Guyana – South America’s Best Kept Secret

Guyana isn't Latin: it sits alone on the continent of South America as an ex-British colony, sharing a Caribbean flavour where English is the first language and cricket the national sport.

Culturally it's a remarkable and unique melting pot of Afro-Caribbean, Amerindian, European, Brazilian and Asian influences: in the capital, Georgetown, a Hindu temple may sit happily next to a jerk-chicken fast food outlet while reggae music thunders from the bar across the road.

The country is composed of vast areas covered by virgin rainforest, savannah and ancient tablelands over one of which spill the stunning Kaieteur Falls. Deep in the almost untrodden interior there is magnificent jungle scenery and a plethora of wildlife unrivalled on the continent. Jaguars, giant otters, tapirs and over 800 bird species roam undisturbed.

Guyana is unique among South American countries in that it’s an anglophone country, thanks to its years as a British colony. Guyana gained independence in 1966. Guyanese tend to consider themselves a Caribbean country rather than a Latin American country and they’re part of CARICOM, the Caribbean country organization. The interior is defined by its Amerindian culture. English is the primary language, but Guyanese Creole is spoken on the coast and a variety of Amerindian languages are spoken in the interior.

Key Facts

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Guyanese Dollar(GYD)

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Time Zone

GMT -4

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Oct - Apr

Key Cities

Guyana has six distinct ethnic groups, the majority being East Indian descent and Africans descent. The East Indians came to Guyana as indentured laborers; the Africans came to Guyana as slaves.

After multiple slave rebellions, slavery was abolished in 1838.East Indian culture dominates. Even when out in the most isolated parts of Guyana, Amerindian families listen to Hindi music as their children throw colored powders at each other to celebrate Holi (called Phagwa in Guyana).

With a vast mix of ethnic backgrounds, traditions, spiritual beliefs, festivals, architecture and landscapes, the memories of Guyana blaze long after travellers have left its shores. The rich cultural landscape of the country can best be explained as a mix of Caribbean culture (found mostly on the coast) and Indigenous roots (found more south in the country), with a dash of its colonial legacy which brought many other nationalities to live in Guyana. It can be experienced by attending festivals, staying with local communities in ecolodges, exploring the architectural heritage of the country, and indulging in Guyanese cuisine.

Abundantly fertile and blessed with year-round tropical weather, Guyana is rich in local foods and known for its exotic fruits, fresh vegetables and grains, free-range chicken and beef, and diversity of fish species.

Traditional Guyanese cuisine is inspired by the Indigenous Peoples, who have always lived off of the abundance of the land. Other influences stem from East Indians and Africans.

If there is one thing that stands out about Guyanese, it is that we love coming together and enjoying celebrations. Many festivals and events showcase the country’s colourful ethnic diversity. These events come alive through road parades and processions, street jams and parties.

Few places on the planet offer raw adventure as authentic as densely forested Guyana. Georgetown, the country's crumbling colonial capital, is distinctly Caribbean, with an alluring vibe, happening nightlife and some great places to eat. The interior of the country is more Amazonian, with its Amerindian communities and unparalleled wildlife-viewing opportunities tucked quietly away from the capital's noise and bustle. From sea-turtle nesting grounds along the country's north coast to monkeys and jaguars in the rainforest, and giant anteaters down in the southern savannas, Guyana's natural wonders are well worth the mud, bumpy roads and sweat.

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