Traveling Luck for Guyana. Guyana, South America

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Guyana is located in Northern South America, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Suriname and Venezuela.

Land in Guyana is mostly rolling highlands; low coastal plain; savanna in south.

Guyanese land covers an area of 214970 square kilometers which is slightly smaller than Idaho

Guyana has borders with Brazil for 1119km, Suriname for 600km and Venezuela for 743km.

Guyanese flag Guyanese national flag (Flag of Guyana)

As for the Guyanese climate; tropical; hot, humid, moderated by northeast trade winds; two rainy seasons (May to August, November to January).

Guyanese (singular and plural) speak English, Amerindian dialects, Creole, Hindi, Urdu.

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Places of note in Guyana

Guyanese Map Guyanese map

Regions of Guyana

Originally a Dutch colony in the 17th century, by 1815 Guyana had become a British possession. The abolition of slavery led to black settlement of urban areas and the importation of indentured servants from India to work the sugar plantations. This ethnocultural divide has persisted and has led to turbulent politics. Guyana achieved independence from the UK in 1966, and since then it has been ruled mostly by socialist-oriented governments. In 1992, Cheddi JAGAN was elected president in what is considered the country's first free and fair election since independence. After his death five years later, his wife, Jane JAGAN, became president but resigned in 1999 due to poor health. Her successor, Bharrat JAGDEO, was reelected in 2001.

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Country Profile for Guyana

The Guyanese economy exhibited moderate economic growth in 2001-02, based on expansion in the agricultural and mining sectors, a more favorable atmosphere for business initiatives, a more realistic exchange rate, fairly low inflation, and the continued support of international organizations. Growth slowed in 2003 and came back gradually in 2004, buoyed largely by increased export earnings; it slowed again in 2005. Chronic problems include a shortage of skilled labor and a deficient infrastructure. The government is juggling a sizable external debt against the urgent need for expanded public investment. The bauxite mining sector should benefit in the near term from restructuring and partial privatization. Export earnings from agriculture and mining have fallen sharply, while the import bill has risen, driven by higher energy prices. Guyana's entrance into the Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME) in January 2006 might broaden the country's export market, primarily in the raw materials sector.

Guyanese natural resources include bauxite, gold, diamonds, hardwood timber, shrimp, fish

the third-smallest country in South America after Suriname and Uruguay; substantial portions of its western and eastern territories are claimed by Venezuela and Suriname respectively

Guyanese religion is Christian 50%, Hindu 35%, Muslim 10%, other 5%.

Natural hazards in Guyana include flash floods are a constant threat during rainy seasons.

Travel Advice for Guyana

Guyana

This advice has been reviewed and reissued with an amendment to the Summary and Crime section.  The overall level of the advice has not changed.

SUMMARY

  • Most visits to Guyana are trouble-free, but crime levels are high especially in Georgetown and towns in the coastal regions.  Visitors to the eco-tourism sites (outside of Georgetown and the coastal regions) do not generally experience any problems.

  • You should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks which could take place in public areas, including those frequented by foreigners.

  • If you are travelling to Guyana for the ICC Cricket World Cup, which runs from 11 March to 28 April 2007, with warm-up games in the region beginning on 5 March 2007, you should see the FCO’s ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 for general advice you may need before you travel.

  • Around 6,700 British tourists/nationals visit Guyana every year.  Most visits are trouble-free.  The main type of incident for which British nationals require consular assistance in Guyana is for the replacement of stolen passports.

  • We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.  Please see: Travel Insurance


SAFETY AND SECURITY

Crime
Crime levels in Guyana are high.  There are frequent indiscriminate shootings, armed robberies and car-jackings.  Murders increased by 7% in 2006 and armed robberies by 21%. On 26 February 2006 eight people were killed by gunmen in the villages of Eccles and Agricola on the road to Georgetown from the airport.  On 22 April 2006 the Minister of Agriculture, his brother, his sister and a guard at the Minister’s home were murdered.  On 8 August 2006, gunmen killed 5 print workers at a newspaper printery in Eccles and a bystander in the neighbouring village of Bagotstown.
You are advised to exercise extreme caution in Georgetown, along the East Coast Demerara (especially in the vicinity of the villages of Buxton, Friendship and Annandale), the East Bank of the Demerara river (Eccles and Agricola), along the Timehri to Linden highway and along the laterite road to Lethem and the Brazilian border.  If you become aware of an incident developing, leave the area immediately.  Every effort should be made to avoid travel after dark in these regions but if your journey is really necessary, travel in convoy.
Many of Guyana’s difficulties are common to countries with wide disparities in wealth and where the perception is that all foreigners are wealthy.  Exercise due care and common sense.
Burglary and theft from cars are regular occurrences.  Take extra precautions to protect your passports, money, tickets and other valuables.  Even if staying with family, do not leave these possessions in view.  Keep them somewhere less obvious than your baggage.  If staying in a hotel, make use of hotel safes and be careful about allowing strangers access to your room.  You should be particularly vigilant when leaving local banks to ensure that you are not being followed.
Avoid the Stabroek Market and Tiger Bay areas and all of south Georgetown. If you must walk along the sea wall avoid the more deserted stretches and walk in a group at the times when other walkers are most likely to be about, e.g. around 17:00 hours to 18:00 hours.  Carry nothing to draw attention to yourself and do not carry valuables.
Avoid walking alone around Georgetown, even in the main areas and especially at night.  Although bandits have attacked some taxis, they remain the safest means of getting about town for visitors.  Only taxis from reputable companies should be used (see Local Travel section below).  Exercise constant vigilance.  Do not dress ostentatiously.  Do not carry valuables, large quantities of money, video cameras, or other obvious signs of wealth.  There has been an increase in the number of muggings of British and North American nationals, some have taken place in broad daylight.
There have been attacks against ships in and around the waters of Guyana.  Mariners are advised to be vigilant and take appropriate precautions.
Political Situation
Guyana Country Profile
Elections were held on 28 August 2006.  They passed off peacefully and although the situation remains quiet, the capacity for violence remains.
You should avoid large crowds, demonstrations and obvious political gatherings.
Local Travel
The north coast of Guyana is below sea level and protected by a sea defence and dam system.  In January and early February 2005, there was widespread flooding in Georgetown, East Coast Demerara and several coastal regions.  Any future heavy rainfall could lead to flooding.  The main rainy seasons are May/June and December/January.
Avoid using minibuses.  They are extremely dangerous and are responsible for the majority of road accidents in Guyana.  Only use taxis from reputable companies.  Do not hail taxis from the roadside.

There have been no reports of problems being encountered by travellers to the interior of Guyana visiting sites in the eco-tourism sites.
Borders with Suriname and Venezuela are in dispute.  These disputes are on the back burner but if you are near the border area you should keep this in mind.  Only scheduled ferry services should be used when crossing the CorentyneRiver between Guyana and Suriname.  Use of water taxis from Suriname to Guyana can lead to arrest and deportation
Road Safety
Driving in Guyana can be hazardous because of poor road conditions in some areas and poor driving habits.  You should exercise caution at all times while driving.  Driving at night should be restricted as much as possible.
If planning to drive in Guyana, an International Driving Permit is recommended.  Alternatively, a local driving permit, valid for one month can be obtained from the Licence and Revenue Office in Georgetown on submission of a valid British driving licence.


LOCAL LAWS AND CUSTOMS

Drug trafficking is a serious problem.  Possession and trafficking in drugs leads to lengthy prison sentences and heavy fines.  The minimum jail sentence for illegal drug offences is three years.  Pack all luggage yourself and do not carry any items that do not belong to you.

Increasingly people are being offered free air tickets to Guyana.  On arrival the same people find their "sponsors" will only allow them to leave Guyana if they carry a "package" (usually cocaine).  The Guyana anti-drug authorities are aware of this and will routinely stop or search Europeans travelling alone.


ENTRY REQUIREMENTS

British visitors do not need visas to enter Guyana. Visitors are generally given 30 days to remain in Guyana, but extensions can usually be obtained from the Ministry of Home Affairs in Georgetown.  You should check entry requirements: Guyana Representation in London
All passengers leaving Guyana must pay a compulsory departure tax/security levy.  The current fee is G$4,000/£14/US$22 and must be paid in cash (Guyana dollars, Sterling or US dollars).


HEALTH

We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.  Please see: Travel Insurance
Medical facilities are severely limited and you are strongly advised to ensure that your insurance covers the costs of medical evacuation.
Typhoid is still present throughout Guyana.  Malaria and dengue fever are common in the interior.  More than three-quarters of British travellers who contracted malaria in 2005 did not take preventive measures, such as malaria prevention tablets.  However, malaria can occur despite appropriate prevention, and therefore you should promptly seek medical care in the event of a fever or flu-like illness in the first year following your return from travelling to a malaria risk country.  Before travelling you should seek medical advice about the malaria risk in Guyana.
You should be aware of the high prevalence of the HIV/AIDS virus and take standard precautions to avoid exposure.
You should seek medical advice before travelling and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up to date.  For further information on health, check the Department of Health’s website at: www.dh.gov.uk


GENERAL

If things go wrong when overseas, please see: What We Can Do To Help
In view of the general security situation in Guyana, all long-term visitors are advised to register their presence with the British High Commission in Georgetown.
Credit cards are not widely accepted in Guyana.  Only one bank, the Bank of Nova Scotia, will issue cash advances against credit cards and only the bigger hotels will accept them for payment.  You should therefore bring sufficient currency or travellers' cheques to cover your anticipated expenditure.  American Dollars are more widely accepted than other foreign currencies (it is advisable that you carry some small denomination notes).  Note: it is legal to change foreign currency at specified banks, cambios and tourist facilities.