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Synopsis of  Guyana

Guyana (full name is 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.

Guyana has an area of 214,969 sq km (83,000 sq mi), about the size of Great Britain.
The name Guyana is an Amerindian word meaning Land Of Many Waters.

We are known as the country of Six People- Africans, Amerindians, Chinese, East Indians, Europeans and Portugese. Guyana is notably famous for Kaieteur Falls, which is situated on the Potaro River, where that river falls off the Pakaraima Plateau. Kaieteur Falls

Kaieteur is one of the highest waterfalls in the world, being nearly five times as high as the Niagara Falls in North America. Our Falls have a clear drop of 741 feet, then a further drop of 81 feet over the great rocks at the bottom. Kaieteur was discovered in 1870 by C. Barrington Brown, who also discovered Orinduik and Kuribrong Falls. The name Kaieteur is an Amerindian word, and the falls should properly be called Kai-Tuk. Georgetown being the chief port and capital is situated on the right bank of the Demerara River estuary. In Georgetown, familiar landmarks include the lively Stabroek Market, the sea-wall and the Anglican cathedral of St George, the tallest wooden building in the world.

Land and Resources

Guyana has three major geographical regions. A belt of alluvial soil, mostly below sea level, borders the coast in the north and is protected by dams and dikes. To the south, dense forest covers four-fifths of the country. The plants and trees of Guyana are noted for their great size; the giant water lily is very common. The forest extends to interior highlands. Several rivers flow from south to north, forming spectacular waterfalls. The country has important mineral deposits of bauxite, manganese, and gold. Dense forests contain greenheart and mora trees, which are used in the lumber industry. Animals include anteaters, monkeys, and brilliantly colored birds and insects.


Agriculture accounts for about one-fourth of the gross domestic product and employs about one-third of the labor force. Sugar and its by-products and rice account for most of the agricultural exports; 3 million metric tons of sugarcane and 225,000 metric tons of rice were produced annually in the late 1980s. Coconuts, coffee, cacao, citrus fruit, corn, manioc, and other tropical fruit and vegetables are grown primarily for home consumption. Large areas of rough pasture exist in the interior savannas. Substantial numbers of cattle, hogs, sheep, and chickens are raised.

Cultivation is confined almost entirely to the narrow coastal strip of rich, alluvial soil. Agricultural expansion requires heavy expenditures for protection against flooding and for drainage and irrigation, because part of the strip is below the high-tide mark of the sea and rivers and because of the heavy seasonal rainfall. The government of Guyana is making efforts to increase the amount of land available for cultivation through reclamation projects.

Forestry and Fishing

In the late 1980s about 125,000 cu m (about 4.4 million cu ft) of wood were harvested annually from Guyana’s extensive forests. Almost all of the harvest was made up of hardwoods, used mainly in construction and furniture making and as fuel. Fishing is concentrated along the Atlantic coast. The annual catch in the late 1980s was about 41,600 metric tons. Shrimp are a valuable product.


Guyana is a major producer of bauxite; about 1.3 million metric tons were mined annually in the late 1980s. Manganese, gold, and diamonds are also produced.

Manufacturing and Energy

Manufacturing in Guyana is limited to processing bauxite and to production of foodstuffs, beverages, construction materials, clothing, soap, and cigarettes.

In the late 1980s Guyana had an installed electricity-generating capacity of about 168,000 kilowatts, and annual production was some 385 million kilowatt-hours, nearly all generated in thermal facilities. The country has a great potential for producing hydroelectricity.


Guyana has a population of 758,619 (1991 estimate). About 50 percent of the people are of East Indian descent, and about 30 percent are of black African descent. Five percent are Native Amerindians, and about 10 percent are of mixed background. Others include Chinese and Europeans. About 90 percent of the mostly rural population lives along the coast. About 42 percent are Christians, 34 percent are Hindus, and 9 percent are Muslims. The country's official language is English.
In the late 1980s about 134,700 pupils were enrolled in 425 elementary schools in Guyana. Some 100 secondary, technical, and teacher-training institutions had a total of approximately 73,400 students. The country’s principal institution of higher education, the University of Guyana (1963), in Georgetown, was attended by about 2300 students.

Economy and Government
The economy is dominated by agriculture, concentrated largely on the alluvial belt along the coast. Sugar and rice account for most agricultural exports. Forestry and fishing industries also contribute to the economy, and Guyana is a major producer of the mineral bauxite. Manufacturing remains limited. The currency is the Guyana dollar (135 Guyana dollars equal U.S.$1; 1997,approx.). Guyana's chief executive is a president, elected to a five-year term by the unicameral National Assembly. The Assembly consists of 12 nonelected members and 53 members elected to five-year terms.


First charted by Spain in 1499, Guyana came under Dutch control by the mid-1700s. The British gained possession of Guyana in 1814. British rule brought large influxes of Africans and East Indians. In 1961 Guyana achieved internal self-government under Cheddi Jagan of the People's Progressive Party (PPP). In 1962 Jagan's austerity program led to riots and a general strike. After British troops restored order, the nation was left on the brink of economic chaos. The 1964 elections resulted in a coalition government under Forbes Burnham of the People's National Congress (PNC). On May 26th, 1966 Guyana gained independence from the British. Four years later on February 23rd, 1970 Guyana became a republic. The country is now called The Cooperative Republic of Guyana. In 1978 Guyana was the scene of the mass suicide and murder of more than 900 members of a religious cult on orders of their leader,James Warren("Jim") Jones.

A new constitution became effective in 1980. Burnham was then elected president. He governed until his death in 1985, when Desmond Hoyte of the PNC became president. In 1992 an internationally supervised election returned Jagan and the PPP to power.
Elections were held again in December of 1997, and the PPP/Civic under the leadership of Janet Jagan (the widow of the late Cheddi Jagan), won a second mandate.

On August 8th. 1999 President Janet Jagan announced that she is stepping down for health reasons and handing over the Presidency to Finance Minister Bharrat Jagdeo.

Once again on March 19th. 2001, the Guyanese People went again to the Polls. The PPP/Civic once again won the elections.