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The country of Guyana is in north-eastern South America. It has an Atlantic Ocean coastline in the northeast, and lies between Suriname to the east and Venezuela to the west, with Brazil to the south. It is now the third-smallest country in South America after Suriname and Uruguay. The name Guyana (from Arawak Wayana) means "Land of many waters."
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Originally a Dutch colony in the 17th century, by 1815 Guyana had become a British possession. The abolition of slavery led to the purchase of some villages such as Victoria and Anns Grove to name a few, as well as black settlement of urban areas and the importation of indentured servants from India to work the sugar plantations. Chinese were also imported to work on plantations but were found to be unsuitable. The Colonial powers employed a system of "divide and rule" among the freed Africans and the other ethnic groups which were brought and encouraged to settle in the then colony. The policy was employed even during slavery when indigenous "Amerindians" were used to hunt runaway slaves. The result was an ethno-cultural divide, significant elements of which have persisted to this day and has led to turbulent politics, the dissolution of attempts at national cultural development and the non-existence of anything resembling a "National Identity".
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 re-elected in 2001 and again in 2006.
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.
Eco-Tourism is a booming industry in Guyana.
Guyanaese food, like the entire country, is a creole fusion.
If there's a controlling cuisine, it is dishes influenced by the Indian subcontinent that have been localized. The most prominent of these are the curries, especially chicken, pork, beef, pumpkin and eggplant. Larger roti shops and those by the sea will have shrimp, crab and other seafoods. Curries are traditionally served with roti, an Indian bread, or rice.
The national dish of Guyana is pepperpot, a slow cooked stew of pork (or other meats), red peppers (capsicum), cinnamon and casareep. It is dark in colour and strongly flavoured and usually reserved for special occasions such as Christmas, but you can find restaurants in Georgetown serving the dish all year round. Pepperpot is enjoyed with plain white bread or roti.
Chinese restaurants are common, with noodle dishes such as chow mein and lo mein along with meat and rice dishes. The growing Brazilian population have led to several outdoor BBQ restaurants and churrascarias opening in the capital and near the border in Lethem.
Georgetown has a greater variety of food options than elsewhere in the country, which include a couple of steakhouses, upmarket colonial dining, European fare and proper Indian food. In smaller towns, there may only be restaurants serving a creole menu of a few dishes, which almost always includes a curry or two and a noodle dish.
In jungle lodges, the food can be limited to tinned goods and rice, along with whatever can be caught or grown locally.
The most popular national drink is Caribbean-style dark rum. Some national favourites are XM "10" Year OLD, produced by local beverage giant Banks DIH Limited, and 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 Beer produced by local beverage giant Banks DIH Limited is the National beer. It comes in a lager and a stout (Milk Stout)The beverage giant also bottles and distributes Heineken Beer and Guinness Stout under license. Also available are the lighter Carib (Trinidad and Tobago) and darker Mackeson'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 numerous markets and recently, shopping malls, in Guyana. Stabroek Market is a quaint market located in Georgetown. Trips to the market for tourists are best done in groups or with a local with whom you feel comfortable. Muggings are possible but not frequent.
Lots of locally made and beautiful crafts ranging from paintings; to sculpture; to leather purses, satchels, wallets; hand-painted, tie-dyed and batik(ed) fabrics, pressed flowers, sun hats; semi-precious stones and hand-crafted costume jewellery using indigenous materials, can be purchased at an esplanade outside the Central Post-Office near the National Museum in downtown Georgetown. Ask around and you'll find out about the craft and gift shops as well as galleries.
Guyana is also noted for its exceptional gold jewellery.
The local currency is the Guyanese dollar and uses the $ symbol (ISO 4217 international currency code: GYD). You'll also see G$ locally. The currency is freely convertible (but nearly impossible to get rid of outside Guyana, the neighbouring countries and one exchange bureau in London Gatwick airport) and, as of September 2013, trades at approximately:
Banknotes are issued in SRD20, 100, 500 and 1,000 and there are SRD1, SRD5 and SRD10 coins. SRD500 and SRD1,000 banknotes have a holographic stripe with a colourful macaw.
Cost of Living
The cost of living in Guyana is relatively very high, because most of the items used in daily life are imported with high transportation costs involved. Monopoly in some business sectors also causes higher profit booking and further raising of prices. For example (as of January, 2010) the approximate prices of petrol (gasoline) is USD1.10 per litre, electricity price is USD0.33 per unit. A domestic gas bottle (gas cylinder) is over USD20. Rent for average family accommodation is USD500 per month in safer urban locations and personal income tax, which is 33.33% (one third) of total taxable income makes the cost of living higher still.
This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Guyana on Wikivoyage.
Cities in Guyana
Points of Interest in Guyana
- Mashramani. An Amerindian word meaning "celebration after hard work". On February 23rd is the country's republic anniversary celebration. A carnival-like event with float parades and costumed bands. Colourful float parades and costume Bands wind their way through the city. While you look on, have a swig of local rum with coconut water or have some Banks beer, all the while swaying and wining to the beat of the soca and calypso. Starts from about 10:00.
- Kaieteur Falls. It is 5x the height of Niagara Falls, ~250m tall. It can be accessed by a short plane flight from the capital offered by various tour companies as a day trip. Most companies only run the day trip on Sundays though, so book ahead. USD200-300.
- Orinduik Falls. A smaller waterfall than Kaieteur that is also included when visiting Kaieteur by plane.
- Iwokrama Rainforest Reserve
Georgetown City Hall - Georgetown
Kaieteur Falls - Kaieteur National Park
Stabroek Market - Georgetown
National Library - Georgetown
Umana Yana - Georgetown
Parliament Building - Georgetown
University of Guyana - Georgetown
St. Georges Anglican Cathedral - Georgetown
Brickdam Cathedral - Georgetown
Georgetown Botanical Garden - Georgetown
Georgetown Lighthouse - Georgetown
Providence Stadium - Georgetown