Cape Verde once again ranked second this year in the annual Mo Ibrahim Index, published alongside the prize and measuring excellence in governance, economic development and a host of other admirable categories. Among this year's notable results are Liberia and Sierra Leone, which improved the most. Togo and Angola also did well. Three of the top five are once again island nations: Cape Verde plus the Seychelles and Mauritius.
Seychelles is classed as an upper middle-income country and has met many of the UN Millennium Development Goals. Approximately 92% of the population is literate and life expectancy is 73 years, well above the norm for Africa.
The islands were uninhabited until the 17th century. They were proclaimed a French colony in 1756 but the first French settlers did not arrive until 1770; the French ruled the islands with delegated powers from Mauritius. Both the British and the French were keenly interested in the strategic value of the islands and during the late 1790s and early 1800s Seychelles changed hands several times.
Creole in Seychelles developed from dialects of southwest France spoken by the original settlers. It consists basically of a French vocabulary with a few Malagasy, Bantu, English, and Hindi words, and has a mixture of Bantu and French syntax. Very little Seychelles Creole literature exists; development of an orthography of the language was completed only in 1981. The government-backed Kreol Institute promotes the use of Creole by developing a dictionary, sponsoring literary competitions, giving instruction in translation, and preparing course material to teach Creole to foreigners.
Creole, the mother tongue of 94 percent of the nation in 1990, was adopted as the first official language of the nation in 1981. English is the second language and French the third, all of them officially recognized. The increased emphasis on Creole is designed to facilitate the teaching of reading to primary-level students and to help establish a distinct culture and heritage. Opponents of the René government thought it a mistake to formalize Creole, which had no standardized spelling system. They regarded it as a great advantage for Seychellois to be bilingual in French and English; treating Creole as a language of learning would, they feared, be at the expense of French and English.
Authorities in the Seychelles boarded a small tanker, MT Esperanza, earlier this week and found no living souls aboard. The vessel had been drifting on the high seas since December, when its crew had been rescued by an American destroyer, the USS Sterett. The Esperanza had been boarded by pirates and the crew had disabled its engines. The captain of the Sterett claimed to have made "heroic efforts" to get the Esperanza going again. But it was left to the Seychelles to locate the ghost ship and tow it to port.
Amidst a worldwide decline in amphibian populations, those species endemic to islands remain an important focus for conservation efforts. The Sooglossidae are a family of frog species endemic to the Seychelles islands that are believed to have evolved in isolation for approximately 75 million years. Formerly thought to inhabit just two Seychelles islands (Mahé and Silhouette), a third population was discovered on Praslin in 2009. Phylogenetic analysis based on 438 bp of mitochondrial 16S rRNA suggests that the Praslin population is most closely related to Sooglossus sechellensis from Silhouette, and identifies these as two separate clades which together sit distinct from the population on Mahé.
Franky Bossuyt and S. D. Biju of the Free University of Brussels in Belgium discovered a novel purple frog in India's Western Ghats Mountains that has a bulbous body and a pointy snout. The researchers analyzed the animal's DNA and demonstrated that its closest living relatives are the so-called sooglossids frogs of the Seychelles, an archipelago between India and Africa. The newly discovered species, dubbed Nasikabatrachus sahyadrensis, diverged from the sooglossids about 130 million years ago, prior to the break up of India and the Seychelles around 65 million years ago.
The music of Seychelles is diverse. The folk music of the islands incorporates multiple influences in a syncretic fashion, including English contredanse, polka and mazurka, French folk and pop, sega from Mauritius and Réunion, taarab, soukous and other pan-African genres, and Polynesian, Indian and Arcadian music. A complex form of percussion music called contombley is popular, as is Moutya, a fusion of native folk rhythms with Kenyan benga developed by Ton Pa.
Since independence in 1976, per capita output in this Indian Ocean archipelago has expanded to roughly seven times the pre-independence, near-subsistence level, moving the island into the upper-middle income group of countries. Growth has been led by the tourist sector, which employs about 30% of the labor force and provides more than 70% of hard currency earnings, and by tuna fishing. In recent years, the government has encouraged foreign investment to upgrade hotels and other services. At the same time, the government has moved to reduce the dependence on tourism by promoting the development of farming, fishing, and small-scale manufacturing.