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GuyanaGuyana's name comes from the more historic spelling of the word "Guiana," which referred to the entire region. Guiana means "land of many waters" in a local indigenous language.


The lands of Guyana were never sought as much of the country was covered in forests and swamps. Because of this few people called this land home, although those who did remained fairly isolated and developed unique cultures and lifestyles based on the lands, plants, and animals. Even with the arrival of the Europeans to this region there was no immediate effort to settle the lands.

Although colonization efforts by the Europeans were slow, their arrival did spread numerous European diseases, which killed many of the indigenous people. In the 1600s the Dutch began clearing lands and converting the swamps into fields. This movement pushed the indigenous people further into the land's interior, while establishing Dutch culture on the coasts.

As farm lands spread, so too did a need for manual laborers, which led to the enslavement of the indigenous people and the beginning of slavery in the region. The African population vastly grew, leading to great conflicts between the slave owners and the slaves themselves. Slave rebellions were a regular occurrence as many slaves also escaped for the forests, often times marrying indigenous people, creating a new ethnic combination and culture; these people are known as "maroons" and their culture and lifestyle continue to the present to a degree.

Due to the arguments and rebellions, eventually the Dutch turned to allowing immigration by anyone, creating a large influx of British and eventually British control over the region. These people, who primarily moved from the Caribbean, again changed the culture dramatically as British-Caribbean culture soon dominated the region. However, the African and maroon cultures also existed. Despite the immigration, laborers were still needed on the lands so the British welcomed additional immigrants, who primarily came from India.

The Indians, along with other immigrants again changed the culture and lifestyle in the region. Many of the ethnic Indians maintained cultural aspects, languages, foods, religions, and more from their home country. Even today nearly half the country is ethnically Indian and these people dominate the country's culture and lifestyle. However, a large number of ethnic Africans maintain a unique culture, and the indigenous people in the forests also continue to live with many similarities as they have in the past.

Although the many sub-cultures exist in Guyana, they also all have similarities, primarily due to a shared history and the same past influences, which being with the British, whose most notable introductions include the English language, Protestantism (which was also influenced by the Dutch and others), and technological improvements. However, due to the diversity even these commonalities are not shared by the majority, although technology is slowly creating a more uniform culture and lifestyle across all ethnic groups.

The colors on Guyana's flag all have specific meanings. Red represents the zeal and sacrifice of the people, black means perseverance, yellow is for mineral resources and a bright future, white is for the country's rivers, and green represents the forests and vegetation.

Name: Cooperative Republic of Guyana
Independence: May 26, 1966
Capital: Georgetown
Currency: Guyana Dollar
Population: 739,903 (2013 estimate)
Ethnicity: Indian & African-Indigenous
Language: English
Religion: Protestant, Hindi, & Catholic

Information for Guyana was last updated: March, 2014 ● View our: Sources & Special Thanks