Too often people mistake Guyana for Ghana when in fact these two countries are continents apart and differ in language, culture and people. Here is a brief on this South American nearshore gem.
Guyana, officially the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, is a sovereign state on the northern mainland of South America. It’s the only South American nation whose official language is English, and is geographically bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the north, Brazil to the south, Suriname to the east and Venezuela to the west.
Guyana, however, is considered part of the Caribbean region because of it’s strong cultural, historical, and political ties with other Anglo Caribbean countries and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) of which it is a member. CARICOM even has its secretariat’s headquarters in Guyana’s capital, Georgetown. Other Caribbean countries that are near Guyana are Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, Barbados and St. Lucia.
The name “Guyana” is derived from Guiana, the original name for the region that formerly included Guyana (British Guiana), Suriname (Dutch Guiana) and French Guiana. However, the name ‘Guyana’ comes from an Amerindian word meaning “land of many waters”. The local climate is tropical and mostly hot and humid, though moderated by northeast trade winds along the coast. There are two rainy seasons, the first from May to mid-August, and the second from mid-November to mid-January. It has an area of 214,969 sq km (83,000 sq mi), slightly smaller than the U.S. state of Idaho with an estimated population of 773,303 (2016).
Guyana has one of the largest untouched rainforests in South America, some parts of which are almost inaccessible by humans. In 2008, the BBC broadcast a three-part programme called Lost Land of the Jaguar which highlighted the huge diversity of wildlife, including undiscovered species and rare species such as the giant otter and harpy eagle.
Guyana gained independence from the United Kingdom on 26 May 1966 and became a republic on 23 February 1970, remaining a member of the Commonwealth.