Assumption Island

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Assumption Island
Nickname: Île de l'Assomption
Assumption Island is located in Seychelles
Assumption Island
Assumption Island
Location of Assumption Island in Seychelles
Geography
Location Indian Ocean
Coordinates 09°45′S 46°29′E / 9.750°S 46.483°E / -9.750; 46.483Coordinates: 09°45′S 46°29′E / 9.750°S 46.483°E / -9.750; 46.483
Archipelago Seychelles
Adjacent bodies of water Indian Ocean
Total islands 1
Major islands
  • Assumption
Area 11.60 km2 (4.48 sq mi)
Length 6.7 km (4.16 mi)
Width 2.9 km (1.8 mi)
Coastline 17.23 km (10.706 mi)
Highest elevation 32 m (105 ft)
Highest point southeast hill
Administration
Group Outer Islands
Sub-Group Aldabra Group
Districts Outer Islands District
Largest settlement Assumption (pop. 20)
Demographics
Population 20 (2016)
Pop. density 1.7 /km2 (4.4 /sq mi)
Ethnic groups Creole, French, East Africans, Indians.
Additional information
Time zone
ISO code SC-26
Official website www.seychelles.travel/en/discover/the-islands/outer-islands

Assumption Island is a small island in the Outer Islands of Seychelles north of Madagascar, with a distance of 1,135 km (705 mi) southwest of the capital, Victoria, on Mahé Island. In 2018, Seychelles and India signed an agreement to build and operate a joint military facility on a portion of the island.[1][2][3][4] The deal for an Indian military base in Seychelles was declared ‘dead’ by the Island’s opposition party. The plans for an Indian military base in Seychelles stirred up public protests by activists who believe that the islands must stay away from the brewing India-China regional conflict.[5]

History[edit]

Assumption Island was discovered by Captain Nicolas Morphey on 14 August 1756, and was named after the religious feast of the next day. In 1908, the island was leased to Mr H. Savy of Mahé, who built a coconut plantation on the island. The first settlement was in the northern part of the island.[6] During a visit 2 years later, he realized the guano potential of the island. The villagers transferred their labor force to guano mining camp, that operated from 1907 until 1983. The camp was the location of the current village. After that, the villagers were employed as fishermen, usually of bêche-de-mer, until it was declared protected. In the mid 1960s the island was proposed as an American military base, including a deep sea port. After strong protests from environmental organizations, this plan was rejected. In 1990 The airfield was built.[7]

Geography[edit]

Assumption Island is located about 27 km south of Anse Takamaka on Aldabra Atoll and is part of the Aldabra Group. It is a single coral island which measures 11.6 km2 (4.5 sq mi) in area. The western shore features an almost uninterrupted sandy beach of 5.5 km. Two large sand dunes are prominent on the southeastern coast of the island, one of them 32 metres (105 ft) high.[8] The 5.5 km, white, sandy beach that stretches on the southeastern side of the island has been several times named 'the best beach in the world' for its white sand, crystalline waters, diversity of marine life and, due to its remote location, lack of crowds (or in fact, any people at all). Due to the disruptive effect of guano mining which lasted until 1983, the island is dominated by expanses of bare rock and caves, and is sparsely covered with low-growing vegetation.

Demographics[edit]

Assumption Island has a small village, with about 20 people[citation needed], on the sheltered western side, surrounded by Casuarina trees. An abandoned coconut palm plantation is just south of it. The island has a construction camp with about 50 people at the southern point of the airfield. All labor are from India[citation needed].

Administration[edit]

The island belongs to Outer Islands District[9] The small population on the island receive all of their services from the Indian contingent[citation needed] at the southern part of the island. For governmental services, they have to go to Victoria, which is a difficult task.

Transport[edit]

The island is bisected by a 1,210 metres (3,970 ft) concrete airfield (ICAO: FSAS) that runs from between the two sand dunes on the southeast point to the village on the western coast. The island is occasionally serviced by an Island Development Company (IDC) aircraft from Mahé,[10] usually with scientists which have a boat take them to Aldabra Atoll.[11] The island has a small port called St. Thomas Anchorage, which is currently enlarged by the Indian army to a large port.[12]

Economics[edit]

The inhabitants on the island are engaged in very small scale farming and fishing which are mainly for the island consumption, and also work at the coast guard station near the village.[citation needed]

Joint Military Facility[edit]

Assumption Island Airport
Summary
Airport type Private
Owner Seychelles
Operator Islands Development Corporation (IDC)[13]
Location Assumption Island, Seychelles, Africa
Built 1989–1990; Major extensions 2015–2016
In use 1990–present
Elevation AMSL  ft / 3 m
Coordinates 9°44′32″S 46°30′24″E / 9.74222°S 46.50667°E / -9.74222; 46.50667
Map
Assumption Island Airstrip is located in Seychelles
Assumption Island Airstrip
Assumption Island Airstrip
Location of Assumption Island
Assumption Island Airstrip is located in Indian Ocean
Assumption Island Airstrip
Assumption Island Airstrip
Assumption Island Airstrip (Indian Ocean)
Runways
Direction Length Surface
ft m
13/31 1,210 Concrete

In 2015, Seychelles and India signed an agreement for constructing and operating joint military facility on the Island.[14][15][16][17] A coast surveillance radar system built by support from India became operational in 2016.[18][19] A revised agreement was signed in 2018 and the Seychelles President has endorsed its ratification.[20] The Indian government has also stated that this was a joint project on the request of the Seychelles government and would be jointly managed by both countries.[21] India plans to invest $550 million in building the facility.[22] Recently, The deal for an Indian military base in Seychelles was declared as ‘dead’ by the Island’s opposition party. The leader of the opposition also clearly stated that this was the end of the ‘assumption agreement’ and no further discussions on India’s military base were on the agenda.[23]

Tourism[edit]

The island was a popular cruise stop due to its long jetty, and the numbers of arrivals were maintained by the Seychelles, until the lease to India took place which closed the island to the public.

Flora and fauna[edit]

Assumption Island was once home to a great diversity of seabirds, including the Abbott's booby,[24] which is now confined to a single breeding island: Christmas Island, in the eastern Indian Ocean. Efforts are now underway by the Seychelles Islands Foundation, in conjunction with Island Conservation Society and the Islands Development Company, to restore the habitat of the island. The first successful step in this process was the removal of invasive, introduced bird species, Madagascar fody and red-whiskered bulbul.[25] A notable feature of this island is the Assumption Island day gecko, a subspecies of gecko found only on this island. An endemic race of souimanga sunbird once bred on the island, called Abbott's Booby.[26] The nature documentary of Jacques-Yves Cousteau and Louis Malle, The Silent World was partially shot on Assumption.[27] The island is known for its rich fish life.[citation needed]

Image gallery[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Mitra, Deviputra. "As Protests Continue, Seychelles President Endorses Assumption Island Deal With India". www.southasiajournal.net. South Asia Journal. Retrieved 13 March 2018. 
  2. ^ "'Seychelles committed to Indian naval base'". 23 December 2015 – via The Hindu. 
  3. ^ "Asia's scramble for Africa" – via The Economist. 
  4. ^ "India to form its first Naval Base in Seychelles to tighten vigil over Indian Ocean: Read to know more : Current Affairs". 
  5. ^ https://eurasiantimes.com/indian-military-base-seychelles/
  6. ^ Atoll research bulletin
  7. ^ "Welcome to the Official Destination Website for the Seychelles Islands – Assumption". 
  8. ^ This sand dune is much lower today, as it is being dredged for the airport expansion by India and construction of the new naval base
  9. ^ District map
  10. ^ "Aldabra Atoll + Islands". 19 February 2013. 
  11. ^ "Seychelles Islands Foundation". 
  12. ^ Port info
  13. ^ Islands Development Corporation
  14. ^ "India begins infrastructure work on Assumption Island of Seychelles". Business Standard. IANS. 26 August 2015. 
  15. ^ Bhattacherjee, Kallol (23 December 2015). "'Seychelles committed to Indian naval base'". The Hindu. 
  16. ^ "Asia's scramble for Africa". The Economist. Retrieved 2018-03-12. 
  17. ^ Laurence, Daniel (2018-02-16). Bonnelame, Betymie, ed. "Military agreement will benefit both Seychelles and India, high commissioner says". Seychelles News Agency. Retrieved 2018-03-14. 
  18. ^ Bonnelame, Betymie (2018-03-22). "New coastal radar system means better safeguards for Seychelles, official says". Seychelles News Agency. Retrieved 2018-03-12. 
  19. ^ Article 03.2016
  20. ^ "As Protests Continue, Seychelles President Endorses Assumption Island Deal With India – South Asia Journal". southasiajournal.net. Retrieved 2018-03-12. 
  21. ^ "Assumption Island Project in Seychelles is a joint project: MEA". The Times of India. Retrieved 2018-03-12. 
  22. ^ "Planned Indian military base stirs Seychelles controversy". The Indian Express. 2018-03-03. Retrieved 2018-03-12. 
  23. ^ https://eurasiantimes.com/indian-military-base-seychelles/
  24. ^ Administrator, IDC. "Flora and Fauna – Assumption Island". 
  25. ^ "Eradication success – Seychelles wins war against invasive red-whiskered bulbul". 
  26. ^ "Other outer islands". 
  27. ^ Island guide Archived 2016-04-13 at the Wayback Machine.

External links[edit]