Guyana - Country history and economic development

1600. The Dutch begin to settle along the coast of Guyana.

1796. The Dutch are ousted by the British.

1831. Britain consolidates the area as the colony of British Guiana.

1966. Guyana becomes a self-governing dominion within the British Commonwealth; Forbes Burnham becomes prime minister.

1968. Burnham's People's National Congress (PNC) wins electoral victory following the controversial enfranchisement of overseas Guyanese. The United Force (UF) leaves the coalition, protesting irregularities in the elections.

1970. Guyana is proclaimed a Cooperative Republic; the post of governor-general is abolished. Supreme Court Justice Arthur Chung is elected president.

1971. The Demerara Bauxite Company is nationalized.

1973. Legislation is passed permitting preventive detention without trial and restricting freedom of movement.

1974. By the Declaration of Sophia, the PNC is transformed into a socialist party committed to nationalization of all foreign enterprises and redistribution of land.

1975. The Reynolds Guyana Mines are nationalized.

1976. The Booker Sugar Estates are nationalized. The government announces plans to nationalize the school system.

1977. Burnham rejects the plan of Cheddi Jagan, leader of the opposition People's Progressive Party (PPP), for a national coalition government. A strike by sugar workers becomes violent as the government uses police force to break it.

1978. Jonestown, Guyana is the scene of a mass suicide by over 900 members of the People's Temple commune, led by U.S. cultist, Jim Jones.

1980. Guyana adopts the presidential form of government when a new constitution is approved; Burnham becomes the first president under the new constitution.

1985. Burnham dies and is succeeded in office by Hugh Hoyte, who promises to continue Burnham's leftist policies. In national elections, Hoyte is elected president, and the PNC wins with a massive majority.

1990. Guyana accepts IMF conditions and begins receiving assistance. The World Bank and the Caribbean Development Bank resume lending.

1991. Guyana becomes a member of the Organization of American States (OAS).

1992. In elections held in October, the PPP/Civic Congress, still led by Dr. Cheddi Jagan, wins 54 percent of the vote and gains 28 seats. The PNC wins 23 seats and 2 seats are won by other parties.

1997. Jagan dies from a heart attack in March. Elections held in December are won by the PPP/Civic Congress with 56 percent of officially counted votes. Jagan's widow becomes Guyana's first female president.

1998. Violent PNC-supported protests over election results rock the country in mid-January. The PNC agrees to join parliament in July following a CARICOM summit in St. Lucia.

1999. An agreement between members of the PPP/Civic Congress and PNC is reached to draft a new constitution focusing on limiting the powers of the president and making the electoral process more transparent. President Jagan resigns in August because of illness and nominates Bharrat Jagdeo as president.

2001. National Assembly elections give the PPP/Civic Congress 35 seats, the PNC 27 seats, and other parties 4 seats.

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