We're always looking for ways to make better. Have an idea? See something that needs fixing? Let us know!



Did You Know?

-- Guyana is part of the 'Guiana Shield' which, together with the adjacent Amazon Basin, is the largest equatorial forest in the world.

-- It is generally agreed that the name Guyana is derived from an Amerindian expression 'Guiana', which means 'land of many waters'.

Climate Change

Guyana is particularly vulnerable to climate change. 90% of the population live on the coastal belt which is, on average, one metre below sea level. Guyana also experiences very heavy rainfall. Severe flooding in 2005 was estimated to have led to losses equivalent to 60% of GDP.

Guyana has been active in recent years on international climate change policy. 75% of Guyana’s territory is rainforest and Guyana has been engaged in international efforts to devise approaches which avoid deforestation and contribute to climate change mitigation, including REDD+. In 2009 Guyana signed a-performance-based bilateral agreement with Norway to limit its deforestation, worth up to US$250 million over five years. Revenue from the agreement will help finance Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy.

Back to the Top


Basic Economic Facts

GDP (official exchange rate): US$ 2.5 Billion (World Factbook 2011 est)
Annual Growth: 5.3% (World Factbook 2011 est)
Inflation: 4.4% (IMF estimate for 2011)
Major Industries: Sugar, bauxite, rice, timber, fishing (shrimp), gold mining, diamonds
Major Trading Partners: US, Canada, UK, Caribbean (especially Trinidad and Tobago) Brazil, China and India.

UK Trade & Investment Country Profile: Guyana (

Guyana is a lower middle income country. Nominal GDP per capita (purchasing power parity) stands at US$ 7,500 (World Factbook 2011 est).

The agreement by the leaders of the G8 industrialised states at their July 2005 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, to cancel about £31bn of debts owed by the world's poorest countries, saw Guyana have US$336m written off. And in 2007 the Inter American Development Bank granted Guyana a US$356.5m debt write off which effectively removed the country from its "highly indebted" status.

The EU-Caribbean Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) was signed in October 2008. It is the only full EPA (covering goods, services and competition policy) and the only regional EPA so far negotiated with the EU. EPAs are intended to be development-friendly trade agreements between the EU, its member states and the Africa, Pacific and Caribbean (ACP) countries. This EPA is intended to help secure market access to the European Union, promote regional integration and help ACP countries integrate into the global economy.

Back to the Top


Before the arrival of Europeans, the region was inhabited by both Carib and Arawak tribes, who named it Guiana, which means 'Land of many waters'. The Dutch settled in Guyana in the late 16th century, but their control ended when the British became the de facto rulers in 1796. In 1815, the colonies of Essequibo, Demerara, and Berbice were officially ceded to Great Britain at the Congress of Vienna and, in 1831, were consolidated as British Guiana. Following the abolition of slavery in 1834, thousands of indentured labourers were brought to Guyana to replace the slaves on the sugarcane plantations, primarily from India but also from Portugal (Madeira), Cape Verde and China. The British stopped the practice in 1917. Many of the Afro-Guyanese former slaves moved to the towns and became the majority urban population, whereas the Indo-Guyanese remained predominantly rural. The small but growing Amerindian population lives mostly in the country's interior.

BBC News Country Timeline: Guyana (

Back to the Top


Relations with Neighbours

Guyana has a long-standing border controversy with Venezuela. In 1962 Venezuela rejected a decision on the delineation of the border between the two countries which had been made by an international arbitration tribunal in 1899. It claims all of the area west of the Essequibo River. Guyana also has a border dispute with Suriname. Suriname claims the area between the New river (Upper Corentyne) and the Corentyne/Kutari [Koetari] rivers (all headwaters of the Corentyne). In February 2004 Guyana took a maritime border dispute with Suriname to the UN’s International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. The Tribunal published its decision in September 2007, awarding two thirds of the disputed territory to Guyana.

Relations with the International Community

Guyana is a member of the United Nations, CARICOM, UNASUR, the Africa-Caribbean-Pacific (ACP group), the Commonwealth, the Group of 77, the Organisation of Islamic Conference, the Rio Group, was a founder member of the Non-Aligned Movement, and takes an active interest in international affairs. Former Foreign Minister, Mr Rudolph Insanally, was the first Caribbean diplomat to chair the UNGA in 1993.

Relations with the UK

The UK and Guyana have good relations. Guyana benefits from the UK’s Caribbean regional development programme.

Chevening Scholarships

The British Government provides two Chevening scholarships for Guyanese students to pursue post-graduate studies in UK Universities. The aim of the scholarship is to enable young men and women to acquire skills of lasting benefit to Guyana.

Chevening Scholarships website (

Back to the Top


-- Guyana is located in northern South America, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Suriname and Venezuela.

-- Guyana, with an area of 83,044 sq miles and a population of 753,000 (2010 est), is a sparsely populated country. Over 90% of the population reside in the narrow coastal plain that comprises only 5% of the total landmass. The interior is largely forested, with savannah along the southern border.

-- The climate is tropical, hot, humid, and moderated by Northeast trade winds.

-- There are two rainy seasons (May to July, December to January). Flash floods are a constant threat during rainy seasons.

Back to the Top


Trade and Investment with the UK

Trade is in Guyana's favour. The principal exports are chemicals, food products, machinery and manufactured goods.

UK Trade & Investment Country Profile: Guyana (

UK Development Assistance

The Department for International Development (DFID) has a substantial regional programme in the Caribbean from which Guyana benefits. The three regional strategic priorities are security and governance; wealth creation; and helping vulnerable coastal communities from the impact of climate change.

Department for International Development (DFID) (

Back to the Top


Guyanese politics has on occasion been turbulent. The first modern political party in Guyana was the People's Progressive Party (PPP), established on 1 January 1950 with Forbes Burnham, a British-educated Afro-Guyanese, as Chairman; Dr Cheddi Jagan, a US-educated Indo-Guyanese as second vice chairman; and his American-born wife, Janet Jagan, as Secretary General. In 1955 the PPP split and Burnham founded what eventually became the People's National Congress (PNC). Cheddi Jagan's PPP won the elections in 1957 and 1961 and he became British Guiana's first premier. At a constitutional conference in London in 1965, the UK Government agreed to grant independence to the colony but only after another election in which proportional representation would be introduced for the first time. Forbes Burnham became Prime Minister.

Guyana achieved independence in May 1966, and became a republic on 23 February 1970. From December 1964 until his death in August 1985, Forbes Burnham ruled Guyana in an increasingly autocratic manner, first as Premier, then as Prime Minister and later, after the adoption of a new constitution in 1980, as Executive President. During that time, elections were viewed in Guyana and abroad as fraudulent. Human rights and civil liberties were suppressed, and two major political assassinations occurred.

Following Burnham's death in 1985, Prime Minister (Hugh) Desmond Hoyte acceded to the Presidency and was formally elected in the December 1985 national elections. Hoyte gradually reversed Burnham's policies, moving from state socialism and one-party control to a market economy and unrestricted freedom of the press and assembly. On 5 October 1992 a new National Assembly and regional councils were elected in the first Guyanese election since 1964 to be internationally recognised as free and fair. Cheddi Jagan was elected and sworn in as President on 9 October 1992. When President Jagan died in March 1997, Prime Minister Samuel Hinds replaced him in accordance with constitutional provisions. It was President Jagan's widow, Janet Jagan, who was elected President at elections in December 1997. She resigned in August 1999 due to ill health and was succeeded by Finance Minister Bharrat Jagdeo, who had been named Prime Minister a day earlier. At 35, Jagdeo became the youngest elected Head of State in the world.

National elections were held on 19 March 2001. Incumbent President Jagdeo won re-election with a voter turnout of over 90%. The next elections were held on 28 August 2006. President Jagdeo was once again re-elected with an increased majority, although the voter turnout was much lower at 68%. The PPP obtained 36 seats, and the PNC 22. A new political party, the Alliance for Change (AFC), led by 2 disaffected politicians (one Indo-Guyanese and one Afro-Guyanese) from the PPP and PNC, won 5 seats, and became the strongest third party in Guyana since 1964. Two other smaller parties won a seat each. The elections attracted a good deal of international attention with election observers being sent from several international agencies including the UK. Unlike the 2001 elections, when there was serious post-election violence, the 2006 elections passed off peacefully. In remarks prior to, and following, the election President Jagdeo promised to bring about Constitutional change and to foster an enhanced framework of political cooperation between parliamentary parties.

The most recent national elections were held on 28 November 2011. Voter turnout was slightly higher than in 2006, at 72.9%. PPP’s Donald Ramotar was elected President with 48.6% of valid votes, but for the first time since governing the country, the PPP lost parliamentary majority. The party secured 32 of the 65 Parliament seats. The other 33 seats were divided between A Partnership for National Unity (a new coalition born in 2011, made of 10 parties including the PNC) – 26 seats, and Alliance for Change – 7 seats. The combined opposition parties now hold the parliamentary majority and the House Speakership (Raphael Trotman, AFC).
Like the 2006 elections, the 2011 elections were peaceful. The OAS, CARICOM and the Commonwealth sent election observers. All reported that the elections were generally free and fair; all made recommendations for future elections.

Back to the Top

Last Updated: February 2012

Guyana Main Page Country Profiles Main Page


Click any image to enlarge.

National Flag

($) Guyana Dollar (GYD)
Convert to Any Currency


Locator Map