Guyana At A glance

Geography

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

Geographic coordinates:
5 00 N, 59 00 W

Map references:
South America

Area:
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 boundaries:
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

Natural resources:
bauxite, gold, diamonds, hardwood timber, shrimp, fish, rice, sugar, and the recent discovery of oil and gas which should go into production by 2020

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.)

Population - distribution:
population is heavily concentrated in the northeast in and around Georgetown, with notable concentrations along the Berbice River to the east; the remainder of the country is sparsely populated

Natural hazards:
flash flood threat during rainy seasons

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

Demographic Profile

Guyana is the only English-speaking country in South America and shares cultural and historical bonds with the Anglophone Caribbean. Guyana's two largest ethnic groups are the Afro-Guyanese (descendants of African slaves) and the Indo-Guyanese (descendants of Indian indentured laborers), which together comprise about three quarters of Guyana's population. Tensions periodically have boiled over between the two groups, which back ethnically based political parties and vote along ethnic lines. Poverty reduction has stagnated since the late 1990s. About one-third of the Guyanese population lives below the poverty line; indigenous people are disproportionately affected. Although Guyana's literacy rate is reported to be among the highest in the Western Hemisphere, the level of functional literacy is considerably lower, which has been attributed to poor education quality, teacher training, and infrastructure.


Guyana's emigration rate is among the highest in the world - more than 55% of its citizens reside abroad - and it is one of the largest recipients of remittances relative to GDP among Latin American and Caribbean counties. Although remittances are a vital source of income for most citizens, the pervasive emigration of skilled workers deprives Guyana of professionals in healthcare and other key sectors. More than 80% of Guyanese nationals with tertiary level educations have emigrated. Brain drain and the concentration of limited medical resources in Georgetown hamper Guyana's ability to meet the health needs of its predominantly rural population. Guyana has one of the highest HIV prevalence rates in the region and continues to rely on international support for its HIV treatment and prevention programs.

Economy

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. 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.

Guyana's entrance into the Caricom Single Market and Economy 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. 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 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.

GDP (purchasing power parity):
$5.759 billion (2015 est.)
$5.59 billion (2014 est.)
$5.383 billion (2013 est.)
note: data are in 2015 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate):
$3.164 billion (2015 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:
3% (2015 est.)
3.8% (2014 est.)
5.2% (2013 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):
$7,500 (2015 est.)
$7,300 (2014 est.)
$7,100 (2013 est.)
note: data are in 2015 US dollars

Guyanese American Chamber of Commerce

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