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Brief History on French Guiana

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About French Guiana

French Guiana is an overseas region and department of France. It borders Brazil east and south, Suriname west. The territories land mass is 83,534km2 second largest region and first department. It was designated a department in 1797 because overseas regions consists of a department in themselves.

Formally a penal colony where metropolitan French prisoners were sentenced to forced labor. In the early 80s fleeing civil war, French Guiana witness an influx of refugees from Suriname and Hmong from Laos. The current president of assembly is Rodolphe Alexendre with total population 296,711.


The GPD in 2017 was $5.18 billion USD while currency is Euro. Gold mining accounts for 32% export, fishing 5%, timber 1%, Guiana Space Centre 16%.

Soil fertility is extremely low with poor soil lacking essential nutrients. To compensate slash and burn, lime introduction, introduction of organic matter. Cash crops exported include sugar, banana, vegetables and fruits.

The People

The People

The People


The climate is predominantly tropical rainforest, hot and humid. However they have high biodiversity, mangroves, rainforests, and savannahs. They have good natural reserves, a national park over 109 species of amphibians over 500 species of plant, 177 species of mammals and 700 species of birds.

Religion and Fertility

Roman Catholicism is the dominant religion in French Guiana. However there are some inhabitants that practice local religions. Most of the population live in coastal region and is estimated at 296,711 people. They have a high fertility rate 30% of the population were born abroad, 57% in French Guiana 3% in France.

Sports and Culture

In popular culture we have an extremely popular novel Papillion published in 1969 by a French convict Henri Charrière. Written in French it depicted his sensational escape from a penal colony.

The 1970 edition authored by Patrick O’Brain in English attained world acclaim and a Hollywood adaptation. Popular sport include football and athletics however athletes have to compete within French National Olympics Committee. Other attractions include seasonal carnivals, local cuisine and traditional music.

French Guiana Person In Traditional Dresses

French Guiana Person In Traditional Dresses

French Guiana Person In Traditional Dresses

Administrative Divisions

Administrative Divisions

Guiana administration is divided into 22 communities, 2 arrondissement. They are Arrondissement of Saint-Laurent-du Maroni and arrondissement of Cayenne. The 22 communities are Camopi, Saint-George, Regina, Roura, Iracoubo, Sinnamary.

Others are Cayenne, Remire-Montjoly, Montsinery-Tonnegrande, Kourou, Quanary. More include Saul, Maripasoula, Grand-Santi, Papaichton. We have the Apatou, Mana, Awala-Yalimapo and Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni.


  1. Camopi
  2. Saint-George
  3. Regina
  4. Roura
  5. Iracoubo
  6. Sinnamary.
  7. Cayenne
  8. Remire-Montjoly
  9. Montsinery-Tonnegrande

10. Kourou

11. Quanary

12. Saul

13. Maripasoula

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14. Grand-Santi

15. Papaichton

16. Apatou

17. Mana

18. Awala-Yalimapo

19. Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni.

20. Saint-Elie

21. Macouria

22. Matoury

French Guiana: A tropical overseas territory

Political System

French Guiana is one of three European Union territories outside Europe with the largest landmass. Other two Spanish autonomous territories are Ceuta and Melilla close to morocco.

French Guiana has the president of the republic of France as head of state and French Prime Minister Head of government. They have an assembly, local executive body while a local resident is appointed prefect by the French president.

French Guiana has two slots in the French National Assembly as deputies and two slots in French senate as senators.

Frech Armed Forces

Frech Armed Forces

Frech Armed Forces

Armed Forces

The French Guiana armed forces comprise the police, gendarmeries, infant regiments and French detachment. They have the Kourou legion known as the 3rd foreign infantry regiment, 9th marine infantry regiment and 16 brigades that make up the gendarmeries and police.

The brigades serve Iracoubo, Cacao, Matoury, Maripasoula. Others are the Papaichton, Grand-Santi, Regina, Remire-Montjoly. More include Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni, Sinnamary Apatou and Saint-Georges-de-I’Oyapock.

There are various detachment corps in French Guiana apart from the French armed forces. Detachment of French forces in the country are French navy, French air force and Paris Fire Brigade.


Population figures have 137,964 in metropolitan area while 118,731 live in urban areas. Main settlements according to 2016 census are Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni with 43,799 inhabitabts, Cayenne 60,580 inhabitants.

Others are Kourou 26, 522, Maripasoula 12, 798, Grand-Santi 7,428, Papaichton 8,826. More include Saint-Georges 4,076, Apatou 8,626, Mana 10, 566.


Originally imports and exports came through the old harbor of Cayenne. However Degrad des Cannes built in 1969 handles French exports and imports. Transportation includes a border town Régina to Saint-Georges de l'Oyapock asphalt road to Brazil boarder.

An international airport Félix Eboué Airport is located in southern suburb community of Matoury in Cayenne. All flights are handled by the French air force with flight to and from France.




Immigration and Languages

Illegal immigrants is a major challenge including illegal gold mining. The official language is French however there are local languages spoken by residents. Predominate local language include French Guianese Creole, 4 Maron creole and Hmong Njua.

Amerindian languages common to the region are Emerilion, Wayana, Kali’na, Wayampi, Palijur and Arawak. Common Maroon creole languages are Aluku, Ndyuka, Saramala and Paramaccan. Foreign languages spoken on Guiana are Spanish, Portuguese, Haitian, English, Dutch and Hakka.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 olu


Liz Westwood from UK on December 15, 2019:

This is an interesting fact file on French Guiana.

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