Guyanese /guy'euh neez", -nees"/, n., adj.
/guy an"euh, -ah"neuh/, n.
an independent republic on the NE coast of South America: a former British protectorate; gained independence 1966; member of the Commonwealth of Nations. 706,116; 82,978 sq. mi. (214,913 sq. km). Cap.: Georgetown. Formerly, British Guiana. See map under Guiana.

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Introduction Guyana -
Background: Guyana achieved independence from the UK in 1966 and became a republic in 1970. In 1989 Guyana launched an Economic Recovery Program, which marked a dramatic reversal from a state-controlled, socialist economy towards a more open, free market system. Results through the first decade have proven encouraging. Geography Guyana
Location: Northern South America, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Suriname and Venezuela
Geographic coordinates: 5 00 N, 59 00 W
Map references: South America
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
Land use: arable land: 2.44% permanent crops: 0.08% other: 97.48% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land: 1,500 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards: flash floods are a constant threat during rainy seasons Environment - current issues: water pollution from sewage and agricultural and industrial chemicals; deforestation Environment - international party to: Biodiversity, Climate
agreements: Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94 signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
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 People Guyana -
Population: 698,209 note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2002 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 27.6% (male 98,198; female 94,397) 15-64 years: 67.4% (male 237,324; female 233,400) 65 years and over: 5% (male 15,510; female 19,380) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.23% (2002 est.)
Birth rate: 17.89 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate: 9.33 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate: -6.28 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.8 male(s)/ female total population: 1.01 male(s)/ female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 38.37 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.) Life expectancy at birth: total population: 62.59 years female: 65.34 years (2002 est.) male: 59.96 years
Total fertility rate: 2.09 children born/woman (2002 est.) HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 3.01% (1999 est.) HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/ 15,000 (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths: 900 (1999 est.)
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: 98.1% male: 98.6% female: 97.5% (1995 est.) Government Guyana -
Country name: conventional long form: Co-operative Republic of Guyana conventional short form: 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 JAGAN head of government: Prime Minister Samuel HINDS (since NA December 1997) cabinet: Cabinet of Ministers appointed by the president, responsible to the legislature elections: president elected by the majority party in the National Assembly following legislative elections, which must be held at least every five years; elections last held 19 March 2001 (next to be held by March 2006); prime minister appointed by the president election results: President Bharrat JAGDEO reelected; percent of legislative vote - NA%
Legislative branch: unicameral National Assembly (68 seats, 65 elected by popular vote, 1 elected Speaker of the National Assembly, and 2 nonvoting members appointed by the president; members serve five-year terms) elections: last held 19 March 2001 (next to be held NA March 2006) election results: percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - PPP/ C 34, PNC 27, GAP and WPA 2, ROAR 1, TUF 1
Judicial branch: Supreme Court of Judicature; Judicial Court of Appeal; High Court Political parties and leaders: Alliance for Guyana or AFG (includes Guyana Labor Party or GLP and Working People's Alliance or WPA) [Rupert ROOPNARAINE]; Guyana Action Party or GAP [Paul HARDY]; Guyana Labor Party or GLP [leader NA]; People's National Congress or PNC [Hugh Desmond HOYTE]; People's Progressive Party/Civic or PPP/C [Bharrat JAGDEO]; Rise, Organize, and Rebuild or ROAR [Ravi DEV]; The United Force or TUF [Manzoor NADIR]; Working People's Alliance or WPA [Rupert ROOPNARAINE] Political pressure groups and Civil Liberties Action Committee or
leaders: CLAC; Guyana Council of Indian Organizations or GCIO; Trades Union Congress or TUC note: the GCIO and the CLAC are small and active but not well organized International organization ACP, C, Caricom, CCC, CDB, ECLAC,
participation: FAO, G-77, IADB, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, ISO (subscriber), ITU, LAES, NAM, OAS, OIC, OPANAL, OPCW, PCA, RG, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCL, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTrO Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Dr. Ali Odeen ISHMAEL chancery: 2490 Tracy Place NW, Washington, DC 20008 consulate(s) general: New York FAX: [1] (202) 232-1297 telephone: [1] (202) 265-6900 Diplomatic representation from the chief of mission: Ambassador Ronald
US: D. GODARD embassy: 100 Young and Duke Streets, Kingston, Georgetown mailing address: P. O. Box 10507, Georgetown telephone: [592] 225-4900 through 4909 and [592] 225-7961 through 7963 FAX: [592] 225-7316
Flag description: green, with a red isosceles triangle (based on the hoist side) superimposed on a long, yellow arrowhead; there is a narrow, black border between the red and yellow, and a narrow, white border between the yellow and the green Economy Guyana
Economy - overview: The Guyanese economy has exhibited moderate economic growth since 1999, based on an 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. 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. Low prices for key mining and agricultural commodities combined with troubles in the bauxite and sugar industries threaten the government's already tenuous fiscal position and dim prospects for 2002.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $2.5 billion (2000 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 2.8% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $3,600 (2000 est.) GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 36.1% industry: 31.8% services: 32.1% (2000) Population below poverty line: NA% Household income or consumption by lowest 10%: NA%
percentage share: highest 10%: NA% Inflation rate (consumer prices): 6% (2001 est.)
Labor force: 418,000 (2001 est.) Labor force - by occupation: agriculture NA%, industry NA%, services NA%
Unemployment rate: 9.1% (2000) (understated)
Budget: revenues: $227 million expenditures: $235.2 million, including capital expenditures of $93.4 million (2000)
Industries: bauxite, sugar, rice milling, timber, textiles, gold mining Industrial production growth rate: 7.1% (1997 est.) Electricity - production: 505 million kWh (2000) Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 99.01% hydro: 0.99% other: 0% (2000) nuclear: 0% Electricity - consumption: 469.65 million kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products: sugar, rice, wheat, vegetable oils; beef, pork, poultry, dairy products; fish (shrimp)
Exports: $505 million (f.o.b., 2000)
Exports - commodities: sugar, gold, bauxite/alumina, rice, shrimp, molasses, rum, timber
Exports - partners: Canada 22%, US 22%, UK 18%, Netherlands Antilles 11% (1999)
Imports: $585 million (c.i.f., 2000)
Imports - commodities: manufactures, machinery, petroleum, food
Imports - partners: US 29%, Trinidad and Tobago 18%, Netherlands Antilles 16%, UK 7% (1999)
Debt - external: $1.1 billion (2000) Economic aid - recipient: $84 million (1995), Heavily Indebted Poor Country Initiative (HIPC) $253 million (1997)
Currency: Guyanese dollar (GYD)
Currency code: GYD
Exchange rates: Guyanese dollars per US dollar - 189.5 (December 2001), 187.3 (2001), 182.4 (2000), 178.0 (1999), 150.5 (1998), 142.4 (1997)
Fiscal year: calendar year Communications Guyana - Telephones - main lines in use: 70,000 (2000) Telephones - mobile cellular: 6,100 (2000)
Telephone system: general assessment: fair system for long-distance calling domestic: microwave radio relay network for trunk lines international: tropospheric scatter to Trinidad; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) Radio broadcast stations: AM 3, FM 3, shortwave 1 (1998)
Radios: 420,000 (1997) Television broadcast stations: 3 (one public station; two private stations which relay US satellite services) (1997)
Televisions: 46,000 (1997)
Internet country code: .gy Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 3 (2000)
Internet users: 3,000 (2000) Transportation Guyana -
Railways: total: 187 km standard gauge: 139 km 1.435-m gauge note: all dedicated to ore transport (2001 est.) narrow gauge: 48 km 0.914-m gauge
Highways: total: 7,970 km paved: 590 km unpaved: 7,380 km (1996)
Waterways: 5,900 km (total length of navigable waterways) note: Berbice, Demerara, and Essequibo rivers are navigable by oceangoing vessels for 150 km, 100 km, and 80 km, respectively
Ports and harbors: Bartica, Georgetown, Linden, New Amsterdam, Parika
Merchant marine: total: 2 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 2,929 GRT/4,507 DWT ships by type: cargo 2 (2002 est.)
Airports: 51 (2001) Airports - with paved runways: total: 6 1,524 to 2,437 m: 3 914 to 1,523 m: 1 under 914 m: 3 (2001) Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 45 1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 914 to 1,523 m: 8 under 914 m: 36 (2001) Military Guyana -
Military branches: Guyana Defense Force (including Ground Forces, Coast Guard, and Air Corps), Guyana Police Force, Guyana People's Militia, Guyana National Service Military manpower - availability: males age 15-49: 206,199 (2002 est.) Military manpower - fit for military males age 15-49: 155,058 (2002 est.)
service: Military expenditures - dollar $NA
figure: Military expenditures - percent of NA%
GDP: Transnational Issues Guyana - Disputes - international: all of the area west of the Essequibo (river) claimed by Venezuela; Suriname claims area between New (Upper Courantyne) and Courantyne/Kutari [Koetari] rivers (all headwaters of the Courantyne); territorial sea boundary with Suriname is in dispute
Illicit drugs: transshipment point for narcotics from South America - primarily Venezuela - to Europe and the US; producer of cannabis

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officially Co-operative Republic of Guyana formerly (until 1966) British Guiana

Country, northeastern South America.

Area: 83,044 sq mi (215,083 sq km). Population (2002 est.): 775,000. Capital: Georgetown. About half the people are East Indian (South Asian), with a large black (Afro-Guyanese) minority. Language: English (official). Religion: Christianity, Hinduism. Currency: Guyana dollar. Guyana has a narrow Atlantic coastal plain that extends up to 10 mi (16 km) inland and includes reclaimed land protected by sea walls and canals. The tropical forest zone begins some 40 mi (64 km) inland and covers more than four-fifths of the country. The Pacaraima Mountains in the west provide headwaters for the Essequibo River. Guyana has a developing market economy with both public and private ownership. Major exports are sugar, rice, bauxite, and refined aluminum. It is a multiparty republic with one legislative house; its head of state and government is the president. It was colonized by the Dutch in the 17th century. The British occupied the territory during the Napoleonic Wars and afterward purchased the colonies of Demerara, Berbice, and Essequibo, which were united in 1831 as British Guiana. The slave trade was abolished in 1807, but emancipation of the 100,000 slaves in the colonies was not complete until 1838. From the 1840s East Indian and Chinese indentured servants were brought to work the plantations; by 1917 almost 240,000 East Indians had migrated to British Guiana. It was made a crown colony in 1928 and granted home rule in 1953. Political parties began to emerge, developing on racial lines as the People's Progressive Party (largely East Indian) and the People's National Congress (PNC; largely black). The PNC formed a coalition government and led the country into independence as Guyana in 1966. In 1970 Guyana became a republic within the Commonwealth; in 1980 it adopted a new constitution. Venezuela has long claimed land west of the Essequibo River, and the UN has been arbitrating the issue.

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▪ 2009

214,999 sq km (83,012 sq mi)
(2008 est.): 736,000
Chief of state:
President Bharrat Jagdeo
Head of government:
Prime Minister Sam Hinds

      Following the settlement of Guyana's maritime boundary dispute with Suriname in 2007, the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission announced in May 2008 that the world's largest oil company, ExxonMobil, had begun exploration work in its offshore Stabroek block. Guyana did not produce any oil of its own.

      In June, Guyana's Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) lost its leader when, according to the government, he failed a lie detector test. Other CANU officials suffered a similar fate. The U.S. government had previously claimed that CANU—the country's leading drug-enforcement agency—was “ corrupt and inefficient.”

      Prime Minister Sam Hinds announced in June that the proposed 100-MW Amaila Falls hydroelectric power project would go ahead in Guyana. Construction would begin by year's end 2008 and the plant was expected to be ready to produce its first power in 2012. Florida-based Synergy Holdings was the developer of the project.

      The security forces in August finally caught up with the notorious Rondell Rawlins gang, which had unleashed a reign of terror in rural Guyana for more than a year, murdering at least 23 people and coming close at one stage to destabilizing society. Rawlins and one of his accomplices were killed in a shoot-out with a team of police and army personnel.

David Renwick

▪ 2008

214,999 sq km (83,012 sq mi)
(2007 est.): 738,000
Chief of state:
President Bharrat Jagdeo
Head of government:
Prime Minister Sam Hinds

      Despite strong opposition from religious groups, the parliament in January 2007 approved a bill to legalize casino gambling in Guyana's 10 administrative regions. The initiative was especially designed to help hotel and resort complexes attract more international tourists.

      Chinese capital secured a major toehold in Guyana's industrial landscape in February when Bosai Minerals of Chongqing bought Toronto-based IAMGold's 70% interest in Omai Bauxite Mining Inc. The Guyanese government remained a minority shareholder, with a 30% stake.

      After being slapped with tax-evasion and illegal-wiretapping charges in the U.S., former New York City police commissioner Bernard Kerik decided in April not to continue serving his contract as security adviser to Pres. Bharrat Jagdeo. Kerik reportedly told Jagdeo that he did not want to “tarnish” Guyana's reputation internationally.

      The UN International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea's decision in September on the maritime boundary dispute between Guyana and neighbouring Suriname gave Georgetown the far-larger share of the Guyana-Suriname Basin in contention—more than 33,150 sq km (12,800 sq mi), compared with Suriname's 17,870 sq km (6,900 sq mi). A new boundary was drawn by the tribunal to reflect the award, and Guyana was expected to vigorously resume offshore oil exploration.

David Renwick

▪ 2007

214,999 sq km (83,012 sq mi)
(2006 est.): 756,000
Chief of state:
President Bharrat Jagdeo
Head of government:
Prime Minister Sam Hinds

       Russia took control of a major part of the all-important Guyana bauxite industry in March 2006 when the Rusal company bought 90% of the Aroaima Mining Co. in Berbice. The Guyanese government retained the other 10%. In September Rusal announced that it was also interested in buying into Guyana's other big bauxite producer, Omai, 70% of which was held by Montreal-based Cambior.

      Guyana's crime situation reached new heights in April when Agriculture Minister Satyadeow Sawh was murdered at his home, along with his brother and sister and a security guard. The motive for the killings was not immediately clear, but the U.S. State Department, in its 2006 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, asserted that the drug trade was breeding violent armed groups in Guyana that could threaten the country's “fragile democracy.”

      Pres. Bharrat Jagdeo won another five-year term in the general election in August, securing 54.6% of the vote. His People's Progressive Party/Civic alliance also increased its strength in the 65-member Parliament to 36 seats from 34. Unlike most previous elections in Guyana, the voting passed off peacefully, and the main opposition People's National Congress Reform party, led by Robert Corbin, appeared to accept the result, which had been closely monitored by international observers.

David Renwick

▪ 2006

215,083 sq km (83,044 sq mi)
(2005 est.): 751,000
Chief of state:
President Bharrat Jagdeo
Head of government:
Prime Minister Sam Hinds

      Severe flooding following torrential rainfall wreaked havoc in Guyana beginning in January 2005. The downpour, which lasted about six weeks, inundated the coastal belt, caused the deaths of 34 people, and destroyed large parts of the rice and sugarcane crops. The UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean estimated in March that the country would need $415 million for recovery and rehabilitation. About 275,000 people—37% of the population—were affected in some way by the floods.

      At the end of 2004, Guyana's external debt stood at $1.1 billion, but in June 2005 the Group of Eight wrote off $336.6 million of the country's debt. A month later Guyana and OPEC reached an agreement in which OPEC would provide $5.4 million in debt relief. Guyana's hopes of finally becoming an oil producer were again dashed in September when Canada's CGX Energy discontinued its onshore exploration program in the Berbice Block after having drilled three unsuccessful wells.

      In June the government launched a $3.3 million, five-year plan to combat drug trafficking; the scheme included the hiring of 600 new police officers and greater deployment of security forces along the border with Venezuela.

David Renwick

▪ 2005

215,083 sq km (83,044 sq mi)
(2004 est.): 752,000
Chief of state:
President Bharrat Jagdeo
Head of government:
Prime Minister Sam Hinds

      In January 2004 the Guyanese opposition People's National Congress (PNC) launched a national signature campaign to force Home Affairs Minister Ronald Gajraj out of office on the basis of allegations that he had been linked to a “phantom squad” blamed for more than 40 execution-style killings over the previous 12 months. Opposition supporters also began picketing the Home Affairs Ministry in Georgetown.

      The U.S. and Canadian governments barred Gajraj from entering those countries, despite his ministerial status. In May, Gajraj agreed to go on leave so that an investigation into the charges against him could proceed in a “speedy, fair, and impartial way.” A commission of inquiry was set up by Pres. Bharrat Jagdeo, though it faced the difficulty of attracting information from anyone knowledgeable about the “phantom squad.” George Bacchus, the key individual involved in the allegations against Gajraj, was assassinated in June. Bacchus had claimed to be a former member of the squad.

      In February, Guyana formally referred its maritime border dispute with Suriname to the arbitration panel of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. The dispute had prevented Guyana from pursuing what was believed to be potentially lucrative oil deposits in the offshore Corentyne region.

David Renwick

▪ 2004

215,083 sq km (83,044 sq mi)
(2003 est.): 778,000
Chief of state:
President Bharrat Jagdeo
Head of government:
Prime Minister Sam Hinds

      The opposition People's National Congress (PNC) acquired a new leader in February 2003, when attorney Robert Corbin succeeded Desmond Hoyte, who had died in December 2002. Corbin promptly led the PNC back into the National Assembly; the party had refused to take up its 27 seats in 2002.

      American diplomat Stephen Lesniak was kidnapped in April while playing golf and was held for 10 hours. A ransom for his release was reportedly paid by a female friend. He was the 18th kidnap victim in Guyana in a year. Washington sent a special team to Georgetown to investigate the incident.

      Guyana began to pursue two transcontinental infrastructure projects that could, according to Foreign Affairs Minister Rudy Insanally, position the country as a gateway to Latin America. Plans progressed for the upgrading of the Guyana-Brazil highway and a new road project linking Georgetown with Caracas, Venez.

      Following pressure from the U.S. government, Guyana agreed in July to exempt U.S. citizens from prosecution at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. The administration in Washington was a strong opponent of the ICC and suspended military aid during the year to six Caribbean countries that had declined to follow Guyana's example. In September Guyanese Pres. Bharrat Jagdeo was among an exclusive group of Caribbean leaders invited to a breakfast meeting with U.S. Pres. George W. Bush in New York City.

David Renwick

▪ 2003

215,083 sq km (83,044 sq mi)
(2002 est.): 775,000
Chief of state:
President Bharrat Jagdeo
Head of government:
Prime Minister Sam Hinds

      For most of 2002 Guyana was in the grip of a crime wave following the breakout from jail of five hardened criminals in February. Eight police officers were killed in clashes with the gang during the year, and several businessmen were murdered. Three of the escapees were also killed. In August gunmen sprayed the office of the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit with bullets and lobbed four hand grenades into the building. Even the country's director of public prosecutions was wounded in an attack in September. The ruling People's Progressive Party/Civic alliance set up a new unit in midyear to combat what the government described as “domestic terrorism.”

      Lawlessness in the country took a new turn when in July antigovernment demonstrators stormed the presidential compound in Georgetown to protest what they alleged to be racial discrimination practiced by the government, which had traditionally been supported by those of East Indian descent. At the time, leaders of Caribbean Community and Common Market (Caricom) states were holding their annual summit in Georgetown. Some of the demonstrators were said to have threatened presidential staff members with knives. Two people were shot dead by the police.

      The government agreed in June to relinquish its hold on the money-losing Linden Mining Enterprise bauxite operator through the formation of a joint-venture company, in which the government would hold 20% of the shares and the Canadian firm Cambior the majority 80%.

David Renwick

▪ 2002

215,083 sq km (83,044 sq mi)
(2001 est.): 776,000
Chief of state:
President Bharrat Jagdeo
Head of government:
Prime Minister Sam Hinds

      Guyana's ruling People's Progressive Party (PPP)/Civic alliance was returned to office in the general election held on March 19, 2001. The victory gave the alliance's leader, Bharrat Jagdeo, another five-year term as president and head of state. PPP/Civic, which took 209,031 of the 393,709 votes cast, secured 34 of the nation's 65 parliamentary seats. The opposition People's National Congress (PNC)/Reform Party won 164,074 votes and claimed 27 seats.

      Sporadic violence and looting followed the announcement of the election results, and a 43-year-old woman lost her life after being shot by an unknown gunman. PNC/Reform filed a motion to prevent Jagdeo from taking office, but this was dismissed by the High Court. In an effort to prevent further violence, Jagdeo and PNC/Reform leader Desmond Hoyte met in April and several times thereafter. They agreed to the formation of six joint committees to deal with contentious issues, including local government reform and the distribution of public land and housing.

      Guyana's long-standing border row with Venezuela—an issue both sides had previously relegated to the back burner—suddenly came alive in July when Venezuela's foreign minister visited the disputed Essequibo region and denounced the 1899 treaty that ceded it to Guyana, then a British colony. It was the first visit by a Venezuelan government minister to the border area in almost 20 years. That same month heads of government from Caribbean Community and Common Market countries had reiterated support for Guyana's “sovereignty” and “territorial integrity.”

David Renwick

▪ 2001

215,083 sq km (83,044 sq mi)
(2000 est.): 792,000
Chief of state:
President Bharrat Jagdeo
Head of government:
Prime Minister Sam Hinds

      Guyana finally pulled in line with the majority of its Caribbean Community and Common Market colleagues in February 2000 when it passed a bill making money laundering a specific criminal offense.

      The National Assembly took an important step in April toward ensuring that the upcoming general election—postponed from January 2001 to March—would be seen as fair to all parties by creating an independent seven-member Elections Commission. The former chief of staff of the Guyana armed forces, Maj. Gen. Joe Singh, was later named chairman.

      In May the government signed an agreement with Beal Aerospace Technologies, an American company, for the development of a space-satellite-launching project in a 404-sq km (156-sq mi) area in the Essequibo region. The deal was promptly “deplored” by the Venezuelan government, which had a historic claim to the area, on the grounds that a U.S. military base was part of the arrangement. Later in the year Pres. Bharrat Jagdeo soothed Venezuelan Pres. Hugo Chávez Frías by pointing out that the space station had no military intent.

      In June, just before drilling was about to begin on a promising oil concession, gunboats from Suriname evicted a drilling rig from waters Guyana regarded as its own.

David Renwick

▪ 2000

215,083 sq km (83,044 sq mi)
(1999 est.): 787,000
Chief of state:
Presidents Janet Jagan and, from August 11, Bharrat Jagdeo
Head of government:
Prime Minister Sam Hinds

      Guyana was beset by political and industrial turmoil for most of 1999. The trouble began in March with the resumption of street protests by the opposition People's National Congress (PNC). Demonstrations by the PNC had been suspended in July 1998 after intervention by Caribbean Community and Common Market (Caricom) countries in the dispute between the PNC and the governing People's Progressive Party/Civic coalition over the result of the December 1997 general election, which the coalition had won. The renewed protests almost immediately turned violent, and a Georgetown cinema was set on fire. Simultaneously, PNC leader Desmond Hoyte decided his party would boycott the Caricom-sponsored “peace talks,” though the party did return to the negotiating table in June.

      Adding to the social unrest, members of the Guyana Public Service Union took to the streets in April to demand a 40% pay increase. The sometimes violent strike ended in June with an interim award and appointment of an arbitration tribunal.

      In May Guyana was granted debt relief, initially amounting to $92 million, as a Highly Indebted Poor Country. Pres. Janet Jagan resigned in August, citing health problems. She was succeeded by Finance Minister Bharrat Jagdeo.

David Renwick

▪ 1999

      Area: 215,083 sq km (83,044 sq mi)

      Population (1998 est.): 782,000

      Capital: Georgetown

      Chief of state: President Janet Jagan

      Head of government: Prime Minister Sam Hinds

      Mediation by Guyana's fellow Caribbean Community and Common Market (Caricom) member nations finally in 1998 brought an end to the sometimes violent and racially tinged street demonstrations that had erupted after the general election on Dec. 15, 1997. The People's Progressive Party (PPP)/Civic coalition, headed by Cheddi Jagan's American-born widow, Janet, won about 55% of the valid votes under the country's proportional representation system, and Jagan became president. (See BIOGRAPHIES (Jagan, Janet Rosenberg ).) The opposition People's National Congress, led by Desmond Hoyte, vigorously disputed the result, however, and initiated the street protests in Georgetown.

      A Caricom team devised a formula, acceptable to both sides, that provided for an audit of the election results, constitutional reform, and, perhaps most important from Hoyte's point of view, another general election within three years. The audit reported in June that, whatever minor inefficiencies and delays may have been associated with the election, the PPP/Civic had won fairly.


▪ 1998

      Area: 215,083 sq km (83,044 sq mi)

      Population (1997 est.): 773,000

      Capital: Georgetown

      Chief of state: Presidents Cheddi Jagan and, from March 6, Sam Hinds

      Head of government: Prime Ministers Sam Hinds and, from March 17, Janet Jagan

      Guyana's outstanding political figure of the century, Pres. Cheddi Jagan, died March 6, 1997. (See OBITUARIES (Jagan, Cheddi Berret ).) Jagan, who founded the People's Progressive Party (PPP) in 1950 as a socialist party, became in 1953 the first popularly elected premier in what was then British Guiana. Prime Minister Sam Hinds succeeded Jagan as president, as required by the constitution, and appointed the former president's widow, the American-born Janet Jagan, prime minister. In September Janet Jagan was nominated as PPP/Civic candidate for president in the general election scheduled for late 1997. In the election, on December 15, Jagan defeated former president Desmond Hoyte of the People's National Congress party. Hoyte vowed to contest the election, which he claimed had been rigged.

      On June 29 Guyana and Cuba signed the final document of the 19th Mixed Intergovernmental Commission. The two countries agreed to strengthen their ties with one another and cooperate in such fields as public health, agriculture, fishing, and education.

      This article updates Guyana, history of (Guyana).

▪ 1997

      A republic and member of the Commonwealth, Guyana is situated in northeastern South America, on the Atlantic Ocean. Area: 215,083 sq km (83,044 sq mi). Pop. (1996 est.): 712,000. Cap.: Georgetown. Monetary unit: Guyana dollar, with (Oct. 11, 1996) an official rate of G$138.90 to U.S. $1 (G$218.81 = £ 1 sterling). President in 1996, Cheddi Jagan; prime minister, Sam Hinds.

      The National Assembly authorized the re-opening of the Omai gold mine, Guyana's largest, in February 1996, after it had been closed for almost seven months. The mine, a major earner of foreign exchange, was ordered shut in 1995 when a storage pond retaining wall collapsed, allowing 3.2 million cu m (4.2 million cu yd) of cyanide waste to contaminate the Essequibo River.

      Guyana obtained substantial financial relief in May when the Paris Club of creditor nations wrote off U.S. $500 million of the nation's foreign debt. In July the country suffered severe flooding, which caused millions of dollars' worth of damage.


▪ 1996

      A republic and member of the Commonwealth, Guyana is situated in northeastern South America, on the Atlantic Ocean. Area: 215,083 sq km (83,044 sq mi). Pop. (1995 est.): 770,000. Cap.: Georgetown. Monetary unit: Guyana dollar, with (Oct. 6, 1995) an official rate of G$143.80 to U.S. $1 (G$227.33 = £ 1 sterling). President in 1995, Cheddi Jagan; prime minister, Sam Hinds.

      The government agreed in March 1995 to set up an official inquiry into the death in 1980 of the opposition political activist Walter Rodney, a historian of international repute. Rodney was blown up by a bomb concealed in a radio transmitter, and it was widely believed at the time that the government, headed by Forbes Burnham, was involved. The inquiry was to be conducted by an international commission.

      As part of its anticorruption drive, the government decided in April that it would require all public employees, including Pres. Cheddi Jagan, to declare their assets and liabilities to an independent tribunal.

      In July it was announced that six privatization deals would be completed by the end of the year. Entities to be sold included a government-owned pharmaceutical company and a mortgage bank. The Canadian company Alcan announced it would purchase as much as 300,000 metric tons of bauxite over the next three years. The contract was scheduled to take effect in March 1996 so that the company would have time to procure the spare parts needed for production.

      Guyana's worst environmental disaster took place in August when a retaining wall for a storage pond at the giant Omai gold mine collapsed and allowed 2.3 million cu m (3 million cu yd) of cyanide waste to contaminate parts of the Essequibo River, a major source of water and fish for tens of thousands of people. A commission of inquiry was set up, and the Canadian company that owned the mine offered compensation to those affected. (DAVID RENWICK)

▪ 1995

      A republic and member of the Commonwealth, Guyana is situated in northeastern South America, on the Atlantic Ocean. Area: 215,083 sq km (83,044 sq mi). Pop. (1994 est.): 733,000. Cap.: Georgetown. Monetary unit: Guyana dollar, with (Oct. 7, 1994) an official rate of G$142.13 to U.S. $1 (G$226.06 = £ 1 sterling). President in 1994, Cheddi Jagan; prime minister, Sam Hinds.

      After two years in power, the People's Progressive Party (PPP)/Civic alliance retained substantial support in 1994, judging by the results of local elections in August. The alliance achieved a sweeping victory, capturing 48 of the 65 Neighbourhood Democratic Councils. It also won in three of the six municipalities.

      Only in Georgetown, the capital, did it fail to make headway, trailing both former prime minister Hamilton Green's group, named Good and Green for Georgetown, and the official opposition People's National Congress (PNC) party. Green won 12 seats, the PNC 10, and the PPP/Civic alliance 8.

      Despite the PPP's roots in the labour movement, in May the government had to face a 10-day strike by workers in the public sector. The strike ended when the government agreed to pay a G$5,500 minimum monthly wage.

      In July the government successfully concluded another Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facility with the International Monetary Fund, which required it to continue its market-liberalization measures. In return, the IMF promised $75 million in financial assistance over three years. The Caribbean Group for Cooperation in Economic Development offered Guyana $320 million in economic assistance during the same period. (DAVID RENWICK)

▪ 1994

      A republic and member of the Commonwealth, Guyana is situated in northeastern South America, on the Atlantic Ocean. Area: 215,083 sq km (83,044 sq mi). Pop. (1993 est.): 755,000. Cap.: Georgetown. Monetary unit: Guyana dollar, with (Oct. 4, 1993) an official rate of G$126 to U.S. $1 (G$191.52 = £ 1 sterling). President in 1993, Cheddi Jagan; prime minister, Sam Hinds.

      While the People's Progressive Party settled down to run the country after its October 1992 election victory, the People's National Congress (PNC), which had been in power for 28 years, was finding it difficult in 1993 to adjust to opposition. In March, Hamilton Green, the former prime minister, sued the PNC leadership for violating his constitutional rights by expelling him from the party. Green later moved to form his own group, Forum for Democracy. In April the PNC's problems were further compounded when its leader, former president Desmond Hoyte, had to be rushed to New York City for a triple bypass heart operation.

      There was good economic news, however. What would eventually be Guyana's largest gold mine began producing in February. The Canadian-owned Omai mine was expected to hit peak production of 280,000 troy ounces within a year or two. The British government, meanwhile, wrote off Guyana's entire official debt, amounting to $80.5 million. In the same month, the Paris Club of creditor nations also forgave Guyana $40 million of bilateral debt and rescheduled the rest over 23 years. In July the government announced that 16 state enterprises would be considered for divestment, among them Guysuco (sugar) and Linmine (bauxite).

      Discussions continued in October on a possible settlement of Venezuela's long-standing claim to two-thirds of Guyana's territory. (DAVID RENWICK)

* * *

officially  Co-operative Republic of Guyana 
Guyana, flag of  country located in the northeastern corner of South America. It is bordered by Venezuela to the west, Brazil to the southwest and south, Suriname (along the Courantyne River) to the east, and the Atlantic Ocean to the north. Most of the country's population occupies the narrow coastal strip. The capital and chief port is Georgetown.

      Present-day Guyana reflects its British colonial past and its reactions to that past. It is the only English-speaking country of South America. Since independence in 1966, Guyana's chief economic assets—its sugarcane plantations and bauxite industry—have come under government control, as has most of the country's commerce. Guyana's populace is mainly of colonial origin, although a small number of aboriginal Indians are scattered throughout the forested interior.

      The more numerous coastal peoples are chiefly descendants of slaves from Africa and indentured workers from India, who were originally imported to work the coastal sugarcane plantations. Racial problems between the latter two groups have played a disruptive role in Guyanaese society.

      Politically, Guyana has moved on a steady course toward socialism from the time of independence, although after the death of the first prime minister, Forbes Burnham, in 1985, ties with Western powers were strengthened. It is a member of the Commonwealth.

The land

      The narrow plain that extends along the country's Atlantic coast has been modified considerably by humans. Much of the area, which measures only about 10 miles (16 kilometres) at its widest point, has been reclaimed from the sea by a series of canals and some 140 miles of dikes. The coastal plain's inland border is generally marked by canals that separate the plain from interior swamps. South of the coastal zone the forested land rises gently and has sandy soils.

      About 40 miles inland from the coast is a region of undulating land that rises from 50-foot (15-metre) hills on the coastal side of the region to 400-foot (120–metre) ones on the western side. The area is between 80 and 100 miles wide and is widest in the southeast. It is covered with sands, from which it takes its name as the white-sands (zanderij) region. A small savanna region in the east lies about 60 miles from the coast and is surrounded by the white-sands belt. The sands partly overlie a low crystalline plateau that is generally less than 500 feet in elevation. The plateau forms most of the country's centre and is penetrated by igneous rock intrusions that cause the numerous rapids of Guyana's rivers.

      Beyond the crystalline plateau, the Kaieteurian Plateau lies generally below 1,600 feet above sea level; it is the site of the spectacular Kaieteur Falls, noted for their sheer 741-foot initial plunge. The plateau is overlain with sandstones and shales that, in the south, form the extensive Rupununi Savanna region. The Acarai Mountains (Serra Acaraí (Acaraí Mountains)), which rise to about 2,000 feet, rim the plateau on the southern border, and it is crowned on the western frontier by the Pakaraima Mountains (Pacaraima Mountains), which rise to 9,094 feet (2,772 metres) in Mount Roraima. The Rupununi Savanna is bisected by the east–west Kanuku Mountains, which rise to almost 3,000 feet.

      Guyana's four main rivers—the Courantyne (Courantyne River), Berbice (Berbice River), Demerara (Demerara River), and Essequibo (Essequibo River)—all flow from the south and empty into the Atlantic along the eastern section of the coast. Among the tributaries of the Essequibo, the Potaro, Mazaruni, and Cuyuni drain the northwest, and the Rupununi drains the southern savanna. The coast is cut by shorter rivers, including the Pomeroon, Mahaica, Mahaicony, and Abary.

      The rivers are part of the watershed of the Amazon and Orinoco rivers, and the headwaters of the Rupununi in Brazil are often confused with those of the Amazon. Drainage is poor, because the average gradient is only one foot per mile, and there are swamps and flooding in the mountains and savannas. The rivers are not suitable for long-distance transportation because they are broken by interior falls, and in the coastal zone their mouths and estuaries are blocked by mud and by sandbars that may occur two to three miles out to sea.

      The coastal soils are fertile but acidic. The fine-particle, grayish blue clays of the coastal plain are composed of alluvium from the Amazon deposited by the south equatorial ocean current and of much smaller amounts of alluvium from the country's rivers. They overlie white sands and clays and can support intensive agriculture but must be subjected to fallowing to restore fertility. Pegasse soil, a type of tropical peat, occurs behind the coastal clays and along the river estuaries, while silts line the banks of the lower rivers. Reef sands occur in bands in the coastal plain, especially near the Courantyne and Essequibo rivers. The rock soils of the interior are leached and infertile, and the white sands are almost pure quartz.

      High temperatures, heavy rainfall with small seasonal differences, high humidity, and high average cloud cover provide climatic characteristics of an equatorial lowland. Temperatures are remarkably uniform. At Georgetown the daily temperature varies from 74° to 86° F (23° to 30° C), and the mean temperature is about 80° F (27° C). The constant heat and high humidity are mitigated near the coast by the trade winds.

      Rainfall derives mainly from the movement of the intertropical front, or doldrums. It is heavy everywhere on the plateau and the coast. The annual average at Georgetown is about 90 inches (2,290 millimetres), and on the interior Rupununi Savanna it is about 70 inches. On the coast a long wet season, from April to August, and a short wet season, from December to early February, are sufficiently well marked on the average, but in the southern savannas the short wet season does not occur. Total annual rainfall is variable, and seasonal drought can occur in July and August when the southeast trade winds parallel the coast. Variations in Guyana's climatic patterns have a determining effect on tropical crop production.

Plant and animal life
      Many plants of the coast, such as the mangrove and various saltwater grasses, grow in shallow brackish water and help to protect or extend the land. The wet savanna behind the coast has coarse tufted grasses and a wide scattering of palms, notably the coconut, truli, and manicole. High rain forest, or selva, covers about three-fourths of the land area and is of extraordinary variety and magnificence. Prominent trees include the greenheart and the wallaba on the sandy soils of the northern edge, the giant mora and crabwood on swampy sites, the balata and other latex producers, and many species such as the siruaballi and hubaballi that yield handsome cabinet woods. The interior savanna is mostly open grassland, with much bare rock, many termite hills, and clumps of ita palm.

      All forms of animal life are immensely varied and abundant, though few, apart from birds and insects, are normally visible. The tapir is the country's largest land mammal, and the jaguar is the largest and fiercest of the cats, which also include the ocelot; monkeys and deer are the most common animals. Among the more exotic species are the sloth; great anteater; the capybara, or bush pig; and armadillo. Birds include the vulture, kiskadee, blue sacki, hummingbird, kingfisher, and scarlet ibis of the coast and lower rivers; and the macaw, tinamou, bell-bird, and cock-of-the-rock in the forest and savanna. The caiman (a reptile similar to the alligator) is the most common of the larger freshwater creatures. The giant anaconda, or water boa, is the largest of the many kinds of snakes, and the bushmaster is the most vicious. Lizards are numerous and include the iguana in the lower rivers. Sharks and stingrays are found offshore. The snapper and grouper are common ocean fish, and shrimps abound in the muddy currents off the coast. The manatee is also common in Guyanaese waters. Among the freshwater fish is the huge piraucu, which attains lengths up to 14 feet.

Settlement patterns
      The country is divided traditionally between the coast, where most of the population is concentrated, and the interior. The coastal population is heterogeneous, its inhabitants descended from the labourers brought in to work the sugarcane plantations. The interior, despite scattered ranching and mining settlements, is largely the province of the indigenous Indians.

      Guyanese society is predominantly rural, most of the people occupying villages in the coastal region. The highest population concentrations are along the estuary of the Demerara River and between the mouths of the Berbice and Courantyne rivers. Village units are of distinctive rectangular shapes, with the settlement areas nearest the ocean and connected to one another by the coastal highway; each village's farmlands extend inland, often for several miles, and are separated from neighbouring village lands by canals. Villages range in size from several hundred to several thousand persons. The commonly found wood and concrete-block dwellings are usually built on stilts above the flood-prone land and are connected by footbridges to the streets, which are built over the drainage and irrigation canals.

      Georgetown is the country's main port and its largest city. Located at the mouth of the Demerara River, it lies below sea level and is protected by dikes along both the river and the sea. Other important towns include the interior bauxite-mining centre of Linden and the market centre of New Amsterdam, located on the mouth of the Berbice River. Agricultural centres, such as the sugarcane plantation of Port Mourant, east of New Amsterdam, and the rice centre of Anna Regina, north of the Essequibo River estuary, provide commercial and marketing functions in the rural areas of the coastal zone.

The people
      The indigenous peoples of Guyana are collectively known as Amerindians and constitute about 4 percent of the population. Indian groups include the Warao (Warrau), Arawak, Carib, Wapisiana (Wapishana), Arecuna, the mixed “Spanish Arawak” of the Moruka River, and many more in the forest areas. The Makusí (Macussí or Macushí) are the most prominent of the savanna peoples. Sizable concentrations of Amerindians inhabit the far west along the border with Venezuela and Brazil. They are rarely seen in the populated coastal areas, although a few have interbred with blacks and East Indians. Since 1970, traditional Amerindian lands near the international borders have come under government control, although Amerindians continue to hold village lands informally throughout Guyana's interior.

      The other major elements in the population are predominantly coastal dwellers. Descendants of African slaves form the oldest group; they abandoned the plantations after full emancipation in 1838 to become independent peasantry or town dwellers. The Afro-Guyanese constitute about one-third of the population. The East Indians came mostly as indentured labour from India to replace Africans in plantation work. They form the largest racial group in the country—about half the population—and have been increasing more rapidly than the others. The East Indians are the mainstay of plantation agriculture, and many are independent farmers and landowners, have done well in trade, and are well represented among the professions.

      The Chinese and Portuguese also entered originally as agricultural labourers but are now rarely found outside the towns. They are active in business and the professions, and their influence is disproportionate to their numbers; they have not been increasing, however, and together they constitute only a tiny percentage of the population. Europeans other than Portuguese are few, and most are short-term inhabitants. While every kind of racial mixture may be found, mulattoes (persons of mixed white and black ancestry) are by far the most common. Most of them live in towns, and a high proportion are in clerical or professional work.

      The major religions are Christian (chiefly Anglican and Roman Catholic) and Hindu. Fundamentalist Protestantism has made inroads in the 20th century, mainly in Georgetown. There is also a sizable minority of Muslims. Animistic religions are still practiced by some of the Amerindian peoples. The official and principal language is English, but a creole patois is spoken throughout the country. Hindi and Urdu are heard occasionally among older East Indians.

      Immigration is no longer important, and by the late 20th century the number of foreign-born, long-term residents was insignificant. Emigration has been a drain on the country's human (human migration) resources as thousands of persons have left annually, going mainly to the United States, Canada, England, and Caribbean islands. Many of the emigrants have been skilled and professional people whose loss has intensified the country's severe economic problems. East Indians have emigrated in large numbers to flee what they consider political persecution, a number of them having sought part-time work across the Courantyne River in western Suriname.

The economy
      Since independence Guyana has remained locked into a typical colonial economic dependency on agricultural and mined products, most notably sugarcane and bauxite. Independence brought economic reforms under a socialist-leaning government, but the effect on the old economic cycle has been minimal. Although the government permits a three-sector economy—private, public, and cooperative—the public sector remains heavily dominant.

      Government management of the economy has become direct and significant. During the 1970s the government nationalized U.S. and Canadian bauxite holdings; in 1976 it nationalized the vast holdings of the Booker McConnell companies in Guyana, which included coastal sugarcane plantations as well as an array of light manufacturing and commercial enterprises. By the mid-1980s it was estimated that the government controlled directly more than 80 percent of Guyana's economy. All nationalized businesses have been reorganized under the Guyana State Corporation. The state-owned Guyana Sugar Corporation controls the sugarcane plantations, and the Guyana Mining Enterprise Ltd. was established to oversee local mineral production.

      The Guyanese economy has deteriorated under government management policies. Members of the ruling People's National Congress (PNC) political party have been placed in managerial positions, leading to the exodus of former managers and clerical workers. Declining output, a reliance on volatile external commodity markets, and a reduced tax base have all increased financial deficits. External debt has risen precipitously, and a devalued currency has been eroded by speculation in the local black market. Reduced fuel imports have led to widespread power outages, and a government austerity program all but eliminated imported food and consumer goods. Guyana's per capita income (estimated at about $600 in the late 1980s) places it among the world's poorest countries. Improvements in economic conditions became dependent upon foreign aid and a variety of regional and reciprocal trade agreements.

      Trade associations have an important influence in Guyanese government. The Trade Union Congress is an association of major unions, among which are the Guyana Mine Workers' Union, which is composed almost exclusively of black workers, and the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers' Union is a predominantly East Indian association.

      The most important mineral resource is the extensive bauxite deposits between the Demerara and Berbice rivers. There are also significant deposits of manganese at Matthews Ridge in the northwest, about 30 miles east of the Venezuelan frontier. Diamonds occur in the Mazaruni and other rivers of the Pacaraima Mountains. Gold is found in both alluvial and subsurface deposits. Other minerals include copper, iron ore, molybdenite (the source of molybdenum), nickel, white sand (used in glass manufacture), kaolin (china clay), and graphite. The government has encouraged oil exploration, but no significant reserves have been found.

      The main biological resource consists of the hardwoods of the tropical rain forest and especially the greenheart tree, which is resistant to termites, decay, and marine erosion. The shrimps off the coast and a few inland fishes form the basis of the nation's fishing industry, and the grasses of the savanna regions are used for cattle grazing.

      Most of Guyana's energy must be imported; domestic electricity is produced largely by thermal generation and is available only on the coastal plain and along the lower reaches of the rivers. Hydroelectric potential in Guyana is considerable, especially at Tiger Hill on the Demerara River and Tiboku Falls on the Mazaruni. Development is hampered, however, by the remoteness of the falls and the large amounts of capital needed for generation and transmission facilities.

Agriculture, forestry, and fishing
      Agriculture is concentrated on the narrow sea-level coastal plain between the Essequibo and Courantyne rivers. Land-use patterns still reflect early Dutch and British water-control techniques. Arable land is laid out in strips between the sea or a river and inland swamps. It is protected on all sides by dikes and canals that are used for both irrigation and drainage. The land reclaimed from the sea is fertile but acidic; lost fertility must be returned to the soil by periodic fallowing or the addition of fertilizers.

      Food crops include cassava, corn (maize), bananas, vegetables, and citrus fruits. Cash crops are mainly sugarcane and rice but also include coffee and cacao. Both sugarcane and rice are cultivated through a combination of mechanization and hand labour. Agricultural production increased during the mid-20th century, mainly because mechanization extended cultivable lands, although output stagnated in later decades as the entire economy foundered. East Indian workers overwhelmingly predominate in agriculture.

      Livestock production is carried out on the Rupununi Savanna and on the coastal plain. Animals include beef cattle, dairy cattle, pigs, goats, sheep, and poultry.

      Forestry activities are hampered by the lack of adequate transportation, the difficulty of cutting the extremely hard wood of Guyana's trees, and the shortage of facilities for the sawing, storing, and shipping of timber. Most of the timber produced for the domestic market and for export is from the greenheart tree.

      Many fishing facilities have been improved, and total production has increased as fishing has become a more important part of the economy. Shrimping is carried out primarily for export.

      Guyana is one of the world's largest producers of bauxite. All alumina (aluminum oxide occurring in hydrated form in bauxite) and most of the bauxite mined is produced at Linden. The rest of the country's bauxite mining takes place on the Berbice River; (Berbice River) a processing plant also operates downriver at Everton.

      Diamonds continue to be mined by hand and by suction dredges in the interior rivers. Gold is mined by individual prospectors, and large-scale Canadian-financed gold mines were opened late in the 1980s.

      The country's many rice mills, like its rice fields, are generally small-scale and individually owned, although there are several large government mills along the coast. Other domestic industries are oriented toward the replacement of consumer imports such as cigarettes and matches, edible oils, margarine, beverages, soap and detergents, and clothing. Refined sugar, stock feeds, and rum and beer are also produced.

Finance and trade
      The Bank of Guyana, established in 1965, has the sole right of note issue and acts as banker to the government and other banks. The country's major commercial banks include three local banks and branches of Canadian and Indian banks. Other financial services are provided by the Guyana Cooperative Agricultural and Industrial Development Bank and the New Building Society; insurance companies, most of which are foreign-owned; and more than 1,500 cooperative societies, which serve as savings institutions and offer agricultural credit.

      Guyana's major trading partners are the United States, the United Kingdom, and Trinidad and Tobago. Guyana joined the Caribbean Free Trade Association (Carifta) in 1965 and then became a member of the Caribbean Community and Common Market (Caricom), which replaced Carifta in 1973. The major exports are bauxite and alumina, sugar, and rice. Shrimps, diamonds, molasses, rum, and timber are also sold abroad. Major imports include fuels and lubricants, machinery, vehicles, textiles, and foods.

      The limited road and highway system is partly paved and partly made of burnt clay. The few hundred miles of paved roads are mostly in the coastal zone. The interior has few roads.

      Guyana's coastal railway, established in 1848 as South America's first rail line, was discontinued in the 1970s, ending passenger service. A remaining freight line connects the manganese mines at Matthews Ridge with Port Kaituma on the Kaituma River, and another transports bauxite between Ituni and Linden.

      Guyana Airways Corporation operates scheduled domestic and international flights. Timehri International Airport, established in 1968 and located 25 miles from Georgetown, is the country's main airport and is served by several international airlines. Domestic commercial and private aircraft, chiefly carrying passengers and equipment, use landing strips and the quieter stretches of rivers.

      Barges and small boats carry people and agricultural products in the canals of the coastal estates and villages. Larger boats traverse the estuaries that intersect the coastal plain. A pontoon bridge across the Demerara River opened in 1978; it is the only bridge to link major segments of the coastal plain. Bauxite is loaded into oceangoing ships at Linden and manganese ore at Port Kaituma, but otherwise the country's external trade passes through Georgetown, which maintains connections with the West Indies, Suriname, French Guiana, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States.

Government and social conditions

      Guyana became an independent member of the Commonwealth in 1966 and in 1970 became a cooperative republic, involving citizens' organizations in government. Under the constitution of Oct. 6, 1980, executive power is vested in the president, who leads the majority party in the unicameral National Assembly and holds office for the assembly's duration. The president appoints the Cabinet, which is responsible to the National Assembly. The minority members of the assembly elect an opposition leader. The assembly is elected by universal adult suffrage for a term of five years.

      The right to vote belongs to all Guyanese citizens 18 years of age or older. Voting is carried out by secret ballot under a system of proportional representation. Votes are cast for lists of candidates compiled by the political parties, and seats are allocated proportionally among the lists.

      Since independence in 1966, Guyana has been ruled by one party, the People's National Congress. Initially identified with the urban black populace, the PNC essentially established a one-party state under the direction of its first leader, Forbes Burnham. The PNC won power in an election marked by numerous reports of irregularities, many of which were related to the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), a military unit established in 1965 with strong ties to the PNC. Both the GDF and the police force are overwhelmingly black.

      The People's Progressive Party (PPP), the PNC's official opposition, is the traditional party of the rural East Indians; smaller parties include the Working People's Alliance (WPA), a newer party founded by the historian Walter Rodney and headed by black labour leaders and intelligentsia allied against alleged PNC corruption.

      Local government is administered principally through the Regional Democratic Councils, each led by a chairman; they are elected for terms of up to five years and four months in each of the country's 10 regions.

      Guyana has two legal traditions, the British common law and the Roman-Dutch code, the latter now largely relegated to matters of land tenure. The constitution is the supreme law of the land. The court structure consists of magistrate courts for civil claims of small monetary value and minor offenses, the High Court, with original and appellate jurisdiction in civil and criminal matters, and the Court of Appeal, with appellate authority in criminal cases. The Court of Appeal and the High Court together constitute the Supreme Court.

      Education is free and compulsory. Primary and secondary instruction are separate, although the lack of facilities makes it necessary to hold some secondary classes in primary schools. In 1976 the government assumed full responsibility for education from nursery school to university. Government authority was extended over all church and private primary schools. Teachers are expected to teach loyalty to both the PNC and socialist objectives. The principal university is the University of Guyana, founded in 1963 and subsequently housed at Turkeyen, in the eastern part of Greater Georgetown. The school has also become politicized, attendance there being contingent upon prospective students completing a year of national service, usually at camps in Guyana's interior. Thus many Guyanese seek education and training abroad. There are also a number of other colleges, including technical and teacher-training schools.

Health and welfare
      Health standards declined after independence. Many doctors and other trained personnel have emigrated, and economic austerity programs have reduced supplies of medicine and soap. Food shortages have created widespread malnutrition, especially in Georgetown. Diseases formerly under control, notably beriberi and malaria, had reappeared by the early 1980s, and sanitation problems have also increased.

      Under colonial rule public health was centred around government and plantation health clinics. After independence a universal health care system was instituted, and most hospital facilities came under government control. Health problems arise particularly along the easily flooded coast, where the many ditches and ponds provide ideal environments for the spread of disease. A minimal government pension plan for the sick and aged has continued beyond independence, its effectiveness reduced by inflation. Government housing projects, confined mainly to the Georgetown area, have not produced expected results.

      The national social structure was inherited from the period of British colonial rule, under which the majority of East Indian and Afro-Guyanese labourers were directed by white planters and government officials. A poorly defined local middle class composed of teachers, professionals, and civil servants, and including a disproportionate number of Chinese and Portuguese, emerged during colonialism. Since independence the PNC political elite has replaced the white plantocracy at the apex of Guyana's social order. The Amerindians remain apart from the country's social structure as they did under the British.

Cultural life
      Postindependence Guyanese culture still bears the imprint of its colonial heritage. Guyanese were taught to respect and covet European values during the colonial era, and this has not changed despite government exhortation. Yet ethnic identity continues to be important, with daily life centring around ethnic and family groups; the mother- and grandmother-dominated family among blacks differs from the father-oriented East Indian family. Men of both groups often commute long distances to work along the coastal highway. Daily dress normally does not distinguish one group from another.

      Amerindian culture, which remains uninfluenced by national politics, is recognized as an important element in Guyanese museum displays and as an inspiration in local music and painting. Cultural institutions are concentrated in Georgetown, including the Guyana Museum, which includes the Guyana Zoo, with its impressive collection of animals from northern South America. Guyanese writers have made noteworthy contributions to literature; the works of Wilson Harris, A.J. Seymour, and Walter Rodney are among the foremost.

      Much recreational activity is based upon the festivities that accompany Hindu, Muslim, and Christian holidays. The Guyanese share the passion for cricket that is prevalent throughout the English-speaking Caribbean.

      The government has taken nearly complete control over local news media, including the one radio station and the single daily newspaper. Objections against censorship have been on the rise from opposing political and church groups. In 1988 Guyana's first television station was established under government control.

      The first human inhabitants of Guyana probably came into the highlands during the first millennium BC. Among the earliest settlers were groups of Arawak, Carib, and possibly Warao (Warrau). The early communities practiced shifting agriculture supplemented by hunting. Christopher Columbus sighted the Guyana coast in 1498, and Spain subsequently claimed, but largely avoided, the area between the Orinoco and Amazon deltas, a region long known as the Wild Coast. It was the Dutch who finally began European settlement, establishing trading posts upriver in about 1580. By the mid-17th century they had begun importing slaves from West Africa to cultivate sugarcane. In the 18th century the Dutch, joined by other Europeans, were moving their estates downriver toward the fertile soils of the estuaries and coastal mud flats. Laurens Storm van 's Gravesande, governor of Essequibo from 1742 to 1772, coordinated these development efforts.

      Guyana changed hands with bewildering frequency during the wars (mostly between the British (British Empire) and the French) from 1780 to 1815. During a brief French occupation, Longchamps, later called Georgetown, was established at the mouth of the Demerara; the Dutch renamed it Stabroek and continued to develop it. The British took over in 1796 and remained in possession, except for short intervals, until 1814, when they purchased Demerara, Berbice, and Essequibo, which in 1831 were united as the colony of British Guiana.

      The slave trade was abolished in 1807, when there were about 100,000 slaves in Berbice, Demerara, and Essequibo. After full emancipation in 1838, black freedmen left the plantations to establish their own settlements along the coastal plain. The planters then imported labour from several sources, the most successful group being indentured workers from India. Indentured labourers who had earned their freedom settled in coastal villages near the estates, a process that became established in the late 19th century during a serious economic depression caused by competition with European sugar beet production.

      Settlement proceeded slowly, but gold was discovered in 1879 and a boom in the 1890s helped the colony. The North Western District was organized in 1889 and was the cause of a dispute in 1895 when the United States supported Venezuela's claims to the territory. Venezuela revived its claims on British Guiana in 1962, an issue that went to the United Nations for mediation in the early 1980s but was not immediately resolved.

      The British inherited from the Dutch a complicated constitutional structure. Changes in 1891 led to progressively greater power being held by locally elected officials, but reforms in 1928 invested all power in the governor and the Colonial Office. In 1953 a new constitution—with universal adult suffrage, a bicameral elected legislature, and a ministerial system—was introduced.

      From 1953 to 1966 the political history of the colony was stormy. The first elected government, formed by the People's Progressive Party led by Cheddi Jagan (Jagan, Cheddi), seemed so procommunist that the British suspended the constitution in October 1953 and dispatched troops. The constitution was not restored until 1957. The PPP split along racial lines, Jagan leading a predominately East Indian party and Forbes Burnham (Burnham, Forbes) leading a party of African descendants, the People's National Congress. In the elections of 1957 and 1961, the PPP was returned with working majorities. From 1961 to 1964 severe rioting involving bloodshed between rival blacks and East Indians and a long general strike led to the return of British troops.

      To answer the PNC allegation that the existing electoral system unduly favoured the East Indian community, the British government introduced for the elections of December 1964 a new system of proportional representation. Thereafter the PNC and a smaller, more conservative party formed a coalition government, led by Burnham, which took the colony into independence under its new name, Guyana, on May 26, 1966. The PNC gained full power in the general election of 1968, which was characterized by questionable rolls of overseas voters and widespread claims of electoral impropriety. On February 23, 1970, Guyana was proclaimed a cooperative republic within the Commonwealth. A president was elected by the National Assembly, but Burnham retained executive power as prime minister. Burnham declared his government to be socialist and in the later 1970s sought to reorder the government in his favour. In 1978 one of the most bizarre incidents in modern history occurred in Guyana when some 900 members of a religious cult in a commune known as Jonestown committed mass suicide at the behest of their leader, the Reverend Jim Jones (Jones, Jim).

      In 1980, under a new constitution, Burnham became executive president, with still wider powers, after an election in which international observers detected widespread fraud. Two major assassinations also occurred at this time. Jesuit priest and journalist Bernard Darke was killed in July 1979 and prominent historian–political leader Walter Rodney in June 1980; many observers accused Burnham of involvement in the killings. In the following years Burnham was faced with an economy shattered by the depressed demand for bauxite and sugar and a restive populace suffering from severe commodity shortages and a near breakdown of essential public services. Burnham enforced austerity measures, and he began leaning toward Soviet-bloc countries for support. Burnham died in 1985 and was succeeded by the prime minister, Hugh Desmond Hoyte, who pledged to continue Burnham's policies. In elections held that year Hoyte won the presidency by a wide margin, but once again charges of vote fraud were raised.

      In the late 1980s Hoyte gradually shifted away from Burnham's ideology, denouncing communism and granting more rights to the Guyanese. His administration, facing worsening financial and economic problems, moved to liberalize the economy. He also bowed to pressure for electoral reform, and elections held in 1992 were considered free and fair by international observers. The PPP triumphed in the elections and Jagan became president. In contrast with the strong socialist views he held decades earlier, Jagan now advocated policies more conducive to democratization and economic reform. After Jagan's death in 1997, his wife, Janet Jagan, was elected president in elections held later that year. The PNC disputed the results of the elections; many demonstrations and protests ensued. Janet Jagan stepped down in 1999, attributing her resignation to ill health. Bharrat Jagdeo was appointed president; he was reelected in 2001.

      The beginning of the 21st century found Guyana confronting an increase in violent crime, struggling to improve the economy, and dealing with ethnic tension and episodic political unrest. Guyana continued to work with international organizations and foreign countries to increase economic stability and strengthen international relations.


Additional Reading

General information can be found in William B. Mitchell et al., Area Handbook for Guyana (1969), dated but still useful; K.F.S. King, Land and People in Guyana (1968); and Francis Chambers (comp.), Guyana (1989), an annotated bibliography. For statistical information, see the Statistical Digest (annual). For natural resources, see Vincent Roth (comp.), Handbook of Natural Resources of British Guiana (1946), and Notes and Observations on Animal Life in British Guiana, 1907–1941: A Popular Guide to Colonial Mammalia (1941); and D.B. Fanshawe, The Vegetation of British Guiana, a Preliminary Review (1952). An early botanical study is Walter E. Roth (trans. and ed.), Richard Schomburgk's Travels in British Guiana, 1840–1844, 2 vol. (1922–23; originally published in German, 1847–48). Studies of the indigenous population include Colin Henfrey, A Gentle People: A Journey Among the Indian Tribes of Guiana (1964; U.S. title, Through Indian Eyes, 1965), which also provides a lively travel account; Mary Noel Menezes, British Policy Towards the Amerindians in British Guiana, 1804–1873 (1977); and Andrew Sanders, The Powerless People: An Analysis of the Amerindians of the Corentyne River (1987). Dwarka Nath, A History of Indians in Guyana, 2nd rev. ed. (1970), examines the East Indian population. Raymond T. Smith, British Guiana (1962, reprinted 1980), is an outstanding sociological survey, and The Negro Family in British Guiana (1962, reissued 1971), is an anthropological classic. Economic aspects of the sugar industry are dealt with in Alan H. Adamson, Sugar Without Slaves: The Political Economy of Guyana (1972), on the 19th century; Jay R. Mandle, The Plantation Economy: Population and Economic Change in Guyana, 1838–1960 (1973); Walter Rodney, A History of the Guyanese Working People, 1881–1905 (1981); and Clive Y. Thomas, Plantations, Peasants, and State: A Study of the Mode of Sugar Production in Guyana (1984). Views of the country's political situation are presented in Leo A. Despres, Cultural Pluralism and Nationalist Politics in British Guiana (1967); Jacqueline Anne Braveboy-Wagner, The Venezuela-Guyana Border Dispute: Britain's Colonial Legacy in Latin America (1984); Henry B. Jeffrey and Colin Baber, Guyana: Politics, Economics, and Society: Beyond the Burnham Era (1986); and Chaitram Singh, Guyana: Politics in a Plantation Society (1988), a survey of postindependence politics.Bonham C. Richardson

An early history of Guyana is C.A. Harris and J.A.J. De Villiers (comps.), Storm van's Gravesande: The Rise of British Guiana, trans. from Dutch, 2 vol. (1911, reprinted 1967), extracts from his dispatches written between 1738 and 1772. Allan Young, The Approaches to Local Self-Government in British Guiana (1958), deals mainly with the 19th century. Brian L. Moore, Race, Power, and Social Segmentation in Colonial Society: Guyana After Slavery, 1838–1891 (1987), is a history of race relations. Thomas J. Spinner, Jr., A Political and Social History of Guyana, 1945–1983 (1984), provides an overview of recent events. Cheddi Jagan, The West on Trial: The Fight for Guyana's Freedom, rev. ed. (1972, reissued 1980), is a vivid account of preindependence turmoil by a former prime minister. Latin American Bureau, Guyana: Fraudulent Revolution (1984), takes a closer look at Burnham's government.Bonham C. Richardson Ed.

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