Amirantes Islands (Les Amirantes) are a group of coral islands and atolls part of Seychelles' Outer Islands District. The island group covers a total area of approx 12 km2 (4,4 mi2) and has a population under 500.
Amirantes Islands stretch around 155 km (96 mi) from the African Islands (African Banks) in the north to Isle des Noeufs (Desnœufs) in the south, all on the shallow Amirantes Plateau (Amirantes Bank, with depths of 25-70 m), except the main island Ile Desroches located in the east, and Lady Denison-Pender Shoal situated at the northern end.
The Amirantes include 8 single islands (5 low sand cays and 3 uplifted sand cays), plus 3 atolls with a total of 18 islets. The 5 largest in the area are inhabited. Approx 90 km to the south is the closest island group - Alphonse, which is often incorrectly considered part of Amirantes.
Amirantes Islands were discovered by Vasco da Gama (1460s-1524) in 1502 during his 2nd voyage of exploration and named Admiral Islands ("Ilhas do Almirante"). Previous knowledge of the isles by Arab and Indian traders is also possible. Together with Seychelles, Amirantes Islands were first claimed by France (1742), while formal possession was claimed in 1756.
By the Treaty of Paris (1814), the islands were officially passed to the British, as part of Mauritius. Seychelles became a separate colony in 1909, thereby including Amirantes. On November 8, 1965, the UK split Ile Desroches from Seychelles to become part of the newly established British Indian Ocean Territory. The goal was to allow the building of a military base for the mutual benefit of the United States and the United Kingdom. On June 23, 1976, Ile Desroches was returned to Seychelles as a result of its attained independence.
Amirantes Islands cruise terminal
Cruise ships to Amirantes Islands dock (anchor) at Victoria (Seychelles' capital on Mahe Island).