Seychelles, officially the Republic of Seychelles, is an archipelagic state consisting of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean. Its capital and largest city, Victoria, is 1,500 kilometres east of mainland Africa. Nearby island countries and territories include the Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, and the French overseas departments of Mayotte and Réunion to the south; and Maldives and the Chagos Archipelago to the east. It is the least populated sovereign African country, with an estimated 2020 population of 98,462. Seychelles was uninhabited prior to being encountered by Europeans in the 16th century. It faced competing French and British interests until coming under full British control in the late 18th century. Since proclaiming independence from the United Kingdom in 1976, it has developed from a largely agricultural society to a market-based diversified economy, characterized by rapidly rising service, public sector, and tourism activities.