The Co-operative Republic of Guyana is a nation of northern South America. It constitutes the western part of the wider region of Guiana (an Amerindian word meaning Land of Many Waters), and is bordered to the east by Suriname, to the south by Brazil, to the west by Venezuela and to the north by the Atlantic Ocean.
|National motto: "One People, One Nation, One Destiny"|
|Prime minister||Samuel Hinds[?]|
- % water
|Ranked 81st |
- Total (2002)
|From the United Kingdom
May 26, 1966
|Time zone||UTC -4|
|National anthem||Dear Land of Guyana, of Rivers and Palms[?]|
At the time the first Europeans arrived in the area around 1500, Guyana was inhabited by Arawak and Carib tribes of Amerindians. European settlement began in the early 17th century with the Dutch, who established three separate colonies; Essequibo[?] (1616), Berbice[?] (1627), and Demerara[?] (1752). The British assumed control in the late 18th century and were finally ceded the area in 1814. The three became a single British colony known as British Guiana in 1831.
The abolition of slavery in 1834 led to black settlement of urban areas and the importation of indentured labourers from India, China and Portugal to work the sugar plantations. This ethnocultural divide has persisted and has on occasion led to turbulent politics. Guyana achieved independence from the United Kingdom in 1966 and became a republic in 1970, remaining a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.
Legislative power rests in the unicameral Guyanese parliament, the National Assembly, with 53 members chosen on the basis of proportional representation from national lists named by the political parties. An additional 12 members are elected by regional councils at the same time as the National Assembly.
Executive authority is exercised by the president, who appoints and supervises the prime minister and other ministers. The president is not directly elected; each party presenting a slate of candidates for the assembly must designate in advance a leader who will become president if that party receives the largest number of votes. Any dissolution of the assembly and election of a new assembly can lead to a change in the assembly majority and consequently a change in the presidency.
The highest judicial body is the Court of Appeal, headed by a chancellor of the judiciary. The second level is the High Court, presided over by a chief justice. The chancellor and the chief justice are appointed by the president.
Guyana consists of 10 regions:
The Guyanese landscape can be roughly divided into three regions; a narrow, marshy plain along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, a white sand belt more inland containing rainforests and most of Guyana's mineral deposits, and finally the larger interior highlands consisting mostly of savannas and mountains, the highest being Mount Roraima[?] at 2,835 m. Major rivers include the Essequibo[?], the Corentyne[?] and the Berbice[?].
The local climate is tropical[?] and generally hot and humid, though moderated by northeast trade winds along the coast. There are two rainy seasons, the first from May to mid-August, the second from mid-November to mid-January.
The Guyanese economy has exhibited moderate economic growth since 1999, based on an expansion in the agricultural and mining sectors, a more favourable atmosphere for business initiatives, a more realistic exchange rate, fairly low inflation, and the continued support of international organisations. Chronic problems include a shortage of skilled labour 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 the future.
Guyana has a diverse ethnic population: the three major groups are the (East) Indians or Indo-Guyanese (50%) who have remained predominantly rural, the Africans or Afro-Guyanese (36%) who constitute the majority urban population, and the Amerindians (7%) who live in the country's interior. Chinese and Europeans (mostly Portuguese and British) and those of mixed origins make up the remainder.
Christianity (50%), Hinduism (35%), and Islam (10%) are the dominant religions in Guyana, with the latter two concentrated in the Indo-Guyanese community. Ninety percent of the inhabitants live on the narrow coastal plain, where population density is more than 115 persons per km².