First colonised by France, since independence in 1976, Seychelles has remained relatively stable politically and economically. France Albert Rene was President of the Seychelles since he took power in a bloodless coup in 1977 until 2004. James Michel James, formerly the vice-president under René, currently holds power since winning elections in 2006 and 2011. Seychelles is the least populated state in Africa, with the highest standards of living.
Its stable political environment has allowed Seychelles to benefit economically from tourism, with fishing and tourism being its largest industries. Its sparse population combined with tough environmental legislation, makes Seychelles an important habitat for endangered wildlife, including giant tortoises and sea turtles.
Seychellois culture is a blend of European, African, Indian, and Chinese influences, which reflects its history of immigration. Antoine Abel, novelist, playwright, and poet, was born on Mahé Island, part of the Seychelles Archipelago, and is considered the 'father of Seychellois literature'. His works combines elements of Seychellois folklore with European literary forms, and situates these within the unique natural environment of the islands. The annual Prix Antoine Abel is awarded at the Festival Kreol des Seychelles. Other Seychellois literary figures include poets Pat Matyot and Magie Faure-Vidot.