Guyana, the country on South America’s northern coast, is defined most distinctly by its dense tropical rainforests. English-language, with Calypso and music, it is culturally related to the Caribbean region. Its capital, Georgetown, known for British colonial architecture, contains some of the older monuments of the period. A large white clock marks the entrance of Stabroek Market, an important source of locally produced goods.
Guyana has different ethnic groups whose cultural influences differ in many ways from each other. In Guyana City, the majority are African American, whose culture emphasizes spiritualism. The second largest ethnic group, the Caribbeans, emphasize their connection with England through the language and colonizing practices that are deeply rooted in England. The third major ethnic group, the Spaniards, settled in Guyana in the sixteenth century and founded the majority of the town’s Indigenous population. Guyanese, an ethnic group also concentrated in Guyana in the last few centuries, are largely Christian.
The economy of Guyana is characterized by heavy dependence on fish and timber exports, with over half of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) generated in the form of livestock. Guyana also relies heavily on mining deposits such as gold and iron ore, which account for most of its Gross Domestic Product. Guyana’s major trading partners are the United States and Brazil. The two main ethnic groups in Guyana are the Bajo and Kaumatu, the indigenous groups indigenous to Guyana and the predominant language is Kukutu, a combination of French and Kukui.
The origins of Guyana’s ethnic groups are currently undergoing significant changes as new ethnic groups are striving to impose their cultural identity and create communal values based on their religion and community practices. For example, the kaumatu (or black Caribbeans), a very large population of mostly black people who were displaced from other areas in Guyana in the late 1960s, have succeeded in creating their own identity and cultural values based on their language and history. Unlike the kaumatu of Guyana who are mostly involved in agriculture, fishing and hunting, the Africans, numbering approximately thirty-three ethnic groups, are a significant part of Guyana’s economy. Most of them speak Kukutu as their primary language.
The major language group in Guyana is the Kuchi, spoken by the majority of the Africans as well as the whites who are converts from other indigenous cultures. The Creoles were the original settlers of Guyana, numbering about seventy-five to one hundred thousand before the arrival of Europeans. They succeeded in uniting the diverse cultural groups, developing their own social structure based on their religion, culture and language. The major language group in Guyana is the Creole, who are mainly represented by the Telenese and the Garifuna, although there are also minor language groups such as the Ibiceno and the Guanchero that have maintained their distinct language, culture and customs throughout the years.
Many scholars believe that the origin of Guyana’s political structure can be traced to the Portuguese who brought with them the into the country after they reached Guyana’s shores in the early sixteenth century. These slaves were used for agricultural labor in the towns and cities along the coast and were later lured by the British to establish their foothold in Guyana. As a result, the indigenous population was fragmented and as a result of this “brain drain”, the urbanized Guyana citizens began to demand for more urban services, which were offered by the British. This led to the establishment of numerous mansions and palaces by the British in the towns and countryside of Guyana, which eventually transformed these into the major center of government and business in Guyana.
It was during this period that the two countries began to have significant trade relations and Guyana became a major supplier of cocoa, sugarcane, meat, coffee and lumber to both the British and the American authorities. However, the year nineteen seventy-one saw the downfall of the British rule in Guyana when they were compelled by the populace to remove from the island their gold mining industry. Despite the setback, Guyana remained an American protectorate and trade partner until the nineteen fifties when the independence of Venezuela was achieved by the nation’s people. Over the years Guyana has had two national assemblies, one for elective and one for the people’s mandate, which has been repeatedly put to the test. At present, Guyana is a republic whilst its capital city, Monterrey, is the official seat of the government.
Guyana has remained a vital Caribbean trading post and today it plays an important role in the economic and financial developments between the Caribbean islands. The country has been a significant source of timber, fuel wood as well as oil palm. Guyana is also a leading producer of foodstuffs, clothing, textiles and rubber. The recent surge in tourism, particularly to Caracas, Venezuela, has seen a great influx of Afriyese and Congolese immigrants who are settling in Guyana, in addition to hundreds of thousands of Caribbeans who had made Guyana their home centuries ago. So it is no accident that Guyana has become a favorite tourist destination for both Caribbean travelers and Europeans alike.