Co-Operative Republic Of Guyana

Guyana (full name is Co-operative Republic of Guyana) is a tropical country situated on the northern coast of South America.

It is the only country in South America where English is the official language. It is bordered by Venezuela on the west, Suriname on the east, Brazil on the south and the Atlantic Ocean on the north.


Although Guyana is listed among the Caribbean islands, like its sister Belize, Guyana is NOT a Caribbean island, but is considered Caribbean because of the many West Indian influences in the country.

The name Guyana is an Amerindian word and the original inhabitants to this country were the Arawak Indians who were later joined by the Carib Indians.

They called this country Guiana, which means "land of waters". The Caribs were more warlike and eventually killed or drove the Arawaks to the Antilles, Greater and Lesser islands.

Europeans in their zest for gold and diamonds fought some epic battles for the control of Guiana. The chief European antagonists were the Spanish, French, Dutch and the British. European settlement first took place in 1615, when the Dutch West Indian Company erected a fort and depot on the lower Essequibo River.

The Europeans brought diseases to the country and one of the main diseases was smallpox, which decimated the Indians. Other Indians were killed trying to protect their lands and there were forced to flee into the interior.

Sugar thus became the dominant crop in the country. The Dutch established the colonies of Essequibo, Demerara and Berbice. While the Dutch were busy establishing sugar cane fields around the Demerara River, the British were busy establishing sugar and tobacco plantations west of the Berbice River.

Inevitably, these two European powers constantly clashed and parts of the land changed several times. However, by 1796, Britain had become the main power and those sugar plantations that had flourished for the Dutch now became British controlled.

After the Napoleonic wars had finished, the three colonies were ceded to Britain at the Congress of Vienna, and, and in 1831, were consolidated as British Guiana. The Dutch traded with the Indian peoples of the interior, and established riverside plantations that were worked on by African slaves.

Slavery was abolished in 1834, which forced many plantations to close or look for another labour source. The British solved one problem by shipping indentured workers from India. They were some 250,000 laborers entered Guyana between 1846 - 1917, which dramatically transformed the country's demographic balance, and creating the basis for persistent ethnic tensions.

Indentured laborers were also brought into Guyana from Portugal and China, but in lesser numbers, and, all indentured laborers were brought in to replace the freed black slaves.

Many of the Afro-Guyana former slaves moved to the towns and became the majority urban population. The majority of the Indo-Guyanese remained in the rural areas.

Guyana achieved its independence in 1966 and four years later became a cooperative republic within the Commonwealth. The sugar industry was nationalized and the country's economic base was diversified through the production of rice, timber and bauxite.

Guyana is known as the country of Six People- Africans, Amerindians, Chinese, East Indians, Europeans and Portugese.

Almost 90 percent of Guyana's inhabitants live in the narrow coastal plain while the majority of the country is blessed by its vast tropical rainforests and savanna teeming with wildlife.

Should the government decide not to destroy nature's immense beauty, Guyana could become the eco-tourism destination of the future. In addition, Guyana has many falls; the most famous is the Kaiteur Falls, which have a hydro-dam that produces electricity for most of the country.


Information provided courtesy of: Caribbean Association Midwest America