Essequibo River

Essequibo River

The Essequibo River is the longest river in Guyana, and the largest river between the Orinoco and Amazon. Rising in the Acarai Mountains near the Brazil-Guyana border, the Essequibo flows to the north for 1000 km through forest and savanna into the Atlantic Ocean.


There are countless rapids and waterfalls (e. g., Kaieteur Falls on the Potaro river) along the route of the Essequibo, and its 20 km wide estuary is dotted with numerous small islands. It enters the Atlantic 21 km from Georgetown, the capital city of 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 sugar and cacao plantations.

In August 1995 there 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 Arawak word 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.

Venezuela claims that the Essequibo is the true border between it and Guyana, claiming all territory west of it (Guyana Essequiba roughly 70% of Guyanese territory). The boundary was set between Venezuela and Guyana's then colonial power, Great Britain in 1899 through an arbitration proceeding. A letter written by Venezuela's legal counsel, named partner Severo Mallet-Prevost of New York law firm Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle alleged 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 Russia and the United Kingdom. As a result, Venezuela has revived its claim to the disputed territory.

Essequibo is also the name of a former Dutch colony founded in 1616 and 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.

External links

* [ Aerial view of the mouth of the Essequibo River.]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Essequibo River — River, east central Guyana. The largest river between the Amazon and the Orinoco rivers and the longest in Guyana, it rises in the Acarai Mountains on the Brazilian border. It flows north for about 630 mi (1,000 km) to empty into the Atlantic… …   Universalium

  • Essequibo (colony) — Essequibo is the name of a Dutch colony founded in 1616 and located in the region of the Essequibo River. There was a brief English occupation from 1665 to 1666. From 27 February 1781 to February 1782 there was a British occupation of Demerara,… …   Wikipedia

  • Essequibo — may refer to: * The Essequibo River in Guyana * The former Dutch colony of Essequibo, in the region of the river …   Wikipedia

  • Essequibo Islands-West Demerara — (Region 5) is a region of Guyana, split in two by the Essequibo River. It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the north, the region of Demerara Mahaica to the east, the region of Upper Demerara Berbice to the south and the regions of Cuyuni… …   Wikipedia

  • Essequibo — 7°02′N 58°27′W / 7.033, 58.45 …   Wikipédia en Français

  • river — river1 riverless, adj. riverlike, adj. /riv euhr/, n. 1. a natural stream of water of fairly large size flowing in a definite course or channel or series of diverging and converging channels. 2. a similar stream of something other than water: a… …   Universalium

  • Essequibo — [es΄ə kē′bō] river in Guyana, flowing from the Guiana highlands northward to the Atlantic: c. 600 mi (966 km) …   English World dictionary

  • Essequibo — geographical name river 630 miles (1014 kilometers) Guyana flowing N into the Atlantic through a wide estuary …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Essequibo — /es i kwee boh/, n. a river flowing from S Guyana N to the Atlantic. ab. 550 mi. (885 km) long. * * * …   Universalium

  • ESSEQUIBO —    an important river in British Guiana, 620 m. long, rises in the Sierra Acaray, navigable for 50 m. to small craft, flows northward into the Atlantic …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

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