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French Guiana: a piece of equatorial France

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French Guiana (Guyane Française) is a French overseas department located just north of the equator in the north-eastern part of South America. It is situated to the north on the Atlantic Ocean and borders to the west with Suriname and to the south and east with Brazil. Cayenne, the capital and only city of the country, is situated along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. The territory consists of a flat coastal area covered with mangrove, savannahs and grasslands. Here are the main settlements.

The interior of the territory consists of a plateau covered with vast rainforest, while in the middle of the country between Maripasoula and Saül there are the mountains of Inini-Camopiche, attaining the height of 851 meters with Mont Bellevue, considered to be the highest point of the territory. A little further south the Sommet Tabulaire Massif (Mont Itoupé) reaches 830 meters. To the south along the border with Brazil there is the lower mountain range of the Massif du Mitaraka (690 metres).


French Guiana is rich in water; there are many rivers, which cross the country; to the east the Oyapock River marks the border with Brazil, while to the west Maroni, Lawa and Litani rivers mark the border with Suriname. The extensive forests, which provide valuable timber, are among the most important economic resources of the country.

Agriculture on the other hand is not very developed with a very small part of the land used for cultivation only. Sugar cane, maize, rice, cassava, pineapple, potatoes and bananas are grown to a small extent. Fishing, particularly for shrimps, is expanding. The subsoil resources are important: bauxite, gold, clay and cinnabar. The Guiana Space Centre in Kourou is of great importance for France and more European countries. Here the European Space Agency (ESA) has a space centre, from which the Ariane satellites are launched.

The climate of French Guiana.

English text correction by Dietrich Köster. 

  • Area: 83,534 sq km: arable land 0,1%, pastures 0,1%, forests and bushland 91%, uncultivated and unproductive land 8,8%
  • Population: 202,000 (as of 2006): —- Creols (descendants of Africans and Europeans) 38%, Haitians 35%, Europeans 12%, Amerindians 5%, Asians 5%, Marrons (Africans) 5%.
  • Capital of the Overseas Department: Cayenne.
  • Official Language: French. French Creole is also spoken.
  • Religion: Catholicism.
  • Currency: Euro (EUR).
  • Time Zone: UTC-3.



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