The territory controlled by Guyana lies between latitudes 1° and 9°N, and longitudes 56° and 62°W.
The country can be divided into five natural regions; a narrow and fertile marshy plain along the Atlantic coast (low coastal plain) where most of the population lives; a white sand belt more inland (hilly sand and clay region), containing most of Guyana's mineral deposits; the dense rain forests (Forested Highland Region) in the southern part of the country; the desert savannah in the southern west; and the smallest interior lowlands (interior savannah) consisting mostly of mountains that gradually rise to the Brazilian border.
Some of Guyana's highest mountains are Mount Ayanganna (2,042 metres or 6,699 feet), Monte Caburaí (1,465 metres or 4,806 feet) and Mount Roraima (2,772 metres or 9,094 feet – the highest mountain in Guyana) on the Brazil-Guyana-Venezuela tripoint border, part of the Pakaraima range. Mount Roraima and Guyana's table-top mountains (tepuis) are said to have been the inspiration for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's 1912 novel The Lost World. There are also many volcanic escarpments and waterfalls, including Kaieteur Falls which is believed to be the largest water drop in the world. North of the Rupununi River lies the Rupununi savannah, south of which lie the Kanuku Mountains.
The four longest rivers are the Essequibo at 1,010 kilometres (628 mi) long, the Courantyne River at 724 kilometres (450 mi), the Berbice at 595 kilometres (370 mi), and the Demerara at 346 kilometres (215 mi). The Corentyne river forms the border with Suriname. At the mouth of the Essequibo are several large islands, including the 145 km (90 mi) wide Shell Beach lies along the northwest coast, which is also a major breeding area for sea turtles (mainly leatherbacks) and other wildlife.
The local climate is tropical and generally hot and humid, though moderated by northeast trade winds along the coast. There are two rainy seasons, the first from May to mid-August, the second from mid-November to mid-January.
Guyana has one of the largest unspoiled rainforests in South America, some parts of which are almost inaccessible by humans. The rich natural history of Guyana was described by early explorers Sir Walter Raleigh and Charles Waterton and later by naturalists Sir David Attenborough and Gerald Durrell. In 2008, the BBC broadcast a three-part programme called Lost Land of the Jaguar which highlighted the huge diversity of wildlife, including undiscovered species and rare species such as the giant otter and harpy eagle.
In 2012, Guyana received a $45 million reward from Norway for its rainforest protection efforts. This stems from a 2009 agreement between the nations for a total of $250 million for protecting and maintaining the natural habitat. Thus far, the country has received $115 million of the total grant.
Regions and Neighbourhood Councils
Guyana is divided into 10 regions:
The regions are divided into 27 neighbourhood councils.
Guyana is in border disputes with both Suriname, which claims the area east of the left bank of the Corentyne River and the New River in southwestern Suriname, and Venezuela which claims the land west of the Essequibo River, once the Dutch colony of Essequibo as part of Venezuela's Guayana Essequiba. The maritime component of the territorial dispute with Suriname was arbitrated by the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea, and a ruling was announced on 21 September 2007. The ruling concerning the Caribbean Sea north of both nations found both parties violated treaty obligations and declined to order any compensation to either party.
When the British surveyed British Guiana in 1840, they included the entire Cuyuni River basin within the colony. Venezuela did not agree with this as it claimed all lands west of the Essequibo River. In 1898, at Venezuela's request, an international arbitration tribunal was convened, and in 1899 the tribunal issued an award giving about 94% of the disputed territory to British Guiana. The arbitration was concluded, settled and accepted into International law by both Venezuela and the U.K. Venezuela brought up again the settled claim, during the 1960s cold war period, and during Guyana's Independence period. This issue is now governed by the Treaty of Geneva of 1966, which was signed by the Governments of Guyana, Great Britain and Venezuela, and Venezuela continues to claim Guayana Esequiba. Venezuela calls this region "Zona en Reclamación" (Reclamation Zone) and Venezuelan maps of the national territory routinely include it, drawing it in with dashed lines.
Specific small disputed areas involving Guyana are Ankoko Island with Venezuela; Corentyne River with Suriname; and Tigri Area or New River Triangle with Suriname. In 1967 a Surinamese survey team was found in the New River Triangle and was forcibly removed. In August 1969 a patrol of the Guyana Defence Force found a survey camp and a partially completed airstrip inside the triangle, and documented evidence of the Surinamese intention to occupy the entire disputed area. After an exchange of gunfire, the Surinamese were driven from the triangle.
Environment and biodiversity
The following habitats have been categorised for Guyana: coastal, marine, littoral, estuarine palustrine, mangrove, riverine, lacustrine, swamp, savanna, white sand forest, brown sand forest, montane, cloud forest, moist lowland and dry evergreen scrub forests (NBAP, 1999). About 14 areas of biological interest have been identified as possible hotspots for a National Protected Area System. More than 80% of Guyana is still covered by forests, those forest also contains the worlds rarest orchids ranging from dry evergreen and seasonal forests to montane and lowland evergreen rain forests. These forests are home to more than a thousand species of trees. Guyana's tropical climate, unique geology, and relatively pristine ecosystems support extensive areas of species-rich rain forests and natural habitats with high levels of endemism. Approximately eight thousand species of plants occur in Guyana, half of which are found nowhere else.
Guyana has one of the highest levels of biodiversity in the world. With 1,168 vertebrate species and 814 bird species, it boasts one of the richest mammalian fauna assemblages of any comparably sized area in the world. The Guiana Shield region is little known and extremely rich biologically. Unlike other areas of South America, over 70% of the natural habitat remains pristine.
The rich natural history of British Guiana was described by early explorers Sir Walter Raleigh and Charles Waterton and later by naturalists Sir David Attenborough and Gerald Durrell.
In February 2004, the Government of Guyana issued a title to more than 1 million acres (4,000 km2) of land in the Konashen Indigenous District declaring this land as the Konashen Community-Owned Conservation Area (COCA), to be managed by the Wai Wai. In doing so Guyana created the world's largest Community-Owned Conservation Area.
This important event followed a request made by the Wai Wai community to the government of Guyana and Conservation International Guyana (CIG) for assistance in developing a sustainable plan for their lands in Konashen. The three parties signed a Memorandum of Cooperation which outlines a plan for sustainable use of the Konashen COCA's biological resources, identifies threats to the area's biodiversity, and helps develop projects to increase awareness of the COCA as well as generate the income necessary to maintain its protected status.
The Konashen Indigenous District of Southern Guyana houses the headwaters of the Essequibo River, Guyana's principal water source, and drains the Kassikaityu, Kamoa, Sipu and Chodikar rivers. Southern Guyana is host to some of the most pristine expanses of evergreen forests in the northern part of South America. Most of the forests found here are tall, evergreen hill-land and lower montane forests, with large expanses of flooded forest along major rivers. Thanks to the very low human population density of the area, most of these forests are still intact. The Smithsonian Institution has identified nearly 2,700 species of plants from this region, representing 239 distinct families, and there are certainly additional species still to be recorded.
Such incredible diversity of plants supports even more impressive diversity of animal life, recently documented by a biological survey organised by Conservation International. The clean, unpolluted waters of the Essequibo watershed support a remarkable diversity of fish and aquatic invertebrates, and are home to giant otters, capybaras, and several species of caimans.
On land, large mammals, such as jaguars, tapirs, bush dogs, giant anteaters, and saki monkeys are still common. Over 400 species of birds have been reported from the region, and the reptile and amphibian faunas are similarly rich. The Konashen COCA forests are also home to countless species of insects, arachnids, and other invertebrates, many of which are still undiscovered and unnamed.
The Konashen COCA is relatively unique in that it contains a high level of biological diversity and richness that remains in nearly pristine condition; such places have become rare on earth. This fact has given rise to various non-exploitative, environmentally sustainable industries such as ecotourism, successfully capitalising on the biological wealth of the Konashen COCA with comparatively little enduring impact.
World Heritage sites
Guyana signed the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage treaty in 1977, the first Caribbean country to do so. In the mid-1990s, Guyana began the process of selecting sites for World Heritage nomination, and three sites were considered: Kaieteur National Park, Shell Beach and Historic Georgetown. By 1997, work on Kaieteur National Park was started, and in 1998 work on Historic Georgetown was begun. To date, however, Guyana has not made a successful nomination.
Guyana submitted the Kaieteur National Park, including the Kaieteur Falls, to UNESCO as its first World Heritage Site nomination. The proposed area and surrounds have some of Guyana's most diversified life zones with one of the highest levels of endemic species found in South America. The Kaieteur Falls are the most spectacular feature of the park, falling a distance of 226 metres. The nomination of Kaieteur National Park as a World Heritage Site was not successful, primarily because the area was seen by the evaluators as being too small, especially when compared with the Central Suriname Nature Reserve that had just been nominated as a World Heritage Site (2000). The dossier was thus returned to Guyana for revision.
Guyana continues in its bid for a World Heritage Site. Work continues, after a period of hiatus, on the nomination dossier for Historic Georgetown. A tentative list indicating an intention to nominate Historic Georgetown was submitted to UNESCO in December 2004. In April 2005, two Dutch experts in conservation spent two weeks in Georgetown supervising architecture staff and students of the University of Guyana in a historic building survey of the selected area. This is part of the data collection for the nomination dossier.
Meanwhile, as a result of the Kaieteur National Park being considered too small, there is a proposal to prepare a nomination for a Cluster Site that will include the Kaieteur National Park, the Iwokrama Forest and the Kanuku Mountains. The Iwokrama rain forest, an area rich in biological diversity, has been described by Major General (Retired) Joseph Singh as "a flagship project for conservation." The Kanuku Mountains area is in a pristine state and is home to more than four hundred species of birds and other animals.
Guyana holds two of the World Wildlife Fund's Global 200 eco-regions, the Guianan and Guiana Highlands moist forests. It is also home to several endemic species including the greenheart tree.
- St George's Anglican Cathedral
- One of the tallest wooden church structures in the world and the second tallest wooden house of worship after the Tōdai-ji Temple in Japan.
- Demerara Harbour Bridge
- The world's fourth-longest floating bridge.
- Berbice Bridge
- The world's sixth-longest floating bridge.
- Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Building
- Houses the headquarters of the largest and most powerful economic union in the Caribbean.
- Providence Stadium
- Situated on Providence on the north bank of the Demerara River and built in time for the ICC World Cup 2007, it is the largest sports stadium in the country. It is also near the Providence Mall, forming a major spot for leisure in Guyana.
- Guyana International Conference Centre
- Presented as a gift from the People's Republic of China to the Government of Guyana. It is the only one of its kind in the country.
- Stabroek Market
- A large cast-iron colonial structure that looked like a statue was located next to the Demerara River.
- City Hall
- A beautiful wooden structure also from the colonial era.
- Takutu River Bridge
- A bridge across the Takutu River, connecting Lethem in Guyana to Bonfim in Brazil.Takutu River Bridge
- Umana Yana
- An Amerindian benab, that is a national monument built in 1972, for a meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the Non-Aligned nations (It was rebuilt in 2016).