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Image courtesy of Roger de la Harpe www.africaimagery.com
The Republic of Seychelles comprises 115 islands occupying a land area of 455 km² and an Exclusive Economic Zone of 1.4 million 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.
The cosmopolitan Seychellois are a colourful blend of peoples of different races, cultures and religions. At different times in its history, people of African, European and Asian origin have come to Seychelles, bringing with them their distinct traditions and customs and contributing to the way of life and to the vibrant Seychellois culture.
One can see these influences at work throughout the domains of local art, cuisine, music, dance and architecture.
The architectural design of some of the grand old houses with their steep roofs are representative of a style adapted for comfortable living in the tropics that displays influences from Seychelles’ French and British colonial heritage. Modern architecture attempts to assimilate traditional styles with practical features designed to capture the island breezes.
Local artists continue to exhibit diverse styles that echo the multi-ethnic backdrop of the islands and bear testament to the various influences which have come to bear. Creole music and dance have their roots in African, Malagasy and European cultures with rhythms traditionally accompanied by simple drums and string instruments which, today, include such recent imports as the violin and guitar.
The traditional moutya is an erotic dance derived from the days of slavery and still features today, together with the sega with its colourful lyrics; the kanmtole, reminiscent of a country reel, and the contredanse, an import from the French court.