A lengthy struggle between France and Great Britain for the islands ended in 1814, when they were ceded to the latter. Independence came in 1976.
Socialist rule was brought to a close with a new constitution and free elections in 1993.
President France-Albert RENE, who had served since 1977, was re-elected in 2001, but stepped down in 2004.
Vice President James MICHEL took over the presidency and in July 2006 was elected to a new five-year term; he was reelected in May 2011.