Facts about Guyana

World Facts Index

GuyanaOriginally a Dutch colony in the 17th century, by 1815 Guyana had become a British possession. The abolition of slavery led to black settlement of urban areas and the importation of indentured servants from India to work the sugar plantations. This ethnocultural divide has persisted and has led to turbulent politics. Guyana achieved independence from the UK in 1966, and since then it has been ruled mostly by socialist-oriented governments. In 1992, Cheddi JAGAN was elected president in what is considered the country's first free and fair election since independence. After his death five years later, his wife, Janet JAGAN, became president but resigned in 1999 due to poor health. Her successor, Bharrat JAGDEO, was reelected in 2001 and again in 2006.

Geography of Guyana

Location:
Northern South America, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Suriname and Venezuela
Coordinates:
5 00 N, 59 00 W
Area:
total: 214,970 sq km
water: 18,120 sq km
land: 196,850 sq km
Area comparative:
slightly smaller than Idaho
Land boundaries:
total: 2,462 km
border countries: Brazil 1,119 km, Suriname 600 km, Venezuela 743 km
Coastline:
459 km
Maritime claims:
continental shelf: 200 NM or to the outer edge of the continental margin
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
territorial sea: 12 NM
Climate:
tropical; hot, humid, moderated by northeast trade winds; two rainy seasons (May to mid-August, mid-November to mid-January)
Terrain:
mostly rolling highlands; low coastal plain; savanna in south
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mount Roraima 2,835 m
Natural resources:
bauxite, gold, diamonds, hardwood timber, shrimp, fish
Natural hazards:
flash floods are a constant threat during rainy seasons
Environment current issues:
water pollution from sewage and agricultural and industrial chemicals; deforestation
Geography - note:
the third-smallest country in South America after Suriname and Uruguay; substantial portions of its western and eastern territories are claimed by Venezuela and Suriname respectively

More Geography

Population of Guyana

Population:
770,794 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 26.2% (male 102,551/female 98,772)
15-64 years: 68.6% (male 265,193/female 260,892)
65 years and over: 5.2% (male 17,043/female 22,794)
Median age:
27.4 years
Growth rate:
0.25%
Infant mortality:
32.19 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 65.86 years
male: 63.21 years
female: 68.65 years
Fertility rate:
2.04 children born/woman
Nationality:
noun: Guyanese (singular and plural)
adjective: Guyanese
Ethnic groups:
East Indian 50%, black 36%, Amerindian 7%, white, Chinese, and mixed 7%
Religions:
Christian 50%, Hindu 35%, Muslim 10%, other 5%
Languages:
English, Amerindian dialects, Creole, Hindi, Urdu
Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over has ever attended school
total population: 98.8%
male: 99.1%
female: 98.5%

Government

Country name:
conventional long form: Co-operative Republic of Guyana
former: British Guiana
Government type:
republic within the Commonwealth
Capital:
Georgetown
Administrative divisions:
10 regions; Barima-Waini, Cuyuni-Mazaruni, Demerara-Mahaica, East Berbice-Corentyne, Essequibo Islands-West Demerara, Mahaica-Berbice, Pomeroon-Supenaam, Potaro-Siparuni, Upper Demerara-Berbice, Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo
Independence:
26 May 1966 (from UK)
National holiday:
Republic Day, 23 February (1970)
Constitution:
6 October 1980
Legal system:
based on English common law with certain admixtures of Roman-Dutch law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage:
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Bharrat JAGDEO (since 11 August 1999); note - assumed presidency after resignation of President Janet JAGAN and was reelected in 2001, and again in 2006
head of government: Prime Minister Samuel HINDS (since October 1992, except for a period as chief of state after the death of President Cheddi JAGAN on 6 March 1997)
cabinet: Cabinet of Ministers appointed by the president, responsible to the legislature
elections: president elected by popular vote as leader of a party list in parliamentary elections, which must be held at least every five years (no term limits); elections last held 28 August 2006 (next to be held by August 2011); prime minister appointed by the president.
Legislative branch:
unicameral National Assembly (65 members elected by popular vote, also not more than four non-elected non-voting ministers and two non-elected non-voting parliamentary secretaries appointed by the president; members serve five-year terms)
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court of Judicature, consisting of the High Court and the Judicial Court of Appeal, with right of final appeal to the Caribbean Court of Justice

Economy

The Guyanese economy exhibited moderate economic growth in 2001-07, based on expansion in the agricultural and mining sectors, a more favorable atmosphere for business initiatives, a more realistic exchange rate, fairly low inflation, and the continued support of international organizations. Economic recovery since the 2005 flood-related contraction has been buoyed by increases in remittances and foreign direct investment. Chronic problems include a shortage of skilled labor and a deficient infrastructure. The government is juggling a sizable external debt against the urgent need for expanded public investment. In March 2007, the Inter-American Development Bank, Guyana's principal donor, canceled Guyana's nearly $470 million debt, equivalent to nearly 48% of GDP. The bauxite mining sector should benefit in the near term from restructuring and partial privatization, and the state-owned sugar industry will conduct efficiency increasing modernizations. Export earnings from agriculture and mining have fallen sharply, while the import bill has risen, driven by higher energy prices. Guyana's entrance into the Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME) in January 2006 will broaden the country's export market, primarily in the raw materials sector.

GDP:
$2.819 billion (2007 est.)
GDP growth rate:
5.3%
GDP per capita:
$4,600
GDP composition by sector:
agriculture: 37%
industry: 20.3%
services: 42.7%
Inflation rate:
6.9%
Unemployment:
9.1% (understated) 
Budget:
revenues: $320.1 million
expenditures: $362.6 million
Electricity production by source:
fossil fuel: 99.4%
hydro: 0.6%
other: 0% 
Industries:
bauxite, sugar, rice milling, timber, textiles, gold mining
Agriculture:
sugarcane, rice, wheat, vegetable oils; beef, pork, poultry, dairy products; fish, shrimp
Exports:
sugar, gold, bauxite/alumina, rice, shrimp, molasses, rum, timber
Export partners:
US 18.7%, Canada 18.6%, UK 11.7%, Portugal 8.7%, Jamaica 6.3%, Trinidad and Tobago 4.4% 
Imports:
manufactures, machinery, petroleum, food
Import partners:
US 26.2%, Trinidad and Tobago 24.5%, Cuba 6.7%, UK 4.8%, China 4.1% 
Currency:
Guyanese dollar (GYD)

SOURCES: The CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State, Area Handbook of the US Library of Congress

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