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Guyana, Guayana or Guiana usually refers to the country of Guyana.

It may also refer to the larger region of The Guyanas or The Guianas, which includes the following three territories on the northeast coast of South America:

It may also refer to parts of neighboring countries:

  • Guiana is also the Occitan name of Guyenne, historical region in France

See also

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

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'GUIANA (Guyana, Guayana), the general name given in its r The origin of the name is somewhat obscure, and has been variously interpreted. But the late Col. G. E. Church supplies the following note, which has the weight of his great authority: " I cannot confirm the suggestion of Schomburgk that Guayana ` received its name from a small river, a tributary of the Orinoco', supposed to be the Waini or Guainia. In South America, east of the Andes, it was the common custom of any tribe occupying a length of river to call it simply ` the river '; but the other tribes widest acceptation to the part of South America lying to the north-east from 8° 40' N. to 3° 30' S. and from 50° W. to 68° 30' W. Its greatest length, from Cabo do Norte to the confluence of the Rio Xie and Rio Negro, is about 1250 m., its greatest breadth, from Barima Point in the mouth of the Orinoco to the confluence of the Rio Negro and Amazon, Boo m. Its area is roughly 690,000 sq. m. Comprised in this vast territory are Venezuelan (formerly Spanish) Guiana, lying on both sides of the Orinoco and extending S. and S.W. to the Rio Negro and Brazilian settlements; British Guiana, extending from Venezuela to the left bank of the Corentyn river; Dutch Guiana designated any section of it by the name of the people living on its banks. Many streams, therefore, had more than a dozen names. It is probable that no important river had one name alone throughout its course, prior to the time of the Conquest. The radical wini, waini, wayni, is found as a prefix, and very frequently as a termination, to the names of numerous rivers, not only throughout Guayana. but all over the Orinoco and Amazon valleys. For instance, Paymary Indians called the portion of the Purus river which they occupied the Waini. It simply means water, or a fountain of water, or a river. The alternative suggestion that Guayana is an Indian word signifying ` wild coast,' I also think untenable. This term, applied to the north-east frontage of South America between the Orinoco and the Amazon, is found on the old Dutch map of Hartsinck, who calls it ` Guiana Caribania of de Wilde Kust,' a name which must have well described it when, in 1580, some Zealanders, of the Netherlands, sent a ship to cruise along it, from the mouth of the Amazon to that of the Orinoco, and formed the first settlement near the river Pomeroon. The map of Firnao Vaz Dourado, 1564, calls the northern part of South America, including the present British Guiana, ` East Peru.' An anonymous Spanish map, about 1566, gives Guayana. as lying on the east side of the Orinoco just above. its mouth. About 1660, Sebastien de Ruesta, cosmographer of the Casa de Contractacion de Seville, shows Guayana covering the British, French and Dutch Guayanas. According to the map of Nicolas de Fer, 1719, a tribe of Guayazis (Guyanas) occupied the south side of the Amazon river, front of the island of Tupinambara,. east of the mouth of the Madeira. Aristides Rojas, an eminent Venezuelan scholar, says that the Mariches Indians, near Caracas, inhabited a site called Guayana. long before the discovery of South America by the Spaniards. Coudreau in his Chez nos Indiens mentions that the Roucouyennes of Guayana. take their name from a large tree in their forests, ` which appears to be the origin of the name Guayane.' According to Michelana y Rojas, in their report to the Venezuelan government on their voyages in the basin of the Orinoco, ` Guyana derives its name from the Indians who live between the Caroni river and the Sierra de I mataca, called Guayanos.' My own studies of aboriginal South America lead me to support the statement of Michelana y Rojas, but with the following enlargement of it: The Portuguese, in the early part of the 16th century, found that the coast and mountain district of Rio de Janeiro, between Cape Sao Thome and Angra dos Reis, belonged to the formidable Tamoyos. South of these, for a distance of about 300 m. of the ocean slope of the coast range, were the Guayana tribes, called by the early writers Guianas, Goyana, Guayana, Goand and, plural, Goayndzes, Goayancizes and Guayanazes. They were constantly at feud with the Tamoyos and with their neighbours on the south, the Carijos, as well as with the vast Tapuya hordes of the Sertao of the interior. Long before the discovery, they had been forced to abandon their beautiful lands, but had recuperated their strength, returned and reconquered their ancient habitat. Meanwhile, however, many of them had migrated northward, some had settled in the Sertao back of Bahia and Pernambuco, others on the middle Amazon and in the valley of the Orinoco, but a large number had crossed the lower Amazon and occupied an extensive area of country to the north of it, about the size of Belgium, along the Tumuchumac range of highlands, and the upper Paron and Maroni rivers, as well as a large district on the northern slope of the above-named range. In their new home they became known as Roucouyennes, because, like the Mundurucus of the middle Amazon, they rubbed and painted themselves with roucou or urucu (Bixa Orellana); but other surrounding tribes called them Ouayana.s, that is Guayana.sthe Gua, so common to the Guarani-Tupi tongue, having become corrupted into Oua. Porto Seguro says of the so-called Tupis, ` at other times they gave themselves the name of Guayc or Guayana',. which probably means " brothers," from which comes Guayazes and Guayanazes.... The latter occupied the country just south of Rio de Janeiro.... The masters of the Capitania of St Vincente called themselves Guianas. Guinila, referring to north-eastern South America (1745), speaks of five missions being formed to civilize the ` Nacion Guayana. In view of the above, it may be thought reasonable to assume that the vast territory now known as Guayana (British, Dutch, French, Brazilian and Venezuelan) derives its name from its aborigines who were found there at the time of the discovery, and whose original home was the region I have indicated." (or Surinam), from the Corentyn to the Maroni river; French Guiana (or Cayenne), from the Maroni to the Oyapock river; 1 Brazilian (formerly Portuguese) Guiana, extending from the southern boundaries of French, Dutch, British and part of Venezuelan Guiana, to the Amazon and the Negro. Of these divisions the first and last are now included in Venezuela and Brazil respectively; British, Dutch and French Guiana are described in order below, and are alone considered here.

In their physical geography the three Guianas present certain common characteristics. In each the principal features are the rivers and their branch streams. In each colony the northern portion consists of a fluviomarine deposit extending inland and gradually rising to a height of 10 to ft. above the sea. This alluvial plain varies in width from 50 m. to 18 m. and is traversed by ridges of sand and shells, roughly parallel to what is now the coast, indicating the trend of former shore lines. By the draining and diking of these lands the plantations have been formed along the coast and up the rivers. These low lands are attached to a somewhat higher plateau, which towards the coast is traversed by numerous huge sand-dunes and inland by ranges of hills rising in places to as much as 2000 ft. The greater part of this belt of country, in which the auriferous districts principally occur, is covered with a dense growth of jungle and high forest, but savannahs, growing only a long wiry grass and poor shrubs, intrude here and there, being in the S.E. much nearer to the coast than in the N.W. The hinterlands consist of undulating open savannahs rising into hills and mountains, some grass-covered, some in dense forest.

Geology 2. - Guiana is formed almost entirely of gneiss and crystal 1 This is the boundary generally accepted; but it is in dispute.

2 See C. B. Brown and J. G. Sawkins, Reports on the Physical, Descriptive and Economic Geology of British Guiana (London, 1875) C. Velain, " Esquisse geologique de la Guyane francaise et des line schists penetrated by numerous dikes of diorite, diabase, &c. The gold of the placer deposits appears to be derived, not from quartz reefs, but from the schists and intrusive rocks, the selvages of the diabase dikes sometimes containing as much as 5 oz. of gold to the ton. In British Guiana a series of conglomerates, red and white sandstone and red shale, rests upon the gneiss and forms the remarkable table-topped mountains Roraima, Kukenaam, &c. The beds are horizontal, and according to Brown and Sawkins, three layers of greenstone, partly intrusive and partly contemporaneous, are interstratified with the sedimentary deposits. The age of these beds is uncertain, but they evidently correspond with the similar series which occurs in Brazil, partly Palaeozoic and partly Cretaceous. In Dutch Guiana there are a few small patches supposed to belong to the Cretaceous period. Along the coast, and in the lower parts of the river valleys, are deposits which are mainly Quaternary but may also include beds of Tertiary age.

Table of contents


The coast of Guiana was sighted by Columbus in. 1498 when he discovered the island of Trinidad and the peninsula of Paria, and in the following year by Alonzo de Ojeda and Amerigo Vespucci; and in 1loo Vincente Yanez Pinzon ventured south of the equator, and sailing north-west along the coast discovered the Amazon; he is believed to have also entered some of the other rivers of Guiana, one of which, now called Oyapock, is marked on early maps as Rio Pinzon. Little, however, was known of Guiana until the fame of the fabled golden city Manoa or El Dorado tempted adventurers to explore its rivers and forests. From letters of these explorers found in bassins du Parou et du Yari (affluents de l'Amazone) d'apres les explorations du Dr Crevaux," Bull. Soc. Gio r. ser. 7, vol. vi. (Paris, 188 5), pp. 453-49 2 (with geological map); E. Martin, Geologische Studien fiber Niederldndisch-West-Indien, auf Grund eigener Untersuchungsreisen (Leiden, 1888); W. Bergt, " Zur Geologie des Coppenameand Nickerietales in Surinam (HollandischGuyana)," Samml. d. Geol. Reichsmus. (Leiden), ser. 2, Bd. ii. Heft 2, pp. 93-163 (with 3 maps); and for British Guiana, the official reports on the geology of various districts, by J. B. Harrison, C. W. Anderson, H. I. Perkins, published at Georgetown.

captured ships, Sir Walter Raleigh was induced to ascend the Orinoco in search of El Dorado in 1595, to send Lawrence Keymis on the same quest in the following year, and in 1617 to try once again, with the same intrepid lieutenant, an expedition fraught with disaster for both of them. As early as 1580 the Dutch had established a systematic trade with the Spanish main, but so far as is known their first voyage to Guiana was in 1J98. By 1613 they had three or four settlements on the coast of Demerara and Essequibo, and in about 1616 some Zeelanders settled on a small island, called by them Kyk ober al (" see over all "), in the confluence of the Cuyuni and Mazaruni rivers. While the Dutch traders were struggling for a footing in Essequibo and Demerara, English and French traders were endeavouring to form settlements on the Oyapock river, in Cayenne and in Surinam, and by 1652 the English had large interests in the latter and the French in Cayenne. In 1663 Charles II. issued letters patent to Lord Willoughby of Parham and Lawrence Hyde, second son of the earl of Clarendon, granting them the district between the Copenam and Maroni rivers, a province described as extending from E. to W. some 120 m. This colony was, however, formally ceded to the Netherlands in 1667 by the peace of Breda, Great Britain taking possession of New York. Meanwhile the Dutch West India Company, formed in 1621, had taken possession of Essequibo, over which colony it exercised sovereign rights until 1791. In 1624 a Dutch settlement was effected in the Berbice river, and from this grew Berbice, for a long time a separate and independent colony. In 1657 the Zeelanders firmly established themselves in the Pomeroon, Moruca and Demerara rivers, and by 1674 the Dutch were colonizing all the territory now known as British and Dutch Guiana. The New Dutch West Indian Company, founded in that year to replace the older company which had failed, received Guiana by charter from the states-general in 1682. In the following year the company sold one-third of their territory to the city of Amsterdam, and another third to Cornelis van Aerssens, lord of Sommelsdijk. The new owners and the company incorporated themselves as the Chartered Society of Surinam, and Sommelsdijk agreed to fill the post of governor of the colony at his own expense. The lucrative trade in slaves was retained by the West Indian Company, but the society could import them on its own account by paying a fine to the company. Sommelsdijk's rule was wise and energetic. He repressed and pacified the Indian tribes, erected forts and disciplined the soldiery, constructed the canal which bears his name, established a high court of justice and introduced the valuable cultivation of the cocoa-nut. But on the 17th of June 1688 he was massacred in a mutiny of the soldiers. The " third " which Sommelsdijk possessed was offered by his widow to William III. of England, but it was ultimately purchased by the city of Amsterdam for 700,000 fl. The settlements in Essequibo progressed somewhat slowly, and it was not until immigration was attracted in 1740 by offers to newcomers of free land and immunity for a decade from taxation that anything like a colony could be said to exist there. In 1732 Berbice placed itself under the protection of the states-general of Holland and was granted a constitution, and in 1773 Demerara, till then a dependency of Essequibo, was constituted as a separate colony. In 1781 the three colonies, Demerara, Essequibo and Berbice, were captured by British privateers, and were placed by Rodney under the governor of Barbados, but in 1782 they were taken by France, then an ally of the Netherlands, and retained until the peace of 1783', when they were restored to Holland. In 1784 Essequibo and Demerara were placed under one governor, and Georgetown - then called Stabroek - was fixed on as the seat of government. The next decade saw a series of struggles between the colonies and the Dutch West India company, which ended in the company being wound up and in the three colonies being governed directly by the states-general. In 1796 the British again took possession, and retained the three colonies until the peace of Amiens in 1802, when they were once again restored to Holland, only to be recaptured by Great Britain in 1803, in which year the history proper of British Guiana began.

British Guiana, the only British possession in S. America, was formally ceded in 1814-1815. The three colonies were in 1831 consolidated into one colony divided into three counties, Berbice extending from the Corentyn river Br:tis6  ? g Y Guiana. to the Abary creek, Demerara from the Abary to the Boerasirie creek, Essequibo from the Boerasirie to the Venezuelan frontier. This boundary-line between British Guiana and Venezuela was for many years the subject of dispute. The Dutch, while British Guiana was in their possession, claimed the whole watershed of the Essequibo river, while the Venezuelans asserted that the Spanish province of Guayana had extended up to the left bank of the Essequibo. In 1840 Sir Robert Schomburgk had suggested a demarcation, afterwards known as the "Schomburgk line "; and subsequently, though no agreement was arrived at, certain modifications were made in this British claim. In 1886 the government of Great Britain declared that it would thenceforward exercise jurisdiction up to and within a boundary known as " the modified Schomburgk line." Outposts were located at points on this line, and for some years Guianese police and Venezuelan soldiers faced one another across the Amacura creek in the Orinoco mouth and at Yuruan up the Cuyuni river. In 1897 the dispute formed the subject of a message to congress from the president of the United States, and in consequence of this intervention the matter was submitted to an international commission, whose award was issued at Paris in 1899 (see Venezuela). By this decision neither party gained its extreme claim, the line laid down differing but little from the original Schomburgk line. The demarcation was at once undertaken by a joint commission appointed by Venezuela and British Guiana and was completed in 1904. It was not found practicable, owing to the impassable nature of the country, to lay down on earth that part of the boundary fixed by the Paris award between the head of the Wenamu creek and the summit of Mt. Roraima, and the boundary commissioners suggested a deviation to follow the watersheds of the Caroni, Cuyuni and Mazaruni rivers, a suggestion accepted by the two governments. In 1902 the delimitation of the boundary between British Guiana and Brazil was referred to the arbitration of the king of Italy, and by his reward, issued in June 1904, the substantial area in dispute was conceded to British Guiana. The work of demarcation has since been carried out.

Towns, &c. - The capital of British Guiana is Georgetown, at the mouth of the Demerara river, on its right bank, with a population of about 50,000. New Amsterdam, on the right bank of the Berbice river, has a population of about 7500. Each possesses a mayor and town council, with statutory powers to impose rates. There are nineteen incorporated villages, and ten other locally governed areas known as country districts, the affairs of which are controlled by local authorities, known as village councils and country authorities respectively.


The census of 1891 gave the population of British Guiana as 278,328. There was no census taken in 1901. By official estimates the population at the end of 1904 was 301,923. Of these some 120,000 were negroes and 124,000 East Indians; 4300 were Europeans, other than Portuguese, estimated at about 11,600, and some 30,000 of mixed race. The aborigines - Arawaks, Caribs, Wapisianas, Warraws, &c. - who numbered about io,000 in 1891, are now estimated at about 650o. In 1904 the birth-rate for the whole colony was 30.3 per r000 and the death-rate 28.8.

Physical Geography

The surface features of British Guiana may be divided roughly into four regions: first, the alluvial seaboard, flat and below the level of high-water; secondly, the forest belt, swampy along the rivers but rising into undulating lands and hills between them; thirdly, the savannahs in and inland of the forest belt, elevated table-lands, grass-covered and practically treeless; and fourthly, the mountain ranges. The eastern portion of the colony, from the source of its two largest rivers, the Corentyn and Essequibo, is a rough inclined plain, starting at some 900 ft. above sea-level at the source of the Takutu in the west, but only some 400 at that of the Corentyn in the west, and sloping down gradually to the low alluvial flats about 3 ft. below high-water line. The eastern part is generally forested; the western is an almost level savannah, with woodlands along the rivers. The northern portion of British Guiana, the alluvial flats alluded to already, consists of a fluviomarine deposit extending inland from 25 in. to 30 m., gradually rising to about 12 ft. above high-water mark and ending against beds of sandy clay, the residua of igneous rocks decomposed in situ, which form an extensive undulating region rising to 150 ft. above the sea and stretching back to the forest-covered hills. Roughly parallel to the existing coast-line are narrow reefs of sand and sea-shells, which are dunes indicating the trend of former limits of the sea, and still farther back are the. higher " sand hills," hills of granite or diabase with a thick stratum of coarse white sand superimposed. From the coast-line seawards the ocean deepens very gradually, and at low tide extensive flats of sand and of mixed clay and sand (called locally " caddy ") are left bare, these flats being at times covered with a deposit of thin drift mud.

Two great parallel mountain systems cross the colony from W. to E., the greater being that of the Pacaraima and Merume Mts., and the lesser including the Kanuku Mts. (2000 ft.), while the Acarai Mts., a densely-wooded range rising to 2500 ft., form the southern boundary of British Guiana and the watershed between the Essequibo and the Amazon. These mountains rise generally in a succession of terraces and broad plateaus, with steep or even sheer sandstone escarpments. They are mostly flat-topped, and their average height is about 3500 ft. The Pacaraima Mts., however, reach 8635 ft. at Roraima, and the latter remarkable mountain rises as a perpendicular wall of red rock 1500 ft. in height springing out of the forest-clad slopes below the summit, and was considered inaccessible until in December 1884 Messrs im Thurn and Perkins found a ledge by which the top could be reached. The summit is a table-land some 12 sq. m. in area. Mt. Kukenaam is of similar structure and also rises above 850o ft. Other conspicuous summits (about 7000 ft.) are Iwalkarima, Eluwarima, Ilutipu and Waiakapiapu. The southern portion of the Pacaraima range comprises rugged hills and rock-strewn valleys, but to the N., where the sandstone assumes the table-shaped form, there are dense forests, and the scenery is of extraordinary grandeur. Waterfalls frequently descend the cliffs from a great height (nearly 2000 ft. sheer at Roraima and Kukenaam). The sandstone formation can be traced from the northern Pacaraima range on the N.W. to the Corentyn in the S.E. It is traversed in places by dikes and sills of diabase or dolerite, while bosses of more or less altered gabbro rise through it. The surface of a large part of the colony is composed of gneiss, and of gneissose granite, which is seen in large water-worn bosses in the river beds. Intrusive granite is of somewhat rare occurrence; where found, it gives rise to long low rolls of hilly country and to cataracts in the rivers. Extensive areas of the country consist of quartz-porphyry, porphyrites and felstone, and of more or less schistose rocks derived from them. These rocks are closely connected with the gneissose granites and gneiss, and there are reasons for believing that the latter are the deep-seated portions of them and are only visible where they have been exposed by denudation. Long ranges of hills, varying in elevation from a few hundreds to from 2000 ft. to 3000 ft., traverse the plains of the gneissose districts. These are caused either by old intrusions of diabase and gabbro which have undergone modifications, or by later ones of dolerite. These ranges are of high importance, as the rocks comprising them are the main source of gold in British Guiana.


The principal physical features of British Guiana are its rivers and their branches, which form one vast network of waterways all over it, and are the principal, indeed practically the only, highways inland from the coast. Chief among them are the Waini, the Essequibo, and its tributaries the Mazaruni and Cuyuni, the Demerara, the Berbice and the Corentyn. The Essequibo rises in the Acarai Mts., in o° 41' N. and about 850 ft. above the sea, and flows northwards for about 600 m. until it discharges itself into the ocean by an estuary nearly 15 m. in width. In this estuary are several large and fertile islands, on four of which sugar used to be grown. Now but one, Wakenaam, can boast of a factory. The Essequibo can be entered only by craft drawing less than 20 ft. and is navigable for these vessels for not more than 50 m., its subsequent course upwards being frequently broken by cataracts and rapids. Some 7 m. below the first series of rapids it is joined by the Mazaruni, itself joined by the Cuyuni some 4 m. farther up. It has a remarkable course from its source in the Merume Mountains, about 2400 ft. above the sea. It flows first south, then west, northwest, north,"and finally south-east to within 20 m. of its own source, forming many fine falls, and its course thereafter is still very tortuous. In 4° N. and 58° W., the Essequibo is joined by the Rupununi, which, rising in a savannah at the foot of the Karawaimento Mts., has a northerly and easterly course of fully 200 m. In 3° 37' N. the Awaricura joins the Rupununi, and by this tributary the Pirara, a tributary of the Amazon, may be reached, - an example of the interesting series of itabos connecting nearly all S. American rivers with one another. Another large tributary of the Essequibo is the Potaro, on which, at 1130 ft. above sea-level and in 5° 8' N. and 59° 19' W., is the celebrated Kaieteur fall, discovered in 1870 by Mr C. Barrington Brown while engaged on a geological survey. This fall is produced by the river flowing from a tableland of sandstone and conglomerate into a deep valley 822 ft. below. For the first 741 ft. the water falls as a perpendicular column, thence as a sloping cataract to the still reach below. The river 200 yds. above the fall is about 400 ft. wide, while the actual waterway of the fall itself varies from 120 ft. in dry weather to nearly 400 ft. in rainy seasons. The Kaieteur, which it took Mr Brown a fortnight to reach from the coast, can now be reached on the fifth day from Georgetown. Among other considerable tributaries of the Essequibo are the Siparuni, Burro-Burro, Rewa, Kuyuwini and Kassi-Kudji. The Demerara river, the head-waters of which are known only to Indians, rises probably near 5° N., and after a winding northerly course of some 200 m. enters the ocean in 6° 50' N. and 58° 20' W. A bar of mud and sand prevents the entrance of vessels drawing more than 19 ft. The river is from its mouth, which is nearly 2 m. wide, navigable for 70 m. to all vessels which can enter. The Berbice river rises in about 3° 40' N., and in 3° 53' N. is within 9 m. of the Essequibo. At its mouth it is about 22 in. wide, and is navigable for vessels drawing not more than 12 ft. for about 105 m. and for vessels drawing not more than 7 ft. for fully 175 m. Thence upwards it is broken by great cataracts. The Canje creek joins the Berbice river close to the sea. The Corentyn river rises in I° 48' 30" N., about 140 m. E. of the Essequibo, and flowing northwards enters the Atlantic by an estuary some 14 m. wide. The divide between its head-waters and those of streams belonging to the Amazon system is only some 400 ft. in elevation. It is navigable for about 150 m., some of the reaches being of great width and beauty. The upper reaches are broken by a series of great cataracts, some of which, until the discovery of Kaieteur, were believed to be the grandest in British Guiana. Among other rivers are the Pomeroon, Moruca and Barima, while several large streams or creeks fall directly into the Atlantic, the largest being the Abary, Mahaicony and Mahaica, between Berbice and Demerara, and the Boerasirie between Demerara and Essequibo. The colour of the water of the rivers and creeks is in general a dark brown, caused by the infusion of vegetable matter, but where the streams run for a long distance through savannahs they are of a milky colour.


The climate is, as tropical countries go, not unhealthy. Malarial fevers are common but preventible; and phthisis is prevalent, not because the climate is unsuitable to sufferers from pulmonary complaints, but because of the ignorance of the common people of the elementary principles of hygiene, an ignorance which the state is endeavouring to lessen by including the teaching of hygiene in the syllabus of the primary schools. The temperature is uniform on the coast for the ten months from October to July, the regular N.E. trade winds keeping it down to an average of 80° F. In August and September the trades die away and the heat becomes oppressive. In the interior the nights are cold and damp. Hurricanes, indeed even strong gales, are unknown; a tidal wave is an impossibility; and the nature of the soil of the coast lands renders earthquakes practically harmless. Occasionally there are severe droughts, and the rains are sometimes unduly prolonged, but usually the year is clearly divided into two wet and two dry seasons. The long wet season begins in mid-April and lasts until mid-August. The long dry season is from September to the last week in November. December and January constitute the short rainy season, and February and March the short dry season. The rainfall varies greatly in different parts of the colony; on the coast it averages about 80 in. annually.


The vegetation is most luxuriant and its growth perpetual. Indigenous trees and plants abound in the utmost variety, while many exotics have readily adapted themselves to local conditions. Along the coast is a belt of courida and mangrove - the bark of the latter being used for tanning - forming a natural barrier to the inroads of the sea, but one which - very unwisely - has been in parts almost ruined to allow of direct drainage. The vast forests afford an almost inexhaustible supply of valuable timbers; greenheart and mora, largely used in shipbuilding and for wharves and dock and lock gates; silverbally, yielding magnificent planks for all kinds of boats; and cabinet woods, such as cedar and crabwood. There may be seen great trees, struggling for life one with the other, covered with orchids - some of great beauty and value - and draped with falling lianas and vines. Giant palms fringe the riverbanks and break the monotony of the mass of smaller foliage. Many of the trees yield gums, oils and febrifuges, the bullet tree being bled extensively for balata, a gum used largely in the manufacture of belting. Valuable varieties of rubber have also been found in several districts, and since early in 1905 have attracted the attention of experts from abroad. On the coast plantains, bananas and mangoes grow readily and are largely used for food, while several districts are admirably adapted to the growth of limes. Oranges, pineapples, star-apples, granadillas, guavas are among the fruits; Indian corn, cassava, yams, eddoes, tannias, sweet potatoes and ochroes are among the vegetables, while innumerable varieties of peppers are grown and used in large quantities by all classes. The dainty avocado pear, purple and green, grows readily. In the lagoons and trenches many varieties of water-lilies grow wild, the largest being the famous Victoria regia. Fauna. - Guiana is full of wild animals, birds, insects and reptiles. Among the wild animals, one and all nocturnal, are the mipourrie or tapir, manatee, acouri and labba (both excellent eating), sloth, ant-eater, armadillo, several kinds of deer, baboons, monkeys and the puma and jaguar. The last is seen frequently down on the coast, attracted from the forest by the cattle grazing on the front and back pasture lands of the estates. Among the birds may be mentioned the carrion crow (an invaluable scavenger), vicissi and muscovy ducks, snipe, teal, plover, pigeon, the ubiquitous kiskadee or qu'est que dit, a species of shrike - his name derived from his shrill call - the canary and the twa-twa, both charming whistlers. These are all found on the coast. In the forest are maam (partridge), maroudi (wild turkey), the beautiful bell-bird with note like a silver gong, the quadrille bird with its tuneful oft-repeated bar, great flocks of macaws and parrots, and other birds of plumage of almost indescribable richness and variety. On the coast the trenches and canals are full of alligators, but the great cayman is found only in the rivers of the interior. Among the many varieties of snakes are huge constricting camoudies, deadly bushmasters, labarrias and rattlesnakes. Among other reptiles are the two large lizards, the salumpenta (an active enemy of the barn-door fowl), and the iguana, whose flesh when cooked resembles tender chicken. The rivers, streams and trenches abound with fishes, crabs and shrimps, the amount of the latter consumed being enormous, running into tons weekly as the coolies use them in their curries and the blacks in their foo-foo.

Government and Administration

Executive power is vested in a governor, who is advised in all administrative matters by an executive council, consisting of five official and three unofficial members nominated by the crown. Legislative authority is vested in the Court of Policy, consisting of the governor, who presides and without whose permission no legislation can be initiated, seven other official members and eight elected members. This body has, however, no financial authority, all taxation and expenditure being dealt with by the Combined Court, consisting of the Court of Policy combined with six financial representatives. The elected members of the Court of Policy and the financial representatives are elected by their several constituencies for five years. Qualification for the Court of Policy is the ownership, or possession under lease for a term of twenty-one years, of eighty acres of land, of which at least forty acres are under cultivation, or of house property to the value of $7500. A financial representative must be similarly qualified or be in receipt of a clear income of not less than £300 per annum. Every male is entitled to be registered as a voter who (in addition to the usual formal qualifications) owns (during six months prior to registration) three acres of land in cultivation or a house of the annual rental or value of £20; or is a secured tenant for not less than three years of six acres of land in cultivation or for one year of a house of £40 rental; or has an income of not less than £loo per annum; or has during the previous twelve months paid £4, 3s. 4d. in direct taxation. Residence in the electoral district for six months prior to registration is coupled with the last two alternative qualifications. Plural voting is legal but no plumping is allowed. The combined court is by this constitution, which was granted in 1891, allowed the use of all revenues due to the crown in return for a civil list voted for a term now fixed at three years. English is the official and common language. The Roman-Dutch law, modified by ordersin-council and local statutes, governs actions in the civil courts, but the criminal law is founded on that of England. Magistrates have in civil cases jurisdiction up to X20, while an appeal lies from their decisions in any criminal or civil case. The supreme court consists of a chief justice and two puisne judges, and has various jurisdictions. The full court, consisting of the three judges or any two of them, has jurisdiction over all civil matters, but an appeal lies to His Majesty in privy council in cases involving £500 and upwards. A single judge sits in insolvency, in actions involving not over £520, and in appeals from magistrates' decisions. The appeal full court, consisting of three judges, sits to hear appeals from decisions of a single judge in the limited civil, appellate and insolvency courts. Criminal courts are held four times a year in each county, a single judge presiding in each court. A court of crown cases reserved is formed by the three judges, of whom two form a quorum provided the chief-justice is one of the two. There are no imperial troops now stationed in British Guiana, but there is a semimilitary police force, a small militia and two companies of volunteers. The Church of England and the Church of Scotland are both established, and grants-in-aid are also given to the Roman Catholic and Wesleyan churches and to several other denominations.

The revenue and expenditure now each amount annually to an average of a little over £500,000. About one-half of the revenue is produced by import duties, and about £90,000 by excise. The public debt on the 31st of March 1905 stood at £989,620.

The system of primary education is denominational and is mainly supported from the general revenue. During 1904-1905, 213 schools received grants-in-aid amounting to £23,500, the average cost per scholar being a little over D. These grants are calculated on the results of examinations held annually, an allowance varying from 4s. 42d. to Is. old. being made for each pass in reading, writing, arithmetic, school-garden work, nature study, singing and drill, English, geography, elementary hygiene and sewing. Secondary education is provided in Georgetown at some private establishments, and for boys at Queen's College, an undenominational government institution where the course of instruction is the same as at a public school in England, and the boys are prepared for the Cambridge local examinations, on the result of which annually depend the Guiana scholarship - open to boys and girls, and carrying a university or professional training in England - and two scholarships at Q ueen's College. Industries and Trade. - At the end of the third decade of the 19th century the principal exports were sugar, rum, molasses, cotton and coffee. In 1830, 9,500,000 lb of coffee were sent abroad, but after the emancipation of the slaves it almost ceased as an export, and the little that is now grown is practically entirely consumed in the colony. The cultivation of cotton ceased in 1844, and, but for a short revival during the American civil war, has never prospered since. Efforts have been made to resuscitate its growth, but the experiments of the Board of Agriculture have only shown that Sea Island cotton is not adaptable to local conditions, and that no other known variety can as yet be recommended. To-day the principal exports are sugar, rum, molasses, molascuit - a cattle food made from molasses - gold, timber, balata, shingles and cattle. The annual value of the total exports is just under £2,000,000, of which about two-thirds go to Great Britain and British possessions. The cultivation of rice has made great strides in recent years, and, where difficulties of drainage and irrigation can be economically overcome, promises to increase rapidly. In 1873, 32,000,000 lb of rice were imported, whereas in 1904-1905, the quantity imported having fallen to 20,500,000 lb, there were over 18,000 acres under rice cultivation, and exportation, principally to the British West Indies, had commenced. The cultivation of the sugar-cane, and its manufacture into sugar and its by-products, still remains, in spite of numerous fluctuations, the staple industry. The provision of a trustworthy labour supply for the estates is of great importance, and local scarcity has made it necessary since 1840 to import it under a system of indenture. In that year and until 1867, liberated Africans were brought from Rio de Janeiro, Havana, Sierra Leone and St Helena, and in 1845 systematic immigration from India commenced and has since been carried on annually - save in 18 491850. In 1853 immigration from China was tried, and was carried on by the government from 1859 to 1866, when it ceased owing to a convention arranged at Peking, stipulating that all immigrants should on the expiry of their term of indenture be entitled to be sent back at the expense of the colony, a liability it could not afford to incur. To reduce the cost of supervision and kindred expenses, and consequently of the cane and its manufacture into sugar, the policy of centralization has been universally adopted, and forty-six estates now produce as much sugar as three times that number did in 1875. During recent years Canada has come forward as a large buyer of Guiana's sugar, and in 1904-1905 the same amount went there as to the United States, in each case over 44,000 tons, whereas in 1901-1902 the United States took 85,000 tons and Canada under 8000 tons. Practically all the rum and molascuit go to England, and the molasses to Holland and Portuguese possessions. The lands on the coast and on the river banks up to the sand hills are of marked fertility, and can produce almost any tropical vegetable or fruit. Cultivation, however, save on the sugar, coffee and cocoa estates, and by a few exceptional small farmers, is carried on in a haphazard and half-hearted manner, and the problem of agricultural development is one of great difficulty for the government. Much of the privately-owned land is not beneficially occupied, and in many cases it is not possible even to learn to whom it belongs, and though there are vast tracts of uncultivated crown land where a large farm or a small homestead can be easily and cheaply acquired, the difficulties involved in clearing, draining, and in some cases of protecting it by dams, are prohibitive to all but the exceptionally determined. Prospecting for gold began in 1880, and from 1884 to 1893-1894 the output, chiefly from alluvial workings, increased from 250 oz. to nearly 140,000 oz. annually. The industry then received a serious check by the failure of several mines, and for nearly a decade was almost entirely in the hands of the small tributor, known locally as a pork-knocker. There has been some revival, chiefly due to foreign enterprise. At Omai on the Essequibo river a German syndicate worked a large concession on the hydraulic process of placer mining with considerable success, and more recently took to dredging on its flats. In the Puruni (a tributary of the Mazaruni) American capitalists, working the Peters' mine, have established their workings to a considerable depth, besides constructing a road, 60 m. in length, from Kartabo point, at the confluence of the Guyuni and Mazaruni, to the Puruni river opposite the mine. An English syndicate started dredging in the Conawarook, a tributary of the Essequibo. The principal gold districts are on the Essequibo and its tributaries - the chief being the Cuyuni, Mazaruni, Potaro and Conawarookand on the Barima, Barama and Waini rivers in the north-west district. There have been smaller workings, mostly unsuccessful, in the Demerara and Berbice rivers.

Diamonds and other precious stones have been found in small quantities, and since 1900 efforts have been made to extend the output, nearly 11,000 carats weight of diamonds being exported in 1904. But though the small stones found were of good water, the cost of transport to the diamond fields, on the Mazaruni river, was heavy, and after 1904 the industry declined. Laws dealing with gold and precious stones passed in 1880, 1886 and 1887, and regulations in 1899, were codified in 1902 and amended in 1905.

Timber is cut, and balata and rubber collected, from crown lands by licences issued from the department of Lands and Mines. Woodcutting, save on concessions held by a local company owning an up-country line of railway connecting the Demerara and Essequibo rivers, is limited to those parts of the forest which are close to the lower stretches of the rivers and creeks, the overland haulage of the heavy logs being both difficult and costly, while transport through the upper reaches of the rivers is impossible on account of the many cataracts and rapids. The average annual value of imports is £1,500,000, of which about two-thirds are from Great Britain and British possessions. Of the vessels trading with the colony, most are under the British flag, the remainder being principally American and Norwegian.

The money of account is dollars and cents, but, with the exception of the notes of the two local banks, the currency is British sterling. The unit of land measure is the Rhynland rood, roughly equal to 12 ft. 4 in. A Rhynland acre contains 300 square roods.

Inland Communication, &c.

The public roads extend along the coast from the Corentyn river to some 20 m. N. of the Essequibo mouth on the Aroabisci coast, and for a short distance up each of the principal rivers and creeks entering the sea between these points. A line of railway 602 m. in length runs from Georgetown to Rosignol on the left bank of the Berbice river opposite New Amsterdam; and another line 15 m. long starts from Vreed-en-hoop, on the left bank of the Demerara river opposite Georgetown, and runs to Greenwich Park on the right bank of the Essequibo river some 3 m. from its mouth. A light railway, metre gauge, 182 m. in length, connects Wismar (on the left bank of the Demerara river some 70 m. from its mouth) with Rockstone (on the right bank of the Essequibo, and above the first series of cataracts in that river). Steamers run daily to and from Georgetown and Wismar, and launches to and from Rockstone and Tumatumari Fall on the Potaro, and all expeditions for the goldfields of the Essequibo and its tributaries above Rockstone travel by this route. Another steamer goes twice a week to Bartica at the confluence of the Essequibo and Mazaruni, and another weekly to Mt. Everard on the Barima, from which termini expeditions start to the other gold and diamond fields. Steamers also run from Georgetown to New Amsterdam and up the Berbice river for about 100 m. Above the termini of these steamer routes all travelling is done in keelless bateaux, propelled by paddlers and steered when coming through the rapids at both bow and stern by certificated bowmen and steersmen. Owing to the extreme dangers of this inland travelling, stringent regulations have been framed as to the loading of boats, supply of ropes and qualifications of men in charge, and the shooting of certain falls is prohibited. Voyages up-country are of necessity slow, but the return journey is made with comparatively great rapidity, distances laboriously covered on the up-trip in three days being done easily in seven hours when coming back.

From England British Guiana is reached in sixteen days by the steamers of the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company, and in nineteen days by those of the direct line from London and Glasgow. There are also regular services from Canada, the United States, France and Holland.


When taken over in 1803 the prospects of three British colonies were by no means promising, and during the next decade the situation became very critical. Owing to the increased output of sugar by conquered Dutch and French colonies the English market was glutted and the markets of the continent of Europe were not available, Bonaparte having closed the ports. The years 1811 and 1812 were peculiarly disastrous, especially to those engaged in the manufacture of sugar, and at a public meeting held in Georgetown early in the latter year it was stated that the produce of the colony ordinarily worth £r,860,000 had on account of deteriorated value decreased by fully one-third. At this meeting it was resolved to petition the imperial parliament to allow the interchange of produce with the United States; a resolution which was unfortunately rendered abortive by the outbreak of war between England and the States in 1812, the trade of British Guiana being instead actually harried by American privateers. In his address to the Combined Court on the 10th of October 1812 the governor (General Carmichael) stated that a vessel with government stores had been captured by an American privateer, and in February 1813 the imperial government sent H.M.S. " Peacock " to protect the coast. On the 23rd of that month in cruising along the east coast of Demerara the " Peacock " met the American privateer " Hornet," and though, after a gallant struggle, in which Captain Peake, R.N., was killed, the English ship was sunk with nearly all her crew, the colony did not suffer from any further depredations. In the following years news of the agitation in England in favour of emancipation gradually became known to the slaves and caused considerable unrest among them, culminating in 1823 in a serious outbreak on the estates on the east coast of Demerara. Negroes, demanding their freedom, attacked the houses of several managers, and although at most points these attacks were repulsed with but little loss on either side, the situation was so serious as to necessitate the calling out of the military. The ringleaders were arrested and promptly and vigorously dealt with, while a special court-martial was appointed to try the Rev. John Smith, of the London Missionary Society, who it was alleged had fostered the rising by his teachings to the slave congregation at his chapel in Le Ressouvenir. This trial was stigmatized as unfair by the missionary party in England, but on the whole appears to have been conducted decently by an undoubtedly unbiassed court. It is difficult now to form any very definite conclusion. Mr Smith certainly had great influence over the slaves, and while his teaching prior to the outbreak was at least ill-advised, he made no efforts while the disturbances were going on to use his influence on the side of law and order; indeed all he could say in his own defence was that he was ignorant of what was going on, a statement it is impossible to believe to have been strictly veracious. He was found guilty and sentenced to be hanged. It is obvious that it was never intended to carry out this sentence, and on the 29th of November the governor announced that he felt it imperative on him to transmit the findings of the court for His Majesty's consideration. The question of Smith's guilt or innocence created a great deal of feeling in England, the anti-slavery and missionary societies making it a basis for increased agitation in favour of the slaves; but the imperial government evidently agreed with the colonial executive in holding that he could not be exonerated of grave responsibility, as the order of the king was that while the sentence of death was remitted Mr Smith was to be dismissed from the colony and to enter into a recognizance in £2000 not to return to British Guiana or to reside in any other West Indian colony. This order reached Georgetown in April 1824, but Mr Smith had died in the city jail on the 6th of February of a pulmonary complaint from which he had been suffering for some time.

Sir Benjamin d'Urban was governor from April 1824 to May 1833, the principal event of his administration being the consolidation in 1831 of the three colonies into one colony divided into three counties, Berbice, Demerara and Essequibo.

Governor d'Urban was succeeded in June 1833 by Sir James Carmichael Smyth, who began his administration by a proclamation to the slaves stating that while the king intended to improve their condition, the details of his plans were not as yet completed, and warning them against impatience or insubordination. When the resolutions foreshadowing emancipation, passed by the House of Commons on the 12th of June 1833, reached the colony, the planters, to whom the governor's proclamation had been most distasteful, were thunderstruck and even the government was surprised. Naturally the slaves were wildly jubilant. Emancipation brought troublous times through which the governor steered the colony with great tact and firmness, serious troubles being nipped in the bud solely by his great personality, and the subsequent conflicts with the apprentices might have been obviated had he lived longer. He died at Camp House on the 4th of March 1838.

In the years following emancipation the colony was in a serious condition. The report of a commission in 1850 proved that it was virtually ruined, and only by the introduction of immigrants to provide a reliable labour supply were the sugar estates saved from total extinction. By 1853 the colony had begun to make headway, and Sir Henry Barkly, the then governor, was able to state in his speech to the Combined Court in January that its progress was in every way satisfactory. During Governor Barkly's administration the long series of struggles between the legislature and the executive terminated, and when he left in May 1853 he did so with the respect and good-will of all classes. The strengthening of the labour supply was not effected without troubles. In 1847 the negroes in Berbice attacked the persons and property of the Portuguese immigrants, the riots spreading to Demerara and Essequibo, and not until the military were called out were the disturbances quelled. Similar riots in 1862 were only stopped by the prompt and firm action of the new governor, Mr (afterwards Sir) Francis Hincks, while rows between negroes and Chinese and negroes and East Indians were frequent. Gradually, however, things quieted down, and until 1883 the estates as a whole did well. In 1884 the price of sugar fell so seriously as to make the prospects of the colony very gloomy, and for nearly two decades proprietors had to be content with a price kept artificially low by bounty-fed beet-sugar, many estates being ruined, while those that survived only did so by the application of every economy, and by their owners availing themselves of every new discovery in the sciences of cultivation and manufacture.

The year 1889 was marked by an outbreak on the part of a section of the negro population in Georgetown directed against the Portuguese residents there. A Portuguese had murdered his black paramour and had been convicted and sentenced to death. The governor commuted the sentence to penal servitude for life. Shortly after this a Portuguese stall-holder in the market assaulted a small black boy whom he suspected of pilfering, the latter having to be taken to a hospital, while the former, after being taken to a police station was, through some misunderstanding or informality, at once released. Almost immediately excitable and unreasoning negroes were rushing about loudly proclaiming that the boy was dead, that the Portuguese were allowed to kill black people and to go free, and calling on one another to take their own revenge. Mobs gathered quickly, attacked individual Portuguese and wrecked their shops and houses, and not until the city had been given up for two days to scenes of disgraceful disorder were the efforts of the police and special constables successful in quelling the disturbances. The damage done amounted to several thousands of dollars, the Portuguese owners being eventually compensated from general revenue.

In 1884 the dispute as to the boundary with Venezuela became acute. It was reported to the colonial government that the government of Venezuela had granted to an American syndicate a concession which covered much of the territory claimed by Great Britain, and although prompt investigation by an agent despatched by the governor did not then disclose any trace of interference with British claims, a further visit in January 1885, made in consequence of reports that servants of the Manoa Company had torn down notices posted by Mr McTurk on his former visit, discovered that the British notices had been covered over by Venezuelan ones and resulted in the government of Great Britain declaring that it would thenceforward exercise jurisdiction up to and within a boundary known as "the modified Schomburgk line." Outposts were located at points on this line, and for some years Guianese police and Venezuelan soldiers faced one another across the Amacura creek in the Orinoco mouth and at Yuruan up the Cuyuni river. Guianese officers were, however, presumably instructed not actively to oppose acts of aggression by the Venezuelan government, for in January 1895 Venezuelan soldiers arrested Messrs D. D. Barnes and A. H. Baker, inspectors of police in charge at Yuruan station, conveyed them through Venezuela to Caracas, eventually allowing them to take steamer to Trinidad. For this act compensation was demanded and was eventually paid by Venezuela. The diplomatic question as to the boundary - the results of which are stated above - was passed out of the hands of the colony; see the account of the arbitration under Venezuela.

The last two months of 1905 were marked by serious disturbances in Georgetown, and in a lesser degree on the east and west banks of the Demerara river. On the 29th of November the dock labourers employed on the wharves in Georgetown struck for higher wages, and large crowds invaded the principal stores in the city, compelling men willing to work to desist and in some cases assaulting those who opposed them. By the evening of the 30th of November they had got so far out of hand as to necessitate the reading of the Riot Act and a proclamation by the governor (Sir F. M. Hodgson) forbidding all assemblies. On the morning of the 1st of December serious disturbances broke out at Ruimvelt, a sugar estate directly south of Georgetown, where the cane-cutters had suddenly struck for higher pay, and the police were compelled to fire on the mob, killing some and wounding others. All through that day mobs in all parts of the city assaulted any white man they met, houses were invaded and windows smashed, and on two further occasions the police had to fire. At night torrential rains forced the rioters to shelter, and enabled the police to get rest, their places being taken by pickets of militiamen and special constables. On Saturday, the 2nd of December, the police had got the upper hand, and the arrival that night of H.M.S. " Sappho " and on Sunday of H.M.S. " Diamond " gave the government complete control of the situation. Threatened troubles on the sugar estates on the west bank were suppressed by the prompt action of the governor, and the arrest of large numbers of the rioters and their immediate trial by special courts restored thorough order.


- See Raleigh's Voyages for the Discovery of Guiana 1 5951 59 6, (" Hakluyt " series); Laurence Keymis' Relation of the second Voyage to Guiana (1596), (" Hakluyt " series); Sir R. H. Schomburgk, Description of British Guiana (London, 1840); C. Waterton, Wanderings in South America, 1812-1825 (London, 1828); J. Rodway, History of British Guiana (Georgetown, 1891-1894) H. G. Dalton, History of British Guiana (London, 18 55); J. W. Boddam Whetham, Roraima and British Guiana (London, 1879); C. P. Lucas, Historical Geography of British Colonies; E. F. im Thurn, Among the Indians of Guiana (London, 1883); British Guiana Directory (Georgetown, 1906); G. D. Bayley, Handbook of British Guiana (Georgetown, 1909). (A. G. B.*) II. Dutch Guiana, or Surinam, has an area of about 57,900 sq. m. British Guiana bounds it on the west and French on the east (the long unsettled question of the French boundary is dealt with in section III., French Guiana). The various peoples inhabiting Surinam are distributed according to the soil and the products. The Indians (Caribs, Arawaks, Warrous) live on the savannahs, or on the upper Nickerie, Coppename and Maroni, far from the plantations, cultivating their fields of manioc or cassava, and for the rest living by fishing and hunting. They number about 2000. The bush negroes (Marrons) dwell between 3° and 4 ° N., near the isles and cataracts. They are estimated at io,000, and are employed in the transport of men and goods to the goldfields, the navigation of the rivers in trade with the Indians, and in the transport of wood to Paramaribo and the plantations. They are the descendants of runaway slaves, and before missionaries had worked among them their paganism retained curious traces of their former connexion with Christianity. Their chief god was Gran Gado (grand-god), his wife Maria, and his son Jesi Kist. Various minor deities were also worshipped, Ampuka the bush-god, Toni the water-god, &c. Their language was based on a bastard English, mingled with many Dutch, Portuguese and native elements. Their chiefs are called gramman or grand man; but the authority of these men, and the peculiarities of language and religion, have in great measure died out owing to modern intercourse with the Dutch and others. The inhabitants of Paramaribo and the plantations comprise a variety of races, represented by Chinese, Javanese, coolies from India and the West Indies, negroes and about 2000 whites. Of nonChristian immigrants there are about 6000 Mahommedans and 12,000 Hindus; and Jews number about 1200. The total population was given in 1907 as 84,103, exclusive of Indians, &c., in the forests. Nearly one-half of this total are in Paramaribo and one-half in the districts. The population has shown a tendency to move from the districts to the town; thus in 1852 there were 6000 persons in the town and 32,000 in the districts.

The principal settlements have been made in the lower valley of the Surinam, or between that river and the Saramacca on the W. and the Commewyne on the E. The Surinam is the chief of a number of large rivers which rise in the Tumuc Humac range or the low hills between it and the sea, which they enter on the Dutch seaboard, between the Corentyn and the Maroni (Dutch Corantijn and Marowijne), which form the boundaries with British and French territories respectively. Between the rivers of Dutch Guiana there are remarkable cross channels available during the floods at least. As the Maroni communicates with the Cottica, which is in turn a tributary of the Commewyne, a boat can pass from the Maroni to Paramaribo; thence by the Sommelsdijk canal it can reach the Saramacca; and from the Saramacca it can proceed up the Coppename, and by means of the Nickerie find its way to the Corentyn. The rivers are not navigable inland to any considerable extent, as their courses are interrupted by rapids. The interior of the country consists for the most part of low hills, though an extreme height of 3800 ft. is known in the Wilhelmina Kette, in the west of the colony, about 3° 50' to 4° N. The hinterland south of this latitude, and that part of the Tumuc Humac range along which the Dutch frontier runs, are, however, practically unexplored. Like the other territories of Guiana the Dutch colony is divided physically into a low coast-land, savannahs and almost impenetrable forest.

Meteorological observations have been carried on at five stations (Paramaribo, Coronie, Sommelsdijk, Nieuw-Nickerie and Groningen). The mean range of temperature for the day, month and year shows little variation, being respectively 77.54° - 88.38° F., 76.1°- 78.62° F. and 70.52° - 90.14° F. The north-east trade winds prevail throughout the year, but the rainfall varies considerably; for December and January the mean is respectively 8.58 and 9 57 in., for May and June I I. 26 and 10.31 in., but for February and March 7.2 and 6.81 in., and for September 2.48 and 2 0 in. The seasons comprise a long and a short dry season, and a period of heavy and of slight rainfall.

Products and Trade

It has been found exceedingly difficult to exploit the produce of the forests. The most important crops and those supplying the chief exports are cocoa, coffee and sugar, all cultivated on the larger plantations, with rice, maize and bananas on the smaller or coast lands. Most of the larger plantations are situated on the lower courses of the Surinam, Commewyne, Nickerie and Cottica, and on the coast lands, rarely in the upper parts. Goldfields lie in the older rocks (especially the slate) of the upper Surinam, Saramacca and Maroni. The first section of a railway designed to connect the goldfields with Paramaribo was opened in 1906. The annual production of gold amounts in value to about £Ioo,000, but has shown considerable fluctuation. Agriculture is the chief means of subsistence. About 42,000 acres are under cultivation. Of 30,000 persons whose occupation is given in official statistics, close upon 21,000 are engaged in agriculture or on the plantations, 2400 in gold-mining and only 1000 in trade. The exports increased in value from £200,800 in 18 75 to £459, 800 in 1899, and imports from £ 260,450 in 1875 to £510,180 in 1899; but the average value of exports over five years subsequently was only £414,000, while that of imports was £531,000.


The colony is under a governor, who is president of an executive council, which also includes a vice-president and three members nominated by the crown. The legislative body is the states, the members of which are elected for six years by electors, of whom there is one for every 200 holders of the franchise. The colony is divided into sixteen districts. For the administration of justice there are three cantonal courts, two district courts, and the supreme court at Paramaribo, whose president and permanent members are nominated by the crown. The average local revenue (1901-1906) was about £276,000 and the expenditure about £317,000; both fluctuated considerably, and a varying subvention is necessary from the home government (£16,000 in 1902, £60,400 in 1906; the annual average is about £37,000). There are a civic guard of about 1800 men and a militia of 500, with a small garrison.


The history of the Dutch in Guiana, and the compression of their influence within its present limits, belongs to the general history of Guiana (above). Surinam and the Dutch islands of the West Indies were placed under a common government in 1828, the governor residing at Paramaribo, but in 1845 they were separated. Slavery was abolished in 1863. Labour then became difficult to obtain, and in 1870 a convention was signed between Holland and England for the regulation of the coolie traffic, and a Dutch government agent for Surinam was appointed at Calcutta. The problem was never satisfactorily solved, but the interest of the mother-country in the colony greatly increased during the last twenty years of the 19th century, as shown by the establishment of the Surinam Association, of the Steam Navigation Company's service to Paramaribo, and by the formation of a botanical garden for experimental culture at that town, as also by geological and other scientific expeditions, and the exhibition at Haarlem in 1898.


- Among the older works on Surinam the first rank is held by Jan Jacob Hartsinck's masterly Beschryving van Guiana, of de Wilde Kust, in Zuid Amerika (2 vols., Amsterdam, 1770). Extracts from this work, selected for their bearing upon British boundary questions, were translated and annotated by J. A. J. de Villiers (London, 1897). A valuable Geschiedenis der Kolonie van Suriname, by a number of " learned Jews," was published at Amsterdam in 1791; and it was supplemented and so far superseded by Wolbers, Geschiedenis van Suriname (Amsterdam, 1861). See further W. G. Palgrave, Dutch Guiana (London, 1876); A. Kappler, Surinam, sein Land, &c. (Stuttgart, 1887); Prince Roland Bonaparte, Les Habitants de Surinam (Paris, 1884); K. Martin, " Bericht fiber eine Reise ins Gebiet des OberenSurinam," Bijdragen v. h. Inst. voor Taal Land en Volkenkunde, i. 1. (The Hague); Westerouen van Meeteren, La Guyane neerlandaise (Leiden, 1884); H. Ten Kate, " Een en ander over Suriname," Gids (1888); G. Verschuur, " Voyages aux trois Guyanes, " Tour du monde (1893), PP. I, 49, 65; W. L. Loth, Beknopte Aardrijkskundige beschrzjving van Suriname (Amsterdam, 1898), and Tijdschrift van het Aardrijkskundig Genootschap (1878), 79, 93; Asch van Wyck, " La Colonie de Surinam," Les Pays-Bas (1898); L. Thompson, Overzicht der Geschiedenis van Suriname (The Hague, 1901); Catalogus der Nederl. W. I. ten Toonstelling to Haarlem (1899); Guide a travers la section des Indes neerlandaises, p. 323 (Amsterdam, 1899); Surinaamsche Almanak (Paramaribo, annually). For the language of the bush-negroes see Wullschlaegel, Kurzgefasste neger-englische Grammatik (Bautzen, 1854), and Deutsch neger-englisches Wiirterbuch (Lobau, 1865).

III. French Guiana (Guyane). - This colony is situated between Dutch Guiana and Brazil. A delimitation of the territory belonging to France and the Netherlands was arrived at in 1891 b decision of the em eror of French 9, Y P Guiana. Russia. This question originated in the arrangement of 1836, that the river Maroni should form the frontier. It turned on the claim of the Awa or the Tapanahoni to be recognized as the main head-stream of the Maroni, and the final decision, in indicating the Awa, favoured the Dutch. In 1905 certain territory lying between the upper Maroni and the Itany, the possession of which had not then been settled, was acquired by France by agreement between the French and Dutch governments. The question of the exploitation of gold in the Maroni was settled by attributing alternate reaches of the river to France and Holland; while France obtained the principal islands in the lower Maroni. The additional territory thus attached to the French colony amounted to 965 sq. m. In December 1900 the Swiss government as arbitrators fixed the boundary between French Guiana and Brazil as the river Oyapock and the watershed on the Tumuc Humac mountains, thus awarding to France about 3000 of the 100,000 sq. m. which she claimed. This dispute was of earlier origin than that with the Dutch; dissensions between the French and the Portuguese relative to territory north of the Amazon occurred in the 17th century. In 1700 the Treaty of Lisbon made the contested area (known as the Terres du Cap du Nord) neutral ground. The treaty of Utrecht in 1713 indicated as the French boundary a river which the French afterwards claimed to be the Araguary, but the Portuguese asserted that the Oyapock was intended. After Brazil had become independent the question dragged on until in 1890-1895 there were collisions in the contested territory between French and Brazilian adventurers. This compelled serious action, and a treaty of arbitration, preliminary to the settlement, was signed at Rio de Janeiro in 1897. French Guiana, according to official estimate, has an area of about 51,000 sq. m. The population is estimated at about 30,000; its movement is not rapid. Of this total 12,350 live at Cayenne, 10,10o were in the communes, 5700 formed the penal population, 150o were native Indians (Galibi, Emerillon, Oyampi) and 500 near Maroni were negroes. Apart from Cayenne, which was rebuilt after the great fire of 1888, the centres of population are unimportant: Sinnamarie with 150o inhabitants, Mana with 1750, Roura with 1200 and Approuague with 1150. In 1892 French Guiana was divided into fourteen communes, exclusive of the Maroni district. Belonging to the colony are also the three Safety Islands (Royale, Joseph and Du Diable - the last notable as the island where Captain Dreyfus was imprisoned), the Enfant Perdu Island and the five Remire Islands.

A considerable portion of the low coast land is occupied by marshes, with a dense growth of mangroves or, in the drier parts, with the pinot or wassay palm (Euterpe oleracea). Settlements are confined almost entirely to the littoral and alluvial districts. The forest-clad hills of the hinterland do not generally exceed 1500 ft. in elevation; that part of the Tumuc Humac range which forms the southern frontier may reach an extreme elevation of 2600 ft. But the dense tropical forests attract so much moisture from the ocean winds that the highlands are the birthplace of a large number of rivers which in the rainy season especially pour down vast volumes of water. Not less than 15 are counted between the Maroni and the Oyapock. South-eastward from the Maroni the first of importance is the Mana, which is navigable for large vessels 10 m. from its mouth, and for smaller vessels 27 m. farther. Passing the Sinnamary and the Kourou, the Oyock is next reached, near the mouth of which is Cayenne, the capital of the colony, and thereafter the Approuage. All these rivers take their rise in a somewhat elevated area about the middle of the colony; those streams which rise farther south, in the Tumuc Humac hills, are tributaries of the two frontier rivers, the Maroni on the one hand or the Oyapock on the other.

Climate and Products

The rainy season begins in November or December, and lasts till the latter part of June; but there are usually three or four weeks of good weather in March. During the rest of the year there is often hardly a drop of rain for months, but the air is always very moist. At Cayenne the average annual rainfall amounts to fully 130 in., and it is naturally heavier in the interior. During the hotter part of the year - August, September, October - the temperature usually rises to about 86° F., but it hardly ever exceeds 88°; in the colder season the mean is 79° and it seldom sinks so low as 70°. Between day and night there is very little thermometric difference. The prevailing winds are the N.N.E. and the S.E.; and the most violent are those of the N.E. During the rainy season the winds keep between N. and E., and during the dry season between S. and E. Hurricanes are unknown. In flora and fauna French Guiana resembles the rest of the Guianese region. Vegetation is excessively rich. Among leguminous trees, which are abundantly represented, the wacapou is the finest of many hardwood trees. Caoutchouc and various palms are also common. The manioc is a principal source of food; rice is an important object of cultivation; and maize, yams, arrowroot, bananas and the bread-fruit are also to be mentioned. Vanilla is one of the common wild plants of the country. The clove tree has been acclimatized, and in the latter years of the empire it formed a good source of wealth; the cinnamon tree was also successfully introduced in 1772, but like that of the pepper-tree and the nutmeg its cultivation is neglected. A very small portion of the territory indeed is devoted to agriculture, although France has paid some attention to the development of this branch of activity. In 1880 a colonial garden was created near Cayenne; since 1894 an experimental garden has been laid out at Baduel. About 8200 acres are cultivated, of which 5400 acres are under cereals and rice, the remaining being under coffee (introduced in 1716), cacao, cane and other cultures. The low lands between Cayenne and Oyapock are capable of bearing colonial produce, and the savannahs might support large herds; cereals, root-crops and vegetables might easily be grown on the high grounds, and timber working in the interior should be profitable.

Gold-mining is the most important industry in the colony. Placers of great wealth have been discovered on the Awa, on the Dutch frontier and at Carsevenne in the territory which formed the subject of the Franco-Brazilian dispute. But wages are high and transport is costly, and the amount of gold declared at Cayenne did not average more than 130,550 oz. annually in 1900-1905. Silver and iron have been found in various districts; kaolin is extracted in the plains of Montsinery; and phosphates have been discovered at several places. Besides gold-workings, the industrial establishments comprise saw-mills, distilleries, brick-works and sugarworks.

Trade and Communications

The commerce in 1885 amounted to £336,000 for imports and to £144,000 for exports; in 1897 the values were respectively £373,350 and £286,400, but in 1903, while imports had increased in value only to £418,720, exports had risen to £493,213. The imports consist of wines, flour, clothes, &c.; the chief are gold, phosphates, timber, cocoa and rosewood essence. Cayenne is the only considerable port. One of the drawbacks to the development of the colony is the lack of labour. Native labour is most difficult to obtain, and attempts to utilize convict labour have not proved very successful. Efforts to supply the need by immigration have not done so completely. The land routes are not numerous. The most important are that from Cayenne to Mana by way of Kourou, Sinnamarie and Iracoubo, and that from Cayenne along the coast to Kaw and the mouth of the Approuague. Towards the interior there are only foot-paths, badly made. By water, Cayenne is in regular communication with the Safety Islands (35 m.), and the mouth of the Maroni (80 m.), with Fort de France in the island of Martinique, where travellers meet the mail packet for France, and with Boston (U.S.A.). There is a French cable between Cayenne and Brest.


The colony is administered by a commissionergeneral assisted by a privy council, including the secretary general and chief of the judicial service, the military, penitentiary and administrative departments. In 1879 an elective general council of sixteen members was constituted. There are a tribunal of first instance and a higher tribunal at Cayenne, besides four justices of peace, one of whom has extensive jurisdiction in other places. Of the £256,000 demanded for the colony in the colonial budget for 1906, £235,000 represented the estimated expenditure on the penal settlement, so that the cost of the colony was only about £21,000. The local budget for 1901 balanced at £99,000 and in 1905 at £116,450. Instruction is given in the college of Cayenne and in six primary schools. At the head of the clergy is an apostolic prefect. The armed force consists of two companies of marine infantry, half a battery of artillery, and a detachment of gendarmerie, and comprises about 380 men. The penal settlement was established by a decree of 1852. From that year until 1867, 18,000 exiles had been sent to Guiana, but for the next twenty years New Caledonia became the chief penal settlement in the French colonies. But in 1885-1887 French Guiana was appointed as a place of banishment for confirmed criminals and for convicts sentenced to more than eight years' hard labour. A large proportion of these men have been found unfit for employment upon public works.


The Sieur La Revardiere, sent out in 1604 by Henry IV. to reconnoitre the country, brought back a favourable report; but the death of the king put a stop to the projects of formal colonization. In 1626 a small body of traders from Rouen settled on the Sinnamary, and in 1635 a similar band founded Cayenne. The Compagnie du Cap Nord, founded by the people of Rouen in 1643 and conducted by Poncet de Bretigny, the Compagnie de la France Equinoxiale, established in 1645, and the second Compagnie de la France Equinoxiale, or Cornpagnie des Douze Seigneurs, established in 1652, were failures, the result of incompetence, mismanagement and misfortune. From 1654 the Dutch held the colony for a few years. The French Compagnie des Indes Occidentales, chartered in 1664 with a monopoly of Guiana commerce for forty years, proved hardly more successful than its predecessors; but in 1674 the colony passed under the direct control of the crown, and the able administration of Colbert began to tell favourably on its progress, although in 1686 an unsuccessful expedition against the Dutch in Surinam set back the advance of the French colony until the close of the century.

The year 1763 was marked by a terrible disaster. Choiseul, the prime minister, having obtained for himself and his cousin Praslin a concession of the country between the Kourou and the Maroni, sent out about 12,000 volunteer colonists, mainly from Alsace and Lorraine. They were landed at the mouth of the Kourou, where no preparation had been made for their reception, and where even water was not to be obtained. Mismanagement was complete; there was (for example) a shop for skates, whereas the necessary tools for tillage were wanting. By 1765 no more than 918 colonists remained alive, and these were a famished fever-stricken band. A long investigation in Paris resulted in the imprisonment of the incompetent leaders of the expedition. Several minor attempts at colonization in Guiana were made in the latter part of the century; but they all seemed to suffer from the same fatal prestige of failure. During the revolution band after band of political prisoners were transported to Guiana. The fate of the royalists, nearly 600 in number, who were exiled on the 18th Fructidor (1797), was especially sad. Landed on the Sinnamary without shelter or food, two-thirds of them perished miserably. In 1800 Victor Hugues was appointed governor, and he managed to put the colony in a better state; but in 1809 his work was brought to a close by the invasion of the Portuguese and British.

Though French Guiana was nominally restored to the French in 1814, it was not really surrendered by the Portuguese till 1817. Numerous efforts were now made to establish the colony firmly, although its past misfortunes had prejudiced the public mind in France against it. In 1822 the first steam sugar mills were introduced; in 1824 an agricultural colony (Nouvelle Angouleme) was attempted in the Mana district, which, after failure at first, became comparatively successful. The emancipation of slaves and the consequent dearth of labour almost ruined the development of agricultural resources about the middle of the century, but in 1853 a large body of African immigrants was introduced. The discovery of gold on the Approuague in 1855 caused feverish excitement, and seriously disturbed the economic condition of the country.


- A detailed bibliography of French Guiana will be found in Ternaux-Compans, Notice historique de la Guyane francaise (Paris, 1843). Among more recent works, see E. Bassieres, Notice sur la Guyane, issued on the occasion of the Paris Exhibition (1900); Publications de la societe d'etudes pour la colonisation de la Guyane francaise (Paris, 1843-1844); H. A. Coudreau, La France iquinoxiale (1887), Dialectes indiens de Guyane (1891), Dix ans de Guyane(1892), and Chez nos Indiens (1893), all at Paris; G. Brousseau, Les Richesses de la Guyane francaise (Paris, 1901); L. F. Viala, Les Trois Guyanes (Montpellier, 1893).

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary




From the local language, meaning “land of many waters”.

Proper noun

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  1. A geological region in the north of South America.

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Proper noun

Guiana f.

  1. Guyana



Proper noun


  1. (archaic) Aquitaine


Proper noun

Guiana f

  1. Guyana; official name: República Cooperativa da Guiana
  2. Guiana: Guiana Francesa

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