Capital | Cayenne
Population | 186,917
Area | 91,000 SQ KM
Official Language | French
Currency | Euro (EUR)
Time Zone | UTC -3
Best Time to Visit | July to December, or in late February for Carnaval
Connecting with the Culture | Observing by moonlight the amazing ritual of giant leatherback turtles storming the beach to lay eggs and their newborn offspring scuttling to the sea. Visiting the fascinating former penal-settlement islands of Ȋles du Salut by private catamaran or sailboat. Learning everything you always wanted to know about rockets but were afraid to ask at Centre Spatial Guyanais (French Guiana Space Center). Hanging out in Cayenne and enjoying ethnic diversity, tropical ambience, gorgeous streetscapes and Creole cuisine. Being overwhelmed by the age-old virgin rainforest in Trésor Nature Reserve (or just about anywhere in the interior).
Read | Henri Charriére’s classic Papillon for readable first-person account of the infamous penal colony on Devil’s Island.
Listen | to Caribbean rhythms with a French accent.
Watch | the legendary Hollywood film Papillon starring Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman.
Eat | crêpe forestiére (a savory crepe of mushrooms and cheese), Vietnamese noodles or deliciously decadent pastries.
Drink | rum or fresh fruit juice.
In a Word | Chébran (cool)
Characteristics | Penal settlements (particularly Devil’s Island); French space rockets; Francophiles; turtles.
Surprises | French Guiana’s rain forest in 90% intact; Plage Les Hattes contains the highest density of leatherback-turtle nesting sites in the world.