Guyana, or Cooperative Republic of Guyana, a country on the north coast of South America. It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean, Suriname, Brazil, and Venezuela. Guyana's area is 83,000 square miles (214,696 km 2). A low marshy plain, some 10 to 40 miles (16 to 64 km 2) wide, extends along the coast. Part of it lies below sea level and is protected from the sea by dikes and dams. Inland, the land gradually becomes hilly and rises as low mountains in the south and as higher, flat-topped ranges in the west. The highest point is Mt. Roraima, which reaches an elevation of 9,094 feet (2,772 m). Most of Guyana is heavily forested; part is covered by savannas.
Guyana (an Indian word meaning “land of waters”) is drained by several great rivers, largest of which are the Essequibo and the Courantyne. Waterfalls are numerous, especially in the western mountains. Some of the falls are among the highest and most spectacular in the world. Among them are King George VI Falls (1,600 feet [488 m]) and Kaieteur Falls (740 feet [226 m]).
Guyana has a tropical climate marked by high temperatures, large amounts of rain, and high humidity. Temperatures vary only slightly throughout the year and average about 80° F. (27° C.) on the coast, higher inland. Rainfall totals some 60 to 140 inches (1,500 to 3,600 mm) a year, depending on location.
Guyana's economy is based primarily on agriculture and mining. Virtually all the farming is done on the coastal plain, especially the eastern part. The chief agricultural products are sugar and rice. Both are major exports. Individual farmers, many of them living at a subsistence level, grow rice, plantains, and other tropical plants.
Guyana is a major producer of bauxite (an aluminum ore). It is one of the country's most important exports. Gold and diamonds are also mined. Lumbering has enormous potential, but is hampered by the lack of inland transportation.
Transportation is best developed along the coast. The interior is accessible mainly by river and air. The only international airport is near Georgetown, the capital.
|Facts in brief about Guyana|
|Official language: English.|
|Area: 83,000 mi2. (214,969 km2). Greatest distances—north-south, 495 mi. (797 km); east-west, 290 mi. (467 km). Coastline—270 mi. (435 km).|
|Population: Current estimate—753,000; density, 9 persons per mi2 (4 per km2); distribution, 64 percent rural, 36 percent urban. 2002 census—751,223.|
|Chief products: Agriculture—sugar cane, rice. Manufacturing and processing—sugar, rice, timber, coconuts. Mining—bauxite, diamonds, gold.|
|Flag: Guyana's flag is green (representing agriculture and forests) with a red triangle (zeal in nation building) inside a golden yellow arrowhead (minerals). The triangle has a black border (endurance) and the arrowhead has a white border (water resources).|
|National anthem: "Guyana National Anthem."|
|Money: Basic unit—Guyanese dollar.|
About 50 per cent of the people of Guyana are of East Indian descent and about 30 per cent are black. The remainder are white, American Indian, or of mixed ancestry. The principal religions are Christianity, Hinduism, and Islam.
Education is free and compulsory for children between ages 5 and 14. More than 80 per cent of the population is literate. The University of Guyana, founded in 1963, is at Georgetown. English is the country's official language.
Under the constitution of 1980, Guyana is a republic. Legislative power is held by the one-house National Assembly. Members of the assembly are elected for five years. Executive power is in the hands of a president, who heads the majority party in the assembly. The president appoints a prime minister and cabinet. The judiciary is headed by the Supreme Court of Judicature.