Guyana

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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 settlement of urban areas by former slaves and the importation of indentured servants from India to work the sugar plantations. The resulting 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. Early elections held in May 2015 resulted in the replacement of President Donald RAMOTAR by David GRANGER.

Geography

Location

Northern South America, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Suriname and Venezuela

Geographic coordinates

5.00° N, 59.00° W

Area 85/257

total: 214,969 sq km

land: 196,849 sq km

water: 18,120 sq km

Area - comparative

slightly smaller than Idaho

Land boundaries

total: 2,933 km

border countries (3): Brazil 1,308 km, Suriname 836 km, Venezuela 789 km

Coastline

459 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm

exclusive economic zone: 200 nm

continental shelf: 200 nm or to the outer edge of the continental margin

Climate

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

Terrain

mostly rolling highlands; low coastal plain; savanna in south

Elevation

mean elevation:

elevation extremes:

lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m

highest point: Mount Roraima 2,835 m

Natural resources

bauxite, gold, diamonds, hardwood timber, shrimp, fish

Land use

agricultural land: 8.4%

arable land 2.1%; permanent crops 0.1%; permanent pasture 6.2%

forest: 77.4%

other: 14.2% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land

1,430 sq km (2012)

Total renewable water resources

241 cu km (2011)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)

total: 1.64 cu km/yr (4%/1%/94%)

per capita: 2,222 cu m/yr (2010)

Natural hazards

flash flood threat during rainy seasons

Environment - current issues

water pollution from sewage and agricultural and industrial chemicals; deforestation

Environment - international agreements

party 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 - note

the 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

People and Society

Nationality

noun: 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% (includes Portuguese, Chinese, white) (2002 est.)

Languages

English (official), Guyanese Creole, Amerindian languages (including Caribbean and Arawak languages), Indian languages (including Caribbean Hindustani, a dialect of Hindi), Chinese (2014 est.)

Religions

Protestant 30.5% (Pentecostal 16.9%, Anglican 6.9%, Seventh Day Adventist 5%, Methodist 1.7%), Hindu 28.4%, Roman Catholic 8.1%, Muslim 7.2%, Jehovah's Witness 1.1%, other Christian 17.7%, other 1.9%, none 4.3%, unspecified 0.9% (2002 est.)

Population 167/238

735,222

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 2015 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 28.07% (male 105,078/female 101,296)

15-24 years: 21.26% (male 80,303/female 76,022)

25-54 years: 37.42% (male 143,490/female 131,644)

55-64 years: 7.72% (male 25,426/female 31,304)

65 years and over: 5.53% (male 16,877/female 23,782) (2015 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 51.1%

youth dependency ratio: 43.5%

elderly dependency ratio: 7.6%

potential support ratio: 13.2% (2015 est.)

Median age

total: 25.4 years

male: 25 years

female: 25.8 years (2015 est.)

Population growth rate 192/233

0.02% (2015 est.)

Birth rate 126/224

15.59 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Death rate 119/225

7.32 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Net migration rate 207/222

-8.06 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Urbanization

urban population: 28.6% of total population (2015)

rate of urbanization: 0.76% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

GEORGETOWN (capital) 124,000 (2014)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.04 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 1.06 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 1.09 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 0.81 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.71 male(s)/female

total population: 1.02 male(s)/female (2015 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth

20.8

note: median age at first birth among women 25-29 (2009 est.)

Maternal mortality rate 43/184

229 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)

Infant mortality rate 65/224

total: 32.56 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 36.52 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 28.4 deaths/1,000 live births (2015 est.)

Life expectancy at birth 164/224

total population: 68.09 years

male: 65.1 years

female: 71.24 years (2015 est.)

Total fertility rate 111/224

2.08 children born/woman (2015 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

42.5% (2009)

Health expenditures 93/191

6.5% of GDP (2013)

Physicians density

0.21 physicians/1,000 population (2010)

Hospital bed density

2 beds/1,000 population (2009)

Drinking water source

improved:

urban: 98.2% of population

rural: 98.3% of population

total: 98.3% of population

unimproved:

urban: 1.8% of population

rural: 1.7% of population

total: 1.7% of population (2015 est.)

Sanitation facility access

improved:

urban: 87.9% of population

rural: 82% of population

total: 83.7% of population

unimproved:

urban: 12.1% of population

rural: 18% of population

total: 16.3% of population (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate

1.81% (2014 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS

9,700 (2014 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths

100 (2014 est.)

Obesity - adult prevalence rate 113/191

21.9% (2014)

Children under the age of 5 years underweight 67/138

11.1% (2009)

Education expenditures 136/173

3.2% of GDP (2012)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 10 years

male: 9 years

female: 11 years (2012)

Government

Country name

conventional long form: Cooperative Republic of Guyana

conventional short form: Guyana

former: British Guiana

etymology: the name is derived from Guiana, the original name for the region that included British Guiana, Dutch Guiana, and French Guiana; ultimately the word is derived from an indigenous Amerindian language and means "land of many waters" (referring to the area's multitude of rivers and streams)

Government type

republic

Capital

name: Georgetown

geographic coordinates: 6.48° N, 58.09° W

time difference: UTC-4 (1 hour ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

Administrative divisions

10 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

Independence

26 May 1966 (from the UK)

National holiday

Republic Day, 23 February (1970)

Constitution

several previous; latest promulgated 6 October 1980; amended many times, last in 2009 (2015)

Legal system

common law system, based on the English model, with some Roman-Dutch civil law influence

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; accepts ICCt jurisdiction

Citizenship

citizenship by birth: yes

citizenship by descent: yes

dual citizenship recognized: no

residency requirement for naturalization: na

Suffrage

18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President David GRANGER (since 16 May 2015)

head of government: Prime Minister Moses NAGAMOOTOO (since 20 May 2015)

cabinet: Cabinet of Ministers appointed by the president, responsible to the National Assembly

elections/appointments: president indirectly elected by the National Assembly from party lists to serve a 5-year term (no term limits); election last held on 11 May 2015 (next to be held in 2020); prime minister appointed by the president

election results: David GRANGER (APNU-AFC) elected president by National Assembly; percent of vote - 50.3%

Legislative branch

description: unicameral National Assembly (65 seats; members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies and a single nationwide constituency by proportional representation vote; members serve 5-year terms)

elections: last held on 11 May 2015 (next to be held by May 2020)

election results: percent of vote by party - APNU 50.3%, PPP/C 49.19%, other 0.51%; seats by party - APNU 33, PPP/C 32

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Supreme Court of Judicature (consists of the Court of Appeal with a chief justice and 3 justices, and the High Court with a chief justice and 10 justices organized into 3- or 5-judge panels); note - in 2009, Guyana ceased final appeals in civil and criminal cases to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (in London), replacing it with the Caribbean Court of Justice, the judicial organ of the Caribbean Community

judge selection and term of office: Court of Appeal and High Court chief justices appointed by the president; other judges of both courts appointed by the Judicial Service Commission, a body appointed by the president; judges appointed for life with retirement at age 65

subordinate courts: Land Court; magistrates' courts

Political parties and leaders

A Partnership for National Unity or APNU [David A. GRANGER]

Alliance for Change or AFC [Khemraj RAMJATTAN]

Justice for All Party [C.N. SHARMA]

People's Progressive Party/Civic or PPP/C [Donald RAMOTAR]

Rise, Organize, and Rebuild or ROAR [Ravi DEV]

The United Force or TUF [Manzoor NADIR]

The Unity Party [Joey JAGAN]

Vision Guyana [Peter RAMSAROOP]

Political pressure groups and leaders

Amerindian 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 participation

ACP, AOSIS, C, Caricom, CD, CDB, CELAC, FAO, G-77, IADB, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO (correspondent), ITU, LAES, MIGA, NAM, OAS, OIC, OPANAL, OPCW, PCA, Petrocaribe, UN, UNASUR, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Flag description

green 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; green represents forest and foliage; yellow stands for mineral resources and a bright future; white symbolizes Guyana's rivers; red signifies zeal and the sacrifice of the people; black indicates perseverance

National symbol(s)

Canje pheasant (hoatzin), jaguar, Victoria Regia water lily; national colors: red, yellow, green, black, white

National anthem

name: "Dear Land of Guyana, of Rivers and Plains"

lyrics/music: Archibald Leonard LUKERL/Robert Cyril Gladstone POTTER

note: adopted 1966

Economy

Economy - overview

The 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. 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. Guyana has experienced positive growth almost every year over the past decade. Inflation has been kept under control. Recent years have seen the government's stock of debt reduced significantly - with external debt now less than half of what it was in the early 1990s. Chronic problems include a shortage of skilled labor and a deficient infrastructure. Despite recent improvements, the government is still 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 21% 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 67% in 2015. Guyana had become heavily indebted as a result of the inward-looking, state-led development model pursued in the 1970s and 1980s. Much of Guyana's growth in recent years has come from a surge in gold production in response to global prices, although downward trends in gold prices may threaten future growth. In 2014, production of sugar dropped to a 24-year low.

GDP (purchasing power parity) 172/230

$5.77 billion (2015 est.)

$5.588 billion (2014 est.)

$5.382 billion (2013 est.)

note: data are in 2015 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$3.203 billion (2015 est.)

GDP - real growth rate 94/225

3.2% (2015 est.)

3.8% (2014 est.)

5.2% (2013 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP) 153/230

$7,200 (2015 est.)

$7,000 (2014 est.)

$6,700 (2013 est.)

note: data are in 2015 US dollars

Gross national saving 161/179

7.2% of GDP (2015 est.)

3.7% of GDP (2014 est.)

3.5% of GDP (2013 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 90.7%

government consumption: 13.3%

investment in fixed capital: 22.3%

investment in inventories: -13.4%

exports of goods and services: 48.4%

imports of goods and services: -61.3%

(2015 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 21.8%

industry: 25.3%

services: 52.9% (2015 est.)

Agriculture - products

sugarcane, rice, edible oils; beef, pork, poultry; shrimp, fish

Industries

bauxite, sugar, rice milling, timber, textiles, gold mining

Industrial production growth rate 196/202

-10% (2015 est.)

Labor force 163/233

313,800 (2013 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: NA%

industry: NA%

services: NA%

Unemployment rate 127/207

11.1% (2013)

11.3% (2012)

Population below poverty line

35% (2006 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 1.3%

highest 10%: 33.8% (1999)

Distribution of family income - Gini index 45/144

44.6 (2007)

43.2 (1999)

Budget

revenues: $805.8 million

expenditures: $940 million (2015 est.)

Taxes and other revenues 121/219

25.2% of GDP (2015 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) 153/220

-4.2% of GDP (2015 est.)

Public debt 48/176

67.4% of GDP (2015 est.)

63.1% of GDP (2014 est.)

Fiscal year

calendar year

Inflation rate (consumer prices) 85/226

1.5% (2015 est.)

0.8% (2014 est.)

Central bank discount rate 70/156

5.5% (31 December 2011)

4.25% (31 December 2010)

Commercial bank prime lending rate 60/184

12.8% (31 December 2015 est.)

12.83% (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of narrow money 160/192

$705.8 million (31 December 2015 est.)

$635.3 million (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of broad money 159/193

$1.68 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

$1.596 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of domestic credit 144/191

$1.68 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

$1.551 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares 111/121

$610.9 million (31 December 2012 est.)

$440.4 million (31 December 2011)

$339.8 million (31 December 2010 est.)

Current account balance 95/197

-$477 million (2015 est.)

-$479 million (2014 est.)

Exports 158/224

$1.096 billion (2015 est.)

$1.251 billion (2014 est.)

Exports - commodities

sugar, gold, bauxite, alumina, rice, shrimp, molasses, rum, timber

Exports - partners

US 31.9%, Canada 21.3%, Venezuela 10.9%, UK 6.4% (2014)

Imports 167/223

$1.708 billion (2015 est.)

$1.834 billion (2014 est.)

Imports - commodities

manufactures, machinery, petroleum, food

Imports - partners

US 21.9%, Trinidad and Tobago 19.9%, Venezuela 12%, China 9.9%, Suriname 8% (2014)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold 144/170

$614.3 million (31 December 2015 est.)

$667.9 million (31 December 2014 est.)

Debt - external 148/206

$2.303 billion (31 December 2013 est.)

$1.974 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Exchange rates

Guyanese dollars (GYD) per US dollar -

206.5 (2015 est.)

206.45 (2014 est.)

206.45 (2013 est.)

204.36 (2012 est.)

204.02 (2011 est.)

Energy

Electricity - production 156/220

800 million kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - consumption 171/219

558 million kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - exports 148/218

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - imports 159/219

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity 147/214

376,500 kW (2012 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels 63/214

96.1% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels 106/214

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants 150/214

0.3% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources 67/212

3.6% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Crude oil - production 145/214

0 bbl/day (2014 est.)

Crude oil - exports 134/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Crude oil - imports 202/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves 143/215

0 bbl (1 January 2015 est.)

Refined petroleum products - production 192/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption 152/212

10,800 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports 188/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports 135/213

10,810 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Natural gas - production 199/216

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - consumption 153/215

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - exports 113/215

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - imports 207/214

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves 148/212

0 cu m (1 January 2014 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy 155/212

1.661 million Mt (2012 est.)

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines 134/219

total subscriptions: 160,000

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 22 (2014 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular 167/217

total: 566,900

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 77 (2014 est.)

Telephone system

general assessment: fair system for long-distance service; microwave radio relay network for trunk lines; many areas still lack fixed-line telephone services

domestic: fixed-line teledensity is about 20 per 100 persons; mobile-cellular teledensity about 70 per 100 persons in 2011

international: country code - 592; tropospheric scatter to Trinidad; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2011)

Broadcast media

government-dominated broadcast media; the National Communications Network (NCN) TV is state-owned; a few private TV stations relay satellite services; the state owns and operates 2 radio stations broadcasting on multiple frequencies capable of reaching the entire country; government limits on licensing of new private radio stations continue to constrain competition in broadcast media (2007)

Radio broadcast stations

AM 3, FM 3, shortwave 1 (2009)

Television broadcast stations

3 (1 public station; 2 private stations which relay US satellite services) (1997)

Internet country code

.gy

Internet hosts 112/232

24,936 (2012)

Internet users 149/217

total: 270,200

percent of population: 36.7% (2014 est.)

Transportation

Airports 50/236

117 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 11

1,524 to 2,437 m: 2

914 to 1,523 m: 1

under 914 m: 8 (2013)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 106

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1

914 to 1,523 m: 16

under 914 m: 89 (2013)

Roadways 141/223

total: 7,970 km

paved: 590 km

unpaved: 7,380 km (2001)

Waterways 91/107

330 km (the Berbice, Demerara, and Essequibo Rivers are navigable by oceangoing vessels for 150 km, 100 km, and 80 km respectively) (2012)

Merchant marine 114/156

total: 10

by type: cargo 7, petroleum tanker 2, refrigerated cargo 1

registered in other countries: 3 (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 2, unknown 1) (2010)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Georgetown

Military and Security

Military branches

Guyana Defense Force: Army (includes Air Corps, Coast Guard) (2012)

Military service age and obligation

18 years of age or older for voluntary military service; no conscription (2014)

Military expenditures 93/132

1.09% of GDP (2012)

1.17% of GDP (2011)

1.09% of GDP (2010)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

all 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 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (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 UNCLOS to resolve the long-standing dispute with Suriname over the axis of the territorial sea boundary in potentially oil-rich waters

Illicit drugs

transshipment point for narcotics from South America - primarily Venezuela - to Europe and the US; producer of cannabis; rising money laundering related to drug trafficking and human smuggling