French Guiana


January 24, 2022

French Guiana (French Guiana française) is a French overseas department, an overseas region and overseas territory of the European Union in South America. It is the largest department, with land borders to Suriname and Brazil. Approximately 290,000 people live here (January 2021). The official French name is Guyana. The adjective "French" is only colloquial to avoid confusion with British Guiana (present-day Guyana) and Dutch Guiana (present-day Suriname). The inhabitants are mainly blacks, mulattoes, half-breeds and Indians. 60% are Creoles and more than 10% of the population are from mainland France.


It has been a French colony since the 17th century. After the Peace of Paris in 1763, King Louis XV of France sent. from France to Guyana 12,000 settlers, but most of them were killed by tropical diseases. In 1809 the territory was occupied by the British and Portuguese, but after 1814 it was returned to France. From 1854 to 1936, the area functioned as a penal colony for serious criminals (known as the Devil's Islands). Most of the 80,000 convicts deported to the Devil's Islands never returned to France.


Most of the area is lowland, covered with tropical rainforest (81% of the area). Only 6% of the territory is inhabited. The climate is subtropical to tropical, very humid.

Significant rivers

Maroni Oyapock


Dules du Salut (Salvation Islands) Royal Island Saint-Joseph Island Dule du Diable (Devil's Island)


Bellevue de l'Inini (851 m) Sommet Tabulaire (830 m asl) Mitaraka (690 m) Mont Saint-Marcel (635 m asl)


The population of French Guiana is mostly engaged in agriculture, livestock, logging, gold, bauxite, rum production and leather processing. The economy is very backward. Industry and rail transport do not exist. The country is best known for its spaceport in Kourou (Guyana Space Center), from which the European Space Agency's Ariane 5, Soyuz and Vega rockets take off.

Territorial Administration

Guyana is a French department (No. 973). The highest governing body is the 51-member Assemblée de Guyane (Parliament), established on 18 December 2015, which manages matters at both regional and departmental levels. The transfer of regional and departmental powers to this Parliament means that, within the administrative division of the French Republic, Guyana has the status of a so-called collectivité territoriale unique (unified territorial community). French Guiana is one of the outermost regions of the European Union. It is administratively divided into 2 arrondissements (Cayenne and Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni), which consist of 22 municipalities. Arrondisements are used primarily for voter administration and statistics and have no council, while municipalities are self-governing with an elected council (municipal council). The head of Guyana, which is a full part of France, is the French president. After the President, the Chief Representative is the Speaker of Parliament (French Président de l'assemblée de Guyane). Guyana has 2 representatives in the lower house of the French Parliament (National Assembly) and 2 in the upper house (Senate).



External links

Pictures, sounds and videos on French Guiana on Wikimedia Commons Wiktionary French Guiana in Wiktionary travelogue in French Guiana and observations at

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