Originally a Dutch colony in the 17th century, by 1815 Guyana had become a British possession. The abolition of slavery led to settlement of urban areas by former slaves and the importation of indentured servants from India to work the sugar plantations. The resulting ethnocultural divide has persisted and has led to turbulent politics. Guyana achieved independence from the UK in 1966, and since then it has been ruled mostly by socialist-oriented governments. In 1992, Cheddi JAGAN was elected president in what is considered the country's first free and fair election since independence. After his death five years later, his wife, Janet JAGAN, became president but resigned in 1999 due to poor health. Her successor, Bharrat JAGDEO, was reelected in 2001 and again in 2006. Early elections held in May 2015 resulted in the replacement of President Donald RAMOTAR by David GRANGER.



Northern South America, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Suriname and Venezuela

Geographic coordinates

5 00 N, 59 00 W

Map references

South America


total: 214,969 sq km
land: 196,849 sq km
water: 18,120 sq km

Area - comparative

slightly smaller than Idaho

Land boundaries

total: 2,933 km
border countries (3): Brazil 1,308 km, Suriname 836 km, Venezuela 789 km


459 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the outer edge of the continental margin


tropical; hot, humid, moderated by northeast trade winds; two rainy seasons (May to August, November to January)


mostly rolling highlands; low coastal plain; savanna in south


mean elevation: 207 m
elevation extremes: lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mount Roraima 2,835 m

Natural resources

bauxite, gold, diamonds, hardwood timber, shrimp, fish

Land use

agricultural land: 8.4%
arable land 2.1%; permanent crops 0.1%; permanent pasture 6.2%
forest: 77.4%
other: 14.2% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land

1,430 sq km (2012)

Natural hazards

flash flood threat during rainy seasons

Environment - current issues

water pollution from sewage and agricultural and industrial chemicals; deforestation

Environment - international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography - note

the third-smallest country in South America after Suriname and Uruguay; substantial portions of its western and eastern territories are claimed by Venezuela and Suriname respectively

People and Society


noun: Guyanese (singular and plural)
adjective: Guyanese


note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2016 est.)

Ethnic groups

East Indian 43.5%, black (African) 30.2%, mixed 16.7%, Amerindian 9.1%, other 0.5% (includes Portuguese, Chinese, white) (2002 est.)


English (official), Guyanese Creole, Amerindian languages (including Caribbean and Arawak languages), Indian languages (including Caribbean Hindustani, a dialect of Hindi), Chinese (2014 est.)


Protestant 30.5% (Pentecostal 16.9%, Anglican 6.9%, Seventh Day Adventist 5%, Methodist 1.7%), Hindu 28.4%, Roman Catholic 8.1%, Muslim 7.2%, Jehovah's Witness 1.1%, other Christian 17.7%, other 1.9%, none 4.3%, unspecified 0.9% (2002 est.)

Demographic profile

Guyana is the only English-speaking country in South America and shares cultural and historical bonds with the Anglophone Caribbean. Guyana's two largest ethnic groups are the Afro-Guyanese (descendants of African slaves) and the Indo-Guyanese (descendants of Indian indentured laborers), which together comprise about three quarters of Guyana's population. Tensions periodically have boiled over between the two groups, which back ethnically based political parties and vote along ethnic lines. Poverty reduction has stagnated since the late 1990s. About one-third of the Guyanese population lives below the poverty line; indigenous people are disproportionately affected. Although Guyana's literacy rate is reported to be among the highest in the Western Hemisphere, the level of functional literacy is considerably lower, which has been attributed to poor education quality, teacher training, and infrastructure.
Guyana's emigration rate is among the highest in the world - more than 55% of its citizens reside abroad - and it is one of the largest recipients of remittances relative to GDP among Latin American and Caribbean counties. Although remittances are a vital source of income for most citizens, the pervasive emigration of skilled workers deprives Guyana of professionals in healthcare and other key sectors. More than 80% of Guyanese nationals with tertiary level educations have emigrated. Brain drain and the concentration of limited medical resources in Georgetown hamper Guyana's ability to meet the health needs of its predominantly rural population. Guyana has one of the highest HIV prevalence rates in the region and continues to rely on international support for its HIV treatment and prevention programs.

Health expenditures

5.2% of GDP (2014)

Age structure

0-14 years: 27.12% (male 101,637/female 97,970)
15-24 years: 21.46% (male 81,017/female 76,912)
25-54 years: 37.73% (male 145,003/female 132,640)
55-64 years: 7.9% (male 26,195/female 31,924)
65 years and over: 5.79% (male 17,585/female 25,026) (2016 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 51.1%
youth dependency ratio: 43.5%
elderly dependency ratio: 7.6%
potential support ratio: 13.2% (2015 est.)

Median age

total: 25.8 years
male: 25.5 years
female: 26.2 years (2016 est.)

Population growth rate

0.17% (2016 est.)

Birth rate

15.5 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Death rate

7.4 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Net migration rate

-6.4 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Population distribution

population is heavily concentrated in the northeast in and around Georgetown, with noteable concentrations along the Berbice River to the east; the remainder of the country is sparsely populated


urban population: 28.6% of total population (2015)
rate of urbanization: 0.76% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

GEORGETOWN (capital) 124,000 (2014)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.09 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.82 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.71 male(s)/female
total population: 1.02 male(s)/female (2016 est.)

Child labor - children ages 5-14

total number: 30,255
percentage: 16% (2006 est.)

Maternal mortality rate

229 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 31.5 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 35.4 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 27.3 deaths/1,000 live births (2016 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 68.4 years
male: 65.4 years
female: 71.5 years (2016 est.)

Total fertility rate

2.04 children born/woman (2016 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

42.5% (2009)

Physicians density

0.21 physicians/1,000 population (2010)

Hospital bed density

2 beds/1,000 population (2009)

Drinking water source

urban: 98.2% of population
rural: 98.3% of population
total: 98.3% of population
urban: 1.8% of population
rural: 1.7% of population
total: 1.7% of population (2015 est.)

Sanitation facility access

urban: 87.9% of population
rural: 82% of population
total: 83.7% of population
urban: 12.1% of population
rural: 18% of population
total: 16.3% of population (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate

1.5% (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS

7,800 (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths

100 (2015 est.)

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: very high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: dengue fever and malaria
note: active local transmission of Zika virus by Aedes species mosquitoes has been identified in this country (as of August 2016); it poses an important risk (a large number of cases possible) among US citizens if bitten by an infective mosquito; other less common ways to get Zika are through sex, via blood transfusion, or during pregnancy, in which the pregnant woman passes Zika virus to her fetus (2016)

Obesity - adult prevalence rate

21.9% (2014)

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

8.5% (2014)

Education expenditures

3.2% of GDP (2012)


definition: age 15 and over has ever attended school
total population: 88.5%
male: 87.2%
female: 89.8% (2015 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 10 years
male: 10 years
female: 10 years (2012)

Mother's mean age at first birth

note: median age at first birth among women 25-29 (2009 est.)


Country name

conventional long form: Cooperative Republic of Guyana
conventional short form: Guyana
former: British Guiana
etymology: the name is derived from Guiana, the original name for the region that included British Guiana, Dutch Guiana, and French Guiana; ultimately the word is derived from an indigenous Amerindian language and means "land of many waters" (referring to the area's multitude of rivers and streams)

Government type

parliamentary republic


26 May 1966 (from the UK)


name: Georgetown
geographic coordinates: 6 48 N, 58 09 W
time difference: UTC-4 (1 hour ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

Administrative divisions

10 regions; Barima-Waini, Cuyuni-Mazaruni, Demerara-Mahaica, East Berbice-Corentyne, Essequibo Islands-West Demerara, Mahaica-Berbice, Pomeroon-Supenaam, Potaro-Siparuni, Upper Demerara-Berbice, Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo

National holiday

Republic Day, 23 February (1970)


several previous; latest promulgated 6 October 1980; amended many times, last in 2009; note - in 2015, Guinea's High Court reversed the constitutional two-term presidential limit (2016)

Legal system

common law system, based on the English model, with some Roman-Dutch civil law influence

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; accepts ICCt jurisdiction


citizenship by birth: yes
citizenship by descent: yes
dual citizenship recognized: no
residency requirement for naturalization: na


18 years of age; universal

Political pressure groups and leaders

Amerindian People's Association
Guyana Bar Association
Guyana Citizens Initiative
Guyana Human Rights Association
Guyana Public Service Union or GPSU
Private Sector Commission
Trades Union Congress

Executive branch

chief of state: President David GRANGER (since 16 May 2015)
head of government: Prime Minister Moses NAGAMOOTOO (since 20 May 2015)
cabinet: Cabinet of Ministers appointed by the president, responsible to the National Assembly
elections/appointments: president indirectly elected by the National Assembly from party lists to serve a 5-year term (no term limits); election last held on 11 May 2015 (next to be held in 2020); prime minister appointed by the president
election results: David GRANGER (APNU-AFC) elected president by National Assembly; percent of vote - 50.3%

Political parties and leaders

A Partnership for National Unity or APNU [David A. GRANGER]
Alliance for Change or AFC [Khemraj RAMJATTAN]
Justice for All Party [C.N. SHARMA]
People's Progressive Party/Civic or PPP/C [Donald RAMOTAR]
Rise, Organize, and Rebuild or ROAR [Ravi DEV]
The United Force or TUF [Manzoor NADIR]
The Unity Party [Joey JAGAN]
Vision Guyana [Peter RAMSAROOP]

Legislative branch

description: unicameral National Assembly (65 seats; members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies and a single nationwide constituency by proportional representation vote; members serve 5-year terms)
elections: last held on 11 May 2015 (next to be held by May 2020)
election results: percent of vote by party - APNU 50.3%, PPP/C 49.19%, other 0.51%; seats by party - APNU 33, PPP/C 32

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Supreme Court of Judicature (consists of the Court of Appeal with a chief justice and 3 justices, and the High Court with a chief justice and 10 justices organized into 3- or 5-judge panels); note - in 2009, Guyana ceased final appeals in civil and criminal cases to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (in London), replacing it with the Caribbean Court of Justice, the judicial organ of the Caribbean Community
judge selection and term of office: Court of Appeal and High Court chief justices appointed by the president; other judges of both courts appointed by the Judicial Service Commission, a body appointed by the president; judges appointed for life with retirement at age 65
subordinate courts: Land Court; magistrates' courts

International organization participation


Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Lesley DOWRIDGE-COLLINS (since 22 July 2016)
chancery: 2490 Tracy Place NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 265-6900
FAX: [1] (202) 232-1297
consulate(s) general: New York

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Perry L. HOLLOWAY (since 2 October 2015)
embassy: US Embassy, 100 Young and Duke Streets, Kingston, Georgetown
mailing address: P. O. Box 10507, Georgetown; US Embassy, 3170 Georgetown Place, Washington DC 20521-3170
telephone: [592] 225-4900 through 4909
FAX: [592] 225-8497

Flag description

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; green represents forest and foliage; yellow stands for mineral resources and a bright future; white symbolizes Guyana's rivers; red signifies zeal and the sacrifice of the people; black indicates perseverance

National symbol(s)

Canje pheasant (hoatzin), jaguar, Victoria Regia water lily; national colors: red, yellow, green, black, white

National anthem

name: "Dear Land of Guyana, of Rivers and Plains"
lyrics/music: Archibald Leonard LUKERL/Robert Cyril Gladstone POTTER
note: adopted 1966


Economy - overview

The Guyanese economy exhibited moderate economic growth in recent years and is based largely on agriculture and extractive industries. The economy is heavily dependent upon the export of six commodities - sugar, gold, bauxite, shrimp, timber, and rice - w

Guyana's entrance into the Caricom Single Market and Economy in January 2006 broadened the country's export market, primarily in the raw materials sector. Guyana has experienced positive growth almost every year over the past decade. Inflation has been ke

Chronic problems include a shortage of skilled labor and a deficient infrastructure.

GDP (purchasing power parity)

$6.093 billion (2016 est.)
$5.857 billion (2015 est.)
$5.675 billion (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$3.456 billion (2015 est.)

GDP - real growth rate

4% (2016 est.)
3.2% (2015 est.)
3.8% (2014 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP)

$7,900 (2016 est.)
$7,600 (2015 est.)
$7,400 (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars

Gross national saving

18.6% of GDP (2016 est.)
8.1% of GDP (2015 est.)
5.6% of GDP (2014 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 82.2%
government consumption: 19.7%
investment in fixed capital: 25.9%
investment in inventories: 0%
exports of goods and services: 47.9%
imports of goods and services: -75.7% (2016 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 20.6%
industry: 33.1%
services: 46.3% (2016 est.)

Agriculture - products

sugarcane, rice, edible oils; beef, pork, poultry; shrimp, fish


bauxite, sugar, rice milling, timber, textiles, gold mining

Industrial production growth rate

12% (2016 est.)

Labor force

313,800 (2013 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: NA%
industry: NA%
services: NA%

Unemployment rate

11.1% (2013)
11.3% (2012)

Population below poverty line

35% (2006 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 1.3%
highest 10%: 33.8% (1999)

Distribution of family income - Gini index

44.6 (2007)
43.2 (1999)


revenues: $899.8 million
expenditures: $1.036 billion (2016 est.)

Taxes and other revenues

26% of GDP (2016 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-3.9% of GDP (2016 est.)

Public debt

53.1% of GDP (2016 est.)
48.8% of GDP (2015 est.)

Fiscal year

calendar year

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

0.8% (2016 est.)
-0.9% (2015 est.)

Central bank discount rate

5.5% (31 December 2011)
4.25% (31 December 2010)

Commercial bank prime lending rate

13% (31 December 2016 est.)
12.83% (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of narrow money

$677.9 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$631 million (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of broad money

$1.621 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$1.62 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of domestic credit

$1.566 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$1.492 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares

$610.9 million (31 December 2012 est.)
$440.4 million (31 December 2011 est.)
$339.8 million (31 December 2010 est.)

Current account balance

$72 million (2016 est.)
-$181 million (2015 est.)


$1.15 billion (2016 est.)
$1.17 billion (2015 est.)

Exports - commodities

sugar, gold, bauxite, alumina, rice, shrimp, molasses, rum, timber

Exports - partners

US 33.5%, Canada 17.9%, UK 6.7%, Ukraine 4.3%, Jamaica 4% (2015)


$1.44 billion (2016 est.)
$1.475 billion (2015 est.)

Imports - commodities

manufactures, machinery, petroleum, food

Imports - partners

US 24.6%, Trinidad and Tobago 24.1%, China 10.8%, Suriname 9.5% (2015)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$547.7 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$600.9 million (31 December 2015 est.)

Debt - external

$2.303 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
$1.974 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Exchange rates

Guyanese dollars (GYD) per US dollar -
206.6 (2016 est.)
206.5 (2015 est.)
206.5 (2014 est.)
206.45 (2013 est.)
204.36 (2012 est.)


Electricity - access

population without electricity: 154,540
electrification - total population: 79%
electrification - urban areas: 91%
electrification - rural areas: 75% (2012)

Electricity - production

1 billion kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - consumption

800 million kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - exports

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - imports

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity

400,000 kW (2014 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels

96.1% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants

0.3% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources

3.6% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Crude oil - production

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Crude oil - exports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - imports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves

0 bbl (1 January 2016 es)

Refined petroleum products - production

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption

13,000 bbl/day (2014 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports

13,250 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Natural gas - production

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - consumption

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - exports

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - imports

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves

0 cu m (1 January 2014 es)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy

1.7 million Mt (2013 est.)


Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 154,057
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 21 (July 2015 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular

total: 543,000
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 74 (July 2015 est.)

Telephone system

general assessment: fair system for long-distance service; microwave radio relay network for trunk lines; many areas still lack fixed-line telephone services
domestic: fixed-line teledensity is about 20 per 100 persons; mobile-cellular teledensity about 75 per 100 persons
international: country code - 592; tropospheric scatter to Trinidad; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2015)

Broadcast media

government-dominated broadcast media; the National Communications Network (NCN) TV is state-owned; a few private TV stations relay satellite services; the state owns and operates 2 radio stations broadcasting on multiple frequencies capable of reaching th (2007)

Internet country code


Internet users

total: 281,000
percent of population: 38.2% (July 2015 est.)


National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 2
inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 12
annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 43,835
annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 0 mt-km (2015)

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

8R (2016)


117 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 11
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 8 (2013)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 106
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 16
under 914 m: 89 (2013)


total: 7,970 km
paved: 590 km
unpaved: 7,380 km (2001)


330 km (the Berbice, Demerara, and Essequibo Rivers are navigable by oceangoing vessels for 150 km, 100 km, and 80 km respectively) (2012)

Merchant marine

total: 10
by type: cargo 7, petroleum tanker 2, refrigerated cargo 1
registered in other countries: 3 (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 2, unknown 1) (2010)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Georgetown


Military branches

Guyana Defense Force: Army (includes Air Corps, Coast Guard) (2012)

Military service age and obligation

18 years of age or older for voluntary military service; no conscription (2014)

Military expenditures

1.09% of GDP (2012)
1.17% of GDP (2011)
1.09% of GDP (2010)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

all of the area west of the Essequibo River is claimed by Venezuela preventing any discussion of a maritime boundary; Guyana has expressed its intention to join Barbados in asserting claims before UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) that Trinidad and Tobago's maritime boundary with Venezuela extends into their waters; Suriname claims a triangle of land between the New and Kutari/Koetari Rivers in a historic dispute over the headwaters of the Courantyne; Guyana seeks arbitration under provisions of the UNCLOS to resolve the long-standing dispute with Suriname over the axis of the territorial sea boundary in potentially oil-rich waters

Trafficking in persons

current situation: Guyana is a source and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor – children are particularly vulnerable; women and girls from Guyana, Venezuela, Suriname, Brazil, and the Dominican Republic are forced into prostitution in Guyana’s interior mining communities and urban areas; forced labor is reported in mining, agriculture, forestry, domestic service, and shops; Guyanese nationals are also trafficked to Suriname, Jamaica, and other Caribbean countries for sexual exploitation and forced labor
tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List – Guyana does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so; in 2014, Guyana was granted a waiver from an otherwise required downgrade to Tier 3 because its government has a written plan that, if implemented would constitute making significant efforts to bring itself into compliance with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; the government released its anti-trafficking action plan in June 2014 but made uneven efforts to implement it; law enforcement was weak, investigating seven trafficking cases, prosecuting four alleged traffickers, and convicting one trafficker – a police officer – who was released on bail pending appeal; in 2014, as in previous years, Guyanese courts dismissed the majority of ongoing trafficking prosecutions; the government referred some victims to care services, which were provided by NGOs with little or no government support (2015)

Illicit drugs

transshipment point for narcotics from South America - primarily Venezuela - to Europe and the US; producer of cannabis; rising money laundering related to drug trafficking and human smuggling