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ar S. Cousin
PRASLIN and GROUP.
Part of the Seychelles Archipelago.
B. St Anne
WATT FLOW&S LIMITETNIK IN WALL LONDONE
and East Sister
one man aged 76 and one woman aged 94. The inhabitants are generally healthy, and are spoken of as moral, religious, and hospitable.
In the way of live stock, the inhabitants have between them about 170 head of cattle, about 600 sheep and a stock of poultry. Potatoes do well, and crops are got in annually. Potatoes form the staple article of diet. Fish of good quality is obtainable in plenty. During the nesting season penguin and albatross eggs are gathered. For flour, sugar, jam and other prepared or manufactured food the island is dependent upon passing ships. Despite the limited choice of diet no evidence of malnutrition or deficiency disease is observable. Apple trees are in fair number, and bear well; there are also a few fig trees, but they do not fruit. The tree of the island, which apparently is a juniper, and upon which the islanders are dependent for their wood for fuel, is getting scarce in the neighbourhood of the settlement, but is abundant further off, and there is no fear of supply failing.
The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel has from time to time maintained a clergyman in the island.
In January, 1904, the island was visited by H.M.S. "Odin" in order to ascertain whether the islanders would accept the offer of the Cape Government to settle them in the Cape Colony, but out of eleven families only three families elected to go. The islanders are liable from time to time to privations. In March, 1907, owing to information indicating probability of failure of supplies, relief was sent by His Majesty's Government by the "Greyhound," chartered at Cape Town. On this occasion also the inhabitants were unwilling to leave the island, and the Rev. J. G. Barrow, a clergyman who had gone to the island in April, 1906, reported that though there is sure to be privation from time to time, it does not cause absolute distress. (See correspondence presented to Parliament in Cd. 3098 and Ĉd. 3764.) Arrangements are usually made for the island to be visited by a ship at least once a year.
January, February, and March are the best months for visiting the island. It is in these months that weather at times becomes so settled that the islanders are able to make visits to Inaccessible and Nightingale Islands, which are some 20 miles off. They also are often able to visit these islands in November to gather eggs, etc.
The Seychelles Islands are situated between the parallels of S. lat. 4° and 10°. The total area of the Colony and its dependencies is 156 sq. miles. The number of islands under the Seychelles Government is 92.
The death-rate in 1937 was 14:22 per 1,000; the birth-rate in 1937 being 26-72 per 1,000.
Mahé is the largest and most populous of the Seychelles Islands. It is 17 miles long and 3 to 7 miles broad, and is estimated to contain 55 square miles. It has about 105 miles of good roads and paths, and communication between all the districts of the island is easy. The estimated population of Mahé in 1937 was 26,327.
It is distant from Mauritius 934, from Madagascar 600, and from Zanzibar 970 miles.
It is fertile, and healthy. The shade temperature seldom exceeds 84, and falls frequently at night to 72, and the records taken on the hills are several degrees lower. The rainfall at Victoria was in 1937, 92-97 inches.
The island rises abruptly from the sea, and the highest peak reaches the elevation of 2,993 feet. Victoria, the capital of the island, is situated in a valley in the north-east, and has a safe and commodious harbour, provided with a lighthouse showing a white flash of 0.7 second duration every 67 seconds.
The other chief islands are Praslin (9,700 acres); Silhouette (4,900 acres); La Digue (2,500 acres), Curieuse (900 acres); Félicité (689 acres); North Island (525 acres); St. Anne (500 acres); Providence (500 acres); Frigate (700 acres); Denis (340 acres); Cerf (290 acres); and Bird or Sea Cow Island (160 acres).
The following islands are also dependencies of Seychelles :- The Amirantes, Alphonse Island, Bijoutier Island, St. Francois Island, St. Pierre Island, the Cosmoledo Group, Astove Island, Assumption Island, Coetivy, Aldabra and Farquhar İsland.
The island of Coëtivy, formerly a dependency Letters Patent in 1907, and Farquhar Island of Mauritius, was transferred to Seychelles by
The islands are believed to have been discovered
by a Portuguese named Pedro Mascaregnas, in 1505, but the discovery was not apparently followed by any attempt at colonisation."
Previous to the French occupation they were the resort of pirates or corsairs who infested the Indian Ocean, some of whose names are borne by descendants in Mahé at the present time.
Under the Government at Mauritius of Labour
donnais, whose name they originally bore, their position was first defined in 1743, and M. Picault, who took possession of the Islands in the name of the King of France, called the principal island Mahé. In 1756 the group was re-named the Seychelles Islands, in honour of the Vicomte Moreau de Séchelles, who was Controller-General of Finance under Louis XV., from 1754 to 1756.
The natural resources of the Islands, and their freedom from hurricanes, induced the French to transplant from the Isle de France (now Mauritius) cinnamon, cloves, and nutmegs, under the direc tions of M. Poivre. Much secrecy was at first observed in regard to the existence of these retired plantations, the object being to wrest from the Dutch the lucrative spice monopoly which the colonies of that nation then enjoyed in Europe from their own possessions.
The rumours of the war that broke out between France and England in 1778, induced the then French Governor of Mauritius, Count de Souillac, to issue peremptory orders that in the event of an attack the spice plantations should be at once destroyed. Soon afterwards a French ship from Madagascar, having slaves on board, called at Mahé to take in wood and water, but fearing that the English might be in possession, adopted the ruse of hoisting the English flag. The small French force at Mahé had already been withdrawn, and the officer in charge, knowing that resistance was useless, at once set fire to the whole of the spice trees, each of which had previously been surrounded with dry wood and inflammable material.
During the war of the French Revolution Mahé was extremely useful to French ships as a place of refuge and refitment, but on the 17th May, 1794, it was captured by Captain Newcome, of His Majesty's ship "Orpheus."
The last French Governor, M. De Quincy, who was born at Paris in November, 1748, became, after Lieutenant Sullivan, R.N., who had been placed in charge, had left, the first Agent Civil under the British Government. M. De Quincy's reign as French Governor lasted twenty years. He remained for eighteen years in the service of the British Government, and died on the 10th July, 1827.
The capitulation was renewed in 1806 by "Albion," Capt. Ferrier, of His Majesty's ship but it was not until the capture of Mauritius in 1810, that Seychelles was formally taken possession of by the appointment of an Agent, and incorporated as a dependency of that Colony. 1794 to 1810 Seychelles, though nominally a British Colony, seems to have been administered as a French Colony, and all Civil Status Acts ran in the name of the French Government. A Board of Civil Commissioners was appointed in 1872, when the finances of the Seychelles were separated from those of Mauritius. The title of the Head of the Government was changed from that of Civil Commissioner to that of Chief Civil Commissioner. The powers of the Board were further enlarged in 1874 by another Order in Council.
The increasing importance of these islands was considered sufficient to warrant an alteration in the
constitution of the Government, and in December, 1888, an Order in Council was passed creating the office of Administrator, and nominating an Executive and Legislative Council. In 1897, by Letters Patent and Royal Instructions, the Administrator was given full powers as Governor, and Seychelles was practically separated from Mauritius. The separation was completely carried out by Letters Patent of 31st August, 1903, by which Seychelles was erected into a separate Colony under its own Governor and Commander-in-Chief.
An education grant of Rs. 22,214 is given for assisting schools of all denominations, of which there were 26 in 1937. All schools are now denominational. Technical education is dealt with by means
of Government apprenticeships. All primary schools arc inspected by the Inspector of Schools.
The British India Company's steamers call regularly once every 4 weeks from Bombay to East African Ports, and once every 8 weeks on their return voyage from Mombasa to Bombay. During June and July these steamers call fortnightly on their return voyage from Mombasa to Bombay. The Royal Dutch Mail Line steamers call once every month on their return journey from Mombasa to Singapore and Batavia and the Scandinavian East African Line steamers call irregularly at this port on their to Europe from Madagascar. The way Admiralty used Victoria a coaling station. Seychelles is now included in the East Indies Naval Station.
Telegraphic communication with Mauritius and Europe via Zanzibar was completed in November, 1893. Direct cables to Aden and Colombo were completed in 1922. The rates for telegrams from Seychelles were 90 cts. per word to Mauritius or Zanzibar, Rs. 1.90 to Aden and Rs. 1.50 for Great Britain and Northern Ireland, but, since the commencement of the Cable and Wireless Inter-Empire
Rates Scheme on the 25th April, 1938, the rate to all parts of the Empire is 85 ots. per word ordinary and 60 cts. per word code.
The present letter rate of postage to the United Kingdom, India, Dominions and British Possessions is 12 cents; to other countries of the Postal Union 20 cents. The parcels post has been in full operation since April, 1890. The cash on delivery service for parcel post was introduced in 1911. The money order system is in operation with England and numerous other countries and Bombay, Aden, Zanzibar, colonies, including Mauritius and Ceylon.
Savings Bank and Currency.
A Government Savings Bank was established in March, 1897, and at the close of the year 1937, the amount standing to the credit of depositors was Rs. 373,523. 75% of the Savings Bank Funds are invested. The branches which were established at Anse Royale and La Digue were closed during 1906 as there were no transactions. The Basein branch was reopened this year. The Bank is now self supporting.
The legal tender currency is Seychelles notes and Mauritius subsidiary coinage. Mauritius notes and
Indian notes and coins hitherto in free circulation have now been demonetised. Accounts are kept in rupees and cents.
A Local Board of Health, vested with powers and duties somewhat similar to those entrusted to
Municipal Bodies, was created in Victoria at the end of 1900. In 1922 the title was changed to that of "The Victoria Town Board." Similar Boards were created for the Islands of Praslin and La Digue at the end of 1901, and for the South Mahé District in March, 1902. A Road Board for the North
Mahé District was created in 1935, this Board now enjoys the full status of a District Board.
Products and Industries, Trade and
In 1937 the chief exports were copra, 5,611 tons; guano, 9,594 tons; essential oils, 72,741 kilos ; tortoiseshell, 896 kilos; vanilla, 466 kilos: calipee, 4,416 kilos; bird egg yolk liquid, 27,890 kilos.
In Victoria, there is a Botanic Garden containing many interesting tropical plants.
More especially at Praslin, though also in other parts of the group, are to be found the celebrated coco-de-mer, with the leaves of which beautiful hats and delicate basket work are made by the natives.
The Aldabra group of islands under the Seychelles administration is the habitat of the gigantic land tortoises; numerous living specimens are, however, to be seen in Mahé and the neighbouring islands.
The revenue is derived principally from specific import duties, which are light, and an ad valorem duty of 15 per cent. on articles not otherwise enumerated (10 per cent. surtax on Customs Imports duty was imposed for the period of the War and is still in force), licences, an income tax on a graduated scale and a tax on immovable property and stamps. An export duty of Rs. 1 a ton is levied on guano, prepared fertiliser, and mangrove bark, Rs. 2 a ton on cinnamon bark and Rs. I per hectolitre of whale oil. The Customs Tariff is partly ad valorem and specific and provision for Empire preference has been included in 1932.