A map of Guyana Most of the Guyanese people live on the narrow, marshy plain that runs along the country's Caribbean coast. Some of this land actually lies below sea level; it is protected from the ocean by Dutch-built dykes and dams. Inland, thick forests cover more than 80% of Guyana's land area. Home to thousands of species of trees and plants, some of its forests have barely been explored. In the southwest, near the Venezuelan border, lie areas of open savannah and the high, table-topped mountains of the Guiana Highlands, called tepuis. The name "Guyana" means “land of waters”, after the many rivers that run through it. The largest is the Essequibo. The Courantyne marks the country's eastern border with Suriname. Lying just north of the Equator, Guyana has a tropical climate, with hot, humid weather all year round.
Guyana was part of the British Empire (known as British Guiana) from 1814 to 1966. Today, it is the only English-speaking country in South America. However, nearly everyone speaks a mixture of English, Dutch and West African languages called Guyanese Creole. Most Guyanese are descended from either Africans or Indians who were brought to work on Guyana’s plantations between the 17th and 19th centuries. Political tensions sometimes break out between the two ethnic groups.
About 90% of Guyana’s population lives along the coast. The country’s interior is virtually uninhabited.
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