Discovered by Arab and Maldivian sailors during the 12th century, today the Seychelles archipelago is an independent republic, whose culture is the result of an interesting blend of ancient African traditions and Brit-French colonial customs. This mix developed some unique, although sometimes controversial, characteristics: the society is mostly a matriarchal one, and women are well integrated in all professional and educative fields, but unwed mothers are a common trait and they have often to dwell with financial and social difficulties; the first religion of the country is catholicism, but the locals often rely on seers and sciamans – the so-called bonom di bwa, from the French bonhomme de bois, ‘man of the wood’ – to foresee their future and receive useful advices; moreover, the local music has its roots in western sounds as polka, mazurka and French folk, as well as in African rhythms and reggae.
Together with a unmatched natural beauties, this cultural richness attracts visitors from all over the world eager to spend their holidays in the Seychelles archipelago, fuelling this way a consistent tourism industry which is at the same time the most local community’s biggest asset and an issue for the local environment.
As the local cultura, in fact, also the Seychelles’ natural resources rely on a fragile balance. The incredible variety of plants and animals of these 115 idillic little islands is the country’s most popular attraction, but climate changes – which caused higher sea level – invasive species – as rats and cats – and urbanization became a serious danger for Seychelles’ biodiversity.
To protect the local environment, the government issued strict rules that force any tourism project to undergo a long process of consultation with public opinion and conservationists. This way, the archipelago has become a world leader for sustainable tourism, thanks also to a specific board – Seychelles Sustainable Tourism Label – which certifies establishments showing serious efforts for protecting the local environment. The board encourages all tourism operators to take a voluntary test focused on operative management, waste management, water and power consumption, relationships with the employees, environment conservation and relationships with local community and customers.
Beside the government’s strict attitude, Seychelles’ environment is also under the cares of several NGOs dealing with specific issues, from protecting the coco de mer – a kind of palms growing only in Praslin and Curieuse islands – to boosting the native flora, raising funds and increasing public awareness.
A renowned destination for luxury holidays and romantic retreats, the Seychelles also offer and unforgettable in touch with nature’s wonders. For this reason, awareness and respect are even more important in order to protect the peculiarity of each island.