Mahé, Praslin and La Digue are the most popular islands. Mahé boasts 65 silver beaches, plus an array of restaurants, cafés, bars and casinos in the tiny capital, Victoria. The Seychelles are home to UNESCO-designated sites, coral atoll Aldabra and Vallée de Mai, called the Garden of Eden. Creole is the main language, but English and French are widely spoken.
The Republic of Seychelles comprises 115 islands occupying a land area of 455 km² and an Exclusive Economic Zone of 1.4 km² in the western Indian Ocean. It represents an archipelago of legendary beauty that extends from between 4 and 10 degrees south of the equator and which lies between 480km and 1,600km from the east coast of Africa. Of these 115 islands, 41 constitute the oldest mid-oceanic granite islands on earth while a further 74 form the low-lying coral atolls and reef islands of the Outer Islands.
The granitic islands of the Seychelles archipelago cluster around the main island of Mahé, home to the international airport and the capital, Victoria, and its satellites Praslin and La Digue. Together, these Inner Islands form the cultural and economic hub of the nation and contain the majority of Seychelles’ tourism facilities as well as its most stunning beaches.
Seychelles' 115 islands fall under two distinct groups. The tall granite, Inner Islands cluster mainly within the relatively shallow Seychelles' plateau, 4° south of the equator and roughly 1800 km. distant from the east coast of Africa while the low-lying coralline cays, atolls and reef islands of the Outer Islands lie mainly beyond the plateau up to 10° south of the equator.
These Outer Islands are divided into five groups: the Amirantes group lying 230km distant from Mahé, the Southern Coral Group, Alphonse Group, Farquhar Group and finally the Aldabra Group, some 1150km from Mahé.
Seychelles is a living museum of natural history and a sanctuary for some of the rarest species of flora & fauna on earth. With almost 50% of its limited landmass set aside as national parks and reserves, Seychelles prides itself on its record for far sighted conservation policies that have resulted in an enviable degree of protection for the environment and the varied ecosystems it supports.
Nowhere else on earth will you find unique endemic specimens such as the fabulous Coco-de-mer, the largest seed in the world, the jellyfish tree, with only eight surviving examples, the Seychelles’ paradise flycatcher and Seychelles warbler.
Seychelles is also home to two U.N.E.S.C.O World Heritage Sites: Aldabra, the world’s largest raised coral atoll and Praslin’s Vallée de Mai, once believed to be the original site of the Garden of Eden.
From the smallest frog to the heaviest land tortoise and the only flightless bird of the Indian Ocean, Seychelles nurtures an amazing array of endemic species within surrounds of exceptional natural beauty.
The Vallée de Mai
Located on the granitic island of Praslin, the Vallée de Mai is a 19.5 ha area of palm forest which remains largely unchanged since prehistoric times. Dominating the landscape is the world's largest population of endemic coco-de-mer, a flagship species of global significance as the bearer of the largest seed in the plant kingdom. The forest is also home to five other endemic palms and many endemic fauna species. The property is a scenically attractive area with a distinctive natural beauty.
The property contains a scenic mature palm forest. The natural formations of the palm forests are of aesthetic appeal with dappled sunlight and a spectrum of green, red and brown palm fronds. The natural beauty and near-natural state of the Vallée de Mai are of great interest, even to those visitors who are not fully aware of the ecological significance of the forest.
Shaped by geological and biological processes that took place millions of years ago, the property is an outstanding example of an earlier and major stage in the evolutionary history of the world's flora. Its ecology is dominated by endemic palms, and especially by the coco-de-mer, famous for its distinctively large double nut containing the largest seed in the plant kingdom. The Vallée de Mai constitutes a living laboratory, illustrating of what other tropical areas would have been before the advent of more advanced plant families.
Aldabra was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982 as a prime example of a raised coral atoll and is significantly less disturbed than most other atolls in the Indian Ocean and elsewhere in the world.
Aldabra’s unique ecosystems and species make it ecologically and scientifically valuable. Aldabra is the largest raised coral atoll on Earth and is significantly less disturbed than most other atolls in the Indian Ocean and elsewhere in the world. Aldabra is a refuge for many endangered species. These include the giant tortoise, one of the largest congregations of nesting green turtles in the Indian Ocean; the world’s second largest breeding population of greater and lesser frigate birds (Fregata minor and Fregata ariel); the last flightless bird species in the Indian Ocean – the white-throated flightless rail (Dryolimnas cuvieri aldabranus); and a number of endemic taxa of plants and animals.