Geography of Guyana

Learn Information about the South American Country of Guyana

Guyana Flag
The Guyana flag is green, with a red isosceles triangle (based on the hoist side) superimposed on a long, yellow arrowhead; there is a narrow, black border between the red and yellow, and a narrow, white border between the yellow and the green. Source: CIA World Factbook, 2007

Population: 744,768 (July 2011 estimate)
Capital: Georgetown
Bordering Countries: Brazil, Suriname, Venezuela
Area: 83,000 square miles (214,969 sq km)
Coastline: 285 miles (459 km)
Highest Point: Mount Roraima at 9,301 feet (2,835 m)

Guyana, officially called the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, is a country located on the northern coast of South America. It was previously known as British Guiana and it is a former colony of the Dutch and British.

Guyana is the third smallest country on South America and it is one of eight nations that is non-Spanish speaking as English is its official language. In addition, Guyana is considered a part of the Anglophone Caribbean - the independent English-speaking Caribbean region.

History of Guyana

Historically the area of present-day Guyana was known as Guiana by the Carib and Arawak tribes. In the late 16th century the Dutch settled the area, but in 1796 Great Britain became the de facto ruler of the region (U.S. Department of State). In 1815 the colonies of Essequibo, Demerara and Berbice fell under British control and in 1831 they were combined to form British Guiana.

Throughout the mid to late 1800s indentured laborers were brought to British Guiana from places like India, Portugal and China. As a result, the region developed a multiethnic population that was for the most part peaceful until the mid-1900s.

From 1962 to 1964 Guyana experienced several conflicts between its Indo-Guyanese and Afro-Guyanese populations. In addition, the 1950s were also a time of political turbulence in Guyana and the region's first political party, the People's Progressive Party, was formed in 1950. Shortly after however, differing views within the party caused it to split.

In 1957 and 1961 Guyana held its first elections and in the first election Cheddi Jagan became British Guiana's first premier. In 1963 the government of the United Kingdom agreed to give British Guiana independence but it had to undergo another election. In May 1966, after elections in 1964, Guyana achieved its independence. It then became a republic on February 23, 1970.

Following its independence Guyana underwent a period of political and social instability as its elections were viewed as fraudulent and many human rights issues began to occur. In 1985 Guyana's president Forbes Burnham died and Prime Minister Hugh Desmond Hoyte became the country's leader. At that time he began to move Guyana from a socialist, one-party country to one with a marked economy and fair human rights (U.S. Department of State). In 1992 Guyana underwent the first elections since 1964 to be considered free.

Since the early 1990s, several more elections have taken place in Guyana and the country has continued to achieve political and social stability.

Government of Guyana

Today Guyana is considered a republic with an executive branch of government filled by a chief of state (the president) and a head of government (the prime minister).

It also has a unicameral National Assembly and its judicial branch is comprised of the Supreme Court of Judicature that is made up of the High Court and the Court of Appeal. In addition, these courts are able to appeal to the Caribbean Court of Justice. Guyana is divided into ten different regions for local administration.

Economics and Land Use in Guyana

Recently Guyana's economy has begun to experience growth as a result of agriculture and mineral extraction. Its economy is mainly based on the export of sugar, gold, bauxite, shrimp, timber and rice. Other agricultural products of Guyana include sugarcane, edible oils, fish, beef, pork and poultry.

Geography and Climate of Guyana

Guyana is located in northern South America between Suriname and Venezuela with a coastline along the Atlantic Ocean.

Its topography consists mainly of gently rolling highlands along with low coastal plains and a savanna landscape in the south. The highest point in Guyana is Mount Roraima at 9,301 feet (2,835 m).

The climate of Guyana is considered tropical and as such it is generally hot and humid but its climate is somewhat moderated by the northeast trade winds. It also has two rainy seasons - one that lasts from May to August and one from November to January. Because the country is located near the equator and has a tropical climate, its temperatures do not vary much throughout the year. For example, Guyana's capital and largest city, Georgetown, has an average yearly high temperature of 86˚F (30˚C) and an average yearly low of 75˚F (24˚C).

To learn more about Guyana, visit the Geography and Maps section on Guyana on this website.


Central Intelligence Agency. (14 June 2011). CIA - The World Factbook - Guyana. Retrieved from: (n.d.). Guyana: History, Geography, Government, and Culture- Retrieved from:

United States Department of State. (4 April 2011). Guyana. Retrieved from: (22 June 2011). Guyana - Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved from: