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© Guyana Genealogical and Biographical Society

Guyana - Facts and Figures

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 ethno cultural 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.

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

Area:    Total: 214,969 sq km
            Land:  196,849 sq km 
            Water: 18,120 sq km

Land boundaries: total: 2,949 km

Border Countries: Brazil 1,606 km, Suriname 600 km, Venezuela 743 km,


Coastline: 459 km

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

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 (2003)

Natural hazards: flash floods are a constant threat during rainy seasons

Environment - current issues: water pollution from sewage and agricultural and industrial chemicals; deforestation





Nationality: Guyanese 


Population:  741,908 (July 2012 est.)


Ethnic groups:   

East Indian 43.5%, black (African) 30.2%, mixed 16.7%, Amerindian 9.1%, other 0.5% (2002 census)



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)



English, Amerindian dialects, Creole, Caribbean Hindustani (a dialect of Hindi), Urdu


Literacy: definition: age 15 and over has ever attended school
Total population: 91.8%

Male: 92%

Female: 91.6% (2002 Census)


Age structure:

0-14 years: 31.1% (male 117,415/female 113,211)

15-24 years: 20.3% (male 77,766/female 73,062)

25-54 years: 36.7% (male 137,511/female 134,822)

55-64 years: 6.9% (male 22,139/female 29,364)

65 years and over: 4.9% (male 15,007/female 21,611) (2012 est.)


Median age:   

Total: 24.2 years

Male: 23.5 years

Female: 25 years (2012 est.)


Population Growth Rate:

-0.327% (2012 est.)


Birth rate:

16.69 births/1,000 population (2012 est.)


Death rate:

7.18 deaths/1,000 population (2012 est.)


Net migration rate:

-12.78 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2012 est.)


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 (2011 est.)


Infant mortality rate:

Total: 35.59 deaths/1,000 live births

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

Male: 63.57 years

Female: 71.4 years (2012 est.)


Total fertility rate:

2.27 children born/woman (2012 est.)



Adult prevalence rate: 1.2% (2009 est.)

People living with HIV/AIDS: 5,900 (2009 est.)

Deaths: fewer than 500 (2009 est.)





Country name:

Conventional long form: Cooperative Republic of Guyana

Conventional short form: Guyana

Former: British Guiana

Government type: Republic

Capital: Georgetown

Geographic coordinates: 6 48 N, 58 10 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 UK)

National holiday: Republic Day, 23 February (1970)

Constitution: 6 October 1980

Legal system: based on English common law with certain admixtures of Roman-Dutch law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

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


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 November 2011 (next to be called by December 2016); prime minister appointed by the president


Election results: Donald RAMOTAR elected President, percent of vote 48.6%

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 


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)


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]







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.


GDP (purchasing power parity): $6.164 billion (2012 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate): $2.788 billion (2012 est.)

GDP - real growth rate: 3.7% (2012 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP): $8,000 (2012 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:   

Agriculture: 20.3%

Industry: 34.8%

Services: 44.9% (2012 est.) 


Labor force: 313,100 (2009 est.)


Unemployment rate: 11% (2007)


Inflation rate (consumer prices): 3.1% (2012 est.)


Agriculture - products: sugarcane, rice, edible oils; beef, pork, poultry; shrimp, fish


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


Currency: Guyanese dollar (GYD)

Exchange rates: Guyanese dollars (GYD) per US dollar -

204.4 (2012)

204.02 (2011)

203.64 (2010)



[Source: The World Factbook]




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