A troubled history and political mismanagement might discourage most of the travelers to visit a certain country. However, if that destination can offer raw adventure in the form of virgin forests, diverse wildlife, gastronomic pleasures, vibrant nightlife and an eclectic market, who can say no? Guyana is truly worth the risk since it has Amazonian qualities that are already fast disappearing in the Caribbean. Despite the tension between ethnic groups and instability in the government, Guyana remains to be a premier destination for eco-tourism. Be prepared to get close to nature while people from different cultures motivate your zest in life.
Important and Interesting Facts about Guyana
- Guyana is a sovereign state on the northern coast of South America. Although Guyana is part of the Anglophone Caribbean, it is one of the few Caribbean countries that is not an island.
- Modern Guyana is bordered by Suriname to the east, by Brazil to the south and southwest, by Venezuela to the west, and by the Atlantic Ocean to the north.
- At 215,000 square kilometres (83,000 sq mi), Guyana is the third-smallest independent state on the mainland of South America after Uruguay and Suriname.
- The country can be divided into five natural regions; a narrow and fertile marshy plain along the Atlantic coast (low coastal plain) where most of the population lives; a white sand belt more inland (hilly sand and clay region), containing most of Guyana’s mineral deposits; the dense rain forests (Forested Highland Region) in the southern part of the country; the desert savannah in the southern west; and the smallest interior lowlands (interior savannah) consisting mostly of mountains that gradually rise to the Brazilian border.
- Some of Guyana’s highest mountains are Mount Ayanganna (2,042 metres or 6,699 feet), Monte Caburaí (1,465 metres or 4,806 feet) and Mount Roraima (2,810 metres or 9,219 feet – the highest mountain in Guyana) on the Brazil-Guyana-Venezuela tripoint border, part of the Pakaraima range.
- Guyana has one of the largest unspoiled rainforests in South America, some parts of which are almost inaccessible by humans.
- Of the nine waterfalls in Guyana, Kaieteur is the most popular. The powerful waterfall ejects large volumes of water, creating an equally powerful spray. Its waters dive over a 251-meter cliff to join the Potaro River down below.
- Shell Beach is a relevant site in the country. The 140 km stretch of sand isn’t for beach swimming but for sightseeing. All 8 species of marine turtles breed and nest on the area.
- George’s Anglican Cathedral is the most prominent architectural landmark in Guyana. Situated in Georgetown, it is one of the tallest wooden churches on earth given its height of 43.5 meters. Its construction was completed in 1898. The Georgetown historical center of the same city should also be on your itinerary. The wooden building dates back to the 1700s.
- Demerara Floating Bridge-The longest floating bridges in the world going across the Demerara River just outside Georgetown, Guyana. The middle sections of the bridge retract to allow large vessels to pass.
- The Stabroek Market, which tries to sell everything – fruits, vegetables, livestock, meat, fish, furniture, manufactured household goods, tools, jewelry and more, is one of the most distinctive buildings in Georgetown, Guyana.
- When you visit the Guyana Zoo, you can expect to enjoy a relaxing atmosphere with family and friends while learning more about the wild animals of Guyana
Cool, Funny, and Fun Facts about Guyana
- On November 18, 1978, American religious cult leader Jim Jones, along with his 909 followers, committed mass suicide in Jonestown in Guyana which threw the country into sudden attention worldwide. This mass suicide, done for political reasons, was considered the greatest loss of American civil life in a single non-natural event until the September 11, 2001 attacks.
- Mount Roraima and Guyana’s table-top mountains (Tepuis) are believed to be the inspiration for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous novel “The Lost World”.
- BBC telecasted a programme called ‘Lost Land of the Jaguar’, which emphasized the huge biodiversity of Guyana.
- Giant otter and harpy eagle are the two rarest species found in Guyana.
- Guyana hosted international cricket matches as part of the 2007 Cricket World Cup.
- Guyana is the only English-speaking country in South America, along with being one of four non-Spanish-speaking territories on the continent.
- The Omai gold mine in Guyana is one of the largest open-pit gold mines in South America.
- Arthur Chung (January 10, 1918 – June 23, 2008) was the first President of Guyana from 1970 to 1980. He was the first ethnic Chinese (Hakka) head of state in a non-Asian country.
- A former British colony, this is the only state of the “Commonwealth of Nations” located on the South American mainland.
- The system of Dykes in the coastal areas of Guyana was introduced by the Dutch to prevent flooding.
Historical and Cultural Facts about Guyana
- The recorded history of Guyana can be dated back to 1499, when Alonso de Ojeda`s first expedition arrived from Spain at the Essequibo river.
- The Warrou people were the indigenous inhabitants of Guyana. The Dutch, English, and French established colonies in what is now known as Guyana, but by the early 17th century the majority of the settlements were Dutch. During the Napoleonic wars Britain took over the Dutch colonies of Berbice, Demerara, and Essequibo, which became British Guiana in 1831.
- Slavery was outlawed in 1834, and the great need for plantation workers led to a large wave of immigration, primarily of East Indians. Today, about half of the population is of East Indian descent and about 36% are of African descent.
- In 1889, Venezuela voiced its claim to a large swath of Guyanese territory, but ten years later an international tribunal ruled the land belonged to British Guiana.
- Clothing or mode of dress is influenced by climate, occupation and daily needs as well as, influenced by religious beliefs, culture and tastes.Most of the people in Guyana adopt the western mode of dress whilst others still maintain their traditional mode of dress. The Hindu woman wears a sari and a shalwar and covers their heads with a garment called an orhni. Whilst the men wear garments called the dhoti and kurta.The Muslims on the other hand, the women either wear shalwar and keemar; the men wear the jorah and tope. For the afro-Guyanese women wear turbans and wraps whilst the men wear turbans and dashikis.
- The abandonment of children by fathers and a culture of male-centered drinking frequently leave women with the sole responsibility for their children. In urban areas, where the extended family is often nonexistent, many African women are the family breadwinners. The state provides virtually no social welfare assistance.
- Among all the ethnic groups, the extended family plays a role in the socialization of children. In an outdoor society, children are allowed to roam. In rural communities, discipline is a communal responsibility. Children and younger adults address elders not by their names but as “auntie” or “uncle.” Children usually are carried by parents, siblings, and relatives.
- Death requires the public articulation of grief; the “wake” or vigil, facilitates communal support for the bereaved, who reciprocate by providing a feast for the community. Hindus believe in reincarnation, and Africans believe that the spirit of the dead must be placated and assisted.
- Africans celebrate their history of resistance and achievement through Anancy tales, proverbs, songs, and stories. This tradition has shaped Guyanese literary sensibility. The first major Guyanese novelist was Edgar Mittelholzer (1909–1965), who lived and worked in England most of his life. His first novel, Corentyne Thunder, was published in 1941 and was followed by 22 additional novels.
- Most festivals are based on Christian, Hindu, and Islamic beliefs, so there are few truly secular holidays or events. However, “Mashramani” is celebrated to mark the country’s Republic Day on 23 February, and the anniversary of the Berbice Slave Rebellion of 1763 is also noted.
Basic foods reflect ethnic preferences, but there has been considerable cross-fertilization. The creole foods created by Africans have been adopted by all the other groups. Dishes made from “ground provisions” now constitute a national menu: crab or fish soups with plantains, eddoes, cassava, dasheen, and coconut milk; “cook-up rice” with black-eyed peas, pigs tail, green plantain, and cassareep; and Indian curries and roti.