(pronounced "all-BEHR ruh-NAY")
"The rights of the majority come before the rights of the individual."
The Republic of Seychelles is an island chain in the western Indian Ocean, located 1,600 km (1,000 mi) off the East African coast. The southernmost of its 115 islands is only 210 km (130 km) north of Madagascar. The second-smallest country in Africa, Seychelles has a total area of 455 sq km (176 sq mi). Mahd is the principal island, where about 80% of the population resides. It is also the site of the capital city, Victoria.
In 2002, the population was estimated at 80,000. The official languages of the nation are Creole, English, and French; though more than 90% of the people speak Creole. The major ethnic group is Seychellois, a mixture of Asian, African, and European stocks. Roman Catholics make up 90% of the population, with Anglicans accounting for an additional 8%.
In Seychelles, the public sector drives the economy, accounting for more than 50% of GDP. The government controls the importation, licensing, and distribution of virtually all goods and services, and exercises significant control over all phases of the economy. In 1996, tourism employed 30% of the labor force, and provided over 70% of foreign exchange earnings. Agriculture and fisheries account for about 2.4% of GDP (2000). Crop production is limited by mountainous terrain and low soil fertility and consists mainly of coconuts, vegetables, bananas, and spices. The primary exports are copra (dried coconut meat), fish (processed and unprocessed), and cinnamon bark. Main imports include refined petroleum products and machinery. The 2001 GDP was estimated to be US $605 million. The unit of currency is the Seychelles rupee, with 5.64= US $1.00 (2002). Owing to high adult literacy, life expectancy, and purchasing power parity, Seychelles ranks first on the UN human development index (HDI) for sub-Saharan Africa.