Co-operative Republic of Guyana[1]
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: "One People, One Nation, One Destiny"
Anthem: "Dear Land of Guyana, of Rivers and Plains"
(and largest city)
6°46′N 58°10′W / 6.767°N 58.167°W / 6.767; -58.167
Official language(s) English
Recognised regional languages Portuguese, Hindi, Spanish, Akawaio, Macushi, Wai Wai, Arawak, Patamona, Warrau, Carib, Wapishiana, Arekuna
National language Guyanese Creole
Ethnic groups  East Indian 43.5%
Black (African) 30.2%
Mixed 16.7%
Amerindian 9.1%
Other 0.5%[2][3]
Demonym Guyanese
Government Semi-presidential republic
 -  President Bharrat Jagdeo
 -  Prime Minister Sam Hinds
 -  from the United Kingdom 26 May 1966 
 -  Republic 23 February 1970 
 -  Total 214,970 km2 (84th)
83,000 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) 8.4
 -  July 2010 estimate 752,940[2]1 (161st)
 -  2002 census 751,223[3] 
 -  Density 3.502/km2 (225th)
9.071/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2010 estimate
 -  Total $5.379 billion[4] 
 -  Per capita $6,964[4] 
GDP (nominal) 2010 estimate
 -  Total $2.215 billion[4] 
 -  Per capita $2,868[4] 
HDI (2010) increase 0.611[5] (medium) (107th)
Currency Guyanese dollar (GYD)
Time zone GYT Guyana Time (UTC-4)
Drives on the left
ISO 3166 code GY
Internet TLD .gy
Calling code 592
1 Around one-third of the population (230,000) live in the capital, Georgetown.

Guyana (pronounced /ɡaɪˈænə/ ( listen) gy-an),[6] officially the Co-operative Republic of Guyana,[1] previously the colony of British Guiana, is a sovereign state on the northern coast of South America that is culturally part of the Anglophone Caribbean. Guyana was a former colony of the Dutch and (for over 200 years) of the British. It is the only state of the Commonwealth of Nations on mainland South America, and it is also a member of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), which has its secretariat headquarters in Guyana's capital, Georgetown. Guyana is one of the very few Caribbean nations that is not an island. Guyana achieved independence from the United Kingdom on 26 May 1966, and became a Republic on 23 February 1970.

Historically, the region known as "Guiana" or "Guayana" comprised the large shield landmass north of the Amazon River and east of the Orinoco River known as the "Land of many waters". Historic Guyana is made up of three Dutch colonies: Essequibo, Demerara, and Berbice. Modern Guyana is bordered to the east by Suriname, to the south and southwest by Brazil, to the west by Venezuela, and on the north by the Atlantic Ocean.

At 215,000 km2, Guyana is the third-smallest independent state on the mainland of South America (after Uruguay and Suriname). Its population is approximately 770,000 (2002 demographic data) of which the majority are of East Indian decent (43.5%) and African descent (30.2%).



The name "Guyana" is derived from Guiana, the original name for the region that now includes Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, and parts of Venezuela and Brazil. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the name comes from an Amerindian[which?] word meaning "land of many waters".


Guyana was inhabited by the Arawak and Carib tribes of Native Americans. Although Christopher Columbus sighted Guyana during his third voyage (in 1498), the Dutch were the first to establish colonies: Essequibo (1616), Berbice (1627), and Demerara (1752). The British assumed control in the late 18th century, and the Dutch formally ceded the area in 1814. In 1831 the three separate colonies became a single British colony known as British Guiana.

A map of Dutch Guiana 1667–1814.

Since Independence in 1824, Venezuela has claimed the area of land to the west of the Essequibo river. Letters from Simon Bolivar warned the British government about the Berbice and Demerara settlers settling on land the Venezuelans claimed was theirs. In 1899, an international tribunal, ruled the land belonged to Great Britain.

Map of British Guiana

Guyana achieved independence from the United Kingdom on 26 May 1966 and became a republic on 23 February 1970, remaining a member of the Commonwealth. The United States State Department and the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), along with the British government, played a strong role in influencing political control in Guyana during this time.[7] The American government supported Forbes Burnham during the early years of independence because Cheddi Jagan was a self declared Marxist. They provided secret financial support and political campaign advice to Burnham's People's National Congress to the detriment of the Jagan-led People's Progressive Party, mostly supported by Guyanese of Indian descent.

In 1978, Guyana received considerable international attention when 918 almost entirely American members (more than 300 of whom were children) of the Jim Jones-led Peoples Temple died in a mass murder/suicide in Jonestown – a settlement created by the Peoples Temple. An attack by Jim Jones' bodyguards at a small remote airstrip close to Jonestown resulted in the murder of five people, including Leo Ryan, the only congressman ever murdered in the line of duty in US history.

In May 2008, President Bharrat Jagdeo was a signatory to The UNASUR Constitutive Treaty of the Union of South American Nations. Guyana has ratified the treaty.


The territory controlled by Guyana lies between latitudes and 9°N, and longitudes 56° and 62°W.

The country can be divided into five natural regions; a narrow and fertile marshy plain along the Atlantic coast (low coastal plain) where most of the population lives; a white sand belt more inland (hilly sand and clay region), containing most of Guyana's mineral deposits; the dense rain forests (Forested Highland Region) in the southern part of the country; the desert savannah in the southern west; and the smallest interior lowlands (interior savannah) consisting mostly of mountains that gradually rise to the Brazilian border.

Some of Guyana's highest mountains are Mount Ayanganna (2,042 metres / 6,699 feet), Monte Caburaí (1,465 metres / 4,806 feet) and Mount Roraima (2,810 metres / 9,219 feet – the highest mountain in Guyana) on the Brazil-Guyana-Venezuela tripoint border, part of the Pakaraima range. Mount Roraima and Guyana's table-top mountains (tepuis) are said to have been the inspiration for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's 1912 novel The Lost World. There are also many volcanic escarpments and waterfalls, including Kaieteur Falls. North of the Rupununi River lies the Rupununi savannah, south of which lie the Kanuku Mountains.

The four longest rivers are the Essequibo at 1,010 kilometres (628 mi) long, the Courantyne River at 724 kilometres (450 mi), the Berbice at 595 kilometres (370 mi), and the Demerara at 346 kilometres (215 mi). The Courantyne river forms the border with Suriname. At the mouth of the Essequibo are several large islands, including the 145 km (90 mi) wide Shell Beach lies along the northwest coast, which is also a major breeding area for sea turtles (mainly Leatherbacks) and other wildlife.

The local climate is tropical and generally hot and humid, though moderated by northeast trade winds along the coast. There are two rainy seasons, the first from May to mid-August, the second from mid-November to mid-January.

Guyana has one of the largest unspoiled rainforests in South America, some parts of which are almost inaccessible by humans. The rich natural history of Guyana was described by early explorers Sir Walter Raleigh and Charles Waterton and later by naturalists Sir David Attenborough and Gerald Durrell. In 2008, the BBC ran a three-part programme called Lost Land of the Jaguar which highlighted the huge diversity of wildlife, including undiscovered species and rare species such as the giant otter and harpy eagle.

Regions and Neighbourhood Councils

Regions of Guyana

Guyana is divided into 10 regions:[8][9]

No Region Area km² Population Population
per km²
1 Barima-Waini 20,339 24,275 1.2
2 Pomeroon-Supenaam 6,195 49,253 8.0
3 Essequibo Islands-West Demerara 2,232 103,061 46.2
4 Demerara-Mahaica 1,843 310,320 168.4
5 Mahaica-Berbice 3,755 52,428 14.0
6 East Berbice-Corentyne 36,234 123,695 3.4
7 Cuyuni-Mazaruni 47,213 17,597 0.3
8 Potaro-Siparuni 20,051 10,095 0.5
9 Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo 57,750 19,387 1.3
10 Upper Demerara-Berbice 19,387 41,112 2.1
Guyana 214,999 751,223 3.49

The regions are divided into 27 neighbourhood councils.[10]

Boundary disputes

Areas with red stripe are parts of Guyana historically claimed by Venezuela

Guyana was in border disputes with both Suriname, which claimed the land east of the Corentyne River in southeastern Guyana, and Venezuela which claims the land west of the Essequibo River, once the Dutch colony of Essequibo as part of Venezuela's Guayana Essequiba.[11][12][13] The maritime[14][15] component of the territorial dispute with Suriname was arbitrated by the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea, and a ruling was announced on September 21, 2007. The ruling concerning the Caribbean Sea north of both nations found both parties violated treaty obligations and declined to order any compensation to either party.[16]

When the British surveyed British Guiana in 1840, they included the entire Cuyuni River basin within the colony. Venezuela did not agree with this as it claimed all lands west of the Essequibo River. In 1898, at Venezuela's request, an international arbitration tribunal was convened, and in 1899 they issued an award giving about 94% of the disputed territory to British Guiana.

Venezuela and Great Britain accepted the award by treaty in 1905, but Venezuela raised the issue again at the time of Guyana's independence and continues to claim Guayana Esequiba.[17] Venezuela calls this region "Zona en Reclamación" (Reclamation Zone), and Venezuelan maps of the national territory routinely include it, drawing it in with dashed lines.[18]

Specific small disputed areas involving Guyana are Ankoko Island with Venezuela; Corentyne River[19] with Suriname; and New River Triangle[20] with Suriname.

Environment and biodiversity

Satellite image of Guyana 2004.

The following habitats have been categorised for Guyana: coastal, marine, littoral, estuarine palustrine, mangrove, riverine, lacustrine, swamp, savanna, white sand forest, brown sand forest, montane, cloud forest, moist lowland and dry evergreen scrub forests (NBAP, 1999). About 14 areas of biological interest have been identified as possible hotspots for a National Protected Area System.

More than 80% of Guyana is still covered by forests, ranging from dry evergreen and seasonal forests to montane and lowland evergreen rain forests. These forests are home to more than a thousand species of trees. Guyana's tropical climate, unique geology, and relatively pristine ecosystems support extensive areas of species-rich rain forests and natural habitats with high levels of endemism. Approximately eight thousand species of plants occur in Guyana, half of which are found nowhere else.

Guyana has one of the highest levels of biodiversity in the world. Guyana, with 1,168 vertebrate species, 1,600 bird species, boasts one of the richest mammalian fauna assemblages of any comparably sized area in the world. The Guiana Shield region is little known and extremely rich biologically. Unlike other areas of South America, over 70% of the natural habitat remains pristine.

The rich natural history of British Guiana was described by early explorers Sir Walter Raleigh and Charles Waterton and later by naturalists Sir David Attenborough and Gerald Durrell.

In February 2004, the Government of Guyana issued a title to more than 1 million acres (4,000 km2) of land in the Konashen Indigenous District declaring this land as the Konashen Community-Owned Conservation Area (COCA), to be managed by the Wai Wai. In doing so Guyana created the world's largest Community-Owned Conservation Area.[21]

This important event followed a request made by the Wai Wai community to the government of Guyana and Conservation International Guyana (CIG) for assistance in developing a sustainable plan for their lands in Konashen. The three parties signed a Memorandum of Cooperation which outlines a plan for sustainable use of the Konashen COCA’s biological resources, identifies threats to the area’s biodiversity, and helps develop projects to increase awareness of the COCA as well as generate the income necessary to maintain its protected status.

A Golden Frog (Kaieteur), that lives only in the Guianas
The Hoatzin the national bird of Guyana.

The Konashen Indigenous District of Southern Guyana houses the headwaters of the Essequibo River, Guyana’s principal water source, and drains the Kassikaityu, Kamoa, Sipu and Chodikar rivers. Southern Guyana is host to some of the most pristine expanses of evergreen forests in the northern part of South America. Most of the forests found here are tall, evergreen hill-land and lower montane forests, with large expanses of flooded forest along major rivers. Thanks to the very low human population density of the area, most of these forests are still intact. The Smithsonian Institution has identified nearly 2,700 species of plants from this region, representing 239 distinct families, and there are certainly additional species still to be recorded.

Such incredible diversity of plants supports even more impressive diversity of animal life, recently documented by a biological survey organised by Conservation International. The clean, unpolluted waters of the Essequibo watershed support a remarkable diversity of fish and aquatic invertebrates, and are home to giant river otters, capybaras, and several species of caimans.

On land, large mammals, such as jaguars, tapirs, bush dogs, giant anteaters, and saki monkeys are still common. Over 400 species of birds have been reported from the region, and the reptile and amphibian faunas are similarly rich. The Konashen COCA forests are also home to countless species of insects, arachnids, and other invertebrates, many of which are still undiscovered and unnamed.

The Konashen COCA is relatively unique in that it contains a high level of biological diversity and richness that remains in nearly pristine condition; such places have become rare on earth. This fact has given rise to various non-exploitative, environmentally sustainable industries such as ecotourism, successfully capitalizing on the biological wealth of the Konashen COCA with comparatively little enduring impact.

World Heritage Site status

Many countries interested in the conservation and protection of natural and cultural heritage sites of the world accede to the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage that was adopted by UNESCO in 1972. Guyana signed the treaty in 1977, the first Caribbean State Party to do so. In the mid-1990s, Guyana seriously began the process of selecting sites for World Heritage nomination, and three sites were considered: Kaieteur National Park, Shell Beach and Historic Georgetown. By 1997, work on Kaieteur National Park was started, and in 1998 work on Historic Georgetown was begun. To date, however, Guyana has not made a successful nomination.

Among many other mammals, Guyanese jungles are home to the jaguar

Guyana submitted the Kaieteur National Park, including the Kaieteur Falls, to UNESCO as its first World Heritage Site nomination. The proposed area and surrounds have some of Guyana's most diversified life zones with one of the highest levels of endemic species found anywhere in South America. The Kaieteur Falls is the most spectacular feature of the park, falling a distance of 226 metres. The nomination of Kaieteur Park as a World Heritage Site was not successful, primarily because the area was seen by the evaluators as being too small, especially when compared with the Central Suriname Nature Reserve that had just been nominated as a World Heritage Site (2000). The dossier was thus returned to Guyana for revision.

Guyana continues in its bid for a World Heritage Site. Work continues, after a period of hiatus, on the nomination dossier for Historic Georgetown. A Tentative List indicating an intention to nominate Historic Georgetown was submitted to UNESCO in December 2004. There is now a small committee put together by the Guyana National Commission for UNESCO to complete the nomination dossier and the management plan for the site. In April 2005, two Dutch experts in conservation spent two weeks in Georgetown supervising architecture staff and students of the University of Guyana in a historic building survey of the selected area. This is part of the data collection for the nomination dossier.

Kaieteur Falls is the world's largest single drop waterfall by volume

Meanwhile, as a result of the Kaieteur National Park being considered too small, there is a proposal to prepare a nomination for a Cluster Site that will include the Kaieteur National Park, the Iwokrama Forest and the Kanuku Mountains. The Iwokrama Rain Forest, an area rich in biological diversity, has been described by Major General (Retired) Joseph Singh as “a flagship project for conservation.” The Kanuku Mountains area is in a pristine state and is home to more than four hundred species of birds and other animals.

There is much work to be done for the successful nomination of these sites to the World Heritage List. The state, the private sector and the ordinary Guyanese citizens each have a role to play in this process and in the later protection of the sites. Inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage will open Guyana to more serious tourists thereby assisting in its economic development.

Guyana exhibits two of the World Wildlife Fund's Global 200 eco-regions most crucial to the conservation of global biodiversity, Guianan moist forests and Guiana Highlands moist forests and is home to several endemic species including the tropical hardwood Greenheart.


St. George's Anglican Cathedral 
One of the tallest wooden church structures in the world and the second tallest wooden house of worship after the Todaiji Temple in Japan.
Demerara Harbour Bridge 
The world's fourth-longest floating bridge.
Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Building
Houses the Headquarters of the largest and most powerful economic union in the Caribbean.
Providence Stadium 
Situated sat on Providence on the north bank of the Demerara River and built in time for the ICC World Cup 2007, it is the largest sports stadium in the country. It is also near the Providence Mall, forming a major spot for leisure in Guyana.
Guyana International Conference Centre
Presented as a gift from the People's Republic of China to the Government of Guyana. It is the only one of its kind in the country.
Stabroek Market
A large cast-iron colonial structure that looked like a statue was located next to the Demerara River.
City Hall
A beautiful wooden structure also from the colonial era.
Queen's College
Top secondary school in the country.


Tractor in a rice field on Guyana's coastal plain.

The main economic activities in Guyana are agriculture (production of rice and Demerara sugar), bauxite mining, gold mining, timber, shrimp fishing and minerals. Chronic problems include a shortage of skilled labour and a deficient infrastructure. In 2008, the economy witnessed a 3% increase in growth amid the global economic crisis and is expected to grow further in 2009.

Until recently, the government was juggling a sizable external debt against the urgent need for expanded public investment. Low prices for key mining and agricultural commodities combined with troubles in the bauxite and sugar industries had threatened the government's tenuous fiscal position and dimmed prospects for the future. However, the Guyanese economy has rebounded slightly and exhibited moderate economic growth since 1999, thanks to an expansion in the agricultural and mining sectors, a more favorable atmosphere for business initiatives, a more realistic exchange rate, fairly low inflation, and the continued support of international organizations.

The sugar industry, which accounts for 28% of all export earnings, is largely run by the company Guysuco, which employs more people than any other industry. Many industries have a large foreign investment. For example, the mineral industry is heavily invested in by the American company Reynolds Metals and the British-Australian Rio Tinto's Rio Tinto Alcan subsidiary; the Korean/Malaysian Barama Company has a large stake in the logging industry.

The production of balatá (natural latex) was once big business in Guyana. Most of the balata bleeding in Guyana took place in the foothills of the Kanuku Mountains in the Rupununi. Early exploitation also took place in the North West District, but most of the trees in the area were destroyed by illicit bleeding methods that involved cutting down the trees rather than making incisions in them. Uses of balatá included the making of cricket balls, the temporary filling of troublesome tooth cavities, and the crafting of figurines and other decorative items (particularly by the Macushi people of the Kanuku mountains).

Major private sector organizations include the Private Sector Commission (PSC)[22] and the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce & Industry (GCCI);[23]

The government initiated a major overhaul of the tax code in early 2007. The Value Added Tax (VAT) was brought into effect, replacing six different taxes. Prior to the implementation of the VAT, it had been relatively easy to evade sales tax, and many businesses were in violation of tax code. Many businesses were very opposed to VAT introduction because of the extra paperwork required; however, the Government has remained firm on the VAT. By replacing several taxes with one flat tax rate, it will also be easier for government auditors to spot embezzlement. While the adjustment to VAT has been difficult, it may improve day-to-day life because of the significant additional funds the government will have available for public spending.

President Bharrat Jagdeo has made debt relief a foremost priority of his administration. He has been quite successful, getting US$800 million of debt written off by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), in addition to millions more from other industrial nations. Mr. Jagdeo was lauded by IDB President Moreno for his strong leadership and negotiating skills in pursuing debt relief for Guyana and several other regional countries.


GDP/PPP (2007 estimate) 
US$3.082 billion (US$4,029 per capita)
Real growth rate 
9.1% (2000, understated[citation needed])
Arable land 
Labour force 
418,000 (2001 estimate)
Agricultural produce
sugar, rice, vegetable oils, beef, pork, poultry, dairy products, fish, shrimp
Industrial produce 
bauxite, sugar, rice milling, timber, textiles, gold mining
Natural resources 
bauxite, gold, diamonds, hardwood timber, shrimp, fish
US$621.6 million (2006 estimate)
sugar, gold, bauxite/alumina, rice, shrimp, molasses, rum,timber,rice,sugar.citrus fruits.
US$706.9 million (2006 estimate)
manufactured items, machinery, petroleum, food.
Major trading partners
Canada, US, UK, Portugal, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, China, Cuba, Singapore, Japan , Brazil, Suriname (2009)

Cost of living

The cost of living in Guyana is high. This is because most of the items used in daily life are imported with high transportation costs involved. Monopoly in some business sectors also causes higher profit booking and further raising of prices. For example, approximate prices (as of January, 2010) of gasoline (petrol) is US$ 5 per gallon,[24] and electricity prices are close to US$ 0.33 per unit.[25] A domestic gas bottle (or gas cylinder) is slightly over US$ 20.[26] Rent for average family accommodation may exceed US$ 100 per month in safe urban locations,but most people have their own homes and do not rent, and personal income tax, which is 33.33% (one third) of total taxable income makes the cost of living higher.[27] An employee's salary is normally paid in Guyanese dollars (1 US Dollar = 200 Guyanese Dollars approx.)[28] and income tax is deducted by the employer.


Guyana 2005 population density (people per km2)

The population of Guyana is approximately 770,000,[2] of which 90% reside on the narrow coastal strip (approximately 10% of the total land area of Guyana). Guyana's coastal strip ranges from between 10 to 40 miles (16 to 64 km) in width.[29]

The present population of Guyana is racially and ethnically heterogeneous, composed chiefly of the descendants of immigrants who came to the country as either enslaved or indentured labourers respectively, from Africa and India. The population therefore is made up of groups with ethnic backgrounds from India, Africa, Europe, China, with Aboriginal. These groups of diverse nationality backgrounds have been fused together by a common language, i.e., English and Creole. There has been racial tension between the majority Indo-Guyanese and Afro-Guyanese .[30][31]

The largest ethnic group is that of the descendants of immigrants from India also known as East Indians (Indo-Guyanese), comprising 43.5% of the population in 2002. They are followed by people of African heritage (Afro-Guyanese) (30.2%). The third in number are those of mixed heritage (16.7%), while Aboriginals (Arawak, Wai Wai, Carib, Akawaio, Arecuna, Patamona, Wapixana, Macushi and Warao) are fourth making up close to 10% of the population. The smallest groups are the Europeans (including Portuguese), who number at 1,600 individuals, and the Chinese, who number at 1,400 persons. A small group (fewer than 1%) were unable to be classified.[32]

A graph showing the population of Guyana from 1961 to 2003. The population decline in the 1980s can be clearly seen.

The population distribution in 2002 was determined by ethnic background. The distribution pattern has been similar to those of the 1980 and 1991 censuses, but the share of the two main groups has declined. Indo-Guyanese made up 51.9% of the total population in 1980, but by 1991 this had fallen to 48.6%, and then to 43.5% in the 2002 census. Those of African descent increased slightly from 30.8% to 32.3% during the first period (1980 and 1991) before falling to 30.2% in the 2002 census. With small growth in the population, the decline in the shares of the two larger groups has resulted in the relative increase of shares of the multiracial and Amerindian groups.

The Amerindian population rose by 22,097 people between 1991 and 2002. This represents an increase of 47.3% or annual growth of 3.5%. Similarly, the multiracial population increased by 37,788 persons, representing a 43.0% increase or annual growth rate of 3.2% from the base period of 1991 census. The European and Chinese populations which declined between 1980 and 1991 regained in numbers by the 2002 census by 54.4% (168 persons) and 8.1% (105 persons) respectively. However, because of their relatively small sizes, the increase has little effect on the overall change. The number of Portuguese (4.3% of the population in 1891) has been declining constantly over the decades.[33]

Most Indo-Guyanese are descended from Bhojpuri-speaking Bihari and Uttar Pradesh migrants.[34] Many Indo-guyanese are also Tamil speaking Tamils from Tamil Nadu, and Telugus of Andhra Pradesh of South India. [35]


English is the official language of Guyana and used in its schools. In addition, Cariban languages (Akawaio, Wai-Wai, Arawak and Macushi) are spoken by a small minority, while Guyanese Creole (an English-based creole with African and/or East Indian syntax whose grammar is not standardised.[36]) is widely spoken.


Data from a 2002 census on religious affiliation indicates that approximately 57% of the population are Christian (of those, 17% are Pentecostal, 8% are Roman Catholic, 7% are Anglican, 5% are Seventh-day Adventist, and 20% belong to other Christian denominations). Approximately 28% are Hindu, 9% are Muslim (mostly Sunni), and members of the Bahá'í Faith and Rastafarianism make up most of the remaining 2%. An estimated 4% of the population does not profess any religion.[37]

Most Guyanese Christians are either Protestants or Roman Catholics and include a mix of all races. Hinduism is dominated by the Indians who came to the country in the early 19th century, while Islam varies between Indo-Guyanese and Afro-Guyanese.

Government and politics

The State House, Guyana's Presidential Residence.
The supreme court of Guyana.
The Parliament building of Guyana since 1834.

Politics of Guyana takes place in a framework of a semi-presidential representative democratic republic, whereby the President of Guyana is the head of government, and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the National Assembly of Guyana.

Historically, politics are a source of tension in the country, and violent riots have often broken out during elections. During the 1970s and 1980s, the political landscape was dominated by the People's National Congress.

In 1992, the first "free and fair" elections were overseen by former United States President Jimmy Carter, and the People's Progressive Party has led the country since. The two parties are principally organised along ethnic lines and as a result often clash on issues related to the allocation of resources.


Soldiers of the Guyana Defence Forces

The military of Guyana consists of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), which includes Ground Forces, Coast Guard, and Air Corps.

Infrastructure, communications and health


Cross-border bridge from Guyana to Brazil near Lethem.

There are a total of 116 miles (187 km) of railway, all dedicated to ore transport. There are 4,952 miles (7,970 km) of highway, of which 367 miles (590 km) are paved. Navigable waterways extend to 669 miles (1,077 km), including the Berbice, Demerara, and Essequibo rivers. There are ports at Georgetown, Port Kaituma, and New Amsterdam. There is 1 international airport (Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Timehri); 1 regional airport (Ogle Airport); and about 90 airstrips, 9 of which have paved runways. Guyana and Suriname are the only two countries in South America which drive on the left.


The electricity sector in Guyana is dominated by Guyana Power and Light (GPL), the state-owned vertically integrated utility. Although the country has a large potential for hydroelectric and bagasse-fueled power generation, most of its 226 MW of installed capacity correspond to inefficient thermoelectric diesel-engine driven generators.

Several initiatives are in place to improve energy access in the hinterland. Please visit the article Hinterland energy in Guyana

Water supply and sanitation

Key issues in the water and sanitation sector in Guyana are poor service quality, a low level of cost recovery and low levels of access. A high-profile management contract with the British company Severn Trent was cancelled by the government in February 2007. In 2008 the public utility Guyana Water Inc implemented a Turnaround Plan (TAP) to reduce non-revenue water and to financially consolidate the utility. NRW reduction is expected to be 5% per annum for the three-year period of the plan, A mid term review is now due to examine the success of the TAP.


It was as follows- [38]

Telephone system

  • Telephones : 110,120 main telephone lines (2005)
  • Telephones – mobile cellular: 281,400 (2005)
  • Domestic: microwave radio relay network for trunk lines; fixed-line teledensity is about 15 per 100 persons; many areas still lack fixed-line telephone services; mobile-cellular teledensity reached 37 per 100 persons in 2005
  • International: country code – 592; tropospheric scatter to Trinidad; satellite earth station – 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)

Guyana Telephone & Telegraph (GT&T) is the main mobile phone provider[39][40][41]

Radio broadcast stations

  • AM 3, FM 3, shortwave 1 (1998)

Television broadcast stations

Television broadcast was officially introduced to Guyana in 1991.[42]

  • 15 (1 public station (channel 11); 14 private stations which relay on US satellite services) (1997)

Of which are; L.R.T.V.S-Little Rock Television Station channel 10 (New Amsterdam, Berbice) H.G.P-Halagala General Productions television (Beterverwagting Village, Demerara)

Satellite Television

  • Satellite television services are offered by DirecTV Caribbean.

Internet system

  • Internet country code: .gy
  • Internet hosts: 6,218 (2008)[citation needed]
  • Internet users: 225,129 (2010)[43]

Public health

Service delivery

The delivery of health services is provided at five different levels in the public sector:

  • Level I: Local Health Posts (166 in total) that provide preventive and simple curative care for common diseases and attempt to promote proper health practices. Community health workers staff them.
  • Level II: Health Centres (109 in total) that provide preventive and rehabilitative care and promotion activities. These are ideally staffed with a medical extension worker or public health nurse, along with a nursing assistant, a dental nurse and a midwife.
  • Level III: Nineteen District Hospitals (with 473 beds) that provide basic in-patient and outpatient care (although more the latter than the former) and selected diagnostic services. They are also meant to be equipped to provide simple radiological and laboratory services, and to be capable of gynecology, providing preventive and curative dental care. They are designed to serve geographical areas with populations of 10,000 or more.
  • Level IV: Four Regional Hospitals (with 620 beds) that provide emergency services, routine surgery and obstetrical and gynecological care, dental services, diagnostic services and specialist services in general medicine and pediatrics. They are designed to include the necessary support for this level of medical service in terms of laboratory and X-ray facilities, pharmacies and dietetic expertise. These hospitals are located in Regions 2, 3, 6 and 10.
  • Level V: The National Referral Hospital (937 beds) in Georgetown that provides a wider range of diagnostic and specialist services, on both an in-patient and out-patient basis; the Psychiatric Hospital in Canje; and the Geriatric Hospital in Georgetown. There is also one children’s rehabilitation centre.

This system is structured so that its proper functioning depends intimately on a process of referrals. Except for serious emergencies, patients are to be seen first at the lower levels, and those with problems that cannot be treated at those levels are referred to higher levels in the system. However, in practice, many patients by-pass the lower levels.

The health sector is currently unable to offer certain sophisticated tertiary services and specialised medical services, the technology for which is unaffordable in Guyana, or for which the required medical specialists are not available. Even with substantial improvements in the health sector, the need for overseas treatment for some services might remain. The Ministry of Health provides financial assistance to patients requiring such treatment, priority being given to children whose condition can be rehabilitated with significant improvements to their quality of life.

There are 10 hospitals belonging to the private sector and to public corporations, plus diagnostic facilities, clinics and dispensaries in those sectors. These ten hospitals provide for 548 beds. Eighteen clinics and dispensaries are owned by GUYSUCO.

The Ministry of Health and Labour is responsible for the funding of the National Referral Hospital in Georgetown, which has recently been made a public corporation managed by an independent Board. Region 6 is responsible for the management of the National Psychiatric Hospital. The Geriatric Hospital, previously administered by the Ministry of Labour, became the responsibility of the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security of Guyana in December 1997.

Health conditions

One of the most unfortunate consequences of Guyana's economic decline in the 1970s and 1980s was that it led to very poor health conditions for a large part of the population. Basic health services in the interior are primitive to non-existent, and some procedures are not available at all. The US State Department Consular Information Sheet warns "Medical care is available for minor medical conditions. Emergency care and hospitalization for major medical illnesses or surgery is limited, because of a lack of appropriately trained specialists, below standard in-hospital care, and poor sanitation. Ambulance service is substandard and may not routinely be available for emergencies." Many Guyanese seek medical care in the United States, Trinidad and Tobago or Cuba.

Maternal and Child Health Care

In June 2011, the United Nations Population Fund released a report on The State of the World's Midwifery. It contained new data on the midwifery workforce and policies relating to newborn and maternal mortality for 58 countries. The 2010 maternal mortality rate per 100,000 births for Guyana is 270. This is compared with 143.1 in 2008 and 162.3 in 1990. The under 5 mortality rate, per 1,000 births is 36 and the neonatal mortality as a percentage of under 5's mortality is 60. The aim of this report is to highlight ways in which the Millennium Development Goals can be achieved, particularly Goal 4 – Reduce child mortality and Goal 5 – improve maternal death. In Guyana the number of midwives per 1,000 live births is unavailable and 1 in 150 shows us the lifetime risk of death for pregnant women. [44]

Compared with other neighbouring countries, Guyana ranks poorly in regard to basic health indicators. In 1998, life expectancy at birth was estimated at 66.0 years for Guyana, which is much less than surrounding countries. Although Guyana's health profile falls short in comparison with many of its Caribbean neighbours, there has been remarkable progress since 1988, and the Ministry of Health is working to upgrade conditions, procedures, and facilities.

The leading causes of mortality for all age groups are cerebrovascular diseases (11.6%); ischemic heart disease (9.9%); immunity disorders (7.1%); diseases of the respiratory system (6.8%); diseases of pulmonary circulation and other forms of heart disease (6.6%); endocrine and metabolic diseases (5.5%); diseases of other parts of the Digestive System (5.2%); violence (5.1%); certain condition originating in the prenatal period (4.3%); and hypertensive diseases (3.9%). The ten leading causes of morbidity for all age groups are, in decreasing order: malaria; acute respiratory infections; symptoms, signs and ill defined or unknown conditions; hypertension; accident and injuries; acute diarrhoeal disease; diabetes mellitus; worm infestation; rheumatic arthritis; and mental and nervous disorders. This morbidity profile indicates that it can be improved substantially through enhanced preventive health care, better education on health issues, more widespread access to potable water and sanitation services, and increased access to basic health care of good quality. A number of non-governmental organisations, including Health and Educational Relief for Guyana (HERG, INC) and Guyana Medical Relief (GMR, INC) are currently working to address these issues by improving healthcare access and educational infrastructure. Guyana has experienced an upswing in violent crime and homicide in 2007 while the numbers of murders reported actually dropped in 2007 over the previous few years, with a murder rate of 15.1 people for each 100,000, in contrast to 2008 (up to the end of July) that number has risen to 26 per 100,000 [45] similar to the rate experienced in 2003. Guyana suffers from the highest suicide rate of any South American country. Guyana Health Minister Leslie Ramsammy estimates that at least 200 people commit suicide each year in Guyana, or 27.2 people for each 100,000 people each year.[46]


Bishops' High School

Guyana's educational system is considered to be among the best in the Caribbean, but it significantly deteriorated in the 1980s because of the emigration of highly educated citizens and the lack of appropriate funding. Although the education system has recovered somewhat in the 1990s, it still does not produce the quality of educated students necessary for Guyana to modernise its workforce.[citation needed] The country lacks a critical mass of expertise in many of the disciplines and activities on which it depends.

The educational system does not sufficiently focus on the training of Guyanese in science and technology, technical and vocational subjects, business management, nor computer sciences.[citation needed] The Guyanese education system is modeled after the former British education system. Students are expected to write NGSA[National Grade Six Assessment] for entrance into high school in grade 7. They write CXC at the end of high school. Recently they have introduced the CAPE exams which all other Caribbean countries have introduced. The A-level system left over from the British era has all but disappeared and is offered only in a few schools.

Further adding to the problems of the educational system, many of the better-educated professional teachers have emigrated to other countries over the past two decades, mainly because of low pay, lack of opportunities and crime.[citation needed] As a result, there is a lack of trained teachers at every level of Guyana's educational system.[citation needed] There are however several very good private schools that have sprung up over the last fifteen years.[citation needed] Those schools offer a varied and balanced curriculum.[citation needed] However, the top government schools have nonetheless continued their dominance in academic performance outshining these private schools over the years.[citation needed]


1 January New Year's Day
Spring Youman Nabi
23 February Republic Day/Mashramani
March Phagwah
March/April Good Friday
March/April Easter Monday
5 May Indian Arrival Day
26 May Independence Day
First Monday in July CARICOM Day
1 August Emancipation Day
November Eid-ul-Adha
October/November Diwali
25 December Christmas
26 December or 27 Boxing Day

Guyana, along with Suriname, French Guiana, and Brazil, is one of the four non-Hispanic nations in South America. Guyana's culture is very similar to that of the English-speaking Caribbean, and has historically been tied to the English-speaking Caribbean as part of the British Empire when it became a possession in the nineteenth century. Guyana is a founding member of the Caricom (Caribbean Community) economic bloc and also the home of the Bloc's Headquarters, the CARICOM Secretariat.

Guyana's geographical location, its sparsely populated rain-forest regions, and its substantial Amerindian population differentiate it from English-speaking Caribbean countries. Its blend of Indo-Guyanese (East Indian) and Afro-Guyanese (African) cultures gives it similarities to Trinidad and distinguishes it from other parts of the Americas. Guyana shares similar interests with the islands in the West Indies, such as food, festive events, music, sports, etc.

Guyana plays international cricket as a part of the West Indies cricket team, and the Guyana team plays first-class cricket against other nations of the Caribbean. In March and April 2007 Guyana co-hosted the Cricket World Cup 2007. In addition to its CARICOM membership, Guyana is a member of CONCACAF, the international football federation for North and Central America and the Caribbean.

Events include Mashramani (Mash), Phagwah (Holi), and Deepavali (Diwali).


Providence Stadium as seen from the East Bank Highway

The major sports in Guyana are cricket (Guyana is part of the West Indies as defined for international cricket purposes), softball cricket (beach cricket) and football (soccer). Minor sports include netball, rounders, lawn tennis, basketball, table tennis, boxing, squash, rugby and a few others.

Guyana played host to international cricket matches as part of the 2007 Cricket World Cup. The new 15,000-seat Providence Stadium, also referred to as Guyana National Stadium, was built in time for the World Cup and was ready for the beginning of play on March 28. At the first international game of CWC 2007 at the stadium, Lasith Malinga of the Sri Lankan team took four wickets in four consecutive deliveries.

For international football (soccer) purposes, Guyana are part of CONCACAF.

Notable people

  • John Agard, poet.
  • Valerie Amos, British politician and member of the UK House of Lords.
  • E. R. Braithwaite, writer of the novel To Sir, With Love.
  • Forbes Burnham, Former president of Guyana.
  • Horace Edwin Caines, Former Ambassador to U.K. 1961
  • Shakira Caine, former Miss Guyana and wife of actor Michael Caine.
  • Martin Carter, writer and poet.
  • David Case, the highest ranking black officer in the British Armed Forces.
  • Shivnarine Chanderpaul, professional cricketer for the West Indies Cricket Team
  • Bernie Grant, British politician and Member of Parliament
  • Laura Creavalle, an IFBB pro female bodybuilder
  • Cuffy, Leader of the Berbice Slave Uprising.
  • Dwayne De Rosario, Professional soccer player on MLS-Toronto FC team
  • Charley Charles, born Hugh Glenn Mortimer Charles, 1945. Drummer of The Blockheads
  • Clotilda Parks Caines, Writer, Women's leader activist for the farmers of Pomeroon-Supernaam
  • Eddy Grant, musician.
  • Wilson Harris, writer (The Palace of the Peacock, 1960).
  • Ezekiel Jackson, professional wrestler.
  • Cheddi Jagan, President from 1992–97.
  • Rohit Jagessar, Film director, Broadcast Personality.
  • Clive Lloyd, former professional cricketer.
  • Rohan Kanhai, former West Indies cricket Captain
  • Edgar Mittelholzer, author.
  • Grace Nichols, poet.
  • CCH Pounder, an Emmy nominated actress and activist
  • Walter Rodney, a Pan-Africanist and socialist politician.
  • Ivan Van Sertima, an Afro-centric historian
  • Lloyd Sewrattan, Professor at the University of Toronto (U of T) and a real estate agent.
  • Peter Davison, played the Doctor in Doctor Who, has a Guyanese father.
  • David Dabydeen, Professor at the University of Warwick (UK) and a Historian.
  • Mark Teixeria, MLB American Baseball Player 1st Baseman of the New York Yankees
  • Janet Jagan, president 97-99
  • David Gir, IT Systems Specialist
  • Rudy Grant, reggae DJ, singer
  • Shridath Ramphal, former Commonwealth General Secretary
  • Frank Woon-A-Tai, Karate Expert, founder of the International Karate Daigaku
  • Colleen Braithwaite, Author - At Your Service.
  • Andrew Shiwpershad, well-known Canadian entrepreneur.
  • Hatim Yassim, IT Specialist
  • Vivek Ramnarain, Infectious Disease Doctor

See also


  1. ^ a b Parliament of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana
  2. ^ a b c "The World Factbook: Guyana". CIA. Retrieved 2009-10-18. 
  3. ^ a b Guyana 2002 Census Bureau of Statistics – Guyana. Retrieved 25 June 2009.
  4. ^ a b c d "Guyana". International Monetary Fund. Retrieved 2011-04-21. 
  5. ^ "Human Development Report 2010". United Nations. 2010. Retrieved 5 November 2010. 
  6. ^ Also pronounced /ɡaɪˈɑːnə/ gy-ah-nə, /ɡiˈænə/, and /ɡiˈɑːnə/.[1]
  7. ^ "US Declassified Documents (1964–1968)". 
  8. ^ Bureau of Statistics – Guyana, CHAPTER III: POPULATION REDISTRIBUTION AND INTERNAL MIGRATION, Table 3.4: Population Density, Guyana: 1980–2002
  9. ^ Guyana – Government Information Agency, National Profile
  10. ^ "Government of Guyana, Statistics" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-05-02. 
  11. ^ – Nevertheless, that agreement between Venezuela and the United Kingdom was considered unfair to Venezuela. "Tribunal decision tentatively set for August"[dead link]
  12. ^ "Guyana to experience ‘massive' oil exploration this year". 2007-02-05. Retrieved 2010-05-02. 
  13. ^ "News in the Caribbean". 2007-04-27. Retrieved 2010-05-02. 
  14. ^ "Foreign affairs minister reiterates Guyana's territorial sovereignty". Retrieved February 17, 2010. 
  15. ^ "POINT OF CLARIFICATION: Guyana clears air on Suriname border talk". Caribbean News Agency. February 17, 2010. Retrieved February 17, 2010. "Reference was made by the Foreign Affairs Minister to the public statements reported in the Surinamese press confirming that in the year 2000, the Surinamese government plotted to invade the new river triangle during the time when Guyana's exclusive economic zone was violated and the CGX rig was forcibly removed from the Guyanese waters. "Such an act, would have also been in breach of international law just as the tribunal that heard the maritime dispute between Guyana and Suriname ruled that the removal of the CGX rig by Suriname and I quote 'constituted a threat of the use of force in breach of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the UN Charter and general International law," Rodrigues Birkett said." 
  16. ^ "official site of the Permanent Court of Arbitration". Retrieved 2010-05-02. 
  17. ^ Ishmael, Odeen (1998, rev. 2006) "The Trail Of Diplomacy: A Documentary History of the Guyana-Venezuela Border Issue" Dr. Ishmael was Ambassador of Guyana to Venezuela when this was written.
  18. ^ "Mapa Politico de Venezuela". Retrieved 2010-05-02. 
  19. ^ Ramjeet, Oscar (2008-10-28). "Guyana and Suriname border dispute continues despite UN findings". Caribbean Net News. Retrieved 2008-12-15. 
  20. ^ Rodrigues-Birkett, Carolyn (2008-10-24). "There is no agreement recognizing Suriname’s sovereignty over the Corentyne River". Stabroek Newspaper. Retrieved 2008-12-15. [dead link]
  21. ^ "Biodiversity in the Konashen Community-Owned Conservation Area, Guyana" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-05-02. 
  22. ^ RedSpider, Romona Khan. "Private Sector Commission". Retrieved 2010-05-02. 
  23. ^ "Georgetown Chamber of Commerce & Industry (GCCI)". Retrieved 2010-05-02. 
  24. ^ "Caribbean NetNews". Caribbean NetNews. 2008-05-05. Retrieved 2010-05-02. 
  25. ^ "Guyana Power and Light". 2008-02-01. Retrieved 2010-05-02. 
  26. ^ "Baiganchoka Consulting Services". 2008-04-17. Retrieved 2010-05-02. 
  27. ^ "Kaieteur NewsOnline". Kaieteur NewsOnline. 2010-01-09. Retrieved 2010-05-02. 
  28. ^ "Finance/Currency Conversion,". Retrieved 2010-05-02. 
  29. ^ "Guyana General Information". Geographia. Retrieved 2010-05-02. 
  30. ^ "Guyana turns attention to racism". BBC News. September 20, 2005.
  31. ^ "Conflict between East-Indian and Blacks in Trinidad and Guyana Socially, Economically and Politically". Gabrielle Hookumchand, Professor Moses Seenarine. May 18, 2000.
  32. ^ Joshua Project. "Aimaq, Firozkohi of Afghanistan Ethnic People Profile". Joshua Project. Retrieved 2010-05-02. 
  33. ^ "Portuguese emigration from Madeira to British Guiana"
  34. ^ Helen Myers. Music of Hindu Trinidad. 
  35. ^ Indian Diaspora. 
  36. ^ Damoiseau, Robert (2003) Eléments de grammaire comparée français-créole guyanais Ibis rouge, Guyana, ISBN 2844501923
  37. ^ International Religious Freedom Report 2007: Guyana. United States Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  38. ^ "CIA – The World Factbook – Guyana". Central Intelligence Agency. 23 April 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-14. 
  39. ^
  40. ^
  41. ^
  42. ^ Timeline of the introduction of television in countries
  43. ^
  44. ^ "The State Of The World's Midwifery". United Nations Population Fund. Accessed August 2011. 
  45. ^ "Guyana’s murder rate is up this year". 2008-08-01. Retrieved 2010-05-02. [dead link]
  46. ^ "". 2008-01-11. Retrieved 2010-05-02. 

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  • Guyana — [gī an′ə, gīän′ə] country in NE South America: formerly a British colony, it became independent in 1966; member of the Commonwealth: 83,000 sq mi (214,969 sq km); pop. 730,000; cap. Georgetown Guyanese [gī΄ə nēz′] adj., n …   English World dictionary

  • Guyana — Guyanese /guy euh neez , nees /, n., adj. /guy an euh, ah neuh/, n. an independent republic on the NE coast of South America: a former British protectorate; gained independence 1966; member of the Commonwealth of Nations. 706,116; 82,978 sq. mi.… …   Universalium

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