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This tropical archipelago is a paradise for those interested in the natural world. The Seychelles is famed for its pristine beaches and is home to a fascinating variety of flora and fauna to be found in the lush forests and beautiful coral reefs. The islands which form this archipelago remained uninhabited for much of recorded history and the first Europeans to discover the Seychelles were the Portuguese, commanded by the famous 16th century explorer, Vasco da Gama. The islands were later fought over by the colonial powers of Britain and France, eventually coming under the control of the British Empire in 1810, until the islands were granted independence in 1976.