Guyana, formally the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, is a sovereign state located on South America’s northern continental landmass. It is included in the Caribbean Region, however, because of its close cultural, historical, and political connections to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). Guyana is bounded on the north by the Atlantic Ocean, on the south and southwest by Brazil, on the east by Suriname, and on the west by Venezuela. Guyana is the fourth smallest nation in mainland South America, after Uruguay, Suriname, and French Guiana, with a total area of 215,000 square kilometers (83,000 square miles).
The area referred to as “the Guianas” is made up of a vast shield landmass north of the Amazon River and east of the Orinoco River, dubbed the “country of many waters.” Guyana was originally inhabited by numerous indigenous tribes before being colonized by the Dutch and eventually falling under British rule in the late 18th century. It was administered as British Guiana’s plantation economy until 1966, when it gained independence and became a republic within the Commonwealth of Nations in 1970. The country’s varied population, which includes Indian, African, Amerindian, and mixed communities, reflects the heritage of British control.
Guyana is also unique in South America in that English is the national language. However, the bulk of the population speaks Guyanese Creole, an English-based creole language with traces of Dutch, Arawakan, and Caribbean influence. Apart from being a member of the Anglophone Caribbean, Guyana is one of the few Caribbean nations that is not a West Indies island. CARICOM, of which Guyana is a member, is headquartered in Georgetown, the country’s capital and biggest city. In 2008, the nation became a founding member of the Union of South American Nations.
Venezuela claims about three-quarters of the country’s western region, precisely 159,542 square kilometers, or 74.21 percent of the area, dubbed Guyana Essequiba. Suriname, the nation’s other neighbor, claims a portion of the country’s eastern territory southeast, particularly approximately 15,600 square kilometers known as the Tigri Area, which presently amounts for 7.26 percent of the country.