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. Creole is the primary language, but English
is the official language.