The Creole Culture


Summary of the main events in Seychelles history.

  • Arab seafarers visited the islands as early as the ninth century.
  • The Phoenicians of old, as well as the Polynesians en route to Madagascar may well have called on the islands
  • Portuguese navigator Juan de Nova made the first recorded landing in the Seychelles in 1501.
  • Vasco da Gama sighted the Amirantes Island Group en route to India in 1502
  • On early Portuguese maps – Seychelles appeared as the Sete Irmas or Seven Sisters
  • In 1609 came the first Squadron from the English East India Company under the command of captain Alexander Sharpeigh
  • The Islands were a pirate hide-out during the 16th and 17th centuries
  • A French settlement was finally established in 1770 with 15 whites, 5 Maladar Indians, and eight Africans.
  • The island remained in French hands until the defeat of Napoleon at waterloo and Seychelles population had reached 3500 by the time Seychelles was ceded to Britain under the treaty of Paris in 1814
  • During this period Seychelles came to know the enlightened policies of administrators such as Pierre Poivre, the dastardly schemes of rogues such as Brayer du Barre, the brilliant politicking of Governor Queau de Quincy and the terrible repercussions of the French Revolution.
  • Under the British, Seychelles slumbered for the next 161 years as a backwater colony achieving a population of some 7000 by the year 1825
  • Important estates were established during British rule featuring coconut, food-crops, cotton and sugar cane
  • During this period Seychelles saw the establishment of Victoria as her capital, the exile of numerous and colourful troublemakers from the Empire, the devastation caused by the famous avalanche of 1862 and the economic repercussions of the abolition of slavery.
  • In 1976 Seychelles became a republic within the commonwealth and in 1977 President France Albert René achieved power.

Location - Geography

  • Indian Ocean, 1600 kms off the east coast of Africa
  • Between 4-10º South of the Equator
  • 115 tropical islands spread over an area of 1,300,000 km²
  • 42 granitic islands, some rising nearly 1000m out of the sea. 73 coralline islands which are sand cays and atolls, low and flat and rising between 6 and 13 metres above the high water mark

The Inner Islands are largely granitic and situated on the Seychelles plateau. Mahé, Praslin and La Digue and their neighbouring islands are the most frequented, offering the widest range of accommodation facilities. Frégate, Bird and Denis Island, a little more isolated, also fall within the Inner Islands.

The Outer Islands, located beyond the Seychelles plateau, consist of mainly low lying sand cays and coral atolls. Within this group only two islands were inhabited, Desroches and Alphonse.

The Outer Islands fall into five distinct groups:

The Amirantes Group
The Southern Coral Group
The Alphonse Group
The Farquhar Group
The Aldabra Group


  • Today there are three official national languages of Seychelles Creole, French and English although many Seychellois also speak fluent Italian or German.
  • Creole Language is an adaptation of 17th Century French with other words and expressions coming from Africa and Madagascar.
  • Creole is today a written language as well as spoken and has earned the same respect that English and French have.
  • Such freedom has resulted in an outburst of creativity in plays, poetry and prose

For more information on the Creole language please contact the Ministry of Culture


  • The Seychellois are a colourful blend of races all of whom have brought something of their own customs and cultures to the islands
  • Harmonious blend of different nationalities giving social stability
  • Predominantly descendents of African, European, Chinese, Indian settlers
  • Seychellois are generally friendly but shy


  • There are three main religions in Seychelles; Christianity (Catholics and Anglicans, Seventh Day Adventist,) Hinduism, Islam
  • French Catholicism has proved to be the most influential and even survived British rule. Mass and other parish feasts are colourful occasions for Seychellois to dress up in their Sunday best and socialise


  • The population of Seychelles stands at just over 80,000 people, two-thirds of whom live on Mahé and in particular around the capital, Victoria.

Legends and Story-Telling

  • Stories of ghosts and strange apparitions abound in Seychelles and people generally tend to be superstitious
  • Many tales are linked to buried treasure: harking back to a time when pirates used the islands as a hideaway
  • The oral tradition is very strong as television and radio have only recently replaced story telling as a form of entertainment on the islands
  • Some examples of popular stories surround a mythical character call “Soungula” and his exploits

For more information on legends please contact the Creole Institute.

Music and Dance

  • There are several traditional dance forms in Seychelles
  • Hotel entertainment often includes displays of these dance forms
  • The sega is a tantalizing hip swaying regional dance accompanied by guitars, drums and even synthesizers.
  • The moutia is a traditional dance accompanied by large flat drums made from goatskin and tuned over a fire prior to being played. The dance was banned by the old colonial authorities as being too sexually brazen.
  • It is the moutia that is most closely associated with the African heritage of the Seychellois people
  • Other African looking instruments also make up the musical heritage of the Seychellois sound: the one stringed zez from Madagascar, the bonm and the kaskavel
  • Contre Dance is another imported dance originating at the French court
  • Kanmtole is a reminiscent of a barn dance/Scottish country reel. This is played to a fiddle, triangle and banjo with a ‘komander’ calling the moves

Arts and Crafts

  • Seychelles’ artists exercise their skills across a broad spectrum and their works include everything from the small memorabilia you would expect to find in a tourism-driven economy through to magnificent collectors items.
    The products include
    • Books
    • Paintings
    • Stained glass
    • Coconut shell
    • Husk products
    • Works featuring seashells, coral and clothing
    • Forms of jewellery-pearl, wood gold and silver
    • Products such as bags, baskets, napkin rings, candle holders all made from recycled materials, coconut palms, fibres, bamboo, metal and pottery
    • Vanilla and coconut oil/scents
    • A tour around the principal islands will allow the visitor to savour the richness of artistic expression on display in many charming galleries and out-of-the-way studios

Creole Cuisine

  • The origins of the racial mix of the Seychellois people are reflected in their cooking from
  • India comes many varieties of curry
  • China comes popular rice dishes and stir-fried vegetables and noodles with steamed fish\France the aromatic blends of garlic and herbs
  • Local delicacies include traditional dishes such as:
    • Kari zourit (a creamy octopus curry)
    • Tec tec soup (a small white shellfish collected from the beaches and made into a soup usually with pumpkin)
    • Poisson sale (salted dried fish)
    • Bouillon brede (spinach soup)
    • A variety of chutneys (side dishes made by local fruit, fish and vegetables)
    • Poisson grillé (grilled fish marinated in garlic, ginger, onions and chillies)


  • Creole architecture is an important cultural aspect of Seychelles
  • The designs of some of the grand old houses with their steep roofs are representative of 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