The first edition of the Gazetteer of Guyana was published in 1974. Additional information collected since, and integrated in the records of the Lands and Surveys Department, are included in this second edition.
Guyana, an Amerindian word which means “Land of Many Waters”, is situated on the Northeast coast of the continent of South America to the North of Brazil and between Venezuela and Suriname. The Southern half of Guyana forms part of the Amazon basin. Its total area is approximately 215,000 square kilometers (83,000 square miles) with a population of approximately 750,000. It extends between 1ᵒ and 9ᵒ North Latitude and 57ᵒ and 61ᵒ West Longitude within the high rainfall belt of the Tropics. Guyana’s temperature is moderated by the constant flow of the Northeast trade winds and ranges from the 24ᵒC to 32ᵒC (75ᵒF to 90ᵒF). The annual rainfall varies from 300 cm (120 inches) along the Atlantic Coast to about 510 cm (200 inches) in the Pakaraimas and less than about 150 cm (60 inches) in the Rupununi Savannahs. The majority of this rain falls between April and July.
About 90% of the country’s population lives along the coastal belt, which is below mean sea level. This coastal plain is approximately 25,900 square kilometers (10,000 square miles) and comprises of fertile alluvial deposits, which supports the flourishing cultivation of sugar and rice. Further in land is a belt of white sand hills extending for about 160 kilometers (100 miles). In the rear of the sand hills are the rugged Pakaraima Mountains with a general altitude of 1220\1525 meters (4000\5000 feet) above mean sea level with several higher peaks which culminate in Mount Roraima at 2,810 meters (9,219 feet), the tri-national mark between Venezuela, Brazil and Guyana. To the south of these mountains are the Rupununi Savannahs with smaller mountain ranges such as the Kanuku Mountains which rise to an altitude of up to 610\915 meters (2000\3000 feet) above mean sea level.
Guyana has an abundance of large rivers and creeks. These originally provided the only means of access to the interior but are studded with numerous waterfalls and rapids, which present formidable barriers to communication and transportation. The Kaieteur fall with a drop of 250 meters (822 feet) is the world renown and has been proposed by the Government of Guyana to be included in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Guyana was first used as trading post by the Spanish during the 16th century. The Dutch took possession of these colonies in 1627 and the British finally drove the Dutch out of this area in 1803. There was a short period of French rule between 1782\1783. Guyana (previously British Guiana) obtained its independence on the 26th May, 1966, after 163 years of British rule. Guyana was declared a “Co-operative Republic” on 23rd February, 1970.
The original inhabitants of the country are the Amerindians, divided over several tribes, and several geographical regions. At present they total approximately 50,000.
From the early 17th century and onwards, the slave trade developed, resulting in an influx of large numbers of Africans mostly from West and Central Africa, now referred to as Afro-Guyanese. The first indentured labourers from what is today India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, arrived in Guyana in 1838. Their descendants now constitute the Indo-Guyanese. Portuguese as well as Chinese settlers came to Guyana in the past, and together with a small group of European descendants complete today’s population of the country.