An island nation, Seychelles is located in the Indian Ocean, northeast of Madagascar and about 1,600 km (994 mi) east of Kenya. The archipelago consists of 115 islands. The majority of the islands are uninhabited, with many dedicated as nature reserves.
A group of 42 islands, referred to as the inland islands, has a total area of 244 km2, comprising 54% of the total land area of the Seychelles and 98% of the entire population.
The islands are divided into groups as follows.
There are 45 granite-based islands known as the Granitic Seychelles. These are in descending order of size: Mahé, Praslin, Silhouette Island, La Digue, Curieuse, Félicité, Frégate, Ste-Anne, North, Cerf, Marianne, Grand Sœur, Thérèse, Aride, Conception, Petite Sœur, Cousin, Cousine, Long, Récif, Round (Praslin), Anonyme, Mamelles, Moyenne, Eden, Île Soleil, Romainville, Île aux Vaches Marines, L'Islette, Beacon (Île Sèche), Cachée, Cocos, Round (Mahé), L'Ilot Frégate, Booby, Chauve-Souris (Mahé), Chauve-Souris (Praslin), Île La Fouche, Hodoul, L'Ilot, Rat, Souris, St. Pierre (Praslin), Zavé, Harrison Rocks (Grand Rocher).
There are two coral sand cays north of the granitics: Denis and Bird.
There are two coral islands south of the Granitics: Coëtivy and Platte.
There are 29 coral islands in the Amirantes group, west of the granitics: Desroches, Poivre Atoll (comprising three islands—Poivre, Florentin and South Island), Alphonse, D'Arros, St. Joseph Atoll (comprising 14 islands—St. Joseph Île aux Fouquets, Resource, Petit Carcassaye, Grand Carcassaye, Benjamin, Bancs Ferrari, Chiens, Pélicans, Vars, Île Paul, Banc de Sable, Banc aux Cocos and Île aux Poules), Marie Louise, Desnœufs, African Banks (comprising two islands—African Banks and South Island), Rémire, St. François, Boudeuse, Étoile, Bijoutier.
There are 13 coral islands in the Farquhar Group, south-southwest of the Amirantes: Farquhar Atoll (comprising 10 islands—Bancs de Sable, Déposés, Île aux Goëlettes, Lapins, Île du Milieu, North Manaha, South Manaha, Middle Manaha, North Island and South Island), Providence Atoll (comprising two islands—Providence and Bancs Providence) and St Pierre.
There are 67 raised coral islands in the Aldabra Group, west of the Farquhar Group: Aldabra Atoll (comprising 46 islands—Grande Terre, Picard, Polymnie, Malabar, Île Michel, Île Esprit, Île aux Moustiques, Ilot Parc, Ilot Émile, Ilot Yangue, Ilot Magnan, Île Lanier, Champignon des Os, Euphrate, Grand Mentor, Grand Ilot, Gros Ilot Gionnet, Gros Ilot Sésame, Héron Rock, Hide Island, Île aux Aigrettes, Île aux Cèdres, Îles Chalands, Île Fangame, Île Héron, Île Michel, Île Squacco, Île Sylvestre, Île Verte, Ilot Déder, Ilot du Sud, Ilot du Milieu, Ilot du Nord, Ilot Dubois, Ilot Macoa, Ilot Marquoix, Ilots Niçois, Ilot Salade, Middle Row Island, Noddy Rock, North Row Island, Petit Mentor, Petit Mentor Endans, Petits Ilots, Pink Rock and Table Ronde), Assumption Island, Astove and Cosmoledo Atoll (comprising 19 islands—Menai, Île du Nord (West North), Île Nord-Est (East North), Île du Trou, Goélettes, Grand Polyte, Petit Polyte, Grand Île (Wizard), Pagode, Île du Sud-Ouest (South), Île aux Moustiques, Île Baleine, Île aux Chauve-Souris, Île aux Macaques, Île aux Rats, Île du Nord-Ouest, Île Observation, Île Sud-Est and Ilot la Croix).
The climate is equable although quite humid, as the islands are small, classified by Köppen-Geiger system as tropical rain forest (Af). The temperature varies little throughout the year. Temperatures on Mahé vary from 24 to 30 °C (75 to 86 °F), and rainfall ranges from 2,900 mm (114 in) annually at Victoria to 3,600 mm (142 in) on the mountain slopes. Precipitation is somewhat less on the other islands.
During the coolest months, July and August, the average low is about 24 °C (75 °F). The southeast trade winds blow regularly from May to November, and this is the most pleasant time of the year. The hot months are from December to April, with higher humidity (80%). March and April are the hottest months, but the temperature seldom exceeds 31 °C (88 °F). Most of the islands lie outside the cyclone belt, so high winds are rare.
Environmental legislation is very strict, and every tourism project must undergo an environmental review and a lengthy process of consultations with the public and conservationists. Seychelles is a world leader in sustainable tourism. The end result of this sustainable development is an intact and stable natural environment, which attracts financially strong visitors (150,000 in 2007) rather than short-term mass tourism. Since 1993 a law guarantees the citizens the right to a clean environment and at the same time obliges them to protect this environment. The country holds a record for the highest percentage of land under natural conservation—nearly 50% of the total land area.
Like many fragile island ecosystems, Seychelles saw the loss of biodiversity when humans first settled in the area, including the disappearance of most of the giant tortoises from the granitic islands, the felling of coastal and mid-level forests, and the extinction of species such as the chestnut flanked white eye, the Seychelles parakeet, and the saltwater crocodile. However, extinctions were far fewer than on islands such as Mauritius or Hawaii, partly due to a shorter period of human occupation (since 1770). Seychelles today is known for success stories in protecting its flora and fauna. The rare Seychelles black parrot, the national bird of the country, is now protected.
The granitic islands of Seychelles are home to about 75 endemic plant species, with a further 25 or so species in the Aldabra group. Particularly well-known is the coco de mer, a species of palm that grows only on the islands of Praslin and neighbouring Curieuse. Sometimes nicknamed the "love nut" because the shape of its "double" coconut resembles buttocks, the coco-de-mer produces the world's heaviest seed. The jellyfish tree is to be found in only a few locations on Mahe. This strange and ancient plant in a genus of its own (Medusagyne) seems to reproduce only in cultivation and not in the wild. Other unique plant species include Wright's gardenia (Rothmannia annae) found only on Aride Island Special Reserve.
The freshwater crab genus Seychellum is endemic to the granitic Seychelles, and a further 26 species of crabs and five species of hermit crabs live on the islands.
The Aldabra giant tortoise now populates many of the islands of Seychelles; the Aldabra population is the largest remaining. These unique reptiles can be found even in captive herds. The granitic islands of Seychelles may support distinct species of Seychelles giant tortoises; the status of the different populations is currently unclear.
There are several unique species of orchid on the islands.
Seychelles hosts some of the largest seabird colonies in the world, notably on the outer islands of Aldabra and Cosmoledo. In granitic Seychelles the largest colonies are on Aride Island including the world's largest numbers of two species. Sooty terns also breed on the islands. Other birds include Cattle egrets (Bubulcus ibis) and Fairy terns (Gygis alba).
The marine life around the islands, especially the more remote coral islands, can be spectacular. More than 1,000 species of fish have been recorded.
Since the use of spearguns and dynamite for fishing was banned through efforts of local conservationists in the 1960s, the wildlife is unafraid of snorkelers and divers. Coral bleaching in 1998 has damaged most reefs, but some reefs show healthy recovery (e.g., Silhouette Island).
Despite huge disparities across nations, Seychelles claims to have achieved nearly all of its Millennium Development Goals. 17 MDGS and 169 targets have been achieved. Environmental protection is becoming a cultural value.
Their government's Seychelles Climate Guide describes the nation's climate as rainy, with a dry season with an ocean economy in the ocean regions. The Southeast Trades is on the decline but still fairly strong. Reportedly, weather patterns there are becoming less predictable.