|General background: Guyana achieved
independence from the UK in 1966 and became a republic
in 1970. In 1989 Guyana launched an Economic Recovery
Program, which marked a dramatic reversal from a state-controlled,
socialist economy towards a more open, free market system.
Results through the first decade have proven encouraging.
Area comparative: Slightly smaller than Idaho
Climate: Tropical; hot, humid, moderated by
northeast trade winds; two rainy seasons (May to mid-August,
mid-November to mid-January)
Mostly rolling highlands; low coastal plain; savanna in
Ethnic groups: East Indian 50%, Black 36%, Amerindian
7%, White, Chinese, and Mixed 7%
Religions: Christian 50%, Hindu 35%, Muslim
10%, other 5%
Language: English, Amerindian dialects, Creole,
Government type: Republic within the Commonwealth
Legal system: Based on English common law with
certain admixtures of Roman-Dutch law; has not accepted
compulsory ICJ jurisdiction.
Economic overview: The Guyanese economy has
exhibited moderate economic growth since 1999, based
on an expansion in the agricultural and mining sectors,
a more favorable atmosphere for business initiatives,
a more realistic exchange rate, fairly low inflation,
and the continued support of international organizations.
Chronic problems include a shortage of skilled labor
and a deficient infrastructure. The government is juggling
a sizable external debt against the urgent need for
expanded public investment. Low prices for key mining
and agricultural commodities combined with troubles
in the bauxite and sugar industries threaten the government's
already tenuous fiscal position and dim prospects for
Communication/Telephone system: Fair system for
Places of interest: Guyana has immense falls,
vast tropical rainforest and savanna teeming with wildlife.
Travel tips: Though violence against foreigners
is uncommon, visitors are advised to avoid walking after
dark, maintain alertness at all times and keep out of
Georgetown's Tiger Bay area.