COUNTRY DESCRIPTION ^
The Republic of Seychelles consists of 115 islands off the east coast of Africa. The main islands of this archipelago include Mahe, which is the largest and has a population of approximately 71,000, followed by Praslin and La Digue, which have populations of approximately 7,000 and 2,000, respectively. Rainfall varies from island to island, but Seychelles is not normally affected by hurricanes. English and French are the official languages. The capital, Victoria, is located on
SECURITY AND SAFETY ^
U.S. citizens should avoid crowds, political rallies, and street demonstrations. It is dangerous to swim alone at isolated beaches, especially after dark, due to strong currents.
Petty crime is a problem, but violent crime against tourists is rare. Travelers who keep valuables in hotel safes and who close and lock hotel windows at night, even while the room is occupied, are less likely to be at risk. Hotels that do not have private safes in the rooms will usually have one at the reception desk.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES ^
While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country�s laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Seychelles law, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Seychelles are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.
Under the PROTECT Act of April 2003, it is a crime, prosecutable in the United States, for a U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien, to engage in illicit sexual conduct in a foreign country with a person under the age of 18, whether or not the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident alien intended to engage in such illicit sexual conduct prior to going abroad. For purposes of the PROTECT Act, illicit sexual conduct includes any commercial sex act in a foreign country with a person under the age of 18. The law defines a commercial sex act as any sex act, on account of which anything of value is given to or received by a person under the age of 18.
Under the Protection of Children from Sexual Predators Act of 1998, it is a crime to use the mail or any facility of interstate or foreign commerce, including the Internet, to transmit information about a minor under the age of 16 for criminal sexual purposes that include, among other things, the production of child pornography. This same law makes it a crime to use any facility of interstate or foreign commerce, including the Internet, to transport obscene materials to minors under the age of 16.
MEDICAL FACILITIES ^
Medical facilities in Seychelles are limited, especially on the isolated islands where doctors are often unavailable. There is one government-owned hospital and several private clinics.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS ^
While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Seychelles is provided for general reference only and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance:
Safety of Public Transportation: Good
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Good
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Fair
Availability of Roadside/Ambulance Assistance: Fair
In Seychelles, one drives on the left side of the street. Roads are generally well maintained but are narrow and winding. Drivers should exercise caution due to a lack of shoulders and inadequate street lighting. Speed limits range from 25 to 50 miles an hour. Drivers and front seat passengers are required to wear seat belts. There are no laws regarding child safety seats.
The Seychelles Ministry of Health operates an ambulance service on the islands of Mahe, Praslin, and La Digue that can be summoned by dialing 999. Assistance on the more remote islands is limited. For more information, contact the Ministry of Health at P.O. Box 52, Victoria, Mahe, Seychelles; telephone (248) 388 000; email:
Public transportation by bus is good but tends to be crowded during rush hours and usually requires several transfers to reach a desired destination. Taxis are also available.
For specific information concerning Seychelles driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, contact the Seychelles Ministry of Tourism via email at
or the Seychelles Tourism Marketing Authority via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT ^
As there is no direct commercial air service between the U.S. and the Seychelles by local carriers at present, nor economic authority to operate such service, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Seychelles�s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Seychelles air carrier operations.
For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA website at
http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/index.cfm. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact the DOD at (618) 229-4801.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES ^
Many of the outer islands of Seychelles are extremely isolated, and travel by ship to these areas, including for rescue attempts, may be impossible in stormy weather. The outer islands have no airstrips to accommodate air traffic.
Recent amendments to Seychelles foreign exchange laws require that visitors must pay their hotel bills with a U.S. credit card or U.S. currency. Visitors wishing to exchange foreign currency for Seychelles rupees are strongly advised to do so at officially sanctioned banks or hotels, as exchanging money with unauthorized dealers at the black-market rate is a felony.
Please also refer to the separate Worldwide Caution Public Announcement.
July 7, 2004