Six Things You Didn't Know About Guyana

There is a good chance that you have never even heard of Guyana. And even if you have, you may not have realized where it was located (the very northern tip of South America). That’s OK! You are not alone. Most of my life I’ve been explaining to people where Guyana is and why it is so unique and special. So if you ever end up on Jeopardy! and the category is Guyana, here are five things you should know.


1) Forests Cover Nearly 85% Of The Country

Guyana is only about 83,000 sq. miles—the third-smallest sovereign state in South America—bordered by Venezuela, Suriname, Brazil and the Atlantic Ocean . But nearly 90% of the population (775,000 people) is consolidated along the coastline. The vast majority of the country is comprised of dense rainforest, where nine indigenous tribes are scattered.


2) It’s Caribbean

Guyana is the only South American country that was once a British colony (not gaining its independence until 1966). As a result there are very strong Caribbean tendencies Guyana in the culture and its traditions. In fact Guyana is one of the four founding members of CARICOM (an organization of fifteen Caribbean nations)—and has the largest landmass of all Caribbean counties..


3) It’s English Speaking!

Because of the historical connection to Britain, Guyana is the only country in South America where English is the primary language. That’ll makes visiting easier (granted, only if you can interpret the accents). The vast majority of the population also speaks a Guyanese Creole —which, like other Caribbean languages, is elastic and is constantly changing.

4) Oil Discovery

ExxonMobil has made 13 oil discoveries in Guyana since 2015, totaling an estimated 5.5 billion barrels of discovered recoverable resource. There are estimates that the discoveries have the potential to generate nearly $20 billion in oil revenue annually by the end of the next decade. Of course, the discovery has come with a whole lot of drama and potential problems.


5) A Must Visit For Bird Lovers

Because of the vast rainforests and uninhabited land, Guyana is home to a breathtaking array of iridescently-colored birds. If birding is your thing, you can take tours into the wild and see hundreds upon hundreds of species (most estimates say over 800!)—making Guyana one of the top destinations for birdwatching enthusiasts in the world.


6) Breathtaking Waterfalls

Keieteur Falls, on the Potaro River in the Kaieteur National Park, is the world’s largest single drop waterfall in the world (by volume of water). Plunging from a height of 741 feet, it is four times higher than Niagra Falls with an average flow rate of 23,400 cubic feet per second Kaieteur is among the most powerful waterfalls in the world. The falls are incredibly remote, surrounded entirely by rainforest, so visitors can only reach it by chartering a plane and following a hiking tour to the top.