It is now the third-smallest country in South America after Suriname and Uruguay. The name Guyana (from Arawak Gayana) means "Land of many waters." It is related to the name Uruguay: River of the colorful birds, another country in South America.
Tropical; hot, humid, moderated by northeast trade winds; two rainy seasons (May to mid-August, mid-November to mid-January); Natural hazards: Flash floods are a constant threat during rainy seasons.
Mostly rolling highlands; low coastal plain; savanna in south
Originally a Dutch colony in the 17th century, by 1815 Guyana had become a British possession. The abolition of slavery led to the purchase of some villages such as Victoria and Anns Grove to name a few, as well as black settlement of urban areas and the importation of indentured servants from India to work the sugar plantations. Chinese were also imported to work on plantations but were found to be unsuitable (read Guyana History. The Colonial powers employed a system of "divide and rule" among the freed Africans and the other ethnic groups which were brought and encouraged to settle in the then colony. The policy was employed even during slavery when indigenous "Amerindians" were used to hunt runaway slaves. The result was an ethno-cultural divide, significant elements of which have persisted to this day and has led to turbulent politics, dissolution of attempts at nationalistic cultural development and the non-existence of anything resembling a "National Identity".
Guyana achieved independence from the UK in 1966, but until the early 1990s it was 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. Upon his death five years later, he was succeeded by his wife Janet, who resigned in 1999 due to poor health. Her successor, Bharrat JAGDEO, was reelected in 2001 and again in 2006.
There are three counties in Guyana. These counties are Berbice, Demerara and Essequibo. Three rivers with the same names flow into the Atlantic Ocean. Most of the population of Guyana live on the coastal front and fish off these rivers.
Essequibo Islands-West Demerara
Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo
Linden, a mining town (bauxite)originally named McKenzie, but renamed after the country's first Executive President, Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham
New Amsterdam, the second largest town in the country
Parika - sits ion the East Bank of the Essequibo River, the country's largest river.
The Timehri international airport (Timehri means "Rock Painting") named in honor of the indigineous displaced peoples of Guyana was renamed Cheddi Jagan International Airport. There are daily international flights into and out of Cheddi Jagan International Airport about 40km south of Georgetown. International flights include flights to the US, Canada, UK and The Caribbean with Caribbean Airlines(formerly BWIA). Caribbean Airlines is a state owned airline run by Trinidad & Tobago. Flights to the Caribbean with Caribbean Star and LIAT. North American Airlines and Xtra Airways, which are non- stop flights, on the New York and Guyana route. Primaris Airlines, non- stop flights, flies to Guyana from JFK- New York and FLL.-Florida
Delta Airlines will start weekly service to Guyana from JFK to Jagan starting in June 2008.
The end of Colonialism throughout the Caribbean by Britain, giving nations such as guyana independence created a sudden vacuum in administration and finances necessary to properly build and maintain the nations infrastructure. The gradual errosion of the nations finances and services along with the loosening of immigration restrictions by first world countries precipitated a great exodus from Guyana and other third world countries. Ignorance of these facts leads many to make statements such as this about Guyana's Railway system. "Guyana's rail system was sold by the late President Forbes Burnham - the man whose policies were largely responsible for the mass exodus that Guyana saw in the latter half of the twentieth century. Remnants of the railway can be noted throughout Georgetown. The president sold the system to some of the vast African nations" Statements such as this is evident of the deep-rooted racism that runs through the fabric of the guyanese society.
Guyana has road access to Suriname to the East and Brazil to the south. In Suriname enquire in Paramaribo for mini-buses traveling to Guyana. Note that entering Guyana by water travel from Nieuw Nickerie in Suriname is illegal. (Even though there is nobody to stop you. Worst case scenario you'll be sent back or you'll have to pay for a visum. I have never seen any border control here. When travelling from Nieuw-Nickerie to Paramaribo over land you will most likely run into a military police roadblock near Totness, but these guys are really after gun and drug smugglers, not tourists. Shoe your European ID card or a valid drivers licence and they won't even ask for your passport to check if you have the right visa stamps. It appears they don't mind you entering the country as long as you don't cause trouble and spend your money in their country. Which is a good deal I reckon) Buses leave Georgetown for the Surinamese border daily. Ask at the bus park near Stabroek Market.
The bus ride from Georgetown to Lethem, at the Brazilian border takes about 10 hours through rainforest and southern savannah. The ride can be much longer in the rainy season. Sections of the roadway are known to become impassable in heavy rainy weather and extreme care must be taken.
Inquire about buses to Brazil at the Interserv Bus Office located on Charlotte Street in downtown Georgetown. Buses usually leave very late at night and it is recommended that you take a taxi to the bus station as the area around there is unsafe at night. For buses from Brazil travel to Bonfim on the border and walk across the border. Find a minibus or taxi to take you to Lethem city center and inquire about buses traveling to Georgetown.
There are no road links between Venezuela and Guyana. Travel to Venezuela may be done by air via Trinidad or overland through Roraima State in Brazil.
Minibuses travel throughout Guyana and are the cheapest way to travel. Minibus fares range from $60 GYD - $1,000GYD ($1 USD =$ 200 GYD) depending on the length of the journey. Travel in this mode at night could be risky.
Many parts of Guyana are separated by large rivers. These areas can be traversed by way of river taxi. Go to the port village and ask from where the speedboats launch. Ask other passengers what the fare is while traveling as boat operators tend to seek higher fees from tourists. Do not take "specials" without first negotiating the price.
Taxis are a good way to get around in Georgetown. Fares should never be more than $2.50 (Guyanese $500) for travel within the city and most fares should be around GD$400.
One can also rent cars or 4x4s; check the local telephone listings for car rentals. Consult more than one rental agency as prices can vary. You might also be able to negotiate the prices charged to some extent. Deposits are usually required. If renting a vehicle, be sure to enquire whether your driver's license will be acceptable. Violations of traffic laws can result in much time wasted and possible trips to the local courts.
There are set prices for taxis for different destinations, e.g. from the airport to town costs GD$4000, from the airport to Moleson Creek is GD$24,000, etc...
There are many fast foods and restaurants around Georgetown that one can go to eat. Some are:
KFC - Stabroek, Vlissengen Road, Mandela Avenue and Bagostown, East Bank Demerara.
The restaurant at the Windjammer Hotel, Queen Street Kitty.
'SPICY DISH, David Street, Kitty.
Hacks Halaal, downtown Georgetown.
OASIS Cafe, Carmichael Street, Georgetown.
DEMICO HOUSE & STEAK HOUSE - Stabroek, Campbellville, Main St, Kitty, Camp St.
Popeye's - Vlissengen Road
Pizza Hut - Vlissengen Road
City Mall - Regent St
New Thriving Chinese Restaurant - Main Street
The Diner - Regent St
Dutch Bottle Cafe - North Road
In addition, there are a few Brazilian restaurants scattered around the town, for those who'd like to enjoy the jewelry from the south.
The most popular national drink is Caribbean-style dark rum. Some national favorites are XM "10" Year OLD, produced by local beverage giant BANKS DIH Limited, and El Dorado and X-tra Mature which both offer 5, 10, 12 and 25 year varieties. El Dorado also offers a 15 year old variety which has won the "Best Rum in the World" award since 1999. Mix the cheaper ones with Coke or coconut water if you please. All are quality enough to drink neat or by themselves with the 25 year-olds comparing with high-quality scotch.
BANKS BEER produced by local beverage giant BANKS DIH Limited is the National beer. It comes in a lager and a stout (Milk Stout)The beverage giant also bottles and distributes HEINEKEN Beer and GUINESS Stout under license. Also available are the lighter Carib (Trinidad and Tobago) and darker Mackeson's. Guinness is brewed locally under license and is a bit sweeter than its Irish counterpart, but just as good. Polar (Venezuelan) and Skol (Brazilian) can be found randomly throughout the country. You can also find Heineken and Corona at posher bars in Georgetown.
There are several hotels in Guyana, all are equipped with great amenities. There are some which are suitable for budget travel
With an exchange rate of ~200 Guyana Dollars per US Dollar, Guyana's has great shopping with amazing bargains. There are numerous markets and recently, shopping malls, in Guyana. Stabroek Market is a quaint market located in Georgetown. Trips to the market for tourists are best done in groups or with a local with whom you feel comfortable. Muggings are possible but not frequent. It is the largest in Georgetown.
The City Mall on regent Street is the most modern of its kind in Georgetown and many tourist stores are located here. The central downtown shopping area is bounded by Hadfield Street on the South of the city, Water Street to the West, Albert Street to the East and Middle Street to the North. Most of the city's stores, supermarkets, boutiques and restaurants can be found within this zone. Every item a person could want can be purchased in the many stores in Guyana.
Guyana is also noted for its exceptional gold jewelry. There are several well known places where you can get quality handcrafted pieces, some of them being TOPAZ Jewellers on Crown and Oronoque Streets in Queenstown; GASKIN & JACKSON jewellers on Camp Sreet; KINGS JEWELRY WORLD on Quamina Street with a branch on Middle Street; and Fine Jewelry by Niko's", located on Church Street.
Lots of locally made and beautiful crafts ranging from paintings; to sculpture; to leather purses, satchels, wallets; hand-painted, tie-dyed and batik(ed) fabrics, pressed flowers, sun hats; semi-precious stones and hand-crafted costume jewelry using indigenous materials, can be purchased at an esplanade outside the Central Post-Office near the National Museum in downtown Georgetown. Ask around and you'll find out about the craft and gift shoppe as well as Gallery owned and operated by Ms. LIZ DEANE-HUGHES on Hadfield Street.
Ask around too about designs by local and internationally acclaimed fashion designers, Michelle Cole, Pat Coates, and Roger Gary.
The country's largest hospital is the Georgetown Public Hospital and is in the capital. Facilities here are basic, even though it is a tertiary referral centre. Disposal of 'sharps' (needles, etc.) is improving but needs to get better, given country's growing HIV prevalence, currently at 2.5% of adults or 1 in 40. Practice safe sex as well.
You are better off using the private facilities at St. Joseph's Mercy Hospital near the US Embassy or the Medical Arts Centre on Thomas Street. While not first rate, these facilities are far superior to GPH and practices basic hygienic standards. Rooms are not overcrowded. There are also other private hospitals
Yellow fever is endemic to this area; monkeys are a reservoir, but you can catch it even in cities. Be sure to get immunized before you leave, and take mosquito repellent with you. Also be careful of malaria and dengue fever in the interior.
Do not drink the tap water, unless you want to spend a great part of you vacation in the toilet! Bottled water is readily available in a variety of brands.
Be vigilant to avoid criminals.
Avoid walking around with large sums of cash, even in the local currency.
Avoid the sun between 1PM and 3PM. It tends to be at its hottest during those hours. Wear sunscreen.
Georgetown is notorious for petty street crime. Do not walk alone at night, or even in the day, unless you know the area well.Areas such as the Tiger Bay area east of Main Street and the entire southeastern part of the city including, in particular, Albouystown and Ruimveldt are traditionally known as high crime areas but one can be relatively safe if going through these areas in groups and with native escorts. Venturing into the covered area of the Stabroek Market can pose some dangers but if you need to visit it then do so with a group or with Guyanese whom you know well and with whom you feel comfortable. Police are unlikely to help you unless they see the crime in action. Be sensible about wearing jewelry. Even cosmetic jewelry which is gaudy is likely to attract the wrong attention.
It is advised to exercise common sense.
You might have heard of or read about the village Buxton. It is a hotbed of Afro-Guyanese violence, comparable to the American neighborhood Compton. Visits to Buxton ought to be brokered carefully with someone who knows the area well and who is well accepted in the village. If your visit to this village is perceived to be anything other than casual then there could be unwarranted problems. There are a lot of gangs and drug dealers there. Many Indo-Guyanese villages such as Cane Grove, Annadale, and lusignan, are notorious for violence, petty crimes, racism and kidnappings. It is advisable for toursists or people who are not of Indo-Guyanese origin travelling through these areas should also be accompanied by someone known in these areas.
The interior regions with the breath-taking waterfalls and the beautiful rainforests and mountains are perfectly safe. Many rural areas around the country are filled with a friendly atmosphere and are perfectly safe. Crime is rarely directed at tourists, so don't feel intimidated. Just be sensible about the company you keep, where you go and how you behave. There is a lot of prostitution that happens in Georgetown.
Homosexuality is illegal in Guyana and carries a sentence of life in prison. However, no one has been charged under the laws. One organization SASOD organizes some events to promote anti-homophobic work. There is no local gay "scene" as most homosexuals remain rather closeted. Private gatherings are known to occur to which one must be invited. Homosexuals who are openly gay are generally left alone providing they are circumspect about their behavior. Public displays of affection among gay people are frowned upon and can make you the target of overt discrimination, attacks and taunts. There are no hotels, resorts or bars anywhere in the country which cater exclusively to gays and lesbian visitors or locals for that matter. Homophobia is sustained primarily through the influx of music which contains homophobic messages in their lyrics. The gay traveler is wise to be very cautious and conservative in his/her behavior.
It is however worthy to note of late, that homosexuality is more readily displayed and accepted in the Afro-Guyanese communities. Many gays openly display their lifestyle with little apprehension, or fear of persecution.
The police response varies depending on the location and time of the crime. Some tourists have reported positive responses.
Discussions of the current affairs of ethnic relations between the two major races, politics and the socio-economic issues in the country ought to be undertaken with much tact and much patience. Be aware that these types of discourses can sometimes lead to very heated and intense debate, and possibly something much worse.Guyanese are generally very open to discussing most issues, but as an outsider, you could be seen as a part of the problem - as absurd as that sounds - so guard your tongue.
On NEW YEARS EVE, you can ring the New Year in at several well organized and often sumptuous "OLD YEARS NIGHT" Fetes around the city. You could even get invited to Private fetes kept at private residences.
MASHRAMANI An Amerindian word meaning "celebration after hard work"...- In February, on the 23rd, celebrate the Country's Republic Anniversary celebration. A carnival-like event with float parades and Costumed Bands: you can be a costumed reveler in a Costume Band....and MASH away to the rhythms of Soca and calypso; or you can be just a spectator along the route enjoying the colorful float parades and costume Bands as the wend their way through the city. While you "spectate", have a swig of local rums, with coconut water, or any of your favorite alcoholic beverages; have some BANKS BEER, enjoy BAR-B-QUE and a whole host of local Guyanese fare...all the while swaying and wining to the beat of the soca and calypso...start from about 10 in the morning and enjoy the company of your friends and colleagues in a truly multi-cultural celebration of joy!
At EASTER, On Holy Thursday, buy and enjoy your hot Cross Buns, Go to Good Friday Masses if you care to, and then join thousands anywhere along the coastland and in all other inhabited areas for KITE-FLYING on Easter Monday: the day is usually characterized by fun and picnics and of course, kite-flying. Again it is an occasion for general social multi-ethnic involvement in the society.
OTHER...there are several beauty pageants, and fashion shows, there is football (soccer) League Tournaments; for soccer lovers; there are motor races characterized twice per year; You can go jogging or walking in the National Park; there are gyms for those who want to work out physically; there are three POWERLIFTING COMPETITIONS during the year; Cycle road races; schools athletics Championships; horseracing; golf; nature Tours to the beautiful **Hinterland; See...KAIETEUR FALLS...'ORINDUIK''...IWOKRAMA RAINFOREST RESERVE; go hiking or biking; White-water rafting; Bird watching; or simply spend some time "liming" on the Seawall in the afternoon/evening...The seawall is best on Sunday evenings...be safe be with a group of people!!
Have fun in Guyana!!!!
Education is free in Guyana. The public school system is under a lot of criticism. There are some private schools. There is one University, with two campuses (Tain and Turkeyen), the University of Guyana . Some of the teachers in Guyana are from overseas, and manage to use their time here to travel around while the job gives an opportunity to meet people.
Guyana has a fair number of expatriates. Persons who are not Guyanese have to get a work permit after employment is confirmed. Caribbean citizens might have some exemptions under the CSME scheme. There are a number of volunteer organizations like Peace Corps, VSO and CESO working in Guyana. Some people have come on short stints to volunteer with churches, and other non-governmental organizations. The host organizations will apply for the necessary travel permits.
Police 592.226.2487 emergency - 911
Fire 592.226.2411 emergency - 912
Ambulance Service emergency - 913
Cheddi Jagan International Airport 592.261.2245
Ministry of Foreign Affairs 592.226.1606
Ministry of Tourism Industry & Commerce 592.226.2392
Guyana Telephone & Telegraph 592.225.1315
Licence Revenue Office 592.223.5501
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|Area||total: 214,970 km2|
water: 18,120 km2
land: 196,850 km2
|Electricity||110-240V/60Hz (USA plug)|
|Population||767,000 (2006 est.)|
|Religion||Christian 50%, Hindu 35%, Muslim 10%, other 5%|
|Timezone||UTC-3 to UTC-4|