BBC Country Profile, 10 January 2001
Just a year after independence in 1976, the Seychelles appeared to be heading down the path of instability which has blocked the development of many African states.
The Prime Minister, France Rene, overthrew the President, James Mancham, and embarked on a programme aimed at giving poorer people a greater share of the country's wealth.
His coup, though bloodless, resulted in about 10,000 islanders fleeing the country. Four years later, with the help of Tanzanian troops, Rene thwarted an attempt by South African mercenaries to restore Mancham.
An army mutiny in 1982, followed by several attempted coups, suffered a similar fate.
However, in 1991, possibly in response to pressure from foreign creditors and aid donors, Rene restored multiparty democracy and went on to win the presidential elections in 1993 and 1998.
His party, the Seychelles People's Progressive Front, won parliamentary elections by a landslide in 1998. He also endorsed a shift towards a free-market economy.
Rene's opponents say that despite the return to multiparty democracy, the repressive atmosphere of a one-party state continues to prevail.
President: France Albert Rene
Born in the Seychelles in 1935, France Rene was educated in Switzerland and Britain, where he became active in the British Labour Party. He returned home in 1965 and founded the Seychelles People's United Party - which later became the Seychelles People's Progressive Front - and the islands' first trade union.
He campaigned against British rule and opposed the plans of James Mancham, leader of the Seychelles Democratic Party, for membership of the British Commonwealth.
MEDIAFreedom of speech has improved since one-party rule was abolished in 1993. There is one government-run daily newspaper and other publications which support the ruling Seychelles Progressive People's Front. Independent or pro-opposition publications are robust in their reporting despite tough libel laws.
The government-controlled Seychelles Broadcasting Corporation, which operates both radio and TV services, provided substantial coverage to opposition as well as government candidates during the 1998 elections.
The population are also able to tune into the BBC World Service and Radio France Internationale which are relayed locally on FM.