Pre-European colonization the islands were known by Arab navigators on trading voyages, but were never inhabited.
Eventually Seychelles was settled by France in the 18th century, but it wasn't long before the British fought for control. A lengthy struggle between France and Great Britain for the islands ended in 1814, when they were ceded to the latter.
Although the new governor to the islands was British, he governed according to French rules, and allowed previous French customs to remain intact. Slavery was completely abolished in 1835, and the island nation subsequently began to decline as exportation decreased.
The anti-slavery stance was taken very seriously by the British government, and conditions started improving when it was realized that coconuts could be grown with less labour.
Independence for the islands came in 1976, after the Seychelles People's United Party was formed and led by France-Albert Rene, campaigning for socialism and freedom from Britain.
Socialism was brought to a close with a new constitution and free elections in 1993. President France-Albert Rene, who had served since 1977, was re-elected in 2001, but stepped down in 2004.
Vice President James Michel took over the presidency and in July 2006 was elected to a new five-year term.
Upon independence in 1976, economic growth has steadily increased, led by the tourism sector and tuna fishing. In the past few years, the government has also created incentives for foreign investments. Per capita, Seychelles is the most indebted country in the world and currently had a population of 90,024.
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