Driving Directions Guyana

GUYANA, the only English-speaking country in South America, is situ­ated on the northeast coast of the continent on the Atlantic Ocean. Guyana formerly called British Guiana, but it achieved its indepen­dence in 1966. Before becoming a Crown colony, it was largely under the control of the Dutch West India Company.

The Dutch were responsi­ble for beginning an extensive land reclamation program along the coast, and, to this day, there is a narrow belt of fertile land with rich allu­vial soils, protected from the sea by dikes and dams.

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Inland from Guyana’s coastal belt, which nowhere exceeds 64 kilometers or 40 miles in width, there lies a densely forested region that covers about four-fifths of the total land area. In the north and the southwest, the forests give way to the high savannah of the Rapununi and Kanaku regions while in the western, central part of the country lie the Guiana Highlands and their table-top peaks.

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The country’s name means “many important rivers cross the land of many waters” and Guyana. On one of these, the River Potaro lies the spectacular Kaieteur Falls, where the water drops 226 meters or 741 feet. The vast majority of Guyana’s people live either in the capital city, Georgetown, or within the coastal belt.

It is on this narrow coastal belt that rice is grown, and sugar produced. Rice and sugar and its byproducts are the mainstays of the country’s economy, while tropical fruits and vegetables such as coconuts, citrus, coffee, and com are grown mainly for home consumption.

Large numbers of livestock, including cattle, sheep, pigs and chickens, are raised in the savannah lands. Guyana’s principal mineral is bauxite with gold, manganese and diamonds also being produced. There is potential for the production of minerals, hardwood and hydroelectric power in the forests of the southwest.

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