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Guiana

A small piece of France in South America, Guiana is the biggest French department. The population is composed of French metropolitans and Creoles, but also American Indians, Brazilians and Chinese communities. Famous for its penal colonies and gold rush, gold washing still happens here, but at the expense of certain tribes. With 96% of the territory covered in tropical forest, it is needless to say that the country contains a multitude of animal and plant species. Wildlife lovers will be more than happy they decided to travel to Guiana.
  • Guiana
    © Mark Bridger / Bridgephotography / 123RF
  • Guiana
    © iStockphoto.com / Edsongrandisoli
Amy Adejokun
Amy Adejokun Expert destination Guiana
Guiana: the key figures

Surface area : 91000.0 km2

Population : 209000 inhabitants

  • The immersion of an Amazonian land into a French region.
  • The summer season in the UK corresponds with the best climatic period to visit Guiana.
  • The humidity and weather are sometimes hard to cope with.
  • The coast is not really suitable for swimming.
  • Holidays here are not always relaxing.

Guiana: what to visit?

Guiana: what to buy?

The Maroons sculpt many objects out of wood: you will find benches, trays, paddles and drums made of red mahogany. As for the American Indians, they make more 'useful' objects such as bows and arrows, basketry and, some of their more recent creations include red pottery bowls and pearl necklaces. The Hmongs people embroider; you will find artwork in the local markets, in the shops and in the villages in the forest. 18-carat gold is also sold in traditional jewellery shops! Shops are open from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm and from 15:00 pm to 18:00 pm.

Guiana: what to eat?

The 'savannah palm fruit pulp' stews for several hours with vegetables, smoked fish, crabs, shrimps, chicken or smoked bacon and cucumbers. This is the Awara stew, a symbol of the Guianese gastronomy and a dish of African origin which is made at Easter and Whitsun and which is usually served for a newcomer. Less spectacular, the specialty of meat fricassees is cooked all year long, as are the famous 'blaff' shrimps (shrimps cooked in a spicy and flavoured stew). Cod fish marinades, chicken or smoked fish, sausage and acras are often served as first courses, with the famous ti-punch as a cocktail.

Guiana: what are the cultural particularities?

From the first Sunday following Epiphany to Ash Wednesday, Guiana celebrates its carnival. Vaval, the king of the festivities, celebrates its opening, then come the queens: the touloulous, women in disguise and the jé farin, symbols of life, joy and gaiety. Everyone is ready for the dances and parades on Saturdays and Sundays, in Cayenne and in the entire region. Other traditions are the local festivities which represent real cultural events; the characteristics of each of them depends on the communities.

Guiana: travel tips

Make sure that you take cotton clothing, a bathing suit, ankle boots, a sweatshirt and a windbreaker coat (for the country's inlands) with you.
If you are going on an excursion in the jungle, it is obviously necessary to prepare yourself physically, but also psychologically; a stay in the forest is a total break from any form of civilisation. Note: you must be humble when you meet the local ethnic groups in the forest.

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