25 interesting facts about Guyana

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From spectacular waterfalls and unique wildlife to tales of the lost city of El Dorado, these are the most interesting facts about Guyana.

interesting facts about Guyana
Interesting facts about Guyana include the spectacular Kaieteur Falls (Shutterstock)

Fast facts

Official name: Cooperative Republic of Guyana
Capital city: Georgetown
Population: 750,204
Area: 214,969 sq km
Major languages: English, Guyanese Creole
Time zone: UTC-4 (Atlantic Time Zone)
(Source: CIA World Fact Book)

Interesting facts about Guyana

1. Guyana is a small country in northern South America bordering Brazil, Suriname and Venezuela.
(Source: CIA World Fact Book)

2. Guyana was originally inhabited by semi-nomadic Amerindian tribes – notably Arawaks and Caribs – who were mainly hunters and fishers.
(Source: Britannica)

3. Guyana was first sighted by Europeans in 1498 by Christopher Columbus.
(Source: BBC News)

A map of Guyana showing its bordering countries
Guyana borders Brazil, Suriname and Venezuela (Shutterstock)

4. During the following centuries, Guyana repeatedly changed hands between the European colonial powers of France, the Netherlands and Britain. In 1831 Guyana officially became a British colony until 1966 when it finally gained full independence.
(Source: BBC News)

5. In 1620 the Dutch first began importing slaves into Guyana from the west coast of Africa to work on its sugar plantations.
(Source: BBC News)

6. Guyana’s flag is known as the ‘Golden Arrowhead’. The five colours represent different traits: green for the jungles and fields that cover much of the country; white for its many rivers; red signifies zeal and sacrifice in nation-building; black signifies perseverance.
(Source: DK Publishing (2008) Complete Flags of the World. DK: London)

facts about Guyana – the Golden Arrowhead flag
Guyana’s flag is called the ‘Golden Arrowhead’ (Shutterstock)

7. After the abolition of slavery in 1834, Indian, Portuguese, Chinese and Javanese indentured labourers were brought into Guyana to work on the plantations.
(Source: Britannica)

8. As a result, Guyana’s demographic profile is highly diverse:

  • Indo-Guyanese (descendants of Indian indentured labourers): 39.8%,
  • Afro-Guyanese (descendants of African slaves): 29.3%
  • Mixed race: 19.9%,
  • Amerindian: 10.5%
  • Other (including Portuguese, Chinese, white): 0.5%

(Source: CIA World Fact Book)

9. As such, Guyana is known as the ‘land of six peoples’.
(Source: The Guardian)

A map of Guyana
A map of Guyana (Shutterstock)

10. Scotland was heavily involved in the slave trade of the 18th and 19th centuries, particularly in Guayana. There are at least 30 place names south of Guyana’s capital Georgetown that are associated with the Scottish Highlands. These include Alness, Belladrum, Culcairn, Dunrobin, Glastullich, Inverness, Kintail, Kintyre, Rosehall and Tain.
(Source: The Guardian)

11. Kaieteur Falls in Guyana is the world’s highest single-drop waterfall. The falls cascade over a 250m cliff and, depending on the time of year, are between 76m and 122m wide.
(Source: Lonely Planet)

12. In fact, Guyana means ‘land of many waters’ as it has at least 300 waterfalls and multiple rivers. Other famous falls include the Orinduik Falls and Marshall Falls.
(Source: The Guardian)

The Orinduik Falls
The Orinduik Falls in Guyana (Shutterstock)

13. In 1978, 918 people committed mass suicide in Guyana – after following cult leader Jim Jones to the country – in what became known as the Jonestown Massacre.
(Source: Independent)

14. Guyana is South America’s second-poorest country after Bolivia.
(Source: World Bank)

15. That said, Guyana is bracing itself for an oil boom after the discovery of more than 5.5 billion barrels’ worth of oil in 2019. The oil is located beneath the country’s waters in the Atlantic Ocean.
(Source: BBC News)

16. Guyana is the only English-speaking country in South America.
(Source: BBC News)

Forests blanketing hills and mountains
Forests contain several curious facts about Guyana (Shutterstock)

17. Nearly 85% of Guyana is covered in forest and 75% of the country is covered in rainforest.
(Source: Rainforest Foundation, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO))

1718 The Guyanese jungles are part of the Guiana Shield, a vast region of northeast South America. It is independent of the Amazon and is a biodiversity hotspot that contains over 1,000 bird species and at least 269 species of amphibians.
(Source: The Guardian)

19. Demerara sugar takes its name from the original Dutch colony of Demerara in Guyana. The Demerara River still flows through the region.
(Source: Britannica, BBC Food)

20. Guyana is home to many rare species including colourful frogs, jaguars and even a blue tarantula that was only discovered in 2017. In fact, that year researchers discovered more than 30 new species.
(Source: Global Wildlife Conservation, BBC News)

The blue tarantula discovered in 2017
A blue tarantula was discovered in Guyana in 2017 (Andrew Snyder)

21. The most popular sport in Guyana is cricket. The country plays international cricket as a part of the West Indies cricket team and has produced several notable players.
(Source: ESPN, BBC Sport)

22. The most famous is Shivnarine Chanderpaul who is widely considered one of the most prolific cricketers of all time. He is only the second West Indian to score over 10,000 Test runs (after Brian Lara) and the 8th highest-scoring Test batsman ever.
(Source: ESPN, BBC Sport)

23. In the 16th century, famed British explorer Sir Walter Raleigh made two trips to Guyana and the surrounding region to search for El Dorado – the legendary city of gold and precious jewels.
(Source: National Geographic)

24. El Dorado was never found, but Guyana does have a lot of gold. In 2017 Guyana exported $848 million worth of gold, accounting for 41% of its exports.
(Source: OEC)

25. Guyana is one of 27 countries that doesn’t have a single UNESCO World Heritage Site.
(Source: The Telegraph, UNESCO)

Every effort has been made to verify these facts about Guyana using primary sources. However, if you find an error or have any questions, please contact us.