Seychelles is a 115-island country located in the Indian Ocean. The capital, Victoria, lies 932 miles east of mainland Southeast Africa. Other nearby island countries ad territories include Zanzibar to the west and Comoros, Mayotte, Madagascar, Réunion and Mauritius to the south.
A lengthy struggle between France and Great Britain for the islands ended in 1814, when they were ceded to the latter. Independence from the UK came in 1976 and socialist rule was brought to a close with a new constitution and free elections in 1993.
The constitution of the Republic of Seychelles lists 115 islands occupying a land area of 455 sq km with an Exclusive Economic Zone of 1.4 sq km. Of the 115 islands, 41 of them are granitic in nature and 74 are coralline. The granitic islands, which form a part of the archipelago, are considered the oldest and hardest granite in the world. The largest island is Mahe, which is home to about 90% of the population and the site of the capital, Victoria.
The climate is tropical and humid and temperature varies little throughout the year.
Seychelles enjoys effective telecommunications services for both fixed and mobile lines. The islands in the archipelago communicate via direct radiotelephone communications. Also available are internet services, multi-channel and cable TV.
The only international gateway to the Seychelles is Seychelles International Airport near Victoria. Air Seychelles flies only to Johannesburg and Mauritius. International service is also available from Addis Ababa (Ethiopian Airlines), Nairobi (Kenya Airways), Dubai (Emirates), Abu Dhabi (Etihad) and Doha (Qatar Airways), and regular charter services from Frankfurt (Condor). Mihin Lanka of Sri Lanka now also flies to Seychelles connecting through Colombo to Victoria.
With a population of 91,650 people, Seychelles has the smallest population of any African state. The Seychellois people are a mixture of French, African, Indian, Chinese and Arab ethnicity.
Through harmonious socioecomic policies and developments over the years, today Seychelles is described as a beautiful fusion of peoples and cultures. Numerous Seychellois are considered multiracial: blending from African, Asian and European descent to create a modern Creole culture.
As the islands of Seychelles had no indigenous population, the current Seychellois are composed of people who have immigrated.
Official languages include French, English and Seychellois Creole.
Government and Legal System
The Legal System of Seychelles is a mixture of English Common Law, French Civil Law and Customary Law.
Within the governance system, the President, who is both Head of State and Head of Government, is elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms. The President along with his Cabinet, which is presided over and appointed by the President subject to approval of a majority of the legislature, comprises the Executive Branch.
The Legislative Branch consists of a unicameral National Assembly which is made up of 34 seats with 25 of those seats filled by members elected by popular vote and 9 seats allocated on a proportional basis to parties winning at least 10% of the vote. Members of the National Assembly are voted in to serve five-year terms.
The Judicial Branch has as the highest courts, the Seychelles Court of Appeal consisting of the court president and 4 justices, the Supreme Court of Seychelles consisting of the Chief Justice and 5 puisne judges and the Constitutional Court consisting of 3 Supreme Court judges. The Subordinate Courts include the Magistrates’ Courts and the Family Tribunal.
Seychelles is a member of the Indian Ocean Commission, La Francophonie and the Commonwealth of Nations.
International Financial Services Industry
Seychelles has grown to be a respected jurisdiction in the global financial services market and has experienced a significant increase in know-how, business volumes and international profile over the last 10 years. The country’s geographical location contributes greatly in its success as it provides a significant advantage in servicing the European, Asian, Middle Eastern and African markets.
The Seychelles International Business Company (IBC) is the most popular type of international corporation available in Seychelles. Following the success of the Seychelles IBC, the jurisdiction introduced several other areas of international business, including Company Special Licenses, International Trusts, Foundations, Limited Partnerships, Securities and Mutual Funds.
Essentially, the Seychelles IBC is a completely tax-free corporation that undertakes business activities outside of Seychelles. These companies are exempt from all forms of taxation and are commonly used for:
- Holding companies
- Asset protection
- International consultancy companies
- Companies involved in international trade
The IBC can generally do anything that a body corporate can do, subject to any limitations set by its objects. It is specifically prohibited, however, from conducting business as a bank, insurer, re-insurer or trustee as these are all specially licensed activities. The IBC may also be converted to other resident companies such as the Company Special License.
The Seychelles Financial Services Authority replaced the Seychelles International Business Authority from 1st March 2014 as the regulator for non-bank financial services in the Seychelles. Established under the Financial Services Authority Act, 2013, the Authority is responsible for the licensing, supervision and development of the non-bank financial services industry in Seychelles. The Authority is also responsible for the registration of IBCs and Foundations.