Earth : South America : Amazonia : French Guiana
French Guiana, , (French: Guyane or Guyane française) is a French department in the Amazonia region of South America, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Brazil and Suriname. It is governed as an overseas province of France with same rights and privileges granted to all other French departments and benefits financially from the arrangement.
First settled by the French in 1604, French Guiana was the site of notorious penal settlements (collectively known as Devil's Island) until 1951. The European Space Agency launches its communication satellites from Kourou. It is the only portion of mainland South America still governed by an overseas nation.
Tropical; hot, humid; little seasonal temperature variation.
Low-lying coastal plains rising to hills and small mountains, mostly an unsettled wilderness. It also consists of hill plateaus and the Tumuc-humac mountains.
Concerning immigration, French Guiana has different laws. French Guiana is not part of the Schengen territory. For some neighboring countries (Brazil, Suriname, Dominican Republic etc.) it is easier to go to Paris than it is to reach Cayenne.
Cayenne-Rochambeau Airport (CAY)
From Brazil you must take a private barge across the Oiapoque River. Its owner can be contacted in St Georges or in Oiapoque. From Suriname, there is a ferry to cross the Maroni River.
From Brazil and Suriname, when you reach the border, you cross the river with a motorboat or a dugout canoe.
From Brazil and Suriname, to cross the rivers Oyapoque and Le Maroni, which takes 15 minutes, it's not very expensive, but you have to haggle.
3,400 km of French Guiana's waterways are navigable by native craft; 460 km navigable by small oceangoing vessels and coastal and river steamers.
There is limited public transportation throughout the country. Minibuses go between major towns but there may only be a few per day. Fares are fixed per route; if only going partial distance to Cayenne you may have to pay the full fare. Eg. St. Laurent du Maroni to Kourou you may have to pay the full fare to Cayenne. Fare for St. Laurent to Cayenne is €35.
French is the official language of France, although Creole is widely spoken. The majority of the population speaks French while few understand English. However, some officials, police, and gendarmes may speak English. Because of the presence of many Brazilians and Dominicans, lots of people understand basic Portuguese and basic Spanish. On the Maroni river, Taki-taki is often used
The official currency is the euro just like in mainland France.
Tafia is a local hard liquor that is widely drunk and used as medical purpose. One can drink it with lime juice or with salt and it's used in a drink called Planter, excellent.
For European people coming from an EU country, working in French Guiana is allowed without problem. If you're from outside the EU, you will probably need a work permit - check with the French Embassy in your country. Do not forget though that the unemployment rate is high. But if you work in the health sector (doctor, nurse), it will be much easier.
Voluntary service: Volontariat Civil à l'Aide Technique (VCAT), . Conditions: you must be French or from another EU-member state or a country belonging to the European Economic Area. You must be over 18 and under 28 years old (inclusive). You must not have had your civic rights revoked by a court or have been convicted of certain offences.
It is advisable to pay extreme attention not to lose your passport: there are very few consulates in French Guiana as such services are provided by consulates in Paris, so you will be required to go to Paris in case you need your passport to be reissued if you are not an EU citizen.
Vaccination against yellow fever is necessary.