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Victoria is also known as Port Victoria and is the capital city of the Republic of Seychelles as well as the smallest capital city in the world. It is situated on the north-eastern side of Mahé Island, which is the main island of the archipelago. The city was first established as the seat of the British colonial government. The population of Victoria is around 25,000, accounting for about 30% of the total population of Seychelles. The principal exports of Victoria are vanilla, coconuts, coconut oil, tortoise shell, soap, and guano.

Farquhar Group

The Farquhar Group belong to the Outer Islands of the Seychelles, lying in the south-west of the island nation, more than 700 kilometres south-west of the capital, Victoria, on Mahé Island and 350 kilometres north-east of Madagascar. The total land area of all the islands in the group is less than 11 km², but the total area of the atolls measures about 370 km². The Farquhar Group is comprised of two stunning atolls, Providence to the north and Farquhar to the south. The only airstrip is on North Island in the Farquhar Atoll and there are small permanent settlements both here and on Providence Island. At present there is no tourist accommodation in the Farquhar Group.

Amirantes Group

The islands of the Amirantes Group were known to Persian Gulf traders centuries ago and were sighted by the Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama on his second voyage to India, in 1502, but they are still virtually uninhabited. Individual islands are frequently leased by the Seychelles government to private companies to exploit, usually by growing and harvesting coconuts. Tern eggs are also collected, and guano-enriched topsoil was once collected, but little remains. The Amirantes Group is a unique experience for the diving enthusiast; these islands offer massive granite reefs and colonies of coral. Giant rock formations pocked with caves and tunnels offer sanctuary to a rainbow of sea life. Brilliant tropical fish, pastel coloured anemones together with rays and small reef sharks make this underwater labyrinth their home. Whale sharks, dolphins, manta's and schools of pelagic predators are often spotted cruising between the island. This area of the Seychelles plateau in the Indian Ocean is very different from the granitic islands. These islands are flat coral atolls with beautiful beaches and, beginning from the high water mark, are backed by large coconut palm groves. These are classic tropical atolls full of sea life and dense hard coral formations. There is a beautiful lagoon at Alphonse. Next to Alphonse is a stunning little island called Bijoutier which looks just like a picture postcard. The reefs off the East Coast of Bijoutier are very rich in fish life and corals.

Alphonse Group

The Alphonse Group includes three beautiful islands: Alphonse, Bijoutier and Saint François. It's located 210 miles south-west of Mahe and 96 miles south-west of Desroches. The closest island is Marie Louise, in the southern part of the Amirante Group, at about 50 miles. There is only one way to get there: by boat. Normally it is better to make a stop in Desroches, where you can fill up your fuel tanks and spend a night in safe anchorage. Some very good diving is to be had along the reef in the south-east side of the island, while diving in the lagoon is poor because the coral was damaged by a cyclone a few years ago. In the late afternoon you can leave for the last 96 miles, so you can arrive in Alphonse with the sun light. It is important to plan to arrive before dark, because anchoring is not very easy and entering the shallow lagoon in the dark is difficult. Desroches also has a small but perfect airstrip with daily flights from Mahe, so you can arrange to have a boat waiting for you there and fly to Desroches (about 40 minutes), thus saving one day of sailing. The first thing you notice arriving at Alphonse is the abundance of coconut-palms covering the whole island. During the English colonial period this atoll, as many others, was used as a plantation for copra production.

Aldabra Group

Aldabra Atoll, situated 1,150 kilometres south-west of Mahé, is the largest raised coral atoll in the world, comprising more than a dozen islands bordering a lagoon so vast the whole of Mahé could fit inside its perimeter. Aldabra’s exceptional and pristine condition has earned it the distinction of being named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, one of two such sites in Seychelles. The atoll’s islands nurture a vast array of both unique flora and fauna as well as the world’s largest population of 150,000 giant tortoises, and its lagoon boasts the most vibrant marine life of the entire archipelago. First given its name by Arab seafarers, the atoll’s harsh, sun-baked environment and the fast-flowing waters of its lagoon typically kept all but the most intrepid explorers at bay. But there has been a tiny permanent settlement on the island since 1874, made up chiefly of contract labourers from Mahé engaged at different times in fishing, mining guano and producing coprah for sale on the mainland. The Seychelles Island Foundation (SIF) now supervises the island and strict regulations governing the island’s accessibility are in force to protect its fragile ecosystem. A small research station affords accredited scientists the opportunity to study the atoll's biodiversity, but there is no hotel accommodation on the island. Yacht charters are available, however.

Southern Coral Group

The Southern Coral Group consists of Platte Island and Coetivy Island (these two islands are sometimes grouped together with the Inner Islands), the Amirante Islands, the Alphonse Atoll Aldabra Group (with Aldabra Atoll, Assumption Island, and the Cosmoledo Group consisting of Cosmoledo Islands and Astove Island) and the Farquhar Group (with Farquhar Atoll, Cerf, Providence, St Pierre Islands). The island of Coetivy is situated more than 290 kilometres away from the main island, Mahé. The island has its own shrimp hatchery with a capacity of 50 million post larvae per year. Its crystal clear waters cannot carry any pollutants or shrimp disease, except from its own farm as the elongated shape of the island makes it possible to pump sea water from one side and discharge it on the other side. Platte Island, 140 kilometres due south of Mahé, is low and flat with an encircling reef containing a lagoon. Known for its rich fish life, Platte has an airstrip and is occasionally serviced by the Island Development Company (IDC) aircraft from Mahé.

Inner Islands

The Inner Islands which are mostly granitic, cluster mainly around the principal islands of Mahé, Praslin and La Digue, forming the cultural and economic hub of Seychelles, as well as the centre of its tourism industry. Together they are home to the majority of Seychelles’ accommodation facilities as well almost the entire population of the archipelago. There are 43 Inner islands in total – 41 granitic and 2 coralline.


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