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Seychelles and Mauritius – for Mozambique islands please see Mozambique Country information

Seychelles, with an estimated population of 86,525, has the smallest population of any African state. Austronesian seafarers or Arab traders were the first to visit the uninhabited Seychelles. The earliest recorded sighting by Europeans took place in 1502 by the Portuguese Admiral Vasco da Gama.

The Seychelles were used as a transit point for trade between Africa and Asia and also occasionally by pirates until the French began to take control starting in 1756. The islands were named after Jean Moreau de Séchelles, Louis XV’s Minister of Finance.

Mauritius is a ‘world in one island’ destination. In addition to the main island of Mauritius, the republic includes the islands of Cargados, Carajos, Rodrigues and Agalega islands as well.

The island is loaded with historic sights, cultural diversity, geographic variation and almost limitless activities to distract you from the daily grind of beach and pool. But perhaps its single biggest asset is the relaxed charm of its warm and welcoming people.

The British took control of the islands during the Napoleonic Wars, and Mauritius became independent from the UK in 1968.

The main languages spoken in Mauritius are Mauritian Creole, French and English. English is the only official language but most of the television programmes are in French.

The island of Mauritius is renowned for having been the only known home of the dodo. This bird was an easy prey to settlers due to its weight and inability to fly, and became extinct less than eighty years after the initial European colonization.

Because it is an island destination, the smells, noises and bustle of the mercantile capital Port Louis, Africa’s wealthiest city, are never far away, while the busy garment markets in the Central Plateau towns of Quatre Bornes and Curepipe and Black River Gorges National Park's dramatic virgin forests give the lie to Mauritius being just another beach destination. The beaches range from the stunning sand-rimmed lagoons and popular wide public beaches to the picturesque islands off the country’s coastline, there’s truly something for everyone here. Add to this the joys of Chinese, Indian, French and African cuisine, the rousing beat of séga music and the infectious party spirit of the locals, and you soon understand why Mauritius really is so many people’s idea of paradise on earth.

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