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Guyana Historical and Political Profile

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Guyana Index

  • Guyana-Health
  • Guyana-Foreign Debt
  • Guyana-Guyana
  • Guyana-Civil Service
  • Guyana-Relations with the United States
  • Guyana-Relations with Suriname
  • Guyana-Christianity
  • Guyana-Parallel Economy
  • Guyana-Population Distribution and Settlement Patterns
  • Guyana-Demographic Profile POPULATION
  • Guyana-Regional Integration
  • Guyana-Relations with Brazil
  • Guyana-Guyana-Suriname Dispute
  • Guyana-Political and Social Changes in the 1900s
  • Guyana-The Cooperative Republic
  • Guyana-Livestock
  • Guyana-MINING
  • Guyana-Mission and Organization THE SECURITY FORCES
  • Guyana-Absorbing the Parallel Market
  • Guyana-Constitution of 1980
  • Guyana-Terrain GEOGRAPHY
  • Guyana-Preindependence
  • Guyana-Balance of Payments
  • Guyana-Communications
  • Guyana-Foreign Investment
  • Guyana-Emigration
  • Guyana-The Second PPP Government, 1957-61, and Racial Politics
  • Guyana-Obeah and Amerindian Practices
  • Guyana-Gold and Diamonds
  • Guyana-Climate
  • Guyana-ECONOMY
  • Guyana-Human Rights Violations
  • Guyana-EDUCATION
  • Guyana-Legislature
  • Guyana-People's Progressive Party
  • Guyana-Chapter 1 - Guyana: Historical Setting
  • Guyana-Manufacturing
  • Guyana-Forestry
  • Guyana-Relations with Communist Countries
  • Guyana-From Burnham to Hoyte
  • Guyana-Energy Supply INDUSTRY
  • Guyana-Rice
  • Guyana-Chapter 4 - Guyana: Government and Politics
  • Guyana-Cults
  • Guyana-Indo-Guyanese
  • Guyana-Imports
  • Guyana-Fisheries
  • Guyana-Institutions of Higher Education
  • Guyana-Ideologies of Race and Class
  • Guyana-Paramilitary Forces and Special Units
  • Guyana-Foreign Aid
  • Guyana-Police
  • Guyana-Transportation
  • Guyana-Electoral Process
  • Guyana-Health and Welfare Services
  • Guyana -Guyana: COUNTRY PROFILE
  • Guyana-Nineteenth-Century British Guiana POLITICAL AND SOCIAL AWAKENINGS
  • Guyana-Primary Schools
  • Guyana-Eliminating Payments Imbalances
  • Guyana-Food and Diet HEALTH AND WELFARE
  • Guyana-Islam
  • Guyana-Judiciary
  • Guyana-Mission, Organization, and Capabilities
  • Guyana-Urban Population
  • Guyana-Secondary Schools
  • Guyana-The Economic Recovery Program
  • Guyana-Infrastructure
  • Guyana-SOCIETY
  • Guyana-Education Policy and the Teaching Profession
  • Guyana-Ethnic Composition
  • Guyana-Local Government
  • Guyana-LABOR
  • Guyana-The PPP'S First Government, 1953 PREINDEPENDENCE GOVERNMENT, 1953-66
  • Guyana-Introduction
  • Guyana-Preindependence Constitutions CONSTITUTIONAL BACKGROUND
  • Guyana-Exports
  • Guyana-Other National Institutions
  • Guyana-Relations with Venezuela
  • Guyana-Other Political Groups
  • Guyana-Interest Groups
  • Guyana
  • Guyana-Religious Organizations
  • Guyana-Banking SERVICES
  • Guyana-Attitudes toward Education
  • Guyana-The Interim Government, 1953-57
  • Guyana-Religion and Politics
  • Guyana-Involvement in Political Affairs
  • Guyana-Independence Constitution
  • Guyana-Amerindians
  • Guyana-Afro-Guyanese
  • Guyana-Chapter 3 - Guyana: The Economy
  • Guyana-Portuguese and Chinese
  • Guyana-Preface
  • Guyana-GEOGRAPHY
  • Guyana-Chapter 5 - Guyana: National Security
  • Guyana
  • Guyana
  • Guyana-Chapter 2 - Guyana: The Society and Its Environment
  • Guyana-Foreword
  • Guyana-PPP Reelection and Debacle
  • Guyana
  • Guyana-Guyana-Venezuela Dispute BORDER DISPUTES
  • Guyana-Other Groups
  • Guyana-The Development of Political Parties
  • Guyana-Postindependence
  • Guyana-Development of Ethnic Identity
  • Guyana-RELIGION
  • Guyana-Afro-Guyanese Patterns FAMILY AND KINSHIP STRUCTURE
  • Guyana-Results of the Economic Recovery Program
  • Guyana-Normalizing International Financial Relations
  • Guyana-Political Parties
  • Guyana-Media
  • Guyana-Structure
  • Guyana-Hinduism
  • Guyana-Hydrology
  • Guyana-Relations with the Commonwealth Caribbean Relations with Britain
  • Guyana-Acknowledgments
  • BackgroundOriginally 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.
    LocationNorthern South America, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Suriname and Venezuela
    Area(sq km)total: 214,969 sq km
    land: 196,849 sq km
    water: 18,120 sq km
    Geographic coordinates5 00 N, 59 00 W
    Land boundaries(km)total: 2,949 km
    border countries: Brazil 1,606 km, Suriname 600 km, Venezuela 743 km

    Coastline(km)459 km

    Climatetropical; hot, humid, moderated by northeast trade winds; two rainy seasons (May to August, November to January)

    Elevation extremes(m)lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
    highest point: Mount Roraima 2,835 m
    Natural resourcesbauxite, gold, diamonds, hardwood timber, shrimp, fish
    Land use(%)arable land: 2.23%
    permanent crops: 0.14%
    other: 97.63% (2005)

    Irrigated land(sq km)1,500 sq km (2003)
    Total renewable water resources(cu km)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 hazardsflash floods are a constant threat during rainy seasons
    Environment - current issueswater pollution from sewage and agricultural and industrial chemicals; deforestation
    Environment - international agreementsparty 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 - notethe 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
    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 (July 2009 est.)
    Age structure(%)0-14 years: 25.7% (male 101,319/female 97,505)
    15-64 years: 68.7% (male 268,058/female 262,595)
    65 years and over: 5.5% (male 17,938/female 24,883) (2009 est.)
    Median age(years)total: 28.7 years
    male: 28.2 years
    female: 29.2 years (2009 est.)
    Population growth rate(%)0.181% (2009 est.)
    Birth rate(births/1,000 population)17.56 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)
    Death rate(deaths/1,000 population)8.31 deaths/1,000 population (July 2009 est.)

    Net migration rate(migrant(s)/1,000 population)-7.44 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2009 est.)
    Urbanization(%)urban population: 28% of total population (2008)
    rate of urbanization: 0% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
    Sex ratio(male(s)/female)at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
    under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
    15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
    65 years and over: 0.72 male(s)/female
    total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2009 est.)
    Infant mortality rate(deaths/1,000 live births)total: 29.65 deaths/1,000 live births
    male: 33.02 deaths/1,000 live births
    female: 26.11 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)

    Life expectancy at birth(years)total population: 66.68 years
    male: 64.09 years
    female: 69.4 years (2009 est.)

    Total fertility rate(children born/woman)2.03 children born/woman (2009 est.)
    Nationalitynoun: 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)

    Religions(%)Hindu 28.4%, Pentecostal 16.9%, Roman Catholic 8.1%, Anglican 6.9%, Seventh Day Adventist 5%, Methodist 1.7%, Jehovah Witness 1.1%, other Christian 17.7%, Muslim 7.2%, other 4.3%, none 4.3% (2002 census)
    Languages(%)English, Amerindian dialects, Creole, Caribbean Hindustani (a dialect of Hindi), Urdu

    Country nameconventional long form: Cooperative Republic of Guyana
    conventional short form: Guyana
    former: British Guiana
    Government typerepublic
    Capitalname: Georgetown
    geographic coordinates: 6 48 N, 58 10 W
    time difference: UTC-4 (1 hour ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
    Administrative divisions10 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

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

    Suffrage18 years of age; universal
    Executive branchchief of state: President Bharrat JAGDEO (since 11 August 1999); note - assumed presidency after resignation of President Janet JAGAN and was reelected in 2001, and again in 2006
    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 28 August 2006 (next to be held by August 2011); prime minister appointed by the president
    election results: President Bharrat JAGDEO reelected; percent of vote 54.6%

    Legislative branchunicameral 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; to serve five-year terms)
    elections: last held 28 August 2006 (next to be held by August 2011)
    election results: percent of vote by party - PPP/C 54.6%, PNC/R 34%, AFC 8.1%, other 3.3%; seats by party - PPP/C 36, PNC/R 22, AFC 5, other 2

    Judicial branchSupreme 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 pressure groups and leadersAmerindian 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 participationACP, C, Caricom, CDB, FAO, G-77, IADB, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), ISO (subscriber), ITU, ITUC, LAES, MIGA, NAM, OAS, OIC, OPANAL, OPCW, PCA, PetroCaribe, RG, UN, UNASUR, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCL, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
    Flag descriptiongreen, 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

    Economy - overviewThe 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. Economic recovery since the 2005 flood-related contraction has been buoyed by increases in remittances and foreign direct investment in the sugar and rice industries as well as the mining sector. The bauxite mining sector should benefit in the near term from restructuring and partial privatization, and the state-owned sugar industry will conduct efficiency increasing modernizations. Export earnings from agriculture and mining have remained flat as rising commodity prices have offset declining production, while the import bill has risen, driven by higher energy costs. Chronic problems include a shortage of skilled labor and a deficient infrastructure. The government is 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 nearly 48% 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. 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)$2.973 billion (2008 est.)
    $2.887 billion (2007 est.)
    $2.739 billion (2006 est.)
    note: data are in 2008 US dollars
    GDP (official exchange rate)$1.154 billion (2008 est.)
    GDP - real growth rate(%)3% (2008 est.)
    5.4% (2007 est.)
    5.1% (2006 est.)
    GDP - per capita (PPP)$3,900 (2008 est.)
    $3,800 (2007 est.)
    $3,600 (2006 est.)
    note: data are in 2008 US dollars
    GDP - composition by sector(%)agriculture: 24.9%
    industry: 24.9%
    services: 50.2% (2008 est.)
    Labor force333,900 (2007 est.)

    Labor force - by occupation(%)agriculture: NA%
    industry: NA%
    services: NA%
    Unemployment rate(%)11% (2007)
    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 index43.2 (1999)
    Investment (gross fixed)(% of GDP)35.3% of GDP (2008 est.)
    Budgetrevenues: $488.7 million
    expenditures: $552.6 million (2008 est.)
    Inflation rate (consumer prices)(%)8.3% (2008 est.)
    12.3% (2007 est.)

    Stock of money$344.2 million (31 December 2008)
    $315.2 million (31 December 2007)
    Stock of quasi money$817.6 million (31 December 2008)
    $728.8 million (31 December 2007)
    Stock of domestic credit$829.4 million (31 December 2008)
    $739.3 million (31 December 2007)
    Market value of publicly traded shares$NA (31 December 2008)
    $262.4 million (31 December 2007)
    $187.4 million (31 December 2006)
    Economic aid - recipient$136.8 million (2005)

    Agriculture - productssugarcane, rice, shrimp, fish, edible oils; beef, pork, poultry
    Industriesbauxite, sugar, rice milling, timber, textiles, gold mining

    Industrial production growth rate(%)2.4% (2008 est.)

    Current account balance-$362 million (2008 est.)
    -$165.7 million (2007 est.)
    Exports$797 million (2008 est.)
    $674.9 million (2007 est.)

    Exports - commodities(%)sugar, gold, bauxite, alumina, rice, shrimp, molasses, rum, timber
    Exports - partners(%)Canada 20.8%, US 15.2%, UK 12.3%, Netherlands 7.2%, Portugal 4.7%, Trinidad and Tobago 4.7%, Jamaica 4.5%, Ukraine 4.3% (2008)
    Imports$1.294 billion (2008 est.)
    $982.9 million (2007 est.)

    Imports - commodities(%)manufactures, machinery, petroleum, food
    Imports - partners(%)US 23.4%, Trinidad and Tobago 22.3%, Finland 7.7%, Cuba 6.1%, China 5.7% (2008)

    Reserves of foreign exchange and gold$355.9 million (31 December 2008 est.)
    $313 million (31 December 2007 est.)
    Debt - external$804.3 million (30 September 2008)
    $1.2 billion (2002)

    Exchange ratesGuyanese dollars (GYD) per US dollar - 203.86 (2008 est.), 201.89 (2007), 200.28 (2006), 200.79 (2005), 198.31 (2004)

    Currency (code)Guyanese dollar (GYD)

    Telephones - main lines in use125,000 (2008)
    Telephones - mobile cellular281,400 (2005)
    Telephone systemgeneral assessment: fair system for long-distance service
    domestic: microwave radio relay network for trunk lines; fixed-line teledensity is about 15 per 100 persons; many areas still lack fixed-line telephone services; mobile-cellular teledensity reached 37 per 100 persons in 2005
    international: country code - 592; tropospheric scatter to Trinidad; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)
    Internet country code.gy
    Internet users205,000 (2008)
    Airports99 (2009)
    Roadways(km)total: 7,970 km
    paved: 590 km
    unpaved: 7,380 km (2000)

    Ports and terminalsGeorgetown
    Military branchesGuyana Defense Force: Army (includes Coast Guard, Air Corps) (2008)
    Military service age and obligation(years of age)18-25 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription (2008)
    Manpower available for military servicemales age 16-49: 220,797 (2008 est.)
    Manpower fit for military servicemales age 16-49: 150,307
    females age 16-49: 144,622 (2009 est.)
    Manpower reaching militarily significant age annuallymale: 6,625
    female: 6,365 (2009 est.)
    Military expenditures(% of GDP)1.8% of GDP (2006)
    Disputes - internationalall of the area west of the Essequibo River is claimed by Venezuela preventing any discussion of a maritime boundary; Guyana has expressed its intention to join Barbados in asserting claims before UNCLOS that Trinidad and Tobago's maritime boundary with Venezuela extends into their waters; Suriname claims a triangle of land between the New and Kutari/Koetari rivers in a historic dispute over the headwaters of the Courantyne; Guyana seeks arbitration under provisions of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to resolve the long-standing dispute with Suriname over the axis of the territorial sea boundary in potentially oil-rich waters

    Trafficking in personscurrent situation: Guyana is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor; most trafficking appears to take place in remote mining camps in the country's interior; some women and girls are trafficked from northern Brazil; reporting from other nations suggests Guyanese women and girls are trafficked for sexual exploitation to neighboring countries and Guyanese men and boys are subject to labor exploitation in construction and agriculture; trafficking victims from Suriname, Brazil, and Venezuela transit Guyana en route to Caribbean destinations
    tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List - for a second consecutive year, Guyana is on the Tier 2 Watch List for failing to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat trafficking, particularly in the area of law enforcement actions against trafficking offenders; the government has yet to produce an anti-trafficking conviction under the comprehensive Combating of Trafficking in Persons Act, which became law in 2005; the government operates no shelters for trafficking victims, but did include limited funding for anti-trafficking NGOs in its 2008 budget; the government did not make any effort to reduce demand for commercial sex acts during 2007 (2008)
    Electricity - production(kWh)821 million kWh (2007 est.)
    Electricity - production by source(%)fossil fuel: 99.4%
    hydro: 0.6%
    nuclear: 0%
    other: 0% (2001)
    Electricity - consumption(kWh)667 million kWh (2007 est.)
    Electricity - exports(kWh)0 kWh (2008 est.)
    Electricity - imports(kWh)0 kWh (2008 est.)
    Oil - production(bbl/day)0 bbl/day (2008 est.)
    Oil - consumption(bbl/day)11,000 bbl/day (2008 est.)
    Oil - exports(bbl/day)0 bbl/day (2007 est.)
    Oil - imports(bbl/day)10,550 bbl/day (2007 est.)
    Oil - proved reserves(bbl)0 bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
    Natural gas - production(cu m)0 cu m (2008 est.)
    Natural gas - consumption(cu m)0 cu m (2008 est.)
    Natural gas - exports(cu m)0 cu m (2008)
    Natural gas - proved reserves(cu m)0 cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
    HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate(%)2.5% (2007 est.)
    HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS13,000 (2007 est.)
    HIV/AIDS - deathsfewer than 1,000 (2007 est.)
    Major infectious diseasesdegree 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)
    Literacy(%)definition: age 15 and over has ever attended school
    total population: 98.8%
    male: 99.1%
    female: 98.5% (2003 est.)

    School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)(years)total: 13 years
    male: 13 years
    female: 14 years (2005)
    Education expenditures(% of GDP)8.3% of GDP (2006)

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