History of Census
There is some evidence to suggest that the Seychelles were known and visited as long as the 8th and 9th centuries. More recently in the 15th and 16th centuries pirates spasmodically inhabited them, but it was only in 1771 that the first settlers coming from Mauritius established themselves on St Anne island with their slaves, a total of 28 persons.
At the start of the French Revolution in 1789, the population of Seychelles numbered 591 persons; 69 French, 3 soldiers, 32 coloured persons and 487 slaves. The first census in Seychelles was carried out in 1791 but there are few records in the country of the results. In 1803 another census was carried out. The details of each settler family and slaves were recorded as well as details of animals and crops. The population had reached 2,121 by then, of which 1,820 were slaves. There were 755 pigs, 281 cattle and 6,248 chickens and the main crops were coffee, cotton and cloves.
The population continued to increase as more settlers arrived, and another census appears to have taken place in 1830. The final population at that time was recorded at 8,500 people. From 1830 to 1840, the population of Seychelles fell sharply to 4,360. A number of reasons have been put forward for this decrease, the most plausible being that when the British abolished slavery in 1834 many of the settlers left with their slaves. In 1851 another census was carried out. This time the principal islands were divided into sections and every house was visited. fir the other islands however, information had to be obtained from persons owning property on them. the population was recorded as 6,841 rising to 7,580 at the next census in 1861.
Census continued to be carried out during the first year of each decade, the rhythm being broken by the Second World War when the 1941 census was postponed until 1947.
The new Census Act was drawn up in 1959 for the purpose of the 1960 census. few maps were available with the exception of those in Victoria, for the division of census districts and the houses had no means of identification. Fortunately the Roman Catholic Bishop lent maps of Mahé, Praslin and La Digue sub-divided into parishes. There parishes were of a convenient size for Census Districts and were used as such.
The census was done and the population was 41,425 of which 81% lived on Mahé, the main island in the group. Details on housing, occupation, literacy, religion and nationality were recorded as well as the usual demographic data. A team of 201 enumerators and supervisors were employed and these comprised mainly of students and teachers. This census was supplemented by an agricultural census shortly afterwards.
Another census was held in May 1971 combining questions on population, employment, housing and agriculture. The data thus collected was to be processed by computer for the first time. the Roman Catholic parishes were again used as census districts. The results showed 1,500 persons less than had been anticipated. The Census commissioner at the time put the difference down to errors in the migration figures over the intervening 11 years as the most likely cause but it is now thought that a number of households in certain areas were missed.
A change of government took place on the 5th June 1977. Mr. France Albert Rene became president and formed a new government. The change in government in June caused some delays in the final preparation of the census. The results of the census reported a population of 61,900 persons.
A decision was taken to create new district electoral boundaries in 1980/81. The census office with limited resources conducted a census update exercise with the objective of obtaining social and demographic data of individuals on a district basis. The results were mainly affected by double counting persons migrating to another district and under counting. As a result a 6% under enumeration was reported.
The census update of 1981/82 estimated that 63,245 persons or 98% of the population were distributed amongst the three main islands. The estimated total number of households was 13,107 for the three islands.
A population and housing census was conducted in August 1987 with the aim of catering for the changes in the district boundaries and the creation of the National Population Database (NPD).
The following census was conducted in 1994. Its aim was to obtain reliable population figures for the revision of the electoral district boundaries as stipulated in the constitution. Secondly, the data would be used to validate the National Population Database/Register (NPD). Thirdly, the census would provide the primary source of basic population data for administrative and other aspects of economic and social planning, and fourthly it would make available a base for current statistics and a statistical frame for sampling surveys, studies, and research.
For the first time, a thorough and detailed mapping exercise was conducted. The exercise subdivided the country into over 400 enumeration areas for better management control in the census execution.