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Guyana - Essay Example

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Nestled at the northern tip of South America, Guyana is the country between Suriname and Venezuela. Covering 83,000 square miles (214,970 square kilometers), Guyana lies just north of the equator and has a tropical climate (CIA World Factbook, 2006).
With its capital and chief port Georgetown, Guyana at present reverberates its British colonial past and its reactions to that past…
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Download file to see previous pages The more numerous coastal peoples are chiefly descendants of slaves from Africa and indentured workers from India, who were originally imported to work the coastal sugarcane plantations. Racial problems between the latter two groups have played a disruptive role in Guyanese society. Politically, Guyana has moved on a steady course toward socialism from the time of independence, although after the death of the first prime minister, Forbes Burnham, in 1985, ties with Western powers were strengthened (Encyclopdia Britannica, 2006)
Moreover, Guyana is a democratic republic within the British Commonwealth. The nation is divided into 10 regions. The president, currently Bharrat Jagdeo, who serves as chief of state. The prime minister (Samuel Hinds) is appointed by the president and is head of government. All but 3 of the 68-seat National Assembly members are directly elected. The population of Guyana is estimated to be about 767,245.1 Emigration has kept the annual population growth rate well below 1 percent. About 37 percent of the population lives in urban areas, the largest of which are Georgetown, Linden, and New Amsterdam. The villages and fertile acres of the coastal lowlands are home to another 58 percent. The remaining 5 percent, mostly indigenous people, is scattered throughout the interior.
As the country prides its ethnically diverse heritage, Guyana's largest group is made up of descendants of the East Indian immigrants and comprises nearly 50 percent of the country's population. Next are the Afro-Guyanese (36 percent) and American Indian indigenous peoples (7 percent).2 The remainder includes people of mixed race as well as small groups of ethnic Chinese, English, and Portuguese. Guyana is the third-smallest country in South America after Suriname and Uruguay, and substantial portions of its western and eastern territories are claimed by Venezuela and Suriname respectively.
Warrau and Arawak Catholics fled to British Guiana from Venezuela in the 19th century to escape religious persecution. Their settlements, such as Santa Rosa, are protected reservations. Today's indigenous peoples are seeking title to the lands they occupy, as they feel increasingly threatened by local and international companies looking for mineral and timber wealth. At the same time, many indigenous people are taking jobs with these companies in hopes of overcoming poverty on the reservations (Daly 1975, p. 6).
Little is known about the Guyana's early inhabitants, but historians speculate they gradually migrated from central South America as early as A.D. 1000. These people were divided into at least nine tribes, including the Warrau, Wapisiana, Machushi, Patamona, Arawak, and Carib. Before the arrival of Europeans, Carib and Arawak tribes called their region as "Guiana", which means "land of waters" (CultureGrams, 2006).
The Dutch established the first European trading post in Guyana in 1580 and were soon joined by the English, French, and Spanish. In 1621, the Netherlands established the Dutch West India Company and gave it control of their colony, known as Essequibo. Dutch colonies were later established on the Berbice River (1627) and Demerara ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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