Guyana Country Facts

Guyana
Capital city George Town
Surface 214,999 km²
Population 736,000
Road network length 7,790 km
Length of highway network 0 km
First highway N/A
Motorway name Motorway
Traffic drives Left
License plate code GUY

Guyana (English: Co-operative Republic of Guyana) is a country in South America. The country is located on the north coast of the continent and has 736,000 inhabitants and is more than 5 times the size of the Netherlands. The capital is George Town.

Geography

Guyana is located on the north coast of South America, on the Atlantic Ocean. The country borders Suriname to the east, Brazil to the south and Venezuela to the west. Guyana measures a maximum of 800 kilometers from north to south and 470 kilometers from west to east. The country consists mainly of lowlands around the Essequibo River, one of the largest rivers in South America. The border with Suriname is formed by the river Courantyne (Corantijn).

Guyana’s landscape is divided into four regions, the cultivated northern plain and delta of the Essequibo, the virgin forest, which occupies most of Guyana, the southwestern savanna in the border area with Brazil, and the mountainous regions of central west Guyana. The 2,810 meter high Mount Roraima at the border triangle with Brazil and Venezuela is the highest mountain in Guyana. However, the vast majority of the country is much lower, until the deep south the country is not much higher than 300 meters.

Guyana has a tropical rainforest climate, with temperatures around 30°C all year round. More than 2,000 mm of rain falls per year, most of it between May and August, but the other months also have frequent precipitation.

Demographics

Guyana is a sparsely populated country. The population did not grow nearly as fast as other South American countries. By 1930, the country had a population of 300,000, which doubled to 600,000 in the 1960s, after which growth leveled off. The capital Georgetown is the only larger city in the country with 235,000 inhabitants. The vast majority of the population lives in the cultivated part of the country in the northeast, where agriculture is possible and the coastal strip is partly urbanized. The exception is the mining town of Linden which is located inland.

The country is ethnically largely made up of descendants of migrant workers and slaves. Nearly half of Guyanese are of Indian descent and 30% are of African descent. Guyanese of mixed descent make up 17% of the population and Aboriginal Indigenous peoples make up 9% of the population. Although Guyana was a European colony, nowadays there are hardly any Europeans living there. English is spoken in Guyana, it is the only English-speaking country in South America.

Economy

Guyana’s economy is largely based on agriculture and mining. Bauxite and gold are the main exports, as are rice and sugar cane, which is grown in northeastern Guyana. A hindrance to the Guyanese economy is the lack of skilled workers and poor infrastructure. Its GDP per capita is one of the lowest in South America.

History

Columbus sailed off the coast of Guyana in 1498 but never made landfall. The Dutch founded the first settlements in Guyana in the early 17th century. The British took power in 1796 and it was formally ceded to the United Kingdom by the Netherlands in 1814. This region was also known as British Guiana. The British mainly used the colony for the construction of sugar cane and took slaves from Africa for this. Many labor migrants also came from India, which drastically changed the composition of the population, comparable to Suriname. Neighboring Venezuela gained independence in 1824 and has since held a territorial claim as far as the Essequibo River, which encompasses the entire western half of Guyana. However, this region consists almost entirely of inaccessible wilderness. In 1899, the land west of the Essequibo was assigned to the British Empire, which Venezuela has always fought against. Guyana became independent in 1966, almost 150 years after the Spanish colonies on the continent became independent. The country has a limited profile internationally and is almost never in the news.

Road Network

Guyana’s road network is estimated at 7,970 kilometers, of which only 590 kilometers are paved. In Guyana you drive on the left.

Most paved roads are in the northeast along the coast. The main road leads from Georgetown along the north coast via New Amsterdam to the border with Suriname. There is no border crossing with Suriname, you have to use ferry services. Guyana has a border crossing with Brazil, the Tukutu Bridge which connects to the road to Boa Vista and Manaus. Here is one of the few places in the world where left-hand traffic alternates with right-hand traffic. This happens unevenly. This bridge opened on July 31, 2009 and was paid for by Brazil. This road will be paved north to Georgetown, allowing Brazilian produce from the Amazon rainforest to reach the ports of Georgetown.

There are no through roads to Venezuela, all of western Guyana is extremely sparsely populated with not a single city of size. The same applies to the south of Guyana, where there are only a few villages that are inaccessible by road.

The only 2×2 lane road is 10 kilometers from the East Bank Demerara Road from Georgetown to the south. The first part of this was widened to 2×2 lanes in the early 2000s, and then doubled further south in phases into a southern suburb in 2015.

Road management

The national road authority is the Ministry of Public Infrastructure.

Ferry services

In Guyana, traffic often relies on ferry services as only a few rivers are spanned by bridges. Many ferry services are informal and makeshift in nature. There is not a single bridge over the Essequibo and only a few more professional ferry services. The main ferry services operate in the Essequibo delta, the islands in the delta are cultivated, as is a small part of the land west of the river, which can only be reached by ferry services. Another important ferry service is across the Corantijn to Suriname, there is one modern ferry service across the river, it is also the only connection between Guyana and Suriname.

Toll roads

Most major bridges are subject to tolls, most prominently the Demerara Harbor Bridge in Georgetown, the Berbice River Bridge in New Amsterdam and the Mackenzie/Wismar Bridge in Linden.

Border crossings

Guyana has only one overland border crossing with another country, which is the Tukutu Bridge on the border with Brazil. Cross-border traffic with Suriname goes via a ferry service. There are no border crossings with Venezuela, although the Venezuelan RN10 briefly crosses Guyanese territory.

History

In colonial times, the road network was mainly developed to open up the agricultural areas in the coastal region of northeastern Guyana. This is the only region of the country where multiple paved roads have been built. Immediately after independence, the Soesdyke-Linden Highway was built between 1966 and 1969, so that the mining town of Linden could be accessed by road. On July 2, 1978, the 1.8-kilometer-long Demerara Harbor Bridge, a floating bridge, openedacross the Demerara River on the south side of Georgetown. This is often considered Guyana’s most important bridge. Between the 1970s and 1990s, an unpaved road was built between Linden and the Brazilian border at Lethem, which was first run through in 1991, so that southern Guyana could be reached by land. On December 23, 2008, the Berbice Bridge opened over the Berbice River at New Amsterdam, providing access to the entire coastal strip east of the Essequibo via fixed connections. On July 31, 2009, the first border crossing between Guyana and a neighboring country opened on the border with Brazil at Lethem.

Road numbering

There is no road numbering in Guyana.

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