Guyana Geography and Population

By | January 8, 2023

Guyana – geography

Most of the country consists of tropical rainforest and large stretches are deserted. Over 90% of the population inhabits the narrow coastal plain east of the river Essequibo. It is a marsh area where large parts lie below sea level, protected by sea dikes. Here is also the country’s capital and several smaller urban communities. The use of the area west of Essequibo is hampered by territorial claims from the neighboring state of Venezuela. Here in 1978 lay a large religious collective, Jonestown, which became world famous when the 900 predominantly American members committed collective suicide by order of their leader, the Rev. Jim Jones.

Also in the southeast corner of the country, the neighboring state (here Suriname) has territorial claims, but they are not actively pursued.

The population is ethnically composed. The two largest groups are blacks, who are descendants of slaves in the colony’s sugar plantations, and Indians, whose ancestors came as contract workers in the 1800’s. The two groups constitute resp. 36% and 50% of the population, and contradictions between them have characterized the country both before and after independence. approximately 7% are made up of small, scattered groups of Indians who mainly live in the rainforest and are only to a small extent integrated into society. Smaller groups of Chinese and Europeans (traditionally especially Portuguese) together make up 7%. Population growth is low, because many well-educated people emigrate, especially to the United States, Canada, and the Caribbean.

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The economy is dominated by mining and agriculture. Bauxite production takes place in an area approximately 100 km south of the capital Georgetown with the mining towns of Linden and Kwakwani. Linden has a large alumina plant where the bauxite ore is being upgraded, but the plant has been dormant since the 1970’s due to a lack of investment. Both the bauxite sector and the rest of the mining industry were nationalized after independence, but are being privatized in the 1990’s. Gold production is significant, but of unknown size, as large parts take place outside the control of the authorities and the gold is smuggled out.

Agriculture is completely concentrated in the coastal region. Sugar and rice are the most important products, and large parts of especially sugar production are exported. There are problems with the maintenance of the many canals and dikes in the low-lying area, just as much of the infrastructure is otherwise deficient; thus, there is less than 600 km of paved road in the whole country and the electricity supply is uncertain. Guyana otherwise has great hydropower potentials in the water-rich rivers, but they are largely untapped.

The rainforest is threatened by felling in several places. This is especially true of greenheart and other tropical hardwoods, which can be seen in the well-preserved houses of Georgetown. Mercury pollution is a problem in some places in connection with gold mining, but large parts of Guyana are still completely unspoiled natural areas. Tourism is limited and is especially aimed at the clean rivers and the large waterfalls, Kaieteur on the river Potaro and near the country’s highest mountain, Roraima (2810 m). The rainforest of the surrounding Kaieteur National Park has a rich wildlife.

Guyana – language

The official language of Guyana is English; in radio programs and newspapers there is also an English-based Creole language, creolese, which functions as a lingua franca. In addition, a number of Native American languages ​​are spoken, including Arabic and Caribbean languages ​​as well as warau.

Guyana – religion

Ca. 33% of the population are Hindus, 10% Muslims and 50% Christians (with large groups of Catholics, Anglicans and other Protestants). The rest of the population practices various natural religions.

Guyana Geography