Guyana is an Amerindian word meaning the land of many waters. Attempts to forge a common identity have foundered, and it is more accurate to speak of African, Indian, and Amerindian Guyanese cultures. There were small European, Portuguese "colored," and Chinese communities before large-scale migration to Canada and the United States in the late 1960s. British Guiana was referred to as the land of six peoples.
Guyana is one of a few mainland territories of South America that is considered to be a part of the Caribbean region. Guyanese culture shares many commonalities with the cultures of islands in the West Indies, particularly in the coastal regions of the country where the majority of the population is concentrated. In the last few decades with the opening of the interior and a highway into Brazil there have been a movement of people and the influence of Brazilian Culture, in the south of the country. Because Guyana was once a British colony, there are many cultural influences that live on, particularly in the use of language, where British terms are used, some dating back to the 17th century. The country is also still riddled with Dutch place names from when the country was various separate Dutch colonies.
Location and Geography
Guyana is on the northeastern shoulder of South America, bounded on the north by the Atlantic Ocean, on the east by Suriname, on the northwest by Venezuela, and on the south and southwest by Brazil. The capital city is Georgetown, there are three regions: the narrow coastal belt of rich alluvium, the densely forested, hilly sand and clay belt; and the Rupununi grasslands between the rain forests and the frontier with Brazil. Over 90 percent of the population lives on the coastal belt, which is below sea level.
Guyanese cuisine is very similar to the rest of the Caribbean. Curry is widely popular in Guyana and includes most types of meat that can be curried including chicken, seafood, goat, lamb, and even duck. There is a dish called pepperpot that is a dish that is an almost everyday affair that is served with bread in most homes.
(photo credit: Michael McCrystal)