Guyana – Country Information
Guyana: Previously known as British Guiana, the nation won independence from Britain in May 1966 and became the Co-operative Republic of Guyana in 1970.
Total Area: 83,000 sq. miles, extending 501 miles from north to south and 271 miles from east to west.
Religions: Mainly Christianity, Hinduism and Islam.
Official Languages: English but unofficially, most Guyanese speak ‘Guyanese’, an English-based Creole (Patois). Hindu, Urdu and Arabic are generally used by Hindus and Moslems in religious ceremonies but a few words have found their way into the Guyanese vocab. The nine indigenous Amerindians communities speak a number of dialects including Arawak, Macushi and Warao.
Population: 751,223 people (2002 Census), made up of East Indian, Black, Mixed heritage, Amerindian, Portuguese and Chinese ethnicities.
Time Zone: GMT / UTC -3 or -4 depending on the time of year.
National Holidays: February 23 (Republic Day), May 1 (Labour Day), May 5 (Indian Arrival Day), May 26 (Independence Day), June 16 (Enmore Martyrs’ Day) and August 1 (Emancipation Day).
When to visit: Consider timing your visits to coincide with festivals and other national annual events such as Mashramani (February); Phagwah (March) Rupununi Rodeo (Easter), Bartica Regatta (Easter) Diwali (November) and Christmas (December).
Climate: Tropical and usually pleasant and warm for most of the year. Two rainy seasons: May to mid-August and November to January. So if you plan to visit the interior, avoid the Interior wet season (May to end August) when roads may become impassable and flooding is a possibility.
Currency: Guyanese dollar (G$), in denominations of 20, 100, 500 and 1000 dollar notes and 1, 5, and 10 dollar coins.
Money Matters: Some tour operators, car rentals, restaurants, hotels and businesses in Georgetown accept foreign currency (usually US$ and sometimes £ or €); travellers cheques (not so popular) and credit cards such as Master Card, Visa, Scotia Card and sometimes, American Express. However, this is not always the case and even less so outside the capital so make sure you have enough cash. There are many licensed cambios available, which tend to offer better currency exchange rates than the banks. Scotia Bank branches also provide ATMs where you can withdraw money from many overseas banks with a PIN.
Taxes: 16% VAT added to the price of most goods and services.
Departure Taxes: All passengers exiting Guyana are required to pay a compulsory exit tax and security charge, totalling G$4000 (approx. £13/US$21), which must be paid at the airport in cash (G$, US$ and £).
Voltage: Usually 110v in Georgetown and 220V in other places, including parts of the suburbs. It also makes sense to pack an adaptor capable of dealing with both two and three-pronged sockets.
Flying to Guyana: Caribbean Airlines, Delta, EZjet, LIAT and Surinam Airways.
For a map of Guyana and more information on Georgetown, things to do, where to eat and drink, where to stay and handy tips, click on the thumbnail pictures on the right.