Geography of Seychelles

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Geography of Seychelles
RegionIndian Ocean
Coordinates4°35′S 55°40′E / 4.583°S 55.667°E / -4.583; 55.667
AreaRanked 180th
 • Total452 km2 (175 sq mi)
 • Land100%
 • Water0%
Coastline491 km (305 mi)
Highest pointMorne Seychellois
905 metres (2,969 ft)
Lowest pointIndian Ocean
0 m
Exclusive economic zone1,336,559 km2 (516,048 sq mi)

Seychelles is a small island country east of the African continent located in the Sea of Zanj due north of Madagascar, with Antsiranana as its nearest foreign city.[1] Seychelles lies between approximately 4ºS and 10ºS and 46ºE and 54ºE. The nation is an archipelago of 155 tropical islands, some granite and some coral. the majority of which are small and uninhabited. The landmass is only 452 km2 (175 sq mi), but the islands are spread wide over an exclusive economic zone of 1,336,559 km2 (516,048 sq mi). About 90 percent of the population of 100,000 live on Mahé, 9 percent on Praslin and La Digue. Around a third of the land area is the island of Mahé and a further third the atoll of Aldabra.[2]

There are two distinct regions, the granitic islands, the world's only oceanic islands of granitic rock and the coralline outer islands. The granite islands are the world's oldest ocean islands, while the outer islands are mainly very young, though the Aldabra group and St Pierre (Farquhar Group) are unusual, raised coral islands that have emerged and submerged several times during their long history, the most recent submergence dating from about 125,000 years ago[3]

Physical features[edit]

The archipelago consists of 155 islands and thirty prominent rock formations scattered throughout a self-proclaimed exclusive economic zone of more than 1,350,000 square kilometres (520,000 sq mi) of ocean.[4] Some forty islands are granitic and lie in a 90-kilometre (56 mi) radius from Mahé, the main island.[4] The remaining islands are coralline, stretching over a 1,200-kilometre (750 mi) radius from Ile Aux Vaches in the northeast to the Aldabra Atoll in the southwest.[4] The country's Inner Islands are the granitic islands plus two nearby coralline islands, Bird Island and Denis Island.[citation needed] The remaining coralline islands are the Outer Islands.[citation needed] The islands are all small—the aggregate land area is only 455 square kilometres (176 sq mi).[4][5]

Mahé is 25 kilometres (16 mi) long and no more than 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) wide,[4] with an area of 156.7 km2 (61 sq mi).[citation needed] It contains the capital and only city, Victoria, an excellent port.[4] Victoria lies approximately 1,600 kilometres (990 mi) east of Mombasa, Kenya; 2,800 kilometres (1,700 mi) southwest of Mumbai; 1,700 kilometres (1,100 mi) north of Mauritius; and 920 kilometres (570 mi) northeast of Madagascar.[4] The only other important islands by virtue of their size and population are Praslin and La Digue, situated about thirty kilometers to the northeast of Mahé.[4]

The granitic islands are founded on a fragment separated from the Indian continental plate during the Palaeocene about 66 million years ago during the break up of the supercontinent of Gondwana. This break-up was associated with the volcanic activity that built the Mascarene Plateau.[6] These granitic islands are characterized by boulder-covered hills and mountains as high as 940 metres (3,080 ft) rising abruptly from the sea.[4] Elsewhere, narrow coastal plains extend to the base of the foothills.[4] Extensively developed coral reefs are found mainly on the east coasts because of the southwest trade winds and equatorial current. Ninety-nine percent of the population is located on the granitic islands, and most are on Mahé.[4]

The coralline islands differ sharply from the granitic in that they are very flat, often rising only a few feet (one meter) above sea level. They have no fresh water, and very few have a resident population.[4] Many, like Ile aux Vaches, Ile Denis, the Amirante Isles, Platte Island, and Coetivy Island, are sand cays upon which extensive coconut plantations have been established.[4] Some of the coralline islands consist of uplifted reefs and atolls covered with stunted vegetation.[4] Several of these islands have been important breeding grounds for turtles and birds, as well as the sites of extensive guano deposits, which formerly constituted an important element of the Seychellois economy but now for the most part are depleted.[4] The Aldabra Islands, the largest coralline atoll with an area greater than Mahe, are a sanctuary for rare animals and birds.[4]

The five groups of coralline islands that make up the Outer Islands are Southern Coral Group (a collective term for Île Platte and Coëtivy Island), Amirante Islands, Alphonse Group (Alphonse Atoll and St. François Atoll), Aldabra Group (Aldabra Atoll, Assumption Island, and the Cosmoledo Group, consisting of Cosmoledo Atoll and Astove Island), and Farquhar Group (Farquhar Atoll, Providence Atoll and St. Pierre Island).[7]


The Seychelles Bank is founded on a granite basement, a fragment separated from the Indian continental plate during the Palaeocene about 66 million years ago. This break-up was associated with the volcanic activity that built the Mascarene Plateau. The occurrence of syenite, diorite and microgranite in the western part of the Seychelles Bank could indicate that crustal deposit across the northwestern Indian Ocean Ridge apparently drove the Seychelles block southwestwards, causing it to collide with the northeastern edge of the Mascarene Basin. This collision could have led to the development of the Amirante Trough.[6] This rift formation is associated with the Réunion hotspot which is also responsible for Réunion Island and the Deccan Traps in India. Because of its long isolation, the Seychelles hosts several unique species including the coco de mer, a palm which has the largest seeds of any plant and the world's largest population of giant tortoises.[citation needed]


The climate of Seychelles is tropical, having little seasonal variation.[4] Temperatures on Mahe rarely rise above 29 °C (84 °F) or drop below 24 °C (75 °F).[4] Humidity is high, but its enervating effect is usually ameliorated by prevailing winds.[4] The southeast monsoon from late May to September brings cooler weather, and the northwest monsoon from March to May, warmer weather.[4]

High winds are rare inasmuch as most islands lie outside the Indian Ocean cyclone belt; Mahe suffered the only such storm in its recorded history in 1862.[4] Mean annual rainfall in Mahe averages 2,880 millimetres (113 in) at sea level and as much as 3,550 millimetres (140 in) on the mountain slopes.[4] Precipitation is somewhat less on the other islands, averaging as low as 500 millimetres (20 in) per year on the southernmost coral islands.[4]

Because catchment provides most sources of water in Seychelles, yearly variations in rainfall or even brief periods of drought can produce water shortages.[4] Small dams have been built on Mahe since 1969 in an effort to guarantee a reliable water supply, but drought can still be a problem on Mahe and particularly on La Digue.[4]

Climate data for Victoria (Seychelles International Airport) 1972–2011
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 33.3
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 29.9
Daily mean °C (°F) 26.9
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) 24.3
Record low °C (°F) 24.1
Average rainfall mm (inches) 401.3
Average relative humidity (%) 83 80 80 80 79 79 80 79 79 79 80 82 80
Mean monthly sunshine hours 155.0 175.2 213.9 231.0 254.2 225.0 232.5 232.5 219.0 226.3 204.0 176.7 2,545.3
Mean daily sunshine hours 5.0 6.2 6.9 7.7 8.2 7.5 7.5 7.5 7.3 7.3 6.8 5.7 6.97
Source: Seychelles National Meteorological Services[8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19]

Flora and fauna[edit]

The Island Mahé
White beach on the island La Digue

The Seychelles contain at least 75 species of flowering plants, three mammal species, 14 bird species, 30 species of reptiles and amphibians, and several hundred species of snails, insects, spiders and other invertebrates found nowhere else.[4] In addition, the waters contain more than 900 kinds of fish, of which more than one-third are associated with coral reefs.[4] Specific examples of unique birds are the Seychelles paradise flycatcher, the Seychelles black parrot, the Seychelles warbler,[20] and the flightless rail.[4] Most famous of all the Seychelles animals are the giant tortoises of the genus Aldabrachelys.[citation needed]

Environmental threats[edit]

Vast amounts of plastic debris accumulate on beaches across Seychelles. Observational analysis suggests that most terrestrial debris originates from Indonesia, India, and Sri Lanka. Debris associated with fisheries including fish aggregating devices also poses a major problem. Rats have reduced biodiversity on many islands.[citation needed] Climate change is also a significant issue.

Seychelles began addressing the conservation problem in the late 1960s by creating the Nature Conservancy Commission, later renamed the Seychelles National Environment Commission.[4] A system of national parks and animal preserves covering 42% of the land area and about 260 square kilometres (100 sq mi) of the surrounding water areas has been set aside.[4] Legislation protects wildlife and bans various destructive practices.[4]

A major project was funded by Fonds Francais pour l'environnement Mondiale (FFEM) and implemented by Island Conservation Society.[21] This aims to rehabilitate and enhance islands for the maintenance of native biodiversity in Seychelles through eradication of introduced predator species, rehabilitation of habitats and reintroduction of rare or threatened species. Rats have been eliminated from North Island, Cosmoledo Atoll and Conception Island.

Facts and figures[edit]

Detailed map of Seychelles

Geographic coordinates: 4°35′S 55°40′E / 4.583°S 55.667°E / -4.583; 55.667

total: 459 km2
land: 459 km2
water: 0 km2

Land boundaries: 0 km

Coastline: 491 km

Maritime claims:
continental shelf: 200 nmi (370.4 km; 230.2 mi) or to the edge of the continental margin
exclusive economic zone: 1,336,559 km2 (516,048 sq mi) with 200 nmi (370.4 km; 230.2 mi)
territorial sea: 12 nmi (22.2 km; 13.8 mi)

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
highest point: Morne Seychellois 905 m

Natural resources: fish, copra, cinnamon trees

Land use:
arable land: 2%
permanent crops: 13%
permanent pastures: 0%
forests and woodland: 11%
other: 74% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: 0 km2

Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol

Table of Islands[edit]

Island Capital Other cities Area (km2) Population
Inner Islands Victoria La Passe, Grand Anse 247.20 89521
Mahe Islands Victoria 163.20 78333
Anonyme Anonyme Anse Pimen Vert, 0.10 5
Cerf L’habitation Kapok Tree Beach, West Beach, Turtle Beach, South Point, 1.27 100
Conception Anse Conception 0.6 0
Eden Eden Project 0.56 100
Aux Vaches 0.04 0
Long Anse Shangri-La Anse Prison 0.23 100
Mahé Victoria Cascade, Anse Royale, Anse Boileau, Beau Vallon 156.70 77983
Mamelles Mamelles 0.1 0
Moyenne Brendon Grimshaw Estate Anse Jolly Roger 0.09 1
Round Île Ronde 0.02 1
Sainte Anne Grand Anse Anse le mont fleuri, Anse Royal, Anse Tortue, Anse Manon, 2.19 40
Therese Anse Therese 0.74 3
Other Islands Romainville [1] Ile Soleil [2] 0.56 0
Praslin Islands Grand Anse Anse Volbert, St. Anne 42.20 7682
Aride Aride Village Robinson Crusoe beach, Turtle beach, 0.68 8
Chauve Souris Anse Chauve Souris 0.01 2
Cousin Anse Cousin 0.29 6
Cousine East beach west beach, North Beach 0.26 16
Curieuse Baie Laraie Anse St. Joseph, anse papao, grand anse, pointe rouge(red), anse badamer, pointe caimant, tortoise point, 2.86 7
Eve Eve Island Project 0.27 100
Praslin Grand Anse Anse Volbert, Baie St. Anne 37.56 7533
Round Anse Round Anse Chez Gaby 0.19 10
Other Islands Booby Island 0.07 0
La Digue and Inner Islands La Passe 41.80 3506
Bird Bird Island Village birdwatchers beach 0.75 38
Denis St. Denis north end, anse boise d’argent, ance prince noir, 1.43 80
Felicite La Penice Ans Zil Pasyon, Grand Ans, 2.68 20
Fregate Fregate Marina Anse Lesange, Anse Bambous, 2.20 214
Iles Soeurs Grande Soeur Hotel Petite Soeur 1.18 2
La Digue La Passe anse patates, cap bayard, grande anse, roche bois, L’ Union, La Reunion 10.30 2800
Marianne Ans La Cour Pointe aux Joncs, Pointe Grand Glacis 0.97 0
North North Island Lodge East Beach, West Beach (or Grande Anse), Honeymoon Cove, Dive Beach 2.00 152
Silhouette La Passe Grand Barbe, 20.00 200
Other Islands Cocos Recife 0.29 0
Outer Islands (Coëtivy) Desroches, D'Arros, Alphonse 211.8 503
Aldabra Group Assumption west beach Picard Island station, Aldabra anse mais, Aldabra anse var, 178.24 12
Aldabra Picard Island station anse mais, anse var, 0. 0
Assumption Assumption west beach 0. 12
Cosmoledo 0. 0
Astove 0. 0
Other Islands 0. 0
Alphonse Group Anse d’Est Anse Sud 2.2 84
Alphonse Anse d’Est Anse Sud 1.7 84
St. François 0.5 0
Other Islands 0. 0
Amirante Group Desroches D'Arros, Poivre Nord, Remire (Eagle), Marie Louise 9.9 123
D'Arros The Estate north beach 1.5 42
Desroches south point village northeast point, Bombe Bay, 3.24 50
Poivre Poivre Nord Poivre Sud 2.48 10
Remire (Eagle) 0. 6
Marie Louise North west point village 0.53 15
Other Islands 2.15 0
Farquhar Group Farquhar Anse Franc Providence 13.2 21
Farquhar Anse Franc Vingt Cinq 8.00 15
Providence 3.5 6
St. Pierre Island 1.6 0
Other Islands 0.1 0
Southern Coral Group Coëtivy Ile Platte 9.96 263
Coëtivy Coëtivy 9.31 260
Platte Île Platte 0.65 3
Other Islands 0.0 0
Seychelles Victoria 459.0 90024

Extreme points[edit]

This is a list of the extreme points of Seychelles, the points that are farther north, south, east or west than any other location.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Werema, Gilbert. "Safeguarding Tourism and Tuna: Seychelles’ Fight against the Somali Piracy Problem." (2012).
  2. ^ "Geography of Seychelles - Archive - Seychelles Nation". Retrieved 2020-05-26.
  3. ^ "Geography of Seychelles | Mauritius, Seychelles, Reunion: Holidays & Travel". Retrieved 2020-05-26.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae Tartter, Jean R. (1995). "Seychelles: Physical Environment". In Metz, Helen Chapin (ed.). Indian Ocean: five island countries (3rd ed.). Washington, D.C.: Federal Research Division, Library of Congress. pp. 213–216. ISBN 0-8444-0857-3. OCLC 32508646. Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.{{cite encyclopedia}}: CS1 maint: postscript (link)
  5. ^ "Seychelles". The World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency. August 30, 2021. Retrieved 2021-09-07.
  6. ^ a b Mart, Y. The tectonic setting of the Seychelles, Mascarene and Amirante plateaus in the western equatorial Indian Ocean, Marine Geology Vol. 79, Issues 3–4, March 1988, Pp. 261-274
  7. ^ Skerrett, A. (2018). Outer Islands of Seychelles. Camerapix. ISBN 9781904722649.
  8. ^ "Climatic Averages for January" (PDF). Seychelles Climate Guide. Seychelles National Meteorological Services. Retrieved 20 July 2016.
  9. ^ "Climatic Averages for February" (PDF). Seychelles Climate Guide. Seychelles National Meteorological Services. Retrieved 20 July 2016.
  10. ^ "Climatic Averages for March" (PDF). Seychelles Climate Guide. Seychelles National Meteorological Services. Retrieved 20 July 2016.
  11. ^ "Climatic Averages for April" (PDF). Seychelles Climate Guide. Seychelles National Meteorological Services. Retrieved 20 July 2016.
  12. ^ "Climatic Averages for May" (PDF). Seychelles Climate Guide. Seychelles National Meteorological Services. Retrieved 20 July 2016.
  13. ^ "Climatic Averages for June" (PDF). Seychelles Climate Guide. Seychelles National Meteorological Services. Retrieved 20 July 2016.
  14. ^ "Climatic Averages for July" (PDF). Seychelles Climate Guide. Seychelles National Meteorological Services. Retrieved 20 July 2016.
  15. ^ "Climatic Averages for August" (PDF). Seychelles Climate Guide. Seychelles National Meteorological Services. Retrieved 20 July 2016.
  16. ^ "Climatic Averages for September" (PDF). Seychelles Climate Guide. Seychelles National Meteorological Services. Retrieved 20 July 2016.
  17. ^ "Climatic Averages for October" (PDF). Seychelles Climate Guide. Seychelles National Meteorological Services. Retrieved 20 July 2016.
  18. ^ "Climatic Averages for November" (PDF). Seychelles Climate Guide. Seychelles National Meteorological Services. Retrieved 20 July 2016.
  19. ^ "Climatic Averages for December" (PDF). Seychelles Climate Guide. Seychelles National Meteorological Services. Retrieved 20 July 2016.
  20. ^ Skerrett, Adrian; Disley, Tony (2011). Birds of Seychelles. Christopher Helm. ISBN 1408151510.
  21. ^ "Cosmoledo is 'generally healthy'! Island Conservation Society conducts studies on Seychelles atoll". Retrieved 2021-09-07.