Guyana Facts

BACKGROUND:

Originally a Dutch colony in the 17th century, by 1815 Guyana had become a British possession. The abolition of slavery led to black settlement of urban areas and the importation of indentured servants from India to work the sugar plantations. This 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. Donald RAMOTAR was elected president in 2011.

GEOGRAPHY:

Location:

Northern South America, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Suriname and Venezuela
Geographic coordinates:
5 00 N, 59 00 W
Map references:
South America
Area:

total: 214,969 sq km
country comparison to the world: 85
land: 196,849 sq km
water: 18,120 sq km
Area – comparative:
slightly smaller than Idaho
Land boundaries:
total: 2,949 km
border countries: Brazil 1,606 km, Suriname 600 km, Venezuela 743 km
Coastline:
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
Climate:
tropical; hot, humid, moderated by northeast trade winds; two rainy seasons (May to August, November to January)
Terrain:
mostly rolling highlands; low coastal plain; savanna in south
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:
arable land: 2.23%
permanent crops: 0.14%
other: 97.63% (2005)
Irrigated land:
1,500 sq km (2008)
Total renewable water resources:
241 cu km (2000)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 1.64 cu km/yr (2%/1%/98%)
per capita: 2,187 cu m/yr (2000)
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

CULTURE & SOCIETY:

Nationality:
noun: Guyanese (singular and plural)
adjective: Guyanese
Ethnic groups:

East Indian 43.5%, black (African) 30.2%, mixed 16.7%, Amerindian 9.1%, other 0.5% (2002 census)
Languages:
English, Amerindian dialects, Creole, Caribbean Hindustani (a dialect of Hindi), Urdu
Religions:
Protestant 30.5% (Pentecostal 16.9%, Anglican 6.9%, Seventh-Day Adventist 5%, Methodist 1.7%), Hindu 28.4%, Roman Catholic 8.1%, Jehovah’s Witnesses 1.1%, Muslim 7.2%, other Christian 17.7%, other 4.3%, none 4.3% (2002 census)
Population:
741,908 (July 2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 163
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
Age structure:
0-14 years: 31.9% (male 120,981/female 116,654)
15-64 years: 63.3% (male 235,566/female 235,717)
65 years and over: 4.8% (male 14,801/female 21,049) (2011 est.)
Median age:
total: 23.9 years
male: 23.2 years
female: 24.6 years (2011 est.)
Population growth rate:
-0.327% (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 212
Birth rate:
16.69 births/1,000 population (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 121
Death rate:

7.18 deaths/1,000 population (July 2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 125
Net migration rate:
-12.78 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 214
Urbanization:
urban population: 29% of total population (2010)
rate of urbanization: 0.5% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
Major cities – population:
GEORGETOWN (capital) 132,000 (2009)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.69 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2012 est.)
Maternal mortality rate:
270 deaths/100,000 live births (2008)
country comparison to the world: 49
Infant mortality rate:
total: 35.59 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 67
male: 39.74 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 31.25 deaths/1,000 live births (2012 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 67.39 years
country comparison to the world: 159
male: 63.57 years
female: 71.4 years (2012 est.)
Total fertility rate:
2.27 children born/woman (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 99
Health expenditures:
6.1% of GDP (2009)
country comparison to the world: 102
Physicians density:
0.48 physicians/1,000 population (2000)
Hospital bed density:
1.9 beds/1,000 population (2007)
Drinking water source:
improved:
urban: 98% of population
rural: 93% of population
total: 94% of population
unimproved:
urban: 2% of population
rural: 7% of population
total: 6% of population (2008)
Sanitation facility access:
improved:
urban: 85% of population
rural: 80% of population
total: 81% of population
unimproved:
urban: 15% of population
rural: 20% of population
total: 19% of population (2008)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate:
1.2% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 40
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS:
5,900 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 117
HIV/AIDS – deaths:
fewer than 500 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 87
Major infectious diseases:
degree of risk: high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: dengue fever and malaria
water contact disease: leptospirosis (2009)
Children under the age of 5 years underweight:
10.8% (2007)
country comparison to the world: 63
Education expenditures:
6.1% of GDP (2007)
country comparison to the world: 28
Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over has ever attended school
total population: 91.8%
male: 92%
female: 91.6% (2002 Census)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 12 years
male: 12 years
female: 12 years (2009)
Unemployment, youth ages 15-24:
total: 24.1%
country comparison to the world: 35
male: 20.6%
female: 31.3% (2002)

GOVERNMENT:

Country name:
conventional long form: Cooperative Republic of Guyana
conventional short form: Guyana
former: British Guiana
Government type:
republic
Capital:
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
Independence:
26 May 1966 (from the UK)
National holiday:
Republic Day, 23 February (1970)
Constitution:
6 October 1980
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
Suffrage:
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Donald RAMOTAR (since 03 December 2011);
head of government: Prime Minister Samuel HINDS (since October 1992, except for a period as chief of state after the death of President Cheddi JAGAN on 6 March 1997)
cabinet: Cabinet of Ministers appointed by the president, responsible to the legislature
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elections: president elected by popular vote as leader of a party list in parliamentary elections, which must be held at least every five years (no term limits); elections last held on 28 August 2006 (next to be held by August 2011); prime minister appointed by the president
election results: Donald RAMOTAR elected president, percent of vote 48.6%
Legislative branch:
unicameral National Assembly (65 seats; members elected by popular vote, also not more than 4 non-elected non-voting ministers and 2 non-elected non-voting parliamentary secretaries appointed by the president; members to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held on 28 November 2011 (next to be held by November 2016)
election results: percent of vote by party – PPP/C 48.6%, APNU 40%, AFC 10.3%, other 1.1%; seats by party – PPP/C 32, APNU 26, AFC 7
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court of Judicature, consisting of the High Court and the Court of Appeal, with right of final appeal to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ)
Political parties and leaders:
Alliance for Change or AFC [Khemraj RAMJATTAN]; Justice for All Party [C.N. SHARMA]; A Partnership for National Unity or APNU [David GRANGER]; 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]; Working People’s Alliance or WPA [Clive THOMAS]
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
International organization participation:
ACP, AOSIS, C, Caricom, CDB, CELAC, FAO, G-77, IADB, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), ISO (subscriber), ITU, LAES, MIGA, NAM, OAS, OIC, OPANAL, OPCW, PCA, Petrocaribe, UN, UNASUR, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Bayney KARRAN
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 D. Brent HARDT
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
National anthem:
name: “Dear Land of Guyana, of Rivers and Plains”
lyrics/music: Archibald Leonard LUKERL/Robert Cyril Gladstone POTTER

ECONOMY:

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 – which represent nearly 60% of the country’s GDP and are highly susceptible to adverse weather conditions and fluctuations in commodity prices. Guyana’s entrance into the Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME) in January 2006 has 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 kept under control. Recent years have seen the Government’s stock of debt reduced significantly – with external debt now less than half of what it was in the early 1990s. Chronic problems include a shortage of skilled labor and a deficient infrastructure. Despite recent improvements, the government is still juggling a sizable external debt against the urgent need for expanded public investment. In March 2007, the Inter-American Development Bank, Guyana’s principal donor, canceled Guyana’s nearly $470 million debt, equivalent to 21% of GDP, which along with other Highly Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) debt forgiveness brought the debt-to-GDP ratio down from 183% in 2006 to 120% in 2007. Guyana became heavily indebted as a result of the inward-looking, state-led development model pursued in the 1970s and 1980s. Growth slowed in 2009 as a result of the world recession, but picked up in 2010-11. The slowdown in the domestic economy and lower import costs helped to narrow the country’s current account deficit, despite generally lower earnings from exports thereby making Caribbean news.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$5.715 billion (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 159
$5.495 billion (2010 est.)
$5.304 billion (2009 est.)
note: data are in 2011 US dollars
GDP (official exchange rate):
$2.215 billion (2011 est.)
GDP – real growth rate:
4% (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 98
3.6% (2010 est.)
3.3% (2009 est.)
GDP – per capita (PPP):
$7,500 (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 129
$7,200 (2010 est.)
$6,900 (2009 est.)
note: data are in 2011 US dollars
GDP – composition by sector:
agriculture: 18.5%
industry: 30.6%
services: 50.9% (2011 est.)
Labor force:
313,100 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 164
Labor force – by occupation:
agriculture: NA%
industry: NA%
services: NA%
Unemployment rate:
11% (2007)
country comparison to the world: 122
Population below poverty line:
NA%
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)
country comparison to the world: 44
43.2 (1999)
Investment (gross fixed):
30.3% of GDP (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 32
Budget:
revenues: $633.6 million
expenditures: $698.4 million (2011 est.)
Taxes and other revenues:
28.6% of GDP (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 93
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-):
-2.9% of GDP (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 101
Public debt:
62.1% of GDP (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 39
57% of GDP (2010 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
2.5% (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 32
4.5% (2010 est.)
Central bank discount rate:
5.5% (31 December 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 85
4.25% (31 December 2010 est.)
Commercial bank prime lending rate:
14.4% (31 December 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 47
14.54% (31 December 2010 est.)
Stock of narrow money:
$409.5 million (31 December 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 164
$397.2 million (31 December 2010 est.)
Stock of broad money:
$1.498 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 152
$1.296 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
Stock of domestic credit:
$957.9 million (31 December 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 158
$921.7 million (31 December 2010 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares:
$339.8 million (31 December 2010)
country comparison to the world: 111
$287 million (31 December 2009)
$289.9 million (31 December 2008)
Agriculture – products:
sugarcane, rice, edible oils; beef, pork, poultry; shrimp, fish
Industries:
bauxite, sugar, rice milling, timber, textiles, gold mining
Industrial production growth rate:
0.3% (2010)
country comparison to the world: 150
Electricity – production:
820 million kWh (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 151
Electricity – consumption:
688 million kWh (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 152
Electricity – exports:
0 kWh (2009 est.)
Electricity – imports:
0 kWh (2009 est.)
Oil – production:
0 bbl/day (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 179
Oil – consumption:

10,000 bbl/day (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 152
Oil – exports:
0 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 178
Oil – imports:
10,480 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 141
Oil – proved reserves:
0 bbl (1 January 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 140
Natural gas – production:
0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 193
Natural gas – consumption:
0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 187
Natural gas – exports:
0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 111
Natural gas – imports:
0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 202
Natural gas – proved reserves:
0 cu m (1 January 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 145
Current account balance:
-$297.2 million (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 92
-$255.3 million (2010 est.)
Exports:
$875 million (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 157
$882.7 million (2010 est.)
Exports – commodities:
sugar, gold, bauxite, alumina, rice, shrimp, molasses, rum, timber
Exports – partners:
Canada 24.6%, US 24.6%, Ukraine 6%, Netherlands 4.9%, Trinidad and Tobago 4.6%, Portugal 4.5%, Jamaica 4.5%, UK 4.1% (2010)
Imports:
$1.456 billion (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 167
$1.386 billion (2010 est.)
Imports – commodities:
manufactures, machinery, petroleum, food
Imports – partners:
Trinidad and Tobago 24.2%, US 23.1%, Cuba 6.7%, China 6.7%, South Korea 4.1% (2010)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$355.9 million (31 December 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 157
$782.1 million (31 December 2010 est.)
Debt – external:
$1.234 billion (31 December 2010)
country comparison to the world: 149
$804.3 million (30 September 2008)
Exchange rates:
Guyanese dollars (GYD) per US dollar –
203.9 (2011 est.)
203.64 (2010 est.)
203.95 (2009)
203.86 (2008)
201.89 (2007)
Fiscal year:
calendar year