It is now the third-smallest country in South America after Suriname and Uruguay. The name Guyana (from Arawak Guayana) means "Land of many waters." It is related to the name Uruguay: River of the colorful birds, another country in South America.
Ports and harbors
Tropical; hot, humid, moderated by northeast trade winds; two rainy seasons (May to mid-August, mid-November to mid-January); Natural hazards : Flash floods are a constant threat during rainy seasons.
Mostly rolling highlands; low coastal plain; savanna in south
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 ethnocultural divide has persisted and has led to turbulent politics.
Guyana achieved independence from the UK in 1966, but until the early 1990s it was 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. Upon his death five years later, he was succeeded by his wife Janet, who resigned in 1999 due to poor health. Her successor, Bharrat JAGDEO, was reelected in 2001 and again in 2006.
There are daily international flights into and out of Cheddi Jagan International Airport about 40km south of Georgetown. International flights include flights to the US, Canada, UK and The Caribbean with Caribbean Airlines(formerly BWIA). Caribbean Airlines is a state ran airline ran by Trinidad & Tobago. Flights to the Caribbean with Caribbean Star and LIAT. North American Airlines and Xtra Airways, which are non- stop flights, on the New York and Guyana route. Primaris Airlines, non- stop flights, flys to Guyana from JFK- New York and FLL.-Florida
Guyana's rail system was sold by the late President Forbes Burnam. Remnants of the railway can be noted throughout Georgetown. The president sold the system to some of the vast African nations.
Guyana has road access to Suriname to the East and Brazil to the south. In Suriname enquire in Paramaribo for mini-buses traveling to Guyana. Note that entering Guyana by water travel from Nieuw Nickerie in Suriname is illegal. Buses leave Georgetown for the Surinamese border daily. Ask at the bus park near Stabroek Market.
The bus ride from Georgetown to Lethem, at the Brazilian border takes about 10 hours through rainforest and southern savannah. Inquire about buses to Brazil at the Interserv Bus Office located on Charlotte Street in downtown Georgetown. Buses usually leave very late at night and it is recommended that you take a taxi to the bus station as the area around there is unsafe at night. For buses from Brazil travel to Bonfim on the border and walk across the border. Find a minibus or taxi to take you to Lethem city center and inquire about buses traveling to Georgetown.
There are no road links between Venezuela and Guyana. Travel to Venezuela may be done by air via Trinidad or overland through Roraima State in Brazil.
Minibuses travel throughout Guyana and are the cheapest way to travel. Minibus fares range from $.20 - $5.00 depending on length. Do not take minibuses at night.
Many parts of Guyana are separated by large rivers. These areas can be traversed by way of river taxi. Go to the port village and ask where the speedboats launch from. Ask other passengers what the fare is while traveling as boat operators tend to seek higher fees from tourists. Do not take "specials" without first negotiating the price.
Taxis are a good way to get around in Georgetown. Fares should never be more than $2.50 (Guyanese $500) for travel within the city and most fares should be around GD$300.
There are set prices for taxis for different destinations, eg. from the airport to town costs GD$4000, from the airport to Moleson Creek is GD$24,000.
To find local businesses, places to eat, places to party, hotels or resorts you can visit Guyana YellowPages.gy Its a new site and we're now in the process of adding information to it, so please don't be discouraged by the limited amount of info you'll find on it.
With an exchange rate of 203 Guyana Dollars per US Dollar, Guyana's has great shopping with amazing bargains. There are numerous markets and recently, shopping malls, in Guyana. Stabroek Market is a notorious market located in Georgetown. It is one of the largest in Georgetown. Guyana Stores is the main mall in Georgetown and many tourist stores are located here. Every item a person could want can be purchased in the many stores in Guyana.
Guyana is also noted for its exceptional gold jewellery. There are several well known places where you can get quality handcrafted pieces, one of them being "Fine Jewellery by Niko's", located on Church Street.
There are many fast foods and restaurants around Georgetown that one can go to eat. Some are:
KFC - Stabroek, Vlissengen Road The Original Dairy Bar - Croal St Demico - Stabroek, Campbellville, Main St, Kitty, camp St Popeye's - Vlissengen Road Pizza Hut - Vlissengen Road City Mall - Regent St Spicy Dish - Kitty New Thriving Chinese Restaurant - Kitty, Brickdam The Diner - Regent St Dutch Bottle Cafe - North Road
The most popular national drink is Caribbean-style dark rum. The two national favorites are El Dorado and X-tra Mature which both offer 5, 10, 12 and 25 year varieties. El Dorado also offers a 15 year old variety which has won the "Best Rum in the World" award since 1999. Mix the cheaper ones with Coke or coconut water if you please. All are quality enough to drink neat or by themselves with the 25 year-olds comparing with high-quality scotch.
Banks is the national beer. It comes in a lager and a stout (Milk Stout). Also available are the lighter Carib (Trinidad and Tobago) and darker Mackisson's. Guinness is brewed locally under license and is a bit sweeter than its Irish counterpart, but just as good. Polar (Venezuelan) and Skol (Brazilian) can be found randomly throughout the country. You can also find Heineken and Corona at posher bars in Georgetown.
There are several hotels in Guyana, all are equipped with great ammenities. There are some which are suitable for budget travel
Education is free in Guyana. The public school system is under a lot of criticism. There are some private schools. There is one University, with two campuses(Tain and Turkeyen), the University of Guyana. Some of the teachers in Guyana are from overseas, and manage to use their time here to travel around while the job gives an opportunity to meet people.
Guyana has a fair number of expatriates. Persons who are not Guyanese have to get a work permit after employment is confirmed. Caribbean citizens might have some exemptions under the CSME scheme. There are a number of volunteer organisations like Peace Corps, VSO and CESO working in Guyana. Some people have come on short stints to volunteer with churches, and other non-governmental organisations. The host organisations will apply for the necessary travel permits.
Georgetown is notorious for petty street crime. Do not walk at night. Do not walk alone, even in the day, unless you know the area well. Never go to the Tiger Bay area east of Main Street and the entire southeastern part of the city including, in particular, Albouystown and Ruimveldt areas as armed robbery is almost certain. Avoid the covered area of Stabroek Market. Police are unlikely to help you unless they see the crime in action. Do not wear flashy jewelry or expensive clothing.
It is advised to exercise common sense, it's also advised to stay out of Buxton, due to crime in Buxton, many people are thinking of Guyana as a horrible and crime filled place, however, it is not. The interior regions with the breath taking waterfalls and the beautiful rainforests and mountains are perfectly safe. Many rural areas along the east coast are filled with a friendly atmosphere and are perfectly safe. Unless you are part of the PPP then you're in slight danger. Crime is rarely directed at tourists, so don't feel intimidated.
Homosexuality is illegal in Guyana and carries a sentence of life in prison. However, no one has been charged under the laws. One organisation SASOD organises some events to promote anti-homophobic work.
The police response varies depending on the location and time of the crime. Some tourists have reported positive responses.
Also, it is best to avoid at all costs mentioning the current affairs of Black-East Indian relations in the country, as this is a topic that can lead to very heated and intense debate and possibly something much worse.
The country's largest hospital is the Georgetown Public Hospital and is located in the capital. Facilities here are basic, even though it is a tertiary referral centre. There is very poor disposal of 'sharps' (needles, etc.) which is worrying, given country's growing HIV prevalence.
You are better off using the private facilities at St. Joseph's Mercy Hospital near the US Embassy. While not first rate, this facility is far superior to GPH and practices basic hygienic standards. Rooms are not overcrowded. There are also other private hospitals
Yellow fever is endemic to this area; monkeys are a reservoir, but you can catch it even in cities. Be sure to get immunized before you leave, and take mosquito repellent with you. Also be careful of malaria and dengue fever in the interior.
Do not drink the tap water, unless you want to spend a great part of you vacation in the toilet! Bottled water is readily available in a variety of brands.
Be vigilant to avoid criminals.
Avoid walking around with large sums of cash.
Avoid the sun between 1pm and 3pm. It tends to be at its hottest during those hours. Wear sunscreen.