I have very, very few cards from the continent of South America — three postcards from Brazil (two of which I have yet to blog about) and, now, this one from the northern nation of Guyana which is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its independence from the United Kingdom. However, it remains a part of the British Commonwealth. An added bonus is that the postcard matches the design of the stamp.
The Co-operative Republic of Guyana is a sovereign state on the northern mainland of South America but is included in the Caribbean Region due to its strong cultural, historical, and political ties with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). The country is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the north, Brazil to the south and southwest, Suriname to the east and Venezuela to the west. With 83,000 square miles (215,000 square kilometers), Guyana is the fourth-smallest country on mainland South America after Uruguay, Suriname and French Guiana.
The region known as “the Guianas” consists of the large shield landmass north of the Amazon River and east of the Orinoco River known as the “land of many waters”. The area was originally inhabited by several indigenous groups. Although Christopher Columbus sighted Guyana during his third voyage (in 1498), the Dutch were the first to establish colonies: Essequibo (1616), Berbice (1627), and Demerara (1752). After the British assumed control in 1796, the Dutch formally ceded the area in 1814. In 1831, the three separate colonies became a single British colony known as British Guiana. Guyana achieved independence from the United Kingdom on May 26, 1966, and became a republic on February 23, 1970, remaining a member of the Commonwealth. The U.S. State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), along with the British government, played a strong role in influencing political control in Guyana during this time. The legacy of British rule is reflected in the country’s diverse population, which includes Indian, African, Amerindian, and multiracial groups.
Guyana also has the distinction of being the only South American nation in which English is the official language. The majority of the population, however, speak Guyanese Creole, an English-based creole language with slight Dutch, Arawakan and Caribbean influences. In addition to being part of the Anglophone Caribbean, Guyana is one of the few Caribbean countries that is not an island in the West Indies. CARICOM, of which Guyana is a member, is headquartered in Guyana’s capital and largest city, Georgetown. In 2008, the country joined the Union of South American Nations as a founding member.
Approximately three quarters of the west of the country are claimed by Venezuela, specifically 159,542 square kilometers, accounting for 74.21% of the territory, a zone called Guyana Essequiba. Its other neighbor, Suriname, claims for itself a part of the eastern territory southeast of the country specifically about 15,600 square kilometers called Tigri Area which currently accounts for 7.26% of the country.