Guyana extends over the northeast shoulder of the South American continent. The Atlantic Ocean stretches for 270 miles along the coast of Guyana, but the country's major thrust is southward and inland, for a distance of 450 miles. Guyana borders on Venezuela in the west, Brazil in the south, and Suriname in the east.
There are three distinct geographical areas - the coastal belt, the forested and mountainous area, and the savannah zone.
765,000 (UN, 2003)
214,969 sq km
East Indian:50.0%, African:36.0%, Amerindian:7.0%, European, Chinese, Mixed:7.0%
www.bradt-travelguides.com Water tumbling from the world’s biggest single-drop waterfall at Kaieteur needs to be tested for steroids if Guyana’s list of superlatively large wildlife species is anything to go by. The country’s one million-acre Iwokrama reserve encompasses a long list of America’s, and in some instances the world’s, largest species, including black caiman, capybara, arapaima (freshwater fish), anaconda, giant anteater, giant river otter, giant river turtle, false vampire bat, harpy eagle and jaguar. However, by contrast, tourism exists only on a small scale.Bradt’s Guyana is the first English-language guide to this anomalous little-known English-speaking South American state, bordered by Brazil, Suriname and the Atlantic Ocean. 80% of the country remains covered by rainforest, supporting a wealth of natural history including 225 mammals, 880 reptiles and amphibians, 810 birds and over 6,500 plants – others undoubtedly await identification. With only 750,000 inhabitants populating roughly 5% of the country’s 83,000 square miles, Guyana may not be short of space but it’s certainly short of visitors. As author Kirk Smock identifies, ‘Communities are told over and over again that they have all of the necessary components to create an ideal ecotourism destination. Lodges are built, trails are cut and guides are trained… The problem is that Guyana remains a virtual unknown. Villages can’t depend on tourism without enough visitors.’Smock charts Guyana’s history from its Amerindian origins, through colonisation, conflict and the slave trade, to independence in 1996 and beyond. However, this is no self-congratulatory catalogue of improvement, and even now Guyana is amongst the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere. Economists locally and internationally have clearly identified Guyana’s great potential for ecotourism. However, here is an instance where seeing once is worth a deal more than a thousand words.Kirk Smock is a jungle survival specialist and freelance travel writer, originally from the United States, who has lived and worked in Guyana.