Guyana

Introduction Originally 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.
History

When the first Europeans arrived in the area around 1500, Guyana was inhabited by the Arawak and Carib tribes of Amerindians. Although Christopher Columbus sighted Guyana during his third voyage (in 1498), the Dutch were first to establish colonies: Essequibo (1616), Berbice (1627), and Demerara (1752). The British assumed control in the late 18th century, and the Dutch formally ceded the area in 1814. In 1831 the three separate colonies became a single British colony known as British Guiana.

Escaped slaves formed their own settlements known as Maroon communities. With the abolition of slavery in 1834 many of the former enslaved people began to settle in urban areas. Indentured laborers from modern day Portugal (1834), Germany (first in 1835), Ireland (1836), Scotland (1837), Malta (1839), China and India (beginning in 1838) were imported to work on the sugar plantations.

In 1889 Venezuela claimed the land up to the Essequibo. Ten years later an international tribunal ruled the land belonged to British Guiana.

During World War II the United States arranged for its air force to use British airports in South America, including those in British Guiana

Guyana achieved independence from the United Kingdom in 1966 and became a republic on 23 February 1970, remaining a member of the Commonwealth. The United States State Department and the CIA, along with the British government, played a strong role in influencing who would politically control Guyana during this time.[1] They provided secret financial support and political campaign advice to pro-western Guyanese of African descent, especially Forbes Burnham's People's National Congress to the detriment of Cheddi Jagan-led Marxists of Indian descent.

Geography 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
land: 196,850 sq km
water: 18,120 sq km
Area - comparative: slightly smaller than Idaho
Land boundaries: total: 2,949 km
border countries: Brazil 1,606 km, Suriname 600 km, Venezuela 743 km
Coastline: 459 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the outer edge of the continental margin
Climate: tropical; hot, humid, moderated by northeast trade winds; two rainy seasons (May to August, November to 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: 2.23%
permanent crops: 0.14%
other: 97.63% (2005)
Irrigated land: 1,500 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 241 cu km (2000)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 1.64 cu km/yr (2%/1%/98%)
per capita: 2,187 cu m/yr (2000)
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 agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, 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
Politics

Politics of Guyana takes place in a framework of a semi-presidential representative democratic republic, whereby the President of Guyana is the head of government, and of a pluriform multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the National Assembly of Guyana. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature. The 2006 national elections were the first peaceful elections in recent times. The elections were free and fair and were a welcome departure from the turmoil of previous elections.

Historically, politics is a source of tension in the country and violent riots have often broken out during elections. During the 1970s and 1980s, the political landscape was dominated by The People's National Congress, who retained their power by skewing election results. In 1992, the first "free and fair" elections were overseen by former American president Jimmy Carter, and the People's Progressive Party has led the country since. The two parties are principally organized along ethnic lines and as a result often clash on issues of governance.

People Population: 769,095
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 2007 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 26.1% (male 102,111/female 98,325)
15-64 years: 68.6% (male 266,288/female 261,620)
65 years and over: 5.3% (male 17,308/female 23,443) (2007 est.)
Median age: total: 27.8 years
male: 27.3 years
female: 28.3 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.234% (2007 est.)
Birth rate: 18.09 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate: 8.28 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate: -7.47 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.039 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.018 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.738 male(s)/female
total population: 1.006 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 31.35 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 34.93 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 27.58 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 66.17 years
male: 63.52 years
female: 68.95 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate: 2.04 children born/woman (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 2.5% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: 11,000 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths: 1,100 (2003 est.)
Major infectious diseases: degree of risk: high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: dengue fever and malaria
water contact disease: leptospirosis (2008)
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, Caribbean Hindustani (a dialect of Hindi), Urdu
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over has ever attended school
total population: 98.8%
male: 99.1%
female: 98.5% (2003 est.)
Government Country name: conventional long form: Cooperative Republic of Guyana
conventional short form: Guyana
former: British Guiana
Government type: republic
Capital: name: Georgetown
geographic coordinates: 6 48 N, 58 10 W
time difference: UTC-4 (1 hour ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
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 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
election results: President Bharrat JAGDEO reelected; percent of vote 54.6%
Legislative branch: unicameral National Assembly (65 seats; members elected by popular vote, also not more than 4 non-elected non-voting ministers and 2 non-elected non-voting parliamentary secretaries appointed by the president; to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held 28 August 2006 (next to be held by August 2011)
election results: percent of vote by party - PPP/C 54.6%, PNC/R 34%, AFC 8.1%, other 3.3%; seats by party - PPP/C 36, PNC/R 22, AFC 5, other 2
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
Political parties and leaders: Alliance for Change or AFC [Raphael TROTMAN and Khemraj RAMJATTAN]; Guyana Action Party or GAP [Paul HARDY]; Justice for All Party [C.N. SHARMA]; People's National Congress/Reform or PNC/R [Robert Herman Orlando CORBIN]; 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]; The Unity Party [Joey JAGAN]; Vision Guyana [Peter RAMSAROOP]; Working People's Alliance or WPA [Rupert ROOPNARAINE]
Political pressure groups and leaders: Amerindian People's Association; Guyana Citizens Initiative; Guyana Bar Association; Guyana Human Rights Association; Guyana Public Service Union or GPSU; Private Sector Commission; Trades Union Congress
International organization participation: ACP, C, Caricom, CDB, CSN, FAO, G-77, IADB, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), ISO (subscriber), ITU, ITUC, LAES, MIGA, NAM, OAS, OIC, OPANAL, OPCW, PCA, RG, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCL, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Bayney KARRAN
chancery: 2490 Tracy Place NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 265-6900
FAX: [1] (202) 232-1297
consulate(s) general: New York
Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission: Ambassador David M. ROBINSON
embassy: 100 Young and Duke Streets, Kingston, Georgetown
mailing address: P. O. Box 10507, Georgetown; US Embassy, 3170 Georgetown Place, Washington DC 20521-3170
telephone: [592] 225-4900 through 4909
FAX: [592] 225-8497
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
Culture Guyana, along with Suriname, French Guiana, and Brazil, is one of the four non-Hispanic nations in South America. Guyana's culture is very similar to that of the English-speaking Caribbean, to the extent that Guyana is included and accepted as a Caribbean nation and is a founder member of the Caricom (Caribbean Community) economic bloc and also the home of the Bloc's Headquarters, the CARICOM Secretariat. Its geographical location, its sparsely populated rain forest regions, and its substantial Amerindian population differentiate it from English-speaking Caribbean countries. Its blend of Indo-Guyanese (East Indian) and Afro-Guyanese (African) cultures gives it similarities to Trinidad and distinguishes it from other parts of the Americas. Guyana shares similar interests with the islands in the West Indies, such as food, festive events, music, sports, etc. Guyana plays international cricket as a part of the West Indies cricket team, and the Guyana team plays first class cricket against other nations of the Caribbean. In addition to its CARICOM membership, Guyana is a member of CONCACAF, the international football federation for North and Central America and the Caribbean. Another aspect of Guyanese culture is its rich folklore about Jumbees.
Economy Economy - overview: 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 41% 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 (purchasing power parity): $4.057 billion (2007 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate): $978 million (2007 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 4.5% (2007 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP): $5,300 (2007 est.)
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 35.2%
industry: 19%
services: 45.8% (2007 est.)
Labor force: 418,000 (2001 est.)
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: NA%
industry: NA%
services: NA%
Unemployment rate: 9.1% (understated) (2000)
Population below poverty line: NA%
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 1.3%
highest 10%: 33.8% (1999)
Distribution of family income - Gini index: 43.2 (1999)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 10.4% (2007 est.)
Investment (gross fixed): 39.3% of GDP (2007 est.)
Budget: revenues: $419.4 million
expenditures: $527.4 million (2007 est.)
Agriculture - products: sugarcane, rice, shrimp, fish, vegetable oils; beef, pork, poultry, dairy products
Industries: bauxite, sugar, rice milling, timber, textiles, gold mining
Industrial production growth rate: 2% (2007 est.)
Electricity - production: 807.3 million kWh (2005)
Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 99.4%
hydro: 0.6%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Electricity - consumption: 750.7 million kWh (2005)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2005)
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2005)
Oil - production: 0 bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil - consumption: 10,500 bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil - exports: 0 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - imports: 10,070 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - proved reserves: 0 bbl (1 January 2006 est.)
Natural gas - production: 0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - consumption: 0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - exports: 0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - imports: 0 cu m (2005)
Natural gas - proved reserves: 0 cu m (1 January 2006 est.)
Current account balance: -$229.7 million (2007 est.)
Exports: $499.4 million f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Exports - commodities: sugar, gold, bauxite, alumina, rice, shrimp, molasses, rum, timber
Exports - partners: US 18.8%, Canada 18.4%, UK 8.7%, Portugal 6.5%, Trinidad and Tobago 4.9%, Netherlands 4.3%, Belgium 4.3%, Jamaica 4.1% (2006)
Imports: $835.8 million f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Imports - commodities: manufactures, machinery, petroleum, food
Imports - partners: Trinidad and Tobago 23%, US 21.3%, China 9.7%, Cuba 6.3%, UK 4.5% (2006)
Economic aid - recipient: $136.8 million (1995), Heavily Indebted Poor Country Initiative (HIPC) $253 million (1997) (2005)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $292 million (31 December 2007 est.)
Debt - external: $1.2 billion (2002)
Market value of publicly traded shares: $187.3 million (2005)
Currency (code): Guyanese dollar (GYD)
Currency code: GYD
Exchange rates: Guyanese dollars per US dollar - 201.89 (2007), 200.28 (2006), 200.79 (2005), 198.31 (2004), 193.88 (2003)
Fiscal year: calendar year
Communications Telephones - main lines in use: 110,100 (2005)
Telephones - mobile cellular: 281,400 (2005)
Telephone system: general assessment: fair system for long-distance service
domestic: microwave radio relay network for trunk lines; fixed-line teledensity is about 15 per 100 persons; many areas still lack fixed-line telephone services; mobile-cellular teledensity reached 37 per 100 persons in 2005
international: country code - 592; 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 (1 public station; 2 private stations which relay US satellite services) (1997)
Televisions: 46,000 (1997)
Internet country code: .gy
Internet hosts: 3,000 (2007)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 3 (2000)
Internet users: 160,000 (2005)
Transportation Airports: 93 (2007)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 9
1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
under 914 m: 6 (2007)
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 84
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 14
under 914 m: 69 (2007)
Roadways: total: 7,970 km
paved: 590 km
unpaved: 7,380 km (1999)
Waterways: Berbice, Demerara, and Essequibo rivers are navigable by oceangoing vessels for 150 km, 100 km, and 80 km respectively (2006)
Merchant marine: total: 7 ships (1000 GRT or over) 12,516 GRT/14,193 DWT
by type: cargo 5, petroleum tanker 1, refrigerated cargo 1
registered in other countries: 2 (St Vincent and The Grenadines 2, unknown 1) (2007)
Ports and terminals: Georgetown
Military Military branches: Guyana Defense Force: Army (includes Coast Guard, Air Corps) (2007)
Manpower available for military service: males age 18-49: 206,098 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military service: males age 18-49: 137,964 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP: 1.8% (2006)
Transnational Issues Disputes - international: all of the area west of the Essequibo River is claimed by Venezuela preventing any discussion of a maritime boundary; Guyana has expressed its intention to join Barbados in asserting claims before UNCLOS that Trinidad and Tobago's maritime boundary with Venezuela extends into their waters; Suriname claims a triangle of land between the New and Kutari/Koetari rivers in a historic dispute over the headwaters of the Courantyne; Guyana seeks arbitration under provisions of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to resolve the long-standing dispute with Suriname over the axis of the territorial sea boundary in potentially oil-rich waters
Illicit drugs: transshipment point for narcotics from South America - primarily Venezuela - to Europe and the US; producer of cannabis; rising money laundering related to drug trafficking and human smuggling