Guyana is on the north-east coast of South America bordered by Venezuela to the west, Brazil to the south, Suriname to the east, and the Atlantic Ocean to the north. Though geographically part of South America, Guyana has a very Caribbean attitude and is closely tied to this region through communication, economic and sport links and is the headquarters of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
Guyana is the only English-speaking nation in South America.
The region was believed to have been settled around 900 AD by Warrau Indians. Sir Walter Raleigh’s voyage in search of the gold of El Dorado and subsequent book in 1595 on the riches of Guyana did much to stimulate interest in the region by Europeans. Over the next few centuries Britain, France and Holland controlled Guyana at different times. The last colonial power was Britain. Guyana attained independence on 26 May 1966 and became a Republic on 23 Feb 1970.
Guyana is a little smaller than Britain, with some 80 per cent of land covered in virginal tropical rainforest. According to Conservation International, this region of the Amazon is home to the largest outstanding and undisturbed rainforest in the world. There are only four such areas remaining on the planet, the others being Papua New Guinea, the Congo and the Central Amazon basin. The other main natural vegetation is savannah grassland, split into two distinct areas; one in the south west of the country, the second in the north east. The main population areas are along the coast, with some 90 per cent of the 750,000 population living there. This harks back to colonial days when the coastal port facilities were widely used for the transportation of goods. The difficulty of movement within the country also had a major impact on this statistic. Guyana is known as the land of many waters, it is criss-crossed with waterways and hundreds of waterfalls. The mouth of the Essequibo river is as wide as the English Channel and Kaieteur Falls is the longest single drop waterfall in the world at 741 feet.
The main population mass is located in the capital city of Georgetown, situated on the Demerara River, where the renowned sugar is made. This is the centre of commerce, government and administration within the country. A few, but important, inland towns and a plethora of Amerindian villages are scattered in the hinterland.
Survival Experience in Guyana
The jungle is amazing. There is some logging and mineral mining as in most other rainforest areas, but getting deep into the interior has always been difficult, making any commercial activities unaffordable. This means a vast area, almost untouched by modern man has been left to develop naturally. There is an abundance of wildlife and you probably have as good, if not a better chance of seeing this here than in almost any other rainforest region of the world. No one can guarantee you will see a specific animal, but below are some which inhabit the area you will be in:
- Jaguar – Biggest cat in the Americas
- Harpy Eagle – Largest eagle in the world
- Arapaima – Largest fresh water fish in the world
- Giant Anteaters
- Giant Armadillos
- Giant Otters
- Capybara – Largest rodent in the world
- Macaws – Scarlet, Red and Green, Blue and Yellow
- Anaconda – The largest snake in the world
- Bushmaster – World’s largest viper
- Black Caiman
- Black Spider Monkeys
- Capuchin Monkeys
- Red Howler Monkeys
- Giant River Turtle
- Electric Eels
The nearby Iwokrama forest has an estimated 200 species of mammals, 500 of birds, 420 of fish and 150 species of amphibians. Close to 30% of the mammals are listed under the International Convention on the Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). This sounds great, but if they aren’t protected properly, which means maintaining their environment, then they will not survive. Local people are the best chance for the protection of the environment from those outside who wish to rob the forest for profit; they just need a little help.