure maps. One such famous treasure hunter, Sir Ian Fleming (creator of James Bond), said he had seen an authentic treasure map that showed the treasure was somewhere on Frigate Island. Such mysteries endure...
If you are interested in the history of the Seychelles why not visit the National Museum of History which is located in Victoria on Mahé. Established in 1964 it is a small museum but has a number of great exhibits which tell the history of the Seychelles in detail and the staff are renowned for being lovely and friendly.
If you are planning a visit to find out more about the history of the Seychelles, South Point Villas have four wonderfully secluded villas on the island of Cerf which neighbours Mahé. Accommodation includes complimentary transfer between Mahe Airport and South Point Villas. Let us pick you up from the airport and take you on a ten minute boat trip to your own private paradise. You’ll be moments from the beach and in your very own luxurious villa complete with private wide veranda, plunge pool, and superb views of the ocean.
Book now and start your own island adventure now!