President: David Granger (2015)
Prime Minister: Samuel Hinds (1992)
Land area: 76,004 sq mi (196,850 sq km); total area: 83,000 sq mi (214,970 sq km)
Population (2014 est.): 735,554 (growth rate: –0.11%); birth rate: 15.9/1000; infant mortality rate: 33.56/1000; life expectancy: 67.81
Capital and largest city (2011 est.): Georgetown, 127,000
Monetary unit: Guyanese dollar
Guyana is the size of Idaho and is situated on the northern coast of South America, east of Venezuela, west of Suriname, and north of Brazil. A tropical forest covers more than 80% of the country.
The Warrou people were the indigenous inhabitants of Guyana. The Dutch, English, and French established colonies in what is now known as Guyana, but by the early 17th century the majority of the settlements were Dutch. During the Napoleonic wars Britain took over the Dutch colonies of Berbice, Demerara, and Essequibo, which became British Guiana in 1831.
Slavery was outlawed in 1834, and the great need for plantation workers led to a large wave of immigration, primarily of East Indians. Today, about half of the population is of East Indian descent and about 36% are of African descent.
In 1889, Venezuela voiced its claim to a large swath of Guyanese territory, but ten years later an international tribunal ruled the land belonged to British Guiana.