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Guyana travel guide - Travel S Helper


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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.

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Guyana - Info Card




Guyanese dollar (GYD)

Time zone



214,970 km2 (83,000 sq mi)

Calling code


Official language


Guyana | Introduction

Geography Of Guyana

The area controlled by Guyana is located between latitudes 1° and 9°N and longitudes 56° and 62°W.

The country can be divided into five natural regions: a narrow, fertile swamp along the Atlantic coast (Low Coastal Plain), where the majority of the population lives; a white sand belt further inland (Hillly Sand and Clay Region), where most of Guyana’s mineral deposits are found; the dense rainforests (Wooded Highlands Region) in the southern part of the country; the desert savannah in the southwest; and the smaller Inner Plain (Inner Savannah), which consists mainly of mountains that gradually rise to the Brazilian border.

Guyana’s highest mountains include Mount Ayanganna (2,042 metres or 6,699 feet), Mount Caburaí (1,465 metres or 4,806 feet) and Mount Roraima (2,772 metres or 9,094 feet – Guyana’s highest mountain) on the Brazil-Guyana-Venezuela tri-border, part of the Pakaraima range. Mount Roraima and the mesas (tepuis) of Guyana are said to have inspired Sir Arthur Conan Doyle‘s 1912 novel The Lost World. There are also numerous volcanic escarpments and waterfalls, including Kaieteur Falls, considered the largest waterfall in the world. North of the Rupununi River is the Rupununi Savannah, and to the south are the Kanuku Mountains.

The four longest rivers are the Essequibo with 1,010 kilometres, the Courantyne with 724 kilometres, the Berbice with 595 kilometres and the Demerara with 346 kilometres. The Corentyne River forms the border with Suriname. Several large islands are located at the mouth of the Essequibo, including the 145 km wide Shell Beach on the northwest coast, which is also an important breeding area for sea turtles (mainly leatherbacks) and other wildlife.

The local climate is tropical and generally hot and humid, although tempered by the north-easterly trade winds along the coast. There are two rainy seasons, the first from May to mid-August, the second from mid-November to mid-January.

Guiana has one of the largest pristine rainforests in South America, parts of which are almost inaccessible to man. Guyana’s rich natural history was described by early explorers Sir Walter Raleigh and Charles Waterton, and later by naturalists Sir David Attenborough and Gerald Durrell. In 2008, the BBC broadcast a three-part programme entitled Lost Land of the Jaguar, which highlighted the enormous diversity of wildlife, including undiscovered species and rarities such as the giant otter and the harpy eagle.

In 2012, Guyana received a $45 million award from Norway for its efforts to protect the rainforest. This follows a 2009 agreement between the two countries, which provides a total of $250 million for the protection and conservation of the natural habitat. So far, the country has received $115 million of the total.

Border conflicts

Guyana is in a border dispute with Suriname, which claims the area east of the left bank of the Corentyne and New Rivers in southwestern Suriname, and with Venezuela, which claims the land west of the Essequibo River, formerly belonging to the Dutch colony of Essequibo and part of the Guayana Essequiba of Venezuela. The maritime aspect of the territorial dispute with Suriname was submitted to arbitration under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and a decision was announced on 21 September 2007. The decision, concerning the Caribbean Sea north of the two nations, found that both parties had violated treaty obligations and refused to order compensation for either party.

When the British surveyed British Guiana in 1840, they included the entire Cuyuni River basin in the colony. Venezuela disagreed and claimed all the territory west of the Essequibo River. In 1898, at Venezuela’s request, an international arbitration tribunal was convened and in 1899 issued an award that ceded about 94% of the disputed territory to British Guiana. Venezuela never accepted this award and raised the issue again at the time of Guyana’s independence. The issue is now settled by the 1966 Geneva Treaty, signed by the governments of Guyana, Britain and Venezuela, and Venezuela continues to claim Guayana Esequiba. Venezuela calls this area the ‘Zona en Reclamación’ (recovery zone) and Venezuelan maps of the national territory systematically include it and delineate it with dotted lines.

The specific small disputed areas involving Guyana are Ankoko Island with Venezuela, the Corentyne River with Suriname, and the Tigri Zone or New River Triangle with Suriname. In 1967, a team of Surinamese investigators was encountered in the New River Triangle and forcibly removed. In August 1969, a Guyana Defence Force patrol discovered an unauthorised military camp and a partially completed airstrip within the Triangle, as well as documented evidence of Surinamese intent to occupy the entire disputed area. After an exchange of fire, the Surinamese are driven out of the triangle.

Environment and biodiversity

The following habitats have been categorised for Guyana: Coastal, marine, littoral, palustrine estuarine, mangrove, river, lake, swamp, savannah, white sand forest, brown sand forest, montane forest, cloud forest, lowland rainforest and dry evergreen shrub (NBAP, 1999). Some 14 areas of biological interest have been identified as potential hotspots for a national system of protected areas. More than 80% of Guyana is still covered by forests, which are also home to the world’s rarest species, ranging from dry evergreen and seasonal forests to mountain and lowland rainforests. These forests are home to over a thousand species of trees. Guyana’s tropical climate, unique geology and relatively pristine ecosystems support vast areas of species-rich tropical forests and natural habitats with a high degree of endemism. Approximately eight thousand plant species are found in Guyana, half of which are found nowhere else.

Guyana has one of the highest levels of biodiversity in the world. Guyana has one of the richest collections of mammalian fauna of any region of comparable size in the world, with 1,168 species of vertebrates and 814 species of birds. The Guiana Shield region is little known and extremely biologically rich. Unlike other parts of South America, over 70% of the natural habitat remains intact.

The rich natural history of British Guiana was described by early explorers Sir Walter Raleigh and Charles Waterton, and later by naturalists Sir David Attenborough and Gerald Durrell.

In February 2004, the Guyanese government issued title to over one million acres (4,000 km2 ) of land in the Konashen indigenous district and declared the land a Konashen Community Owned Conservation Area (COCA), to be managed by the Wai Wai. In doing so, Guyana has created the largest community-owned conservation area in the world.

This important event follows a request by the Wai Wai community to the Government of Guyana and Conservation International Guyana (CIG) for assistance in developing a sustainable plan for their lands in Konashen. The three parties have signed a Memorandum of Cooperation that sets out a plan for the sustainable use of the biological resources of the Konashen CZO, identifies threats to the area’s biodiversity and helps develop projects to raise awareness of the CZO and generate the income needed to maintain its protected status.

The Konashen Indigenous District in southern Guyana is home to the headwaters of the Essequibo River, Guyana’s main source of water, and drains the Kassikaityu, Kamoa, Sipu and Chodikar Rivers. Southern Guyana contains some of the most pristine areas of evergreen forest in the northern part of South America. Most of the forests found here are large evergreen forests in the hilly and low mountainous regions, with large areas of flooded forest along the main rivers. Due to the very low human population density in this region, most of these forests are still intact. The Smithsonian Institution has identified nearly 2,700 species of plants from this region, representing 239 different families, and there are certainly more species yet to be recorded.

This incredible diversity of plants supports an even more impressive diversity of animals, recently documented by a biological survey organised by Conservation International. The clean, unpolluted waters of the Essequibo watershed are home to a remarkable diversity of fish and aquatic invertebrates, as well as giant otters, capybaras and several species of caiman.

On land, large mammals such as jaguars, tapirs, bush dogs, giant anteaters and saki monkeys are still common. More than 400 species of birds have been reported in the area, and the reptile and amphibian fauna is equally rich. The forests of Konashen COCA are also home to countless species of insects, arachnids and other invertebrates, many of which remain unknown and unnamed.

Konashen ACCA is relatively unique in that it contains a high level of diversity and biological richness, preserved in an almost pristine state; such places have become rare on Earth. This fact has given rise to various non-exploitative and ecologically sustainable industries, such as ecotourism, which successfully exploit the biological richness of Konashen SAC with comparatively low sustainable impacts.

Demographics Of Guyana

The majority of Guyana’s population (90%) lives on a narrow coastal strip that varies in width from 16 to 64 kilometres and represents about 10% of the country’s total area.

The current population of Guyana is racially and ethnically heterogeneous, with ethnic groups originating from India, Africa, Europe and China, as well as indigenous or native peoples. Despite their diverse ethnic origins, these groups share two common languages: English and Creole.

The largest ethnic group is the Indo-Guyanese (also known as East Indians), descendants of indentured servants from India, who represent 43.5% of the population according to the 2002 census. They are followed by Afro-Guyanese, descendants of slaves from Africa, who represent 30.2%. Guyanese of mixed ancestry account for 16.7%, while indigenous peoples (known locally as Amerindians) account for 9.1%. Indigenous groups include the Arawak, Wai Wai, Carib, Akawaio, Arecuna, Patamona, Wapixana, Macushi and Warao. The two largest groups, the Indo-Guyanese and the Afro-Guyanese, have experienced some racial tension.

The majority of Indo-Guyanese are descended from indentured servants who came from the Bhojpuri-speaking regions of northern India. A sizeable minority originate from South India, largely of Tamil and Telugu origin.

The distribution pattern of the 2002 census was similar to that of the 1980 and 1991 censuses, but the proportion of the two main groups decreased. Indo-Guyanese accounted for 51.9% of the total population in 1980, but by 1991 this had fallen to 48.6% and then to 43.5% in the 2002 census. The percentage of people of African descent increased slightly from 30.8% to 32.3% in the first period (1980 and 1991), before falling back to 30.2% in the 2002 census. With little growth in the overall population, the decline in the shares of the two largest groups resulted in a relative increase in the shares of the multiracial and American Indian groups. The American Indian population increased by 22,097 people between 1991 and 2002. This represents an increase of 47.3% or an annual growth of 3.5%. Similarly, the multiracial population increased by 37,788 people, an increase of 43.0% or an annual growth rate of 3.2% from the 1991 census base period. The number of Portuguese (4.3% of the population in 1891) has steadily decreased over the decades.


Data from a 2012 census on religious affiliation showed that about 64% of the population was Christian, 25% Hindu and 7% Muslim, while 3% of the population did not profess any religion.

Most Christians in Guyana are either Protestant or Roman Catholic and include a mixture of Indian, African, Chinese and European ancestry, as well as a large indigenous population.

Economy Of Guyana

Guyana’s main economic activities are agriculture (rice and demerara sugar production), bauxite and gold mining, timber, shrimp fishing and minerals. Chronic problems include a shortage of skilled labour and poor infrastructure. In 2008, the economy grew by 3% amidst the global economic crisis, followed by impressive growth of 5.4% in 2011 and 3.7% in 2012.

Until recently, the government was juggling a large external debt and the urgent need to expand public investment. Low prices for key mining and agricultural commodities, coupled with problems in the bauxite and sugar industries, have threatened the government’s tight fiscal situation and clouded prospects for the future. However, the Guyanese economy has recovered slightly and has been growing moderately since 1999, thanks to the expansion of the agricultural and mining sectors, a more favourable atmosphere for entrepreneurial initiatives, a more realistic exchange rate, relatively low inflation and continued support from international organisations.

The sugar industry, which accounts for 28% of total export earnings, is largely run by GuySuCo, which employs more people than any other industry. Many industries benefit from significant foreign investment. In the minerals industry, for example, the US company Reynolds Metals and Rio Tinto’s British-Australian subsidiary, Rio Tinto Alcan, are heavily invested; the Korean/Malaysian Barama Company has a significant stake in the forestry industry.

Balata (natural latex) production was once an important activity in Guyana. Most of the balata tapping in Guyana took place in the foothills of the Kanuku Mountains in the Rupununi. Early exploitation also took place in the North West District, but most of the trees in this area were destroyed by illegal tapping methods, where trees were felled instead of cut. Uses of balata included the manufacture of cricket balls, the temporary filling of troublesome tooth holes, and the manufacture of figurines and other decorative objects (notably by the Macushi people in the Kanuku Mountains).

Key private sector organisations include the Private Sector Commission (PSC) and the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI);

In early 2007, the government launched a major revision of the tax code. The Value Added Tax (VAT) was enacted, replacing six different taxes. Before the introduction of VAT, it was relatively easy to evade VAT and many businesses were in breach of the tax legislation. Many businesses were very much opposed to the introduction of VAT because of the additional paperwork involved, but the government stood firm. Replacing several taxes with a single tax rate will also make it easier for government auditors to detect embezzlement. This was endemic under the previous PPP/C regime, which set VAT at 50% of the value of goods. Although the transition to VAT has been difficult, it can improve daily life because the government will have significant additional funds for public expenditure.

President Bharrat Jagdeo had made debt relief one of his government’s top priorities. He has succeeded in getting the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to cancel $800 million of debt, plus millions from other developed countries. IDB President Moreno praised Jagdeo for his leadership and negotiating skills in providing debt relief to Guyana and several other countries in the region.

Entry Requirements For Guyana

Visa & Passport for Guyana

Citizens of the following countries do not need a visa to travel to Guyana: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Grenada, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Luxembourg, Montserrat, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Russia, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, United Kingdom, United States. (Government website).

To apply for a visa, you will need the application form, a passport valid for at least 6 more months, 3 passport photos and proof that you have the financial means to cover your entire trip to Guyana. If you intend to work or live in Guyana, you must obtain a letter of approval from the Ministry of Home Affairs and attach a copy to your application. The only way to apply for a visa is by post. The application must be made at the nearest Guyana embassy.

A tourist visa costs USD 30, a single-entry business visa USD 40, a multiple-entry business visa for 3 months USD 50 and a multiple-entry business visa for 1 year USD 75.

Once in Guyana, you can renew your visa at the Ministry of Home Affairs in Georgetown.

How To Travel To Guyana

Get In By air

Cheddi Jagan International Airport

(IATA: GEO) Originally called Timehri International Airport (Timehri means “rock painting”), it was renamed in honour of the displaced indigenous peoples of Guyana. Daily international flights depart and arrive at Cheddi Jagan International Airport, located approximately 40 km south of Georgetown. International flights include flights to Canada, the Caribbean, the UK and the US on Caribbean Airlines (formerly BWIA). Caribbean Airlines is a government-owned airline operated by Trinidad & Tobago. Flights to the Caribbean with Caribbean Star and LIAT. North American Airlines and Xtra Airways, non-stop flights, on the New York-Guyana route. Primaris Airlines, non-stop, serves Guyana from JFK-New York and FLL-Florida, as well as Fly Jamaica Airways, which serves Kingston NMIA and JFK.

Ogle Aerodome

(IATA: OGL) A small airfield located slightly closer to Georgetown (~6 mi) and used by a few private charter companies, mainly for domestic/local flights. The following companies offer some daily flights to/from Zorg-en-Hoop airfield in Paramaribo:

  • Gum Air, Doekhieweg 03, Zorg-en-Hoop Airport, Paramaribo, Suriname, +597 433830, fax: +597 491740, e-mail: M-Sa.
  • Trans Guyana Airways (TGA), Ogle Aerodome, Ogle, East Coast Demerara, +592 222 2525, email: M-Sa.

Get In - By car

Guyana has road access to Suriname to the east and Brazil to the south. In Suriname, ask in Paramaribo about minibuses to Guyana. Note that it is illegal to enter Guyana by water from Nieuw Nickerie in Suriname, even if no one can stop you. In the worst case, you will be sent back or have to pay for a visa. If you travel from Nieuw-Nickerie to Paramaribo by land, you will most likely encounter a military police checkpoint near Totness, but they are looking for arms and drug dealers, not tourists. Show your ID card or a valid driving licence and they won’t even ask for your passport to check you have the right visa stamps. They don’t seem to mind if you enter the country as long as you don’t cause problems and spend your money in their country.

There are no road links between Venezuela and Guyana. Travel to Venezuela is by air via Trinidad (Caribbean Airlines) or by land via the state of Roraima in Brazil.

Get In - By bus

In Suriname, minibuses run from Paramaribo to South Drain, in western Suriname, just across the river from Guyana. The journey takes at least 3 hours and costs about US$15. From there you go through customs on the Surinamese side. Then take the daily 11-hour ferry across the river to South Drain. The ferry ride takes about 30 minutes, but it will take you longer to clear customs on the Guyanese side.

The bus journey from Lethem, on the Brazilian border, to Georgetown takes about 10 hours and passes through the rainforest and southern savannah. During the rainy season, the journey can take much longer. Sections of the road are known to become impassable during heavy rains and extreme caution is recommended.

Check with the Interserv bus office on Charlotte Street in downtown Georgetown for buses to Brazil. Buses tend to run very late at night and it is recommended that you take a taxi to the bus station, as the area is not safe at night. For buses from Brazil, go to Bonfim at the border and cross on foot. Find a minibus or taxi that will take you to downtown Lethem and ask about buses to Georgetown.

How To Travel Around Guyana

When people in Guyana talk about buses, they mean minibuses. Minibuses operate throughout Guyana and are the cheapest way to travel. Minibus fares range from GYD 60 to GYD 1,000 depending on the length of the journey. Travelling in this mode at night can be risky.

Many parts of Guyana are separated by large rivers. These areas can be crossed by river taxi. Go to the port village and ask where the speedboats leave from. During the trip, ask other passengers about the fare, as boat operators tend to charge tourists more. Do not accept “special offers” without negotiating the price first.

Taxis are an excellent way to get around Georgetown. Fares should never exceed $500 for travel within the city and most fares should be around GYD 400. All taxi license plates start with an “H”. There are fixed prices for taxis to different destinations, for example, from the airport to the city is GYD 5,000, from the airport to Moleson Creek is GYD 24,000, etc.

You can also rent cars or SUVs; check local telephone listings for car rentals. Consult more than one car rental company as prices may vary. You may also be able to negotiate prices to some extent. There is usually a deposit to pay. When hiring a car, be sure to ask if your driving licence is accepted. Traffic violations can result in considerable loss of time and possible trips to the local courts.

Destinations in Guyana


  • Guyana Coastal Plain (Georgetown, Bartica, Mabaruma, New Amsterdam)
  • Guiana Highlands (Lethem, Paramakatoi)
  • Berbice-Corentyne (Linden)


  • Georgetown – the country’s capital, located in Demerara County.
  • Bartica
  • Mabaruma
  • New Amsterdam, the country’s second largest city
  • Lethem
  • Linden, a bauxite mining town originally named McKenzie but renamed after the country’s first executive chairman, Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham.
  • Parika – located on the eastern bank of the Essequibo River, the largest river in the country.
  • Paramakatoi

Other destinations

  • The Rupununi savannah
  • Michelle’s Island
  • The Kanuku Mountains
  • Iwokrama
  • Marshall Falls
  • Kyk-Over-Al
  • Shellfish beach

Accommodation & Hotels in Guyana

Accommodation in Guyana is very good.

Georgetown offers by far the greatest choice of options, but there are a number of problems here. None of the ‘luxury’ options in the capital – particularly the Pegasus and Princess – have the polish or charm to justify the hundreds of US dollars they charge. At the other end of the scale, there are a number of smaller guesthouses and pay-by-the-hour accommodations with lower prices. The only “backpacker” option is the Tropicana Hostel, which is unfortunately located above a club whose slogan is “All Nite Long”: it’s true. There are some good options in Georgetown, particularly at the three and four star levels, including the colonial option Cara Lodge and Herdmanston Lodge. The growing Chinese and Brazilian population in the city may lead to better options.

Inland, there are incredible jungle lodges and camps, including ranches and in the south, and community-supported eco-lodges in the centre of the country. Other development options include community supported lodges in Indian villages on the Linden-Lethm Highway.

The more adventurous can try to make do with a hammock and pay small amounts to hang it in a benab. This is not an option in Georgetown and requires advance notice, lots of bug spray and cunning.

In some small towns, there are simple guesthouses that may have fans, mosquito nets or other amenities.

Things To See in Guyana

  • Mashramani. A Native American word meaning “feast after hard work”. This event takes place every year on 23 February, when the country celebrates the anniversary of its republic. It is a carnival-like event with float parades and costumed groups. Colourful float parades and costumed groups march through the city. While you watch, sip a local rum with coconut water or have a Banks beer while swaying and shaking to the rhythm of soca and calypso. It starts around 10pm.
  • Kaieteur Falls. It is 5 times higher than Niagara Falls, about 250 m high. You can reach it by a short flight from the capital, which is offered by various tourist companies as a day trip. Most companies only offer the day trip on Sundays, so it is advisable to book in advance for USD 200-300.
  • Orinduik Falls. A smaller waterfall than Kaieteur, also included when you visit Kaieteur by plane.
  • Iwokrama Rainforest Reserve

Food & Drinks in Guyana

Food in Guyana

Guyanese cuisine, like the country as a whole, is a Creole fusion.

If there is a dominant cuisine, it is the dishes influenced by the Indian subcontinent that have been localised. The best known are curries, including chicken, pork, beef, pumpkin and aubergine. The larger roti shops and those by the sea offer prawns, crab and other seafood. Curries are traditionally served with roti, an Indian bread, or rice.

Guyana’s national dish is pepperpot, a slow-cooked stew made from pork (or other meat), red pepper (capsicum), cinnamon and casareep. Dark in colour and strong in flavour, it is usually reserved for special occasions such as Christmas, but you can find restaurants in Georgetown that serve this dish all year round. Pepperpot is eaten with white bread or roti.

Chinese restaurants are common, with noodle dishes such as chow mein and lo mein, as well as meat and rice dishes. The growing Brazilian population has led to the opening of several barbecue and churrascaria restaurants in the capital and near the border in Lethem.

Georgetown has a wider variety of dining options than anywhere else in the country. There are a few steakhouses, upscale colonial restaurants, European dishes and Indian food. Smaller towns may only have restaurants that serve a Creole menu of a few dishes, which almost always includes a curry or two and a noodle dish.

In the jungle lodges, food may be limited to canned goods and rice, as well as what can be caught or grown locally.

Drinks in Guyana

The most popular national drink is Caribbean-style dark rum. National favourites include XM “10” Year OLD, produced by local drinks giant Banks DIH Limited, as well as El Dorado and X-tra Mature, both of which offer 5, 10, 12 and 25 year old varieties.

El Dorado also has a 15 year old variety that has won the ‘best rum in the world’ award since 1999. Mix the cheaper ones with Coke or coconut water if you like. All are of sufficient quality to be consumed neat or on their own, with the 25 year old comparable to a top quality Scotch whisky.

Banks Beer, produced by local drinks giant Banks DIH Limited, is the national beer. It is available in both lager and milk stout. The drinks giant also bottles and distributes Heineken beer and Guinness Stout under licence.

Also available are the lighter Carib (Trinidad and Tobago) and the darker Mackeson’s. Guinness is brewed locally under licence and is slightly sweeter than its Irish counterpart, but just as good. Polar (Venezuelan) and Skol (Brazilian) are found throughout the country. Heineken and Corona can also be found in Georgetown’s more upscale bars.

Money & Shopping in Guyana

Guyana is home to many markets and, more recently, shopping centres. The Stabroek Market is a picturesque market in Georgetown. For tourists, it is best to go to the market in a group or with a local you feel comfortable with. Flights are possible, but infrequent.

On the esplanade opposite the Central Post Office, near the National Museum, in downtown Georgetown, you can buy a variety of local handicrafts, from paintings and sculptures to handbags, satchels and leather purses; hand-painted, dyed fabrics and batiks, pressed flowers, sun hats, semi-precious stones and costume jewellery handmade from local materials. Ask around and you’ll find shops and galleries selling crafts and gifts.

Guyana is also known for its exceptional gold jewellery.


The local currency is the Guyanese dollar (international currency code ISO 4217: GYD). You will see the symbols “$” and “G$” locally. The currency is freely convertible but it is almost impossible to get rid of it outside Guyana, neighbouring countries and a bureau de change at London Gatwick Airport. In September 2013, the exchange rate was approximately 1 USD = 204 GYD.

Banknotes are issued in GYD20, 100, 500 and 1,000 and there are GYD1, GYD5 and GYD10 coins. The GYD500, GYD1,000 and GYD5,000 notes have a holographic stripe depicting a coloured macaw.

Cost of living

The cost of living in Guyana is relatively high as most basic necessities are imported and transport costs are high. The monopoly in some industries also leads to higher profits and further price increases. For example (as of January 2010), the approximate price of petrol is USD 1.10 per litre, while the price of electricity is USD 0.33 per unit. A bottle of domestic gas costs over USD 20. The rent for an average family dwelling is USD 500 per month in the safest urban areas and the personal income tax, which is 33.33% of total taxable income, makes the cost of living even higher.

Festivals & Holidays in Guyana

1 January New Year’s Day
Spring Youman Nabi
23 February Republic Day / Mashramani
March Phagwah
March / April Good Friday
March / April Easter Sunday
5 May Day of arrival of the Indians
26 May Independence Day
First Monday in July CARICOM Day
1 August Emancipation Day
October / November Diwali
25 December Christmas
26 or 27 December Boxing Day

Culture Of Guyana

The culture of Guyana is very similar to that of the English-speaking Caribbean. It is historically linked to the English-speaking Caribbean as part of the British Empire when it became a possession in the 19th century. Guyana is a founding member of the Caricom (Caribbean Community) economic bloc and is also home to the bloc’s headquarters, the CARICOM Secretariat.

Guyana’s geographical location, sparsely populated rainforest regions and large Amerindian population set it apart from the English-speaking Caribbean countries. Its mix of Indo-Guyanese (East Indian) and Afro-Guyanese (African) cultures gives it similarities with Trinidad and sets it apart from other parts of the Americas. Guyana shares similar interests with the Caribbean islands, such as food, festive events, music, sports, etc.

Guyana plays international cricket as part of the West Indies Cricket Team, and the Guyana team plays first-class cricket against other Caribbean nations. In March and April 2007, Guyana co-hosted the Cricket World Cup 2007. In addition to its membership of CARICOM, Guyana is a member of CONCACAF, the international football governing body for North and Central America and the Caribbean.

Events include Mashramani (Mash), Phagwah (Holi) and Deepavali (Diwali).

The people of Guyana do not wear shoes in their homes and expect their visitors to do the same.

Stay Safe & Healthy in Guyana

Stay Safe in Guyana

Georgetown is notorious for its petty street crime. Do not walk alone at night or even during the day unless you know the area well. Areas such as Tiger Bay, east of Main Street, and the entire south-eastern part of the city, including Albouystown and Ruimveldt, are traditionally high-crime areas, but you can be relatively safe in groups and with local escorts. The police are unlikely to help you unless they see crime in action. Be careful when wearing jewellery. Use common sense in your approach.

Inland areas with stunning waterfalls, beautiful rainforests and mountains are safe. Many rural areas of the country are filled with a friendly atmosphere and are safe. Crime rarely targets tourists, so don’t feel intimidated. Just be sensible about who you see, where you go and how you behave.

Sodomy’ carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. A local NGO reported that there were some prosecutions, but neither the NGO nor the courts could provide figures. Police are reported to use the law more frequently to intimidate suspected same-sex male partners. There is no law dealing with sexual activity between women of the same sex. The Minister of Health stated in a speech to a regional HIV/AIDS conference that he “must be guided by the reality of public health”, that “sexual relations between consenting adults in private fall into the category of personal freedom” and that the law “conflicts with this expression of personal freedom”. Following the 2009 incident in which a judge fined several transgender persons G$7,500, a non-governmental organisation and four of the transgender persons filed a lawsuit in the Supreme Court challenging the law criminalising cross-dressing; the case was still pending at year’s end.

The SASOD organisation organises events to promote the fight against homophobia. There is no local gay ‘scene’, as most homosexuals keep to themselves. There are known private meetings to which one must be invited. Public displays of affection between homosexuals are frowned upon and can make a person the target of discrimination, attacks and open mockery.

Discussions on current issues of ethnic relations between the two major races, politics and socio-economic issues in the country should be conducted with great tact and patience. Be aware that this type of discourse can sometimes lead to very heated and intense debates, or even to something much worse. Guyanese are generally very open to discussion on most issues, but as a foreigner you may be seen as part of the problem, so keep your mouth shut.

Stay Healthy in Guyana

Do not drink tap water unless you plan to spend a large part of your holiday in the toilet. Bottled water is readily available in a variety of brands.

Before travelling to French Guiana, you should obtain anti-malarial medication from your doctor, as malaria is rife in most of the country.

Yellow fever is endemic in this region; monkeys are the reservoir, but you can also catch it in the cities. Make sure you get vaccinated before you leave and take mosquito repellent with you. Also watch out for malaria and dengue fever in the interior.

Although it is not mandatory, it is recommended that travellers get vaccinated against typhoid fever within 2-4 weeks of arrival in Guyana.

The largest hospital in the country is the Georgetown Public Hospital, located in the capital. The facilities here are basic, although it is a tertiary referral centre. Sharps disposal (needles, etc.) is improving, but needs to be improved in view of the increasing prevalence of AIDS/HIV in the country, which is currently 2.5% of adults, or 1 in 40Also practice safe sex.

It is best to use the private facilities at St. Joseph’s Mercy Hospital, near the US Embassy, or the Medical Arts Centre on Thomas Street. These facilities, while not first class, are far superior to the GPH, have basic hygiene standards and the rooms are not overcrowded. There are also other private hospitals

For the latest travel health information for Guyana, including tips and recommendations, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-Guyana website.



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Georgetown is Guyana’s capital and is situated in Area 4, often known as the Demerara-Mahaica region. It is the country’s most populous city. It...