Cooperative Republic of Guyana
Guyana is situated on the northeast coast of Latin America, along the Atlantic Ocean. It shares a 600-kilometer (373-mile) border with Suriname to the east, a 743-kilometer (462-mile) border with Venezuela to the northwest, and a 1,119-kilometer (695-mile) border with Brazil to the south and southwest. Guyana covers 214,970 square kilometers (83,000 square miles), making it slightly smaller than the U.S. state of Idaho. Approximately 196,850 square kilometers (76,000 square miles) of Guyana's area is land and 18,120 square kilometers (7,000 square miles) is water. The coastline of Guyana totals 459 kilometers (285 miles). The capital, Georgetown, is located on the coast.
Guyana has 3 distinct geographical zones. It has a narrow coastal belt that is just over 25 kilometers (16 miles) in width. Much of the coastal belt is below sea level, which makes it good for sugar and rice production. Approximately 90 percent of the Guyanese population lives in this region. The high savannah uplands are located further inland. These are mostly thickly forested, hilly, tropical areas where the country's bauxite, diamonds, gold, manganese, and other minerals are found. The highest point is Mount Roraima, which rises to 2,835 meters (9,302 feet). The river basin hosts Guyana's massive rivers, namely the Demerara, Berbice, Courantyne, and Essequibo. Rapids, bars, and other obstacles make navigation very difficult on these waters.
The population was estimated at 697,181 in 2001, with an average annual growth rate of 0.07 percent in the same year. Recently the population has been falling as a result of out-migration. Half of Guyana's population is descended from Indian workers of the Dutch West Indian Company who first settled there in 1620. One-third of the population descends from native Africans who were brought as slaves in the 18th century. The rest are mostly Amerindians, Europeans, Chinese, and people of mixed races.
Guyana has the highest proportion in South America of people who live in rural areas, with only 35 percent living in urban areas in 1995. English is the official language, although Hindi and Urdu are used by the Indian community. There is religious diversity in Guyana; Protestants constitute 34 percent of the population, 34 percent are Hindu, Catholics are 18 percent, and 9 percent are Muslim.
Guyana has no territories or colonies.
Economist Intelligence Unit. Country Profile: Guyana. London: Economist Intelligence Unit, 2001.
Embassy of the Republic of Guyana, Washington, D.C. <http://www.guyana.org/govt/embassy.html> . Accessed October 2001.
Guyana News and Information. <http://www.guyana.org> . Accessed October 2001.
Jeffrey, Henry B. Guyana: Politics, Economics, and Society: Beyond the Burnham Era. Boulder, Colorado: Rienner Publishers, 1986.
U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. World Factbook 2001. <http://www.odci.gov/cia/publications/factbook/index.html> . Accessed September 2001.
U.S. Department of State. FY 2001 Country Commercial Guide: Guyana. <http://www.state.gov/www/about_state/business/com_guides/2001/wha/index.html> . Accessed October 2001.
—Allan C. K. Mukungu
Guyanese dollar (G$). One Guyanese dollar equals 100 cents. Notes come in denominations of 20, 100, 500, and 1,000 dollars. Coins come in denominations of 1, 5, 50, and 100 cents. U.S. currency is also accepted in Guyana.
Sugar, gold, bauxite/alumina, rice, shrimp, molasses, rum, and timber.
Manufactures, machinery, petroleum, and food.
US$3.4 billion (purchasing power parity, 2000 est.).
Exports: US$570 million (f.o.b., 2000 est.). Imports: US$660 million (f.o.b., 2000 est.).