Capital | Georgetown
Population | 744,768 (July 2011 est.)
Area | 214,970 SQ KM
Official Language | English
Holidays | Republic Day, 23 February (1970)
Currency | Dollar (GYD)
Time Zone | UTC -4
Best Time to Visit | At the end of either rainy season: late January or late August
Connecting with the Culture | Reveling in the spray of South America’s most majestic waterfalls, Kaieteur Falls. Visiting Iwokrama, rainforest conservation and development centre. Trucking on an unforgettable overland crossing from Georgetown to Lethem. Taking a wildlife-viewing excursion to a local ranch in the Rupununi Savanna, a vast area of grassland, termite mounds and forested hills. Exploring the gold and diamond fields near Bartica.
Read | the country’s best known work of literature, ER Braithwaite’s To Sir With Love; or Ninety-Two Days which Evelyn Waugh wheezed his way through Guyana’s rugged interior to write.
Listen | to Eddy Grant, who had a hit with ‘Electric Avenue’ in the early eighties.
Watch | The Mighty Quinn starring Guyanese- born Norman Beaton.
Eat | pepperpot (a spicy stew cooked in bitter cassava juice), souse (jellied cow’s head) or try an East Indian curry and roti.
Drink | Banks beer, local rum El Dorado 5 Star, or delicious fruit punches.
In a Word | Cat a ketch rat, but he a teef he massa fish (good and evil come from the same source)
Characteristics | Crime; Jim Jones tragedy; having the worst national football team in South America; internationally renowned cricketer Clive Lloyd.
Surprises | An estimated 30% of Iwokrama’s flora and fauna is still unidentified; the national indoor pursuit is dominoes.
NEWS ABOUT GUYANA
Guyana testing public opinion on death penalty & gay rights (HN, 4/11/12) - Guyana is engaging in a national debate on whether to eliminate its death penalty & change laws discriminating against homosexuals & transgender people. Town hall-style meetings will be held across the country starting this month as part of a promise made to the United Nations Human Rights Council & will allow the Guyana government to gauge public opinion before deciding whether to change any laws. National Security Minister Clement Rohee has already launched the debate on hangings via televised panel discussions that allow for call-ins. No one has been hanged in Guyana since 1997, even though the law remains on the books; nearly 30 prisoners are on death row in the country. Regarding the question of homosexuality laws, Presidential Adviser Gail Teixeira told the media: “Government has no line or position on the gay rights issue. We will hold the consultations & if the recommendation is to change the laws, then that will be taken into consideration.” The independent Society Against Sexual Orientation & Discrimination has said it will campaign to remove what it says are extremely discriminatory colonial-era laws. (Read more at Caribbean360)