- Essequibo River
The Essequibo River is the longest
riverin Guyana, and the largest river between the Orinoco and Amazon. Rising in the Acarai Mountainsnear the Brazil-Guyana border, the Essequibo flows to the northfor 1000 kmthrough forestand savannainto the Atlantic Ocean.
There are countless
rapidsand waterfalls (e. g., Kaieteur Fallson the Potaro river) along the route of the Essequibo, and its 20 km wide estuaryis dotted with numerous small islands. It enters the Atlantic 21 km from Georgetown, the capital cityof Guyana.
Its many tributaries include the Rupununi, Potaro, Mazaruni, Siparuni, Kiyuwini and Cuyuni rivers. For over 30 km from its mouth, the river's channel is divided by the large flat and fertile islands of Leguan (about 47 km²),
Wakenaam(about 44 km²), and Hog Island (about 57 km²). Fort Island is situated off the eastern side of Hog Island. Fort Island was the seat of Government of the country during the Dutch colonial era.
The satellite image of the Essequibo's mouth shows lack of clouds above river's waters. This is because, as it happens again with the Orinoco, Amazonas and many other big rivers, satellite images are taken during morning hours (less amount of clouds), when river waters are much colder than terrain around which creates a high pressure system that avoids cloud formation.
The first European settlement in Guyana was built by the Dutch along the lower part of the Essequibo in
1615. The colonists remained on friendly terms with the Native American peoples of the area, establishing riverside sugarand cacao plantations.
1995there was an acid spill in the river by the Canadian mining company Cambior. An estimated 4 000 000 m³ of waste laced with cyanide was released into the river causing much destruction.
The river's name is said to come from an
Arawakword meaning "hearth-stones". This is explained as being a reference to the Arawak custom of collecting stones from the river’s banks for their firesides. However, there is a very fine book written by Father Félix María de Vegamián (from the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin) explaining very well the river's history and the real origin of its name, as being a word coming out from Juan de Esquivel's name. Juan de Esquivel travelled into the Essequibo beginning 16th century being Alonso de Ojeda's second and later the territory was settled by capuchin missionaries even before the Dutch settlement along the river known as Esquivel's River. However, the Independence war at Venezuela beginning the 19th century ended these missionary settlements. At this time, Britain needed to have a colony, besides Trinidad, to serve the large trade sailboats on their large travel trading route around South America. Venezuelaclaims that the Essequibo is the true border between it and Guyana, claiming all territory west of it ( Guyana Essequibaroughly 70% of Guyanese territory). The boundary was set between Venezuela and Guyana's then colonial power, Great Britainin 1899 through an arbitration proceeding. A letter written by Venezuela's legal counsel, named partner Severo Mallet-Prevost of New Yorklaw firm Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Moslealleged that the Russian and British judges on the tribunal had acted improperly and granted the lion's share of the dispute territory to Britain due to a political deal between Russiaand the United Kingdom. As a result, Venezuela has revived its claim to the disputed territory.
Essequibo is also the name of a former Dutch
colonyfounded in 1616and located in the region of the Essequibo River that later became part of British Guiana.
*Vegamián, Félix María de (Father, Order of Friars Minor Capuchin). "El Esequivo, frontera de Venezuela. Documentos históricos y experiencias personales". Madrid: Talleres Tipográficos Raycar S. A., 1968.
* [http://188.8.131.52/guyana_mapas/s_RiverGuyana.htm Aerial view of the mouth of the Essequibo River.]
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