Town hall of Cayenne| map_size=220px
mapcaption=Location of the commune (in red) within French Guiana
canton=Chief town of 6 cantons
maire= Rodolphe Alexandre (PSG)
du Centre Littoral
longitude=-52.3269 | latitude=4.9227
Cayenne is the
capitalof French Guiana, an overseas "région" and "département" of Francelocated in South America. The city stands on a former island at the mouth of the Cayenne Riveron the Atlantic coast.
At the 1999 census, there were 66,149 inhabitants in the urban area of Cayenne (as defined by
INSEE), 50,594 of whom lived in the city (commune) of Cayenne proper, and the remainder in the neighbouring commune of Remire-Montjoly. The commune of Matoury(18,032 inhabitants in 1999), where the Cayenne-Rochambeau Airportis located, is also a suburb of Cayenne, but it wasn't included in the official definition of the urban area by INSEE in 1999. Including Matoury, the whole conurbation had 84,181 inhabitants in 1999. By 2007 the area's population may have exceeded 100,000.
Ignored by Spanish explorers, who found the region too hot and poor to be claimed, the region was not colonized until 1604, when a French settlement was founded. However, it was soon destroyed by the Portuguese, who were determined to enforce the provisions of the
Treaty of Tordesillas. French colonists returned in 1643 and founded Cayenne, but were forced to leave once more following Amerindian attacks. In 1664, France finally succeeded at establishing a permanent settlement at Cayenne. Over the next decade the colony changed hands between the French, Dutch and English, before being restored to France. It was used as a French penal settlement from 1854 to 1938.
The city's population has recently grown dramatically, owing to high levels of immigration (chiefly from the
West Indiesand Brazil) as well as a high birthrate.
Cayenne is an important industrial centre for the
shrimpindustry. The city formerly also contained sugar refineries.
Cayenne is very ethnically diverse, with Creole,
Haitian, Brazilian, European, and Hmongand other Asian communities. It is famous for its annual carnivalwhich starts with the arrival of "Vaval" (the Carnival King) on the first Sunday after New Year's Dayand continues with very popular all-night costume balls and Sunday afternoon parades every weekend until Mardi Gras.
Points of interest
Cayenne centres on its main commercial street, the Avenue Général de Gaulle. At the east end of the avenue near the coast is the Place de Palmistes and the Place de Grenoble (also known as the Place Léopold Héder). Most of the official buildings are located in this area: the Hôtel de Ville (the town hall) built by
Jesuitsin the 1890s, the Post Office, the Préfecture, residence of French Guiana's Préfect, and the Musée Départmental Franconie. To the west of this area lies Fort Cépérou, built in the 17th century, though now mostly in ruins. To the south lie the Place du Coq and Place Victor Schoelcher (named in honour of the anti-slavery activist) and a market.
To the south of this compact region is the Village Chinois (known as Chicago), separated from the rest of Cayenne by the Canal Laussat. It has a reputation for being a dangerous area.
Other buildings in the city include the
Cathédrale Saint-Sauveur de Cayenne, municipal library, the municipal museum and a museum of French Guianese Culture (Musée des Cultures Guyanaise) and a scientific research institute (IRD or Institut de recherche pour le développement, formerly Orstom).
There are some beaches along the coast, like
Montjolyand Montabo, and several promontories, though the waters contain sharks.
Cayenne is served by the
Cayenne-Rochambeau Airport, which is located in the neighbouring commune of Matoury.
There are many hotels in the city: Central Hotel, La Bodéga, Hôtel Ajoupa, Hôtel Amazonia, Hôtel les Amandiers, Hôtel Neptima, Hôtel Novotel and Ket-Tai.
Cayenne is the chief town of six cantons:
* The first canton (North West) has 3,935 inhabitants;
* The second canton (North East) has 5,730 inhabitants;
* The third canton (South West) has 8,017 inhabitants;
* The fourth canton (Centre) has 5,955 inhabitants;
* The fifth canton (South) has 9,750 inhabitants;
* The sixth canton (South East) has 17,207 inhabitants
Cayenne in popular culture
The French folk song "Cayenne" (named after the main city of French Guiana) tells the story of a
pimpwho shoots a well-to-do client who grossly disrespected a prostitute, and is then convicted and transferred to the infamous penitentiary. The song has been covered in recent years by rock/punk groups such as Parabellum.
The Hardy Boys#12: Footprints under the Window, The Hardys' investigations take them to Cayenne. Porschecalled its first SUV the Porsche Cayenne.
* [http://www.guyane.pref.gouv.fr/ Préfecture de Guyane] Official website
* [http://www.galenfrysinger.com/cayenne.htm Images of Cayenne and French Guiana]
* [http://973.online.fr/IMAGES/CAYENNE/page_01.htm Cayenne photo gallery]
* [http://www.guyane-guide.com/pages/carte_cay_tourisme.htm Clickable map]
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.