Last updated on December 4th, 2017
Guyana, officially the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, is a sovereign state on the northern mainland of South America. It is also the only Commonwealth state on mainland South America. With these facts about Guyana, let’s try to gain more information about its economy, people, geography, culture and history.
#1. After Uruguay (176,215 square km) and Suriname (163,821 square km), Guyana (214,970 square km) is the third-smallest country on the mainland South America. Other South American countries are Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, Peru, Venezuela, Chile, Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay (total 12 countries).
These are the three dependent territories in South America:
- Falkland Islands (UK)
- French Guiana (France)
- South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (UK)
Map of South America
#2. Guyana became independent on 26 May 1966 from the United Kingdom. The country’s population consists of people of various ethnicities including Chinese, Portuguese, East Indians, Europeans, Amerindians, and Africans who comfortably living alongside each other.
#3. Interestingly, Guyana is also the only South American country where English is the official language. Official languages of other South American countries are:- Brazil – Portuguese; Venezuela – Spanish; Colombia – Spanish; Argentina – de facto Spanish; Peru – Spanish, Chile – Spanish; Ecuador – Spanish; Bolivia – Spanish and others; Paraguay – Spanish and Guarani; Suriname – Dutch; Uruguay – Spanish.
#4. Guyana according to the English Oxford dictionary means “the land of many waters.”
#5. The Dutch were the first to establish colonies in Guyana and later came the British.
#6. Guyana has territorial disputes with both Venezuela and Suriname.
#7. Guyana has three main geographical regions. One is a low lying coastal plain, the other is savannah zone, and the third is the mountainous region.
#8. Guyana is also home to the world’s largest single drop waterfall – the Kaieteur Falls. The falls has a total length of 251 meters and it is amongst the most powerful waterfalls in the world with an average water flow rate of 663 cubic meters per second.
#9. 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) are the four longest rivers of Guyana.
#10. About three-quarter of Guyana is forested. And of this area, 60% is considered as primary forest. Some parts of the rainforests in Guyana are almost inaccessible by humans. And the country has a low rate of deforestation.
#11. Mount Roraima (Elevation: 2,810 m; First ascent: 1884) is the highest point in Guyana. It is surrounded by Venezuela and Brazil as well. However, the mountain’s highest point is Maverick Rock, which lies wholly within Venezuela. It rains almost every day on this flat-topped mountain.
Flag of Guyana
#12. Guyana is divided into three counties: Essequibo, Demerara, and Berbice.
#13. Despite the fact that Guyana has plenty of forest cover, its ancient soil is infertile and a majority of its populations lives in coastal areas.
#14. For those living on the coast, farming and fishing is the main source of income.
#15. Guyana also co-hosted the Cricket World Cup 2007 with the West Indies. It was during this World Cup matches played at the Providence Stadium that the Sri Lankan fast bowler Lasith Malinga became the first bowler in international cricket history to take four wickets in four consecutive balls. The stadium hosted six World Cup matches between March 28, 2007, and April 9, 2007.
#16. According to the WHO, Guyana is ranked second in suicides per capita worldwide after Sri Lanka.
#17. The largest mass suicide in modern history happened in Guyana when more than 900 people died in 1978. The people who died were the supporters of Jim Jones, the religious cult leader.
#18. Since 1985, there has been an increase in diseases related to water and food consumption in Guyana. Despite the fact that at least 90% of the people living in rural and urban areas have access to clean drinking water.
#19. Georgetown is the capital and chief port of Guyana.
#20. New Amsterdam and Georgetown are the two main commercial centers of the country.
#21. Wooden buildings are a part of the country’s legacy but they are fading now into the past with the arrival of concrete buildings that are more common.
#22. Majority of the food is produced locally including vegetables, fruits, cooking oils, sugar, fish, meat, rum, and rice.
Map of Guyana
#23. Export of sugar and rum is the main commercial activity in the country. Agriculture is a primary activity in the country and is a major contributor to its economy.
#24. Arranged marriages are common among the Hindu and Muslim population of the country. Women are responsible for the upbringing of the children as the children are generally abandoned by their fathers.
#25. In the recent years, more women than men in Guyana are attending university. Women are now playing a vital role in doing various jobs such as vendors, nurses, teachers, civil servants, market vendors, farmers, and clerks as well.
#26. The proper upbringing of the children and their education is indispensable to the country’s culture. For inculcating moral values in the younger ones, people attend churches, mosques, and temples along with their children.
#27. The University of Guyana was founded in 1963. It is also the place where many distinguished scholars and professionals have studied. It is the only one university in Guyana and higher education is very expensive for the local population.
#28. US dollar is a widely accepted currency in Guyana.
#29. Guyana experiences two rainy seasons: May to mid-August and mid-November to mid-January. During the rainy seasons, flash floods are a constant threat.
#30. Spanish, Portuguese, Creole, and Amerindian languages are spoken in various parts of the country.
#31. Amerindians were the original inhabitants of the region.
#32. The constitution of Guyana was laid out on 6 October 1980.
#33. The citizens of several countries do not require a visa to enter Guyana. These include Australia, Barbados, Belgium, Italy, Jamaica, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, France and many others countries.
#34. There are no railways in Guyana – neither international nor domestic services. Moreover, there are no roads links between Guyana and Venezuela.
#35. Minibusses are the cheapest mode of transportation throughout Guyana.
#36. The average temperature in Guyana ranges between 75 and 87 degrees Fahrenheit.
#37. Mashramani is an annual festival celebrated in Guyana in commemoration of the Birth of the Republic. Mashramani translates to “the celebration after hard work”. The festival is usually held on 23rd of February except for in 2016 when it was celebrated on 26th May, on Guyana’s 50th Independence Anniversary.
#38. Kaieteur Falls in Guyana is 5 times the height of Niagara Falls. Other waterfalls in the country include: Orinduik falls, Kumerau Falls and 52 Drop Falls (series of 52 rapids on Cuyuni River).
#39. Mount Ayanganna is the second highest mountain in Guyana after Mount Roraima.
#40. Guyana is famous for locally made beautiful craft which includes paintings, wallets, sun hats, costume jewelry and many other items. The country also boasts some exceptional gold jewelry.
#41. As the majority of the items are imported from other countries, the cost of living in Guyana is relatively high.
#42. Dishes from the Indian subcontinent are localized. Food in the region is also influenced by the creole.
#43. Chinese restaurants are common as people like to eat Chinese dishes including chow mein and lo mein.
#44. A great variety of food option exists in Georgetown, the country’s capital city. Menu options in restaurants in smaller towns are often limited to creole dishes.
#45. The Dark rum is a popular drink in the country. Because of the high humidity and steady temperature in Guyana, the aging process of the rum in Guyana is supposedly greatly increased. Thus, for example, an 8-year-old rum has a maturity equal to that of a 16-year-old rum in other countries.
#46. Banks beer is the national beer of the country.
#47. Mauby is a famous drink which is commonly available throughout the country. It is made from tree bark. Some other common drinks also include sugarcane juice and coconut water.
#48. Guyana receives an average rainfall of 91 mm.
#49. In the last ten years, the literacy rate has gone down in the country.
#50. People from developing and poor countries come to Guyana in search of work. However, the high cost of living in Guyana makes it difficult for the expatriate to survive in the country.
#51. In Guyana, male homosexuality is illegal. One could be sentenced to life in prison if charges are proved. It is also an offense in the country to cross-dress.
#52. Tap water in the country is not safe for drinking.
#53. Malaria is widespread throughout most of Guyana. Yellow fever is endemic to Guyana. Travelers to this area should get properly vaccinated beforehand to avoid health issues.
#54. Georgetown Public Hospital is the country’s largest hospital situated in its capital city. However, the facilities in the hospital are still basic and need improvement.
Guyana – country at a glance
|Independence||26 May 1966 (from the UK)|
|Total area||214,969 sq km|
|Currency||Guyanese dollar (GYD)|
|Religion||Christianity, Judaism and Islam|
|Borders||Brazil, Venezuela and Suriname|
|Holidays||New Year's Day, 1 January; Republic Day, 23 February; Labor Day, 1 May; Caribbean Day, 26 June; Freedom Day, 7 August; Christmas, 25 December; Boxing Day, 26 December. |
Movable religious holidays include Good Friday, Easter Monday, Phagwah, 'Id al-'Adha, Yaou-Mun-Nabi, and Dewali.
|Population below poverty line||35% (2006 est.)|
|Suffrage||18 years of age; universal|
|Government type||parliamentary republic|
|Prime Minister||Moses Nagamootoo|
|National anthem||"Dear Land of Guyana, of Rivers and Plains"|
|National symbol||Canje pheasant (hoatzin), jaguar, Victoria Regia water lily|
|National colors||red, yellow, green, black, white|
|National holiday||Republic Day, 23 February (1970)|
|Official Languages||English (Guyanese Creole)|
|Birth rate||15.4 births/1,000 population (2017 est.)|
|Death rate||7.4 deaths/1,000 population (2017 est.)|
|Sex ratio||1.02 male(s)/female (2017 est.)|
|Life expectancy||68.6 Years (2017)|
|GDP - per capita (PPP)||$8,300 (2017 est.)|
|Terrain||mostly rolling highlands; low coastal plain; savanna in south|
|Climate||tropical; hot, humid, moderated by northeast trade winds; two rainy seasons (May to August, November to January)|
|Natural resources||bauxite, gold, diamonds, hardwood timber, shrimp, fish|
|Industries||bauxite, sugar, rice milling, timber, textiles, gold mining|
|Exports||$1.474 billion (2017 est.)|
sugar, gold, bauxite, alumina, rice, shrimp, molasses, rum, timber
|Imports||$1.776 billion (2017 est.)|
manufactures, machinery, petroleum, food
|Internet country code||.gy|
|Time Zone||GYT (Guyana Time) (UTC-4)|
|Drives on the||Left|
|Data sources||CIA, Wikipedia|
|Table last updated||July 14, 2018|