The Seychellois call them "zil elwannyen". Far from the central group of Mahé, the most distant of these islands are indeed closer to the African and Malagasy coasts than to Victoria. These oil islands, although isolated for a long time because access requires several days by boat, were nevertheless long exploited for their natural resources (coconut palms, guano and fish), and inhabited by itinerant workers under contract. Copra continues to be exploited in many of these areas, which are now less remote. The State has built many airstrips, on Desroches, D'Arros, Marie-Louise, Farquhar, Astove and Assomption. With the exception of the solitary Coëtivy (now famous for its shrimp farming, 90% of which is exported) and Île Plate, lost south of Mahé, all the others can be divided into three groups : Amirantes, Farquhar and Aldabra. From Desroches to Farquhar, via Silhouette, Plate, Rémire, Poivre, Assomption, Marie-Louise and Alphonse, a dozen of these remote islands are managed by IDC (Island Development Company), a parastatal company led by Glenny Savy (one of the influential sons of former President René) and employing four hundred people, notably in the maintenance of coconut groves. When, beyond the Amirantes, already open to tourism through Desroches and D'Arros, you take the road south, you first come across the immense lagoon of Alphonse, named after the 170-hectare island with a very large coconut grove, whose exploitation justifies its being inhabited. La passe La Mort franchie, a coral reef surrounds two islets, Saint-François and a pure jewel of sand and coconut palms, Bijoutier le bien nommé, the archetype of the desert island, which the guests of Alphonse have the privilege to walk on. From there, to reach the Farquhar Archipelago, some 700 km southwest of Mahé and just over 200 km from Madagascar, two more days of sailing are required. Composed of a handful of small islands that form an atoll of 720 ha, this group was discovered by the Portuguese navigator Juan Nova. Named after the first English governor of Mauritius, it is 15 km long and not even 1 km wide. It is a superb atoll, whose two udders here are also copra and fishing, mobilizing about a hundred workers. The interminable bench of Providence, some 30 km long, also belongs to this group almost ignored by tourists, three and a half hours by plane from the capital.
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