Seychelles lies northeast of Madagascar, an archipelago of 115 islands with roughly 98,000 citizens. Seychelles is a melting pot of many cultures which have commingled and coexisted since the first settlement of the islands in 1770.
The three main inhabited islands are Mahé, Praslin and La Digue and the official languages are English, French and Seychellois Creole.
The Seychellois are a colourful and harmonious blend of different nationalities from across the globe, all of whom have brought something of their own customs and cultures to create a well-integrated, harmonious and vibrant modern island state with a distinct culture enriched from many continents. Where other nations live in fear of their neighbours, Seychelles has successfully woven disparate influences into a live-and let-live philosophy in which harmony has become a way of life.
In Victoria (the world’s tiniest capital) a Roman Catholic cathedral sits beside an Anglican cathedral, a Seventh Day Adventist Church, a mosque, a Hindu Temple, and halls of worship for several other denominations.
In terms of religious orientation, French Catholicism has proved the most influential, even surviving British rule and popular Mass and other parish feasts are colourful occasions for Seychellois to dress up in their Sunday best and socialise.
The Creole Language, an adaptation of 17th Century French with other words and expressions coming from Africans and Malagasises, is the lingua franca and has been elevated to national language status, earning the same respect that English and French receive. Today, Creole is a written language as well as spoken, resulting in an outburst of creativity in plays, poetry and prose.
The Creole culture is today a major attraction for worldwide visitors who want to experience a unique way of life and is showcased every year by the colourful Festival Creole, an animated tribute to everything Creole including the many distinct forms of Creole music, dance, literature and poetry.
Creole architecture is another important cultural aspect of the islands where the designs of some of the grand old houses with their steep roofs represent an architecture adapted for comfortable living in the tropics. Houses have many openings to catch the island breezes. Modern architecture attempts to assimilate traditional styles.
Yet another jewel of the cultural crown is cuisine and Creole gastronomy is born of this spectacular fusion of cultures and offers the subtlety and innovation of French cuisine as well as the piquant flavours and exotic culinary combinations of the East across a fascinating spectrum of textures, tastes, colours and ingredients.
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