Mahé is the largest island (155 km²/59.8 sq. mi.) of the Seychelles, lying in the north east of the nation. The population of Mahé was 78,539, as of the 2010 census.[It contains the capital city of Victoria and accommodates 86% of the country’s total population. The island was named after Bertrand-François Mahé de La Bourdonnais, a French governor of Mauritius.
Mahé’s tallest peak is Morne Seychellois at 905 m (2,969 ft), which lies in the Morne Seychellois National Park. The northern and eastern parts of the island are home to much of the population and the Seychelles International Airport which opened in 1971. The southern and western parts have Baie Ternay Marine National Park, Port Launay Marine National Park, and University of Seychelles. The Sainte Anne Marine National Park lies offshore, as do Conception Island, Thérèse Island, Anonyme Island and Silhouette Island.
Mahé was first visited by the British in 1609 and not visited by Europeans again until Lazare Picault’s expedition of 1742. In August 1801 a Royal Navy frigate HMS Sibylle captured the French frigate Chiffonne on the island. Mahé remained a French possession until 1812 when it became a British colony. It remained a colony until 1976 when Seychelles became an independent nation.
Mahé’s forests have rare endemic plants found only in the Seychelles, such as the critically endangered Medusagyne oppositifolia (the “Jellyfish tree”), the carnivorous Seychelles Pitcher plant and many species of unique orchids.
Mahé is currently undergoing a huge land reclamation project due to a shortage of housing.