The capital city of the Seychelles, Victoria is on Mahé island where much of the population reside. A small capital, it is the country’s major port and only town.
Although previously inhabited by the indigenous population, Victoria was founded in 1772 by French colonists 2 years after they first settled the Seychelles. Spice plantations were developed to rival the Dutch monopoly in the Indian Ocean, and Victoria’s port was developed to accommodate this trade. When the British took the Seychelles from the French at the end of the eighteenth century, Victoria came under British control. To commemorate the Seychelles becoming an independent crown colony in 1903, a replica of London’s Vauxhall Bridge clock tower was built in the centre of Victoria. In 1971 the islands’ tourist industry received a boost when the British financed the building of an international airport near Victoria.
Victoria is the seat of the government and administrative bodies and a business and cultural centre. The Seychelles’ leading port, the deep water harbour can accommodate several freights. The town’s main exports include coconut oil and fish. International flights travel to Victoria several times a week while other settlements on Mahé Island can be accessed by road. An International Conferences Centre was opened in 1994.
Places of Interest
The town centre retains much of its colonial aspect, although recent developments have modernized much of the town. Religious buildings include a Cathedral, a Hindu temple, a mosque and the colonial Capuchin Friary. The century old Botanical Gardens contain the native coco de mer palm trees and an orchid garden, while the Jardin du Roi gardens has a collection of tropical plants, fruits and spices. The three intertwined wings of the Traw Zwazo (three birds) sculpture symbolize the inhabitants’ Asian, African and European origins. Museums include the Natural History Museum which displays the skeleton of the extinct native crocodile and shells of the giant tortoise. The National Museum has a display on the history of spice cultivation while the Seychelles People’s United Party Museum provides information on the country’s political history.