The Seychelles archipelago is made up of 115 granitic and coralline islands, spread over a huge sea area of about 600,000 km² in the Western Indian Ocean.
The rocks of most of the granitic islands are some 750 million years old and originate from the great ancient Southern super continent called Gondwana. When this super-continent broke up, the various sections slowly drifted apart to form Africa, Australia, Madagascar and India, leaving Seychelles isolated in the Indian Ocean.
Over 70 million years of isolation has resulted in the evolution of many unique plant and animal species. Because of this, Seychelles, together with the other islands of the Indian Ocean have been identified by scientists as one of the Centres of Plant Biodiversity.
During the years since settlement of Seychelles in 1770, human actions resulted in much destruction of native vegetation, with the result that very little native forest remains in the granitic islands today and many of the endemic plants are highly threatened.
However, few plant species are known to have actually become extinct, and Seychelles is doing much to ensure their protection and to enhance their populations through vegetation rehabilitation and restoration programmes. See also Seychelles flora.