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February 10, 2009

Wikipedia: Guyana

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Co-operative Republic of Guyana
Flag of Guyana Coat of arms of Guyana
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: “One people, one nation, one destiny”
Anthem: “Dear Land of Guyana, of Rivers and Plains”
Location of Guyana
(and largest city)
6°46′N 58°10′W / 6.767°N 58.167°W / 6.767; -58.167
Official languages English
Recognised regional languages Guyanese Creole, Akawaio, Macushi, Wai-Wai, Arawak, Cariban
Ethnic groups  43.5% East Indian, 30% Black African, 17% Mixed, 9% Amerindian
Demonym Guyanese
Government Semi-presidential republic
 –  President Bharrat Jagdeo
 –  Prime Minister Sam Hinds
 –  from the United Kingdom 26 May 1966 
 –  Total 214,999 km2 (84th)
83,000 sq mi 
 –  Water (%) 8.4
 –  March 2008 estimate 858,8631 (162nd)
 –  2007 census 769,095 
 –  Density 3.5/km2 (217th)
9.1/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2007 estimate
 –  Total $2.924 billion[1] 
 –  Per capita $3,841[1] 
GDP (nominal) 2007 estimate
 –  Total $1.074 billion[1] 
 –  Per capita $1,410[1] 
HDI (2007) 0.750 (medium) (97th)
Currency Guyanese dollar (GYD)
Time zone (UTC-4)
Drives on the left
Internet TLD .gy
Calling code 592
1 Around one-third of the population (230,000) live in the capital, Georgetown.

Guyana (pronounced /ɡaɪˈænə/ or /ɡiːˈɑːnə/), officially the Co-operative Republic of Guyana and previously known as British Guiana, is the only state of the Commonwealth of Nations on mainland South America. On the northern coast of the continent, it 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 North Atlantic Ocean. At 215,000 km2, it is the third smallest state on the mainland of South America (after Suriname and French Guiana). Its estimated population is approximately 860,000. It is one of the four non-Spanish-speaking territories on the continent, along with the states of Brazil (Portuguese) and Suriname (Dutch), and the French overseas region of French Guiana (French). Culturally, Guyana associates primarily with the English-speaking Caribbean states, such as Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago.



Main article: History of Guyana

Guyana was inhabited by the Arawak and Carib tribes of uibo (colony)|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.

Escaped slaves formed their own settlements known as Maroon communities. With the abolition of slavery in 1834 many of the former enslaved people began to settle in urban areas. Indentured labourers from modern day Portugal (1834), Germany (first in 1835), Ireland (1836), Scotland (1837), Malta (1839), China and India (beginning in 1838) were imported to work on the sugar plantations.

In 1889 Venezuela claimed the land up to the Essequibo. Ten years later an international tribunal ruled the land belonged to British Guyana.

Guyana achieved independence from the United Kingdom in 1966 and became a republic on 23 February 1970, remaining a member of the Commonwealth. The United States State Department and the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), along with the British government, played a strong role in influencing who would politically control Guyana during this time.[2] They provided secret financial support and political campaign advice to Guyanese of African descent, especially Forbes Burnham’s People’s National Congress to the detriment of the Cheddi 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 of the Jim Jones-led Peoples Temple died in Jonestown — a settlement created by the Peoples Temple. An attack by Jim Jones’ body guards at a small remote airstrip close to Jonestown resulted in the murder of five people, including the only Congressman murdered in the line of duty in U.S. history, Leo Ryan.


Map of Guyana

Kaieteur Falls in central Guyana

Main article: Geography of Guyana

Rupununi savannah

Guyana can be divided into four natural regions: a narrow and fertile marshy plain along the Atlantic coast (low coastal plain) where most of the population lives, then a white sand belt more inland (hilly sand and clay region), containing most of Guyana’s mineral deposits, the dense rainforests (Forested Highland Region) across the middle of the country, the grassy flat savannah in the south and finally the larger interior highlands (interior savannah) consisting mostly of mountains that gradually rise to the Brazilian border.

Guyana’s main mountains are contained here, including Mount Ayanganna (6,699 ft (2,042 m)) and on Mount Roraima (9,301 ft (2,835 m) – the highest mountain in Guyana) on the Brazil-Guyana-Venezuela tripoint, part of the Pakaraima range. 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 steep escarpments and waterfalls, including the famous Kaieteur Falls. Between the Rupununi River and the border with Brazil lies the Rupununi savannah, south of which lie the Kanuku Mountains.

There are many rivers in the country, the three main ones being (west to east) the Essequibo, the Demerara, and the Berbice. There is also the Corentyne along the border with Suriname. At the mouth of the Essequibo are several large islands. The 90-mile (145 km) Shell Beach along the north-west coasts. Guyana is 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.

It has one of the largest unspoiled rain forests in South America, some parts of which are almost inaccessible by humans. In 2008, the BBC ran a four-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.

Boundary disputes

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 as part of Guayana Esequiba. [3][4][5] A part of the territorial dispute with Suriname was arbitrated by the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea and a ruling was announced in 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. [6]

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% percent 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.[7]

Specific small disputed areas involving Guyana:

  • Ankoko Island – with Venezuela
  • Corentyne River[8]with Suriname
  • New River Triangle[9]with Suriname


Main article: Demographics of Guyana
Main article: Guyanese people

The population of Guyana is approximately 0.75 million 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 in width.[10]

The present population of Guyana is racially and ethnically heterogeneous, composed chiefly of the descendants of immigrants who came to the country either as enslaved people or as indentured labourers. The population therefore comprises groups of persons with nationality backgrounds from Europe (especially the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Portugal), Africa, China, India, and the Middle East, with the Aboriginal Indians as the indigenous population. These groups of diverse nationality backgrounds have been fused together by a common language, i.e., English and Creole.

The largest ethnic sub-group is that of the descendants of India, also known as East Indians (Indo-Guyanese), comprising 43.5 percent of the population in 2002. They are followed by people of African heritage (Afro-Guyanese) (30.2 percent). The third in number are those of mixed heritage (16.7 percent), while the Aboriginal Indians (Arawak, Wai Wai, Carib, Akawaio, Arecuna, Patamona, Wapixana, Macushi and Warao) are fourth making up 24,500 of the population. The smallest groups are European, including Portuguese who make up 1,500 of the population and the Chinese (0.19 percent or 1,400 persons). A small group (0.01 percent or 112 persons) did not identify their race/ethnic background.[11]

The population distribution in 2002 was determined by nationality 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. The East Indians were 51.9 percent of the total population in 1980, but by 1991 had fallen to 48.6 percent, and then 43.5 percent in 2002 census. Those of African descent increased slightly from 30.8 to 32.3 percent during the first period (1980 and 1991) before falling to 30.2 percent 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 shares of the ‘Mixed’ and Amerindian groups. The Amerindian population rose by 22,097 persons between 1991 and 2002. This represents an increase of 47.3 percent or annual growth of 3.5 percent. Similarly, the ‘Mixed’ population increased by 37,788 persons, representing a 43.0 percent increase or annual growth rate of 3.2 percent from the base period of 1991 census. The whites and Chinese populations which declined between 1980 and 1991 regained in numbers by the 2002 census by 54.4 percent (168 persons) and 8.1 percent (105 persons) respectively. However, because of their relatively small sizes, the increase has effectively a zero effect on the overall change. The Portuguese group has declined constantly over the decades.


English is the official language of Guyana and used, for example, in its schools. In addition, Amerindian languages (Akawaio, Wai-Wai, Arawak and Macushi) are spoken by a small minority, while Guyanese Creole (an English-based creole with African and Indian syntax whose grammar is not standardized.[12]) is widely spoken. There are also minority populations of Portuguese and Spanish speakers.

Regions and neighborhood councils

Main articles: Regions of Guyana and Neighborhood Councils of Guyana

Regions of Guyana

Guyana is divided into 10 regions:[13][14]

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 3 755 310 320 82.6
5 Mahaica-Berbice 36 234 123 695 3.4
6 East Berbice-Corentyne 52 428 161 412 3.1
7 Cuyuni-Mazaruni 47 213 16 253 0.3
8 Potaro-Siparuni 20 051 10 095 0.5
9 Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo 57 750 19 387 0.3
10 Upper Demerara-Berbice 19 387 41 112 2.1
Guyana 214 999 858 863 4.0

The regions are divided into 27 neighborhood councils.


Main article: Politics of Guyana

The State House, Guyana’s Presidential Residence.

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. The Judiciary have not been independent of the executive and the legislature.[citation needed] The 2006 national elections were the first peaceful elections in recent times.[citation needed] The elections were free and fair and were a welcome departure from the turmoil of previous elections.[citation needed]

Historically, politics is 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, who retained their power by skewing election results.[citation needed] In 1992, the first “free and fair” elections were overseen by former American president Jimmy Carter, and the People’s Progressive Party has led the country since. The two parties are principally organized along ethnic lines and as a result often clash on issues related to the allocation of resources.[citation needed]

There exists a link movement for Guyana to become part of the United States of America as either a state, territory or possession. This movement is almost totally unknown of inside the USA.


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

Main article: Economy of Guyana

Guyana’s economy depends on agriculture. 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, based on 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. Exports of Guyana include rice, sugar, molasses, bauxite, gold, furniture, electrical and household appliances, alcoholic beverages, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, wood, wood products, processed food, spices, fish, fruits, vegetables, hides, skins, leather and leather products, flowers and plants, textiles, yarns, fabrics, gold jewelry, toys and games, travel goods, stationery, paper products, ceramics, handicrafts, wildlife, packaged foods, and tobacco.

The main economic activities in Guyana are agriculture (producing rice and Demerara sugar), bauxite mining, gold mining, timber, shrimp fishing and minerals. The sugar industry, which accounts for 28% of all export earnings, is largely run by Guysuco, which employs more people than any other industry. Many industries have a large foreign investment. The mineral industry, for example, is heavily invested in by the American company Reynolds Metals, the Canadian Alcan and the Korean/Malaysian Barama Company has a large stake in the logging industry.

A section of Bourda Market.

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.

Folk uses of balatá included the making of homegrown cricket balls, the temporarily 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)[15] and the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce & Industry (GCCI);[16] See a list of companies in Guyana.

In addition, the government initiated a major overhaul of the tax code with the start of 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 a tough one, 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 million8 of debt written off by the 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$2.819 billion (US$3,700 per capita)
Real growth rate  
9.1% (2000, understated[citation needed])
Arable land  
Labour force  
418,000 (2001 estimate)
Agricultural produce
sugar, rice, wheat, vegetable oils; beef, pork, poultry, dairy products; fish, shrimps
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, shrimps, molasses, rum, timber.
US$706.9 million (2006 estimate)
manufactured items, machinery, petroleum, food.
Major trading partners
Canada, U.S., UK, Portugal, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, China, Cuba (2005)


5 main lines (ITU, 2005)
2 mobile cellular (2008)
Radio broadcast stations
1 (government-owned, broadcasting on AM, FM, and shortwave)[17]
Television broadcast stations
1 (in 2007; one government-owned station)
Internet hosts
(ITU, 2006)
Morse Code users
160,000 (ITU, 2005)


Cross-border bridge from Guyana to Brazil under construction near Lethem.

Main article: Transport in Guyana
Total 116 miles (187 km), all dedicated to ore transport (2001 estimate)
Total 4,952 miles (7,970 km), of which 367 miles (590 km) paved and 4,586 miles (7,380 km) unpaved (1999 estimate)
669 miles (1,077 km)[18]
Ports and harbors
Georgetown, Port Kaituma, New Amsterdam
1 international airport (Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Timehri); 1 regional int’l airport (Ogle Airport); and about 90 airstrips, 9 of which have paved runways (2006 estimate).

am Praval


Main article: Electricity sector in Guyana

The electricity sector in Guyana is dominated by Guyana Power and Light (GPL), a state-owned vertically integrated public 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.

Reliability or electricity supply is very low, linked both to technical and institutional deficiencies, with total losses close to 40% and commercial losses of about 30%. This low reliability has led most firms to install their own diesel generators, which in turn leads to higher than average electricity costs.

Water supply and sanitation

Main article: Water supply and sanitation in Guyana

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 has been cancelled by the government in February 2007. In 2008 the public utility Guyana Water Inc. (GWI) was in the process of implementing a Turnaround Plan to reduce non-revenue water and to financially consolidate the utility.


Date Name
1 January New Year’s Day
15 February Hangslap Day
23 February Mashramani-Republic Day
variable Phagwah
variable Eid-ul-Fitr
variable Youm Un Nabi
variable Good Friday
variable Easter Monday
1 May Labour Day
5 May Indian Arrival Day
26 May Independence Day
First Monday in July CARICOM Day
1 August Emancipation Day
31 August Carifest
variable Diwali
25 December Christmas
26 December or 27 Boxing Day
Main article: Culture of Guyana
See also: Literature of Guyana and Music of Guyana

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, to the extent that Guyana is included and accepted as a Caribbean nation and is a founding member of the Caricom (Caribbean Community) economic bloc and also the home of the Bloc’s Headquarters, the CARICOM Secretariat. Its 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 addition to its CARICOM membership, Guyana is a member of CONCACAF, the international football federation for North and Central America and the Caribbean.


Main article: Religion in Guyana

According to the 2002 Census, Guyana’s religions breakdown is 57% Christian (of which 16.9% Pentecostal, 8.1% Roman Catholic, 6.9% Anglican, 5% Seventh-day Adventist and 20% other Christian denominations), 28.4% Hindu, 7.3% Muslim, 0.5% Rastafarian, 0.1% Bahá’í, 2.2% other faiths, and 4.3% no religion.[19] 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 1800s, while Islam varies between the Afro-Guyanese, and Indian-Guyanese.


Mashramani (Mash) · Phagwah (Holi) · Deepavali (Diwali)


Bishops’ High School

Guyana’s educational system was at one time 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 modernize its workforce. 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. The Guyanese education system is modeled after the former British education system. Students are expected to write SSEE (secondary school entrance exam) by grade 6 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 now introduced. The A-level system left over from the British era has all but disappeared and is now offered only in a few schools (current as at January 2007). The reason for the insufficient focus or various disciplines can be directly attributed to the common choices made by students to specialize in areas that are similar (math/chemistry/physics or geography/history/economics). With the removal of the old A-level system that encouraged this specialization, it is thought that it will be more attractive[citation needed] for students to broaden their studies.

There are wide disparities among the geographical regions of the country in the availability of quality education, and the physical facilities which are provided are in poor condition.[citation needed]

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. As a result, there is a lack of trained teachers at every level of Guyana’s educational system.

There are however several very good Private schools that have sprung up over the last fifteen years. Those schools offer a varied and balanced curriculum.

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 specialized medical services, the technology for which is unaffordable in Guyana, or for which the required medical specialists simply do not exist. 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.

In addition to the facilities mentioned above, 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 together, 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 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 U.S. 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 or Cuba.

Compared with other neighboring countries, Guyana ranks poorly in regard to basic health indicators. In 1998, life expectancy at birth was estimated at 66.0 years for Guyana, 71.6 for Suriname, 72.9 for Venezuela; 73.8 for Trinidad and Tobago, 74.7 for Jamaica, and 76.5 for Barbados. In Guyana, the infant mortality rate in 1998 was 24.2, in Barbados 14.9; in Trinidad and Tobago 16.2; in Venezuela 22; in Jamaica 24.5; and in Suriname 25.1.

Maternal mortality rates in Guyana are also relatively high, being estimated at 124.6/1000 for 1998. Comparable figures for other Caribbean countries are 50/1000 for Barbados, 75/1000 for Trinidad and 100/1000 for Jamaica.

It must be emphasized, however, that although Guyana’s health profile still falls short in comparison with many of its Caribbean neighbours, there has been remarkable progress since 1988, and the Ministry of Health is constantly upgrading conditions, procedures, and facilities. Open heart surgery is now available in the country, and in 2009 an ophthalmology center will open it’s doors to the public.[citation needed]

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 picture in regard to morbidity patterns differs. 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.

Guyana has experienced an upswing in violent crime and homicide in 2008 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 [20] similair to the rate experienced in 2003.

Guyana also suffers from the highest suicide rate of any South America country. The 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.[21]

Environment and biodiversity

See also: Category:Flora of Guyana and Category:Fauna of Guyana

Satellite image of Guyana 2004.

Scarlet Macaw.

Guyana abounds with plant and animal life. Each region boasts unique species.

The following habitats have been categorized for Guyana: coastal, marine, littoral, estuarine palustrine, mangrove, riverine, lacustrine, swamp, savannah, 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 is one of the countries with the highest biodiversity in the world. Guyana, with 1,168 vertebrate species, 1600 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.

Ecology and World Heritage Site status

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 is no exception, and signed the treaty in 1977. In fact, Guyana was the first Caribbean State Party to sign the treaty. Sometime in the latter half of 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.

In 2000[citation needed], 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 m and exceeding the height of Niagara Falls (USA/Canada) five times. Unfortunately, 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. Recently, 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.

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 Guyana Highlands moist forests and is home to several endemic species including the tropical hardwood Greenheart (Chlorocardium rodiei).


St. George’s Anglican Cathedral

St. George’s Anglican Cathedral 
One of the tallest wooden 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 (formerly the longest).
Kaieteur Falls.
Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Building
Houses the largest and most powerful economic union in the Caribbean.
Providence Stadium 
Situated in Providence on the east 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.
The City Hall
A beautiful wooden structure also from the colonial era.
Queen’s College
Top educational institution in Guyana


Main article: Military of Guyana

Guyana Defence Forces

Guyana Defence Force (GDF; includes Ground Forces, Coast Guard, and Air Corps) · Guyana People’s Militia (now Defunct);(GPM) · Guyana National Service (now defunct);(GNS) · Guyana Police Force
Available manpower
206,199 males aged 15 to 49, of which 155,058 are fit for service (2002 estimates)worst defense in the world


  • Guyana is the only South American country where the death penalty is still in use for serious crimes and where male homosexuality is still technically illegal.
  • The 1990 edition of the Guinness Book of Records lists the Guyanese-born Sir Lionel Luckhoo as “the world’s most successful lawyer.” He obtained 245 consecutive acquittals for clients that were accused of murder.
  • A Guyanese saying is that if you eat labba and drink black water while visiting Guyana, you are bound to return. (Labba is a small agouti or South American rodent that can be eaten in a dark stew called “pepperpot”; “Black water” is the water found in the many creeks in the interior of Guyana, made black by tannin found in rotting vegetation.)
  • Andrew “Six-Heads” Lewis was the first man from Guyana to win a world boxing championship, when he beat James Page to claim the WBA Welterweight Championship of the World.
  • Abdul Kadir, a former PNC member of the Guyanese parliament, and Guyanese immigrant Russell Defreitas were arrested on 2 June 2007 for allegedly plotting to blow up fuel lines for New York City airports.
  • In March and April 2007 Guyana co-hosted the Cricket World Cup—the premier event on the Cricket World Calendar.
  • The video for “Gyasi Went Home”, the third single from Sounding a Mosaic, the second album from Canadian band Bedouin Soundclash, was filmed in Guyana. The song and video were inspired by the band’s bassist, Eon Sinclair, going back to his parents’ hometown and seeing the changes, and the lyrics reference Guyanese history, such as Sir Walter Raleigh’s search for gold in the region.

See also

Main article: List of Guyana-related topics

Notes and references

  1. ^ a b c d “Guyana”. International Monetary Fund. Retrieved on 2008-10-09. 
  2. ^ title = US Declassifed Documents (1964–1968) “No |title= specified”. title = US Declassifed Documents (1964–1968). 
  3. ^ Welcome to
  4. ^ Guyana to experience ‘massive’ oil exploration this year
  5. ^ Business: News in the Caribbean –
  6. ^ Guyana/Suriname (official site of the Permanent Court of Arbitration)
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ Ramjeet, Oscar (2008-10-28). “Guyana and Suriname border dispute continues despite UN findings” (in English). Caribbean Net News. 
  9. ^ Rodrigues-Birkett, Carolyn (2008-10-24). “There is no agreement recognizing Suriname’s sovereignty over the Corentyne River” (in English). Stabroek Newspaper. 
  10. ^ Geographia: Guyana General Information
  11. ^
  12. ^ Damoiseau, Robert (2003) Eléments de grammaire comparée français-créole guyanais Ibis rouge, Guyana, ISBN 2844501923
  13. ^ Bureau of Statistics – Guyana, CHAPTER III: POPULATION REDISTRIBUTION AND INTERNAL MIGRATION, Table 3.4: Population Density, Guyana: 1980 – 2002
  14. ^ Guyana – Government Information Agency, National Profile
  15. ^ Private Sector Commission
  16. ^ Georgetown Chamber of Commerce & Industry (GCCI)
  17. ^ The government has refused to grant radio licenses to private operators (1998)[citation needed]
  18. ^ The Berbice, Demerara, and Essequibo rivers are navigable by oceangoing vessels for 93 miles (150 km), 62 miles (100 km), and 50 miles (80 km) respectively.
  19. ^ International Religious Freedom Report 2007
  20. ^ [ | Guyana’s murder rate is up this year]
  21. ^ | BBC Caribbean News in Brief at

Further reading

  • Stanley E. Brock, All the Cowboys Were Indians and Jungle Cowboy
  • Donald Haack, Bush Pilot In Diamond Country
  • Hamish McInnes, Climb To The Lost World (1974)
  • Andrew Salkey, Georgetown Journal (1970)
  • Marion Morrison, Guyana (Enchantment of the World Series)
  • Bob Temple, Guyana
  • Noel C. Bacchus, Guyana Farewell: A Recollection of Childhood in a Faraway Place
  • Marcus Colchester, Guyana: Fragile Frontier
  • Matthew French Young, Guyana: My Fifty Years in the Guyanese Wilds
  • Margaret Bacon, Journey to Guyana
  • Father Andrew Morrison SJ, Justice: The Struggle For Democracy in Guyana 1952-1992
  • Vere T. Daly, The Making of Guyana
  • D. Graham Burnett, Masters of All They Surveyed: Exploration, Geography and a British El Dorado
  • Ovid Abrams, Metegee: The History and Culture of Guyana
  • Evelyn Waugh, Ninety-Two Days
  • Gerald Durrell, Three Singles To Adventure
  • Colin Henfrey, Through Indian Eyes: A Journey Among the Indian Tribes of Guiana
  • Stephen G. Rabe, U.S. Intervention in British Guiana: A Cold War Story
  • Charles Waterton, Wanderings in South America
  • David Attenborough, Zoo Quest to Guiana (Lutterworth Press, London: 1956)

External links

Find more about Guyana on Wikipedia’s sister projects:
Definitions from Wiktionary

Textbooks from Wikibooks
Quotations from Wikiquote
Source texts from Wikisource
Images and media from Commons
News stories from Wikinews

Learning resources from Wikiversity

  • Wikimedia Atlas of Guyana
  • Guyana travel guide from Wikitravel
  • President of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana – Official Website
  • National Assembly
  • Guyana entry at The World Factbook
  • Official Website of the Guyana Tourism Authority (GTA)
  • Declassified US State Department documents detailing covert action from the start of postwar independence
  • Country Profile from the BBC News
  • Guyana from the Encyclopaedia Britannica
  • Guyana at UCB Libraries GovPubs
  • Guyana at the Open Directory Project
  • SDNP Guyana – Guyanese directory and host to ministerial sites
  • Guyana at – U.S. State Department Consular Information Sheet for Guyana with entry requirements and travel information and warnings
News media
  • Guyana Portal
  • Guyana and the Caribbean News and Information
  • Jobs Guyana – Guyana Jobs Search & Recruitment Website
  • The Guyana Chronicle – Local daily government run newspaper.
  • Kaieteur news – Local daily independent newspaper.
  • Stabroek News – Local daily independent newspaper. Updated daily and maintains archives for 7 days.
  • Voice of Guyana International – independent owned Internet radio
  • BBC Caribbean News Guyana Suicide rates.
  • Canadian World Traveller Guyana Land of Many Waters.
  • Guyana on Google Maps.

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