Yello’s Bite-sized Guide to the Caribbean: Guyana
by Karen Rollins Mar 7, 2022
Yello knows the Caribbean! We are based in 20 countries across the region, and each one of them is quintessentially Caribbean while also offering visitors a one-of-a-kind cultural experience.
Our British, French and Dutch colonial past can be seen in our food, art, fashion, music, and languages. Yet as a region, we are also slowly developing our own unique Caribbean identity based on our distinct geography, values, and experiences.
It’s time to appreciate our shared Caribbean culture and learn more about the countries in our region – let’s fly over to Guyana.
Independence Day: 26 May 1966
Republic Day: 23 February 1970
Background: The first humans to inhabit Guyana were groups of Arawak, Carib, and possibly Warao (Warrau). Christopher Columbus sighted the coast of Guyana in 1498, and Spain subsequently laid claim to it, but the Dutch were the first Europeans to establish settlements in about 1580.
Guyana changed hands frequently, mainly between Britain and France, from 1792 to 1815. The British gained full control of disparate parts of the country in 1831 and united it as the colony of British Guiana.
Guyana is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the north, Suriname to the east, Brazil to the south and southwest, and Venezuela to the west.
Getting around: According to the Guyana Tourism Authority, “15-seater minivans and local taxis are the main form of transportation between towns in the coastal region with taxis being the more comfortable option.”
Hiring a car is not recommended because of challenging driving conditions and the poor state of most of Guyana’s roads.
Boats are a popular mode of transport because of Guyana’s river-centric geography. Large transport ferries connect Guyana and Suriname and the Essequibo Coast, with speed boats, dugout canoes, and jet boats manoeuvring people around the smaller waterways.
Must-see place of interest: Kaieteur National Park spans 154,885 acres and is the oldest and most iconic Protected Area of Guyana. It was established in 1929 and is especially renowned for the awe-inspiring Kaieteur Falls.
The Kaieteur Falls are 226 metres high (five times higher than Niagara Falls) and about 122 metres wide during the rainy season.
Kaieteur Falls was named after Old Kaie, a legendary elder of the Patomona nation, who is said to have sacrificed himself at the Falls to save his people and appease the Great Spirit Makonaima.
Must-do annual event: Mashramani or Mash is celebrated in Guyana every February to mark the day Guyana became a republic. The festival includes masquerade bands, float parades, costume competitions, street dancing, cooking, and lots of fun and entertaining activities.
The word ‘Mashramani’ is derived from an Amerindian language and means “the celebration after hard work.”
Motto: ‘One People, One Nation, One Destiny’
Little known fact: Nine indigenous tribes live in Guyana; the Wai Wai, Arawak, Carib, Machushi, Arecuna, Akawaio, Patamona, Wapishana, and Warrau.
Guyana is welcoming visitors, but COVID-19 protocols are in effect. Visit the official Guyana Tourism Authority website for up-to-date travel information.
You may also like: Yello’s Bite-sized Guide to the Caribbean – Grenada