Guyana is a nation in South America's northeastern region. Before the arrival of the Europeans, indigenous peoples called the region Guyana, which means "land of water" in English. Guyana's current state reflects both its past as a British and Dutch colony and its responses to it. It is the only country in South America that speaks English. Since Guyana achieved its independence in 1966, its natural resources, particularly its pristine rainforests, sugarcane plantations, rice fields, and bauxite and gold reserves, have been the nation's key economic assets. Despite its wealth, Guyana remained one of South America's poorest nations into the early years of the twenty-first century.
However, in 2015, the first of a string of lucrative deep-water oil field discoveries was made in Guyana's offshore Stabroek Block, which drastically changed the country's economic fortunes. According to some geographers, Guyana is a part of the Caribbean, which also includes the West Indies as well as the South American mainland's Guyana, Belize, Suriname, and French Guiana. Georgetown serves as both Guyana's capital and largest port. The majority of Guyana's population is of colonial descent, however there are a few Indians in the country's interior forests.
The more abundant coastal populations are primarily descended from slaves brought to the region from Africa and indentured laborers from India who were employed on the region's sugarcane plantations as slaves. In Guyanese society, ethnic conflicts between the last two groups have caused disruption. Since 1970, Guyana has belonged to the Commonwealth, an international organization made up of the erstwhile dependent nations of the United Kingdom. However, from the time of independence until the passing of the first prime minister, Forbes Burnham, in 1985, Guyana's political trajectory was steadily in the direction of communism. Following Burnham's passing, however, relations with Western powers improved, and by the 1990s, privatization had started.
Guyana is bounded to the north by the Atlantic Ocean, to the east by Suriname (along the Courantyne River), to the south and southwest by Brazil, and to the west by Venezuela. As a result of colonial control, Guyana is embroiled in territory disputes with Suriname and Venezuela. The New River Triangle, a 6,000 square mile (15,600 square km) region in southern Guyana between two tributaries of the Courantyne River, is still claimed by Suriname despite a long-standing maritime border dispute between the two countries being resolved by an international tribunal in 2007.
The currently acknowledged border between Suriname and Guyana along the Courantyne is also in dispute, Guyana asserts that the thalweg, or deepest channel of the river, is the line, while Suriname claims control over the entire river and regards Suriname's west bank as the border. The British administration claimed sovereignty of the Essequibo River valley in 1895, which is when the conflict between Guyana and Venezuela first arose. Venezuela was given a portion of the region in a settlement from 1899, but in 1962 it claimed all of the land west of the Essequibo.
The country's Atlantic coast's slender plain has seen significant human modification. A number of canals and approximately 140 miles (225 km) of dikes have helped to recapture most of the region from the sea, despite it only being about 10 miles (16 km) broad at its widest point. The inland boundary of the coastal plain is typically defined by canals that divide the plain from inner wetlands. A stretch of undulating ground can be found about 40 miles (65 km) inland from the shore.
The hills in this area range in height from 50 feet (15 meters) on the eastern, coastal side to 400 feet (120 meters) on the western side. The region is between 130 and 160 kilometers (80 to 100 miles) wide, with the southeast having the most width. Its name, the white-sands (Zanderij) region, derives from the fact that it is covered in sand. The white-sand belt encircles a tiny savanna tract in the east, which is roughly 60 miles (100 km) from the shore. A low crystalline plateau that is often less than 500 feet (150 meters) in elevation is partially covered with sand. The plateau, which makes up the majority of the country's center, is pierced by volcanic rock intrusions that create Guyana's rivers' numerous rapids. Beyond the crystal plateau, the Kaieteurian Plateau, which is home to the magnificent Kaieteur Falls known for their imposing 741-foot (226-meter) first drop, is often located below 1,600 feet (490 meters) above sea level.
Sandstones and shale’s that compose the vast Rupununi Savanna region in the south are overlaid on the plateau. The plateau's southern border is framed by the Acara Mountains, which rise to a height of roughly 2,000 feet (600 meters), while its western border is marked by the Pakaraima Mountains, which reach a height of 9,094 feet (2,772 meters) at Mount Roraima. The Kanuku Mountains, which have an east-west orientation, cut across the Rupununi Savanna.
The Courantyne, Berbice, Demerara, and Essequibo are Guyana's four principal rivers, and they all originate in the south and empty into the Atlantic Ocean along the country's eastern coast. The Potaro, the Mazaruni, and the Cuyuni are Essequibo tributaries that drain the northwest, while the Rupununi drains the southern savanna. The Pomeroon, Mahaica, Mahaicony, and Abary are some of the shorter rivers that cut across the shore. The headwaters of the Rupununi in Brazil are frequently mistaken for those of the Amazon since they are located within the same watershed as the Amazon and Orinoco rivers.
The average gradient is just approximately 1 foot per mile (19 centimeters per kilometer), and there are marshes and flooding in the highlands and savannas, contributing to the poor drainage. The rivers' inner falls prevent them from being used for long-distance travel, and in the coastal zone, sandbars and muck can block their mouths and estuaries 2 to 3 miles (about 4 km) out to sea.
Although productive, the coastal soils are acidic. The fine-particle, greyish blue clays of the coastal plain are made up of both much lower amounts of alluvium from the country's rivers and alluvium from the Amazon, whose mouth is located on the Brazilian coast, east of Guyana. They are located on top of white sands and clays, which may support intense agriculture but need to be flowed to regain their fertility. Silts line the banks of the lower rivers, whereas pegasse soil, a form of tropical peat, is found behind the coastal clays and along river estuaries. The coastal plain contains patches of reef sands, particularly close to the Courantyne and Essequibo rivers. The white sands are nearly pure quartz, whereas the interior rock soils are leached and unproductive.
Climate in Guyana
A tropical lowland's climate is characterized by high temperatures, abundant rainfall with little seasonal variation, high humidity, and high average cloud cover. The temperature is extremely constant. The daily range of temperatures at Georgetown is between mid-20s and upper 20s °C (mid-70s to mid-80s °F). The trade winds help to reduce the intense heat and excessive humidity close to the coast. Rainfall is primarily caused by the intertropical front, often known as the doldrums. Both the plateau and the coast are covered in a thick fog. On the interior Rupununi Savanna, the average annual rainfall is about 70 inches, compared to about 90 inches (2,290 mm) at Georgetown (1,800 mm).
Near average, the long wet season on the coast lasts from April to August, and the short wet season lasts from December to early February. However, the short wet season does not happen in the southern savannas. There might be seasonal dryness in July and August when the southeast trade winds parallel the coast due to the varying yearly rainfall total. Production of tropical crops is influenced by variations in Guyana's weather patterns.
Animal and Plant Life
Many coastal plants, such as mangroves and different saltwater grasses, flourish in shallow brackish water and aid in defending or extending the land. Coarse tufted grasses and numerous palm trees, including the coconut, truli, and manicole, are found in the wet savanna that extends inland from the shore. About three-fourths of the land is covered by high rainforest, or selva, which is incredibly diverse and magnificent. The huge mora and the crabwood on marshy areas, the balata and other latex producers, the greenheart and the wallaba on the sandy soils of the northern edge, the siruaballi and the hubaballi that create beautiful cabinet woods, and many other species are prominent trees. The interior savanna is mainly made up of open grassland, along with plenty of bare rock, termite mounds, and ita palm clumps.
Even though there are many different and prolific animal species aside from birds and insects few are often seen. The largest land mammal in the nation is the tapir, and the largest and savagest cat along with the ocelot is the jaguar, the most prevalent creatures are monkeys and deer. The sloth, the great anteater, the capybara (wild pig), and the armadillo are a few of the most unusual creatures. The vulture, the kiskadee, the blue sacki, the hummingbird, the kingfisher, and the scarlet ibis are examples of birds found along the shore and in lower rivers. In the forest and savanna, macaws, tinamou, bellbirds, and cock-of-the-rock are found.
The most prevalent of the larger freshwater animals is the caiman, a reptile related to the alligator. The largest of the many different types of snakes is the enormous anaconda, often known as the water boa, while the bushmaster is the most dangerous. There are many lizards, including iguanas in the lower rivers. Offshore, one can find sharks and stingrays. Common ocean species include snapper and grouper, while shrimp occur in great abundance in the murky currents off the shore. In Guyanese seas, the manatee is also common. The enormous piraucu, a freshwater fish that may grow to be 14 feet long, is one of them (430 cm).
The discovery of a large offshore oil well in the country's waters, roughly 120 miles from Georgetown, completely changed the long-struggling economy of Guyana in 2015. In Guyana's Stabroek Block, an additional 17 oil fields had been discovered by the end of 2020, and it was anticipated that by 2025, these fields will produce about 750,000 barrels of oil daily. Exxon, the company that produced the discoveries, partnered with Guyana and started producing in the first field in December 2019. The country's standard of life was expected to increase significantly as a result of the country's expanding oil production.
Guyana's economic situation had not always been favorable. Guyana remained ensnared in a classic colonial economic dependence on agricultural and mined products, most notably sugarcane and bauxite, for a number of decades after gaining independence. A government with socialist leanings passed economic reforms, although the changes had little overall impact on the economic cycle. In 1976, the government nationalized the enormous holdings of the Booker McConnell companies in Guyana, which included coastal sugarcane plantations as well as a variety of light manufacturing and commercial operations.
The government had previously nationalized private U.S. and Canadian bauxite holdings. More than four-fifths of Guyana's economy was thought to be under direct control of the government by the middle of the 1980s. The Guyana State Corporation was formed to oversee the restructuring of all nationalized companies. The sugarcane estates were under the jurisdiction of the government-owned Guyana Sugar Corporation, and the local mineral production was governed by the Guyana Mining Enterprise Ltd.
Government control was decreased as a result of a privatization initiative that was implemented starting in the 1990s. Early in the twenty-first century, the government has attracted international investment into the agribusiness, forestry, mining, and oil industries. But Guyana's problems with a lack of trained labor, a shaky infrastructure, and a high external debt load persisted. (The Inter-American Development Bank, Guyana's main contributor, cancelled Guyana's debt in March 2007).
Power and Resources
The vast bauxite deposits between the Demerara and Berbice rivers, which help Guyana become one of the world's top bauxite producers, are the country's most significant mineral resources. At Matthews Ridge in the northwest, around 30 miles (48 km) east of the Venezuelan border, there are also sizable manganese resources. In the interior rivers of the Pacaraima Mountains, such as the Mazaruni, diamonds can be found, they are still being hand- and suction-dredged-mined there. Independent prospectors, small- and medium-scale mines, and both alluvial and subterranean deposits are used to extract gold from their respective deposits. The Omai gold mine, a large-scale operation, shut down in 2005.
Other minerals include copper, iron ore, nickel, white sand (used in glass manufacturing), kaolin (china clay), graphite, molybdenite (the source of molybdenum), and molybdenite. The primary biological resource is made up of the tropical rainforest's hardwoods, particularly the termite-, decay-, and erosion-resistant greenheart tree. After a long-running maritime border dispute between Guyana and Suriname was settled, offshore oil drilling started in the Guyana-Suriname Basin in late 2007.
The majority of Guyana's energy needs to be imported, local power is only produced in the coastal plain and along the lower reaches of the rivers and is primarily thermal in nature. Guyana has a large hydroelectric potential, particularly at Tiger Hill on the Demerara River and Tiboku Falls on the Mazaruni. The distance between the falls and the requisite capital for generation and transmission systems, however, restricts development.
Daily Routines And Societal Norms:
Families play a key role in Guyana's daily life, particularly the matriarchal Afro-Guyanese family contrasts with the patriarchal Indo-Guyanese family. Daily attire typically does not set one group apart from another. The food of Guyana is a fusion of South Asian, South American, and Chinese foods, with a heavy emphasis on fresh tropical fruits and vegetables as well as hot, locally grown chilies. A common dish is pepperpot, a stew made with potatoes, peppers, and meat (often beef, mutton, or hog) (a sauce concocted from cassava juice and spices). Guyanese people urge anyone who braves the meal to keep some cooled beer and locally made rums close by.