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Full name: The Republic of Seychelles
Population: 87,400 (UN, 2011)
Capital: Victoria
Area: 455 sq km (176 sq miles)
Major languages: English, French, Creole
Major religion: Christianity
Life expectancy: 68 years (men), 78 years (women) (UN)
Monetary unit: 1 Seychelles rupee = 100 cents
Main exports: Fish, cinnamon bark, copra, petroleum products (re-exports)
GNI per capita: US $11,270 (World Bank, 2011)
Internet domain: .sc
International dialling code: +248

After an ominous, post-independence start which saw them lurch from a coup, through an invasion by mercenaries to an abortive army mutiny and several coup attempts, the Seychelles have attained stability and prosperity.

Citizens of the Indian Ocean archipelago enjoy a high per capita income, good health care and education.

But just a year after independence in 1976, the Seychelles appeared to be heading down the path of instability which has plagued many African states.

The prime minister, France Albert Rene, overthrew the president, James Mancham, and embarked on a programme aimed at giving poorer people a greater share of the country's wealth.

Four years later, with the help of Tanzanian troops, Mr Rene thwarted an attempt by South African mercenaries to restore Mr Mancham.

An army mutiny in 1982, followed by several attempted coups, suffered a similar fate.

But in 1991, possibly in response to pressure from foreign creditors and aid donors, Mr Rene restored multi-party democracy.

The country's economy depends heavily on a fishing industry and upmarket tourism; the latter is vulnerable to downturns in the global travel market. Fine beaches and turquoise seas are among the main attractions.

The archipelago is home to an array of wildlife, including giant tortoises and sea turtles. Much of the land is given over to nature reserves.

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