Seychelles is an African country that consists of about 90 islands in the Indian Ocean. The islands are scattered over 1,035,995 square kilometres. They lie about 1,600 kilometres east of the African mainland. Seychelles has a total land area of 455 square kilometres and a population of about 75,000. The largest island, Mahe, covers 153 square kilometres. Approximately 85 per cent of the population lives on Mahe. Most of the rest of the people live on the next largest islands, Praslin and La Digue. Many of the smaller islands are uninhabited. Victoria, on Mahe, is the nation's capital, chief port, and only town. It has a population of about 24,000. Seychelles was ruled by the United Kingdom from 1814 until 1976, when it became independent.