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Area, Geography, and Climate Last Updated: 3/31/2004 8:47 AM

Guyana lies on the northern coast of South America, bounded on the north by the Atlantic Ocean, on the southwest and south by Brazil, on the northwest by Venezuela, and on the east by Suriname. Its 285-mile coastline extends from Punta Playa (near the mouth of the Orinoco River) in the northwest to the Corentyne River in the east. Guyana is 82,980 square miles in area, about the size of Kansas or Idaho.

The low-lying coastland, one of Guyana's three geographic regions, is a flat, often swampy strip of silt and clay about 5-1/2 feet below sea level at high tide. Man-made concrete walls and earthen barriers keep the ocean back and prevent floods. Canals with sluice gates permit drainage to the rivers, and at low tide, to the sea. Most of the country's population and agricultural activity are concentrated in this narrow coastal strip between the Pomeroon and Corentyne Rivers.

The mountain region includes the Pakaraima Range, which lies along the western boundary between the Waini and Rupununi Rivers; a sandstone plateau 22 miles long and more than 9,000 feet above sea level; and the Kanaku Mountains, which lie on both sides of the Rupununi River near the Brazilian border.

The intermediate region, to the east and south of the coastal and mountain regions, is the largest of the three areas. It is mainly tropical forest and jungle, except for the Rupununi savanna on the southwestern border with Brazil. Large rivers and their tributaries form a vast network of waterways. Rapids and falls hinder navigation and development along the larger rivers. The principal rivers are the Essequibo, Demerara, Berbice, and Corentyne. The Cuyuni, Mazaruni, and Rupununi are major tributaries of the Essequibo River.

Guyana's climate is typical of most tropical countries. Humidity ranges from an average low of 68% in October to 77% in May, and an average high of 79% in October to 86% in May through August. The average annual mean (AAM) is 73% in the afternoons and 83% in the mornings. The high humidity can cause mildew, but air-conditioning and sometimes dehumidifiers and light bulbs in closets are used to prevent its occurrence. Minimum temperatures in Georgetown, on the coast, range between 22-26°C (71-80°F) year around, with an AAM low of 75. Maximum temperatures range between 28-32°C (83-90°F), year around, with an AAM high of 86. The sea breezes (east-northeast trade winds) significantly mitigate the heat on the coast.

The coastal area typically has two wet seasons: May to mid-August, when about 40% of the total annual precipitation falls, and December to mid-January, which receive another 20%. However, occasional rain may fall at any time of the year. Georgetown and the coast average 90 inches of rainfall annually; in the interior, 60-150 inches occur.

Population Last Updated: 3/31/2004 8:48 AM

Guyana's population, based on out-dated figures from the 1991 Census, is estimated to be around 735,000. Data from the 2002 Census conducted by the Bureau of Statistics are still unavailable. Population density is 3.4 persons per square kilometer, but most people live in the coastal zone.

The population is divided between two major ethnic groups: Guyanese of East Indian origin, estimated at 47%, and those of African origin, 42%. Amerindians constitute about 5%, those of mixed heritage, 5%, and persons of Chinese and European origin comprise the remaining 1%. About 60% live in rural areas; 30% of the labor force is in agriculture. About 50% of the population, including most Afro-Guyanese, is Christian, 15% Muslim, and 33% Hindu.

Guyana celebrates two Hindu and two Muslim holidays as well as Christmas and Easter. Dietary restrictions must be considered when entertaining Guyanese: pork should not be served to Muslims, or beef to Hindus. Some Muslim Indians do not eat crustaceans, and some Guyanese are vegetarians.

Each ethnic group has made a unique contribution to the character of life in Guyana: the food and the music and dances of the Africans, East Indians, and Amerindians; and the language and legal, commercial, governmental, and educational structures of the British colonists.

Public Institutions Last Updated: 3/31/2004 9:01 AM

Guyana was a colony known as British Guiana until May 26, 1966. The Cooperative Republic of Guyana was created in 1970. Under the 1980 constitution, Guyana has a mixed parliamentary and presidential system of government. The President and members of Parliament serve for 5-year terms, unless earlier elections are called.

There is a 65-member unicameral parliament, elected by proportional representation, and an independent judiciary and an ombudsman. The Constitution provides for civil rights and the protection of minorities.

Guyana’s political system consists of two main political parties: the largely Afro-Guyanese People's National Congress/Reform (PNC/R), which governed Guyana from 1964 to 1992, and the largely East Indian People's Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C), which in October 1992 won Guyana's first free and fair elections since independence. There also are three other political parties that have parliamentary representation: Guyana Action Party (GAP) / Working Peoples' Alliance (WPA); Rise, Organize and Rebuild (ROAR); and The United Force (TUF).

The PPP was founded in 1950 by Dr. Cheddi Jagan, Forbes Burnham, and Jagan’s wife, Janet, an American whom Jagan met in 1943 while studying in Chicago to become a dentist. The Party splintered into two factions in 1955, one led by Jagan and another by Burnham. The latter subsequently became the Peoples National Congress (PNC).

Jagan’s PPP lost to Burnham’s PNC in the general elections in 1964. Jagan became leader of the PPP Opposition from 1964 to 1992. After 28 years in the Opposition, Jagan was elected President in Guyana’s first free and fair elections in 1992. He held office until his death in March 1997. Prime Minister Samuel Hinds succeeded Jagan briefly, until Jagan’s widow, Janet, was elected president in December 1997. She resigned in August 1999 due to ill health and was succeeded by then Finance Minister Bharrat Jagdeo. President Jagdeo won reelection in the 2001 in elections marred by unrest and violence.

Mr. Robert Corbin is the current leader of the Opposition PNC/R. He succeeded Mr. Desmond Hoyte following his abrupt death in December 2002. Mr. Hoyte served as President from 1985 to 1992, before becoming the Opposition leader.

Principal social, philanthropic, and commercial organizations include the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Jaycees, Rotary, Lions, Kiwanis and Toastmasters Clubs. The leading humanitarian organization is the Guyana Red Cross Society. The Boy Scouts, YMCA, and YWCA are active. Most denominations - including the two largest, the Anglicans and Catholics - are represented on the Guyana Council of Churches.

Arts, Science, and Education Last Updated: 3/31/2004 9:01 AM

The University of Guyana is the mainspring of intellectual activity but is limited in scope. The university, founded in 1863, is located just outside Georgetown in Turkeyen on 1,450 acres of land. It offers more than 60 undergraduate and graduate programs in agriculture, accounting, arts and architecture, communications, education, engineering, forestry, health sciences, law, modern languages, medicine, pharmacy, natural sciences, social sciences, and computer science. The Biodiversity Center at the University, assisted by staff from the Smithsonian Institute, is studying Guyana's richly diverse flora and fauna. A university council under government authority administers the University's approximately 5,000 students, who suffer from decaying facilities and a lack of books and qualified teachers.

Contemporary dance, steel bands, and drama are among Guyana's cultural attractions. Scientific work, mostly agricultural in nature, is carried on at state-sponsored stations throughout the country.

Commerce and Industry Last Updated: 3/31/2004 9:03 AM

With per capita income in 2002 of approximately US$773, Guyana is one of the hemisphere’s poorest countries. A 1999 survey found that 35% of the population lived below the poverty level. The economy is heavily reliant on six traditional natural resource exports – sugar, rice, timber, bauxite, seafood, and gold. Each, with the possible exception of gold, operates mostly with outmoded labor-intensive technologies. Each sector has struggled to remain competitive as world market prices have stayed flat and as trade liberalization continues its course toward shrinking preferential markets.

Omai Gold Mines, run by the Canadian firm Cambior, is the largest private investment in Guyana. Although current world gold prices have brightened the outlook for the mine, Omai officials have reported that the mine has three years left before it’s mine out. Omai is continuing to prospect for additional veins, while cutting back operations and moving equipment to Cambior’s new mine in Suriname, and to the formerly government owned bauxite operations in Linden, Linmine Mining Enterprise (LINMINE), which it took over in 2002 investing US$35 million in the failing operation.

The current government promotes a private sector model for economic growth and has a policy of welcoming foreign investment, which is unlikely to occur in significant amounts until political stability is assured. Growth is further constrained by infrastructure deficiencies, lack of diversification, and a dearth of skilled human resources after years of heavy emigration. The large Guyanese expatriate community in the U.S. (estimated at 400,000) remits an estimated US$110 million per annum to Guyana, a substantial part of the country’s annual GDP.

Guyana is a Highly Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) and as such qualifies for concessional debt relief under the enhanced-HIPC program financed by the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), and Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). A recent IDB analysis found that excluding additional government expenditure financed by HIPC debt relief would have shrunk GDP by 5.1% in 2000 and 5.7% in 2001 – revealing the importance of HIPC debt relief for Guyana’s economy.

Guyana trades mainly with the U.S., the European Community, Venezuela, Canada, and with neighboring Caribbean countries, which belong to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). Trade with Brazil, Japan, and Cuba is also of some importance. In 2002, the U.S. purchased approximately US $128 million worth of goods from Guyana (29 percent of total goods exported) and sold US $209 million of goods to Guyana (40 percent of total good imported).


Automobiles Last Updated: 3/31/2004 9:05 AM

An automobile is useful here although taxis are plentiful and inexpensive. Many Americans waiting on vehicles they have either shipped or purchased, rely on taxis as their sole means of transportation. Toyotas, Nissans, and Suzukis are common and mechanics can repair almost any vehicle. Parts are sometimes difficult to find but can be ordered from the U.S. if not available locally. Traffic in Guyana moves on the left. Left-hand-drive vehicles may be imported and are in common use.

Several car dealers also sell new, reconditioned, and used vehicles, but prices are higher than in the U.S. Used cars can sometimes be purchased locally from departing diplomats or businessmen, but the choice is limited. Many Embassy employees have four-wheel-drive vehicles for weekend trips to the interior. The truly adventurous might want to consider investing in a winch and even a lift-kit. Cars can be sold at a minimal loss, if any, when you leave.

Locks on engine hoods, spare tires, and gas tanks help to guard against theft and vandalism. Depending on your driving plans, it may be wise to order equipment such as heavy-duty cooling, suspension, tires, and brakes for your car. Another precaution would be to have special heavy-duty undercoating and exterior paint protection applied to your vehicle. Potholes and humidity take their toll on vehicles. An older, used vehicle is adequate for getting around Georgetown and can usually be sold for more here than in the U.S. when you leave.

Third-party-liability insurance from a local firm (approximately US $110 per year) is mandatory. Full coverage can be obtained at reasonable local rates after you arrive. Car owners have the option of obtaining comprehensive coverage from a U.S. insurance company. A letter from your previous insurance company certifying a claim-free record for the past 1-5 years may reduce your rates considerably.
The local premium gasoline is about US $2.58 per U.S. gallon, and the quality is equal to that of unleaded gasoline in the U.S. Texaco, Shell, and GuyOil are the leading retailers.

Motorbikes are almost as common as automobiles, and bicycles are popular, competing for limited space on two-lane roads without shoulders. A Guyanese drivers license may be obtained by presenting a valid U.S. license and two identical passport-sized photos.

Local Transportation Last Updated: 3/31/2004 9:06 AM

Most of Georgetown's streets are paved, but in desperate need of repair. Fast-moving, crowded minibuses are a traffic hazard for Georgetown drivers. Taxis are inexpensive and much safer.

Outside of Georgetown, about 450 miles of paved roads run mainly along the coast and the populated east bank of the Demerara River. A paved two-lane road runs south to the airport (27 miles). From the airport, a highway (in better shape than most roads) continues south to Linden (67 miles from Georgetown). Another main road runs from Georgetown east to Rosignol (65 miles), where the Berbice River can be crossed on a car and passenger ferry. On the eastern side of the river, at New Amsterdam, the highway resumes to the Corentyne River and the border of Suriname. The Corentyne, like the Berbice, is wide and unbridged, but ferry service is available only once daily.

Most of the 1,500 miles of unpaved roads and trails in the interior are passable by truck or four-wheel-drive vehicles, but only during the dry season. Speedboats and steamers service many river communities. Many miles of roadless swamps and jungle separate coastal Guyana from Venezuela. A laterite road running from Linden to the towns of Lethem and Bon Fim on the Guyana-Brazil border is, for the most part, complete, and passable during the dry season. It takes on average about 12 hours to drive from Georgetown to Lethem. . Guyana boasts the world’s longest pontoon bridge across the Demerara River that opened in 1978. It measures 1,815 meters long. The Essequibo River, like the Berbice, must be crossed by car ferry. In many respects, Guyana is like an island.

Regional Transportation Last Updated: 3/31/2004 9:07 AM

The main gateway to Georgetown and Guyana is Cheddi Jagan International Airport, located 27 miles from the city at Timehri. It takes about 45 minutes to an hour by car. British Western Indies Airways (BWIA), a carrier based in Trinidad and owned by the Government of Trinidad & Tobago, provides daily service to and from Miami and JFK Airport in New York. Morning flights fly to Miami, with one stop in Barbados, and the afternoon flights are via Trinidad. BWIA also flies from Guyana to other Caribbean destinations via Barbados or Trinidad. American Airlines flies daily between the U.S. and Trinidad and the U.S. and Barbados, but passengers on all the flights, except the New York- Barbados flight, may have to stay overnight before taking BWIA to Georgetown. U.S. carrier North American Airlines has several direct flights a week between New York and Georgetown. Universal Airlines, an airline owned and founded by two overseas Guyanese businesswomen in 2001, has six flights a week to the U.S. Universal leases its only aircraft, and is viewed as offering a lower quality service. It offers an alternative to American personnel on personal travel, but because it is not an official American courier, cannot be used for official travel.

LIAT (Leeward Islands Air Transport) operates between Georgetown and Barbados with connections there to all 26 eastern Caribbean islands as well as Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Suriname Airways flies two days a week between Paramaribo and Georgetown. META Airlines provides service three times a week from Georgetown to Brasilia via Boa Vista.

Local commercial flights to many domestic locations are available daily. Charter flights can easily be arranged to other areas. Other means of transportation are poor or nonexistent. Guyana has no deep harbors, so only small ocean freighters, mostly under 10,000 tons, call at Guyana's ports.


Telephones and Telecommunications Last Updated: 3/31/2004 9:09 AM

The Atlantic TeleNetwork (ATN), a U.S. company, owns 80 percent of the Guyana's telephone monopoly, Guyana Telecom and Telegram (GT&T). ATN invested in the acquisition of the government owned Guyana Telephone Company (GTC) in 1991, and has greatly improved the country’s telephone infrastructure.

Telephone service is available in Georgetown and throughout the settled coastal area. Outgoing international phone and fax service is reliable but incoming international calls and faxes can experience problems. International calling rates from Guyana to the U.S. are G$100 (US$.51) per minute during peak hours (6a.m. – 6p.m.) and G$90 (US$.46) during off peak. In Georgetown the annual phone rental is about US$50. Principal settlements in the interior have radio/telephone facilities.

Cellular service has been available since 2001, and many Guyanese have cell phones. The Embassy currently provides cell phones to all American personnel. Phone rental and service are available at reasonable rates and service areas are continuing to expand.

Telex service is available through Western Union offices in Georgetown and other principal cities.

Internet Last Updated: 3/31/2004 9:10 AM

There are many Internet Service Providers in Guyana available to Embassy personnel. Those include: Solutions 2000, which offers a one-time registration fee of G$3000 (US$15.38), 30 hours access for G$3,000 (US$15.38) per month, or unlimited access for G$6,000 (US$30.77) per month. Another ISP, Inter.Net.Works, Inc., costs G$6,000 (US$30.77) to register, and offers unlimited access for G$6,200 (US31.79) per month. DSL broadband is available through the Guyana Telephone & Telegraph Company (GT&T). Residential rates cost US$100.00 for activation, and includes a modem, which costs US$250.00. The monthly rental is US$65.00.

Mail and Pouch Last Updated: 3/31/2004 9:12 AM

International (i.e., non pouch) airmail to and from the U.S. takes 1 week, and surface mail takes 5-6 weeks; the service may not be reliable and shipments are sometimes pilfered. Diplomatic pouch is slow (usually 2 weeks plus) and delivery time unpredictable. There is no APO service at post. Use of the diplomatic pouch is strongly recommended, particularly for checks and other important correspondence.

Letters sent by diplomatic pouch use U.S. postage at U.S. domestic rates. Weekly pouches are one outgoing and two incoming. Personnel should bring their own supply of stamps. Mail for Embassy staff members and eligible family members should be addressed as follows:

Department of State
3170 Georgetown Pl.
Washington, D.C. 20189-3170

International mail should be addressed as follows:
U.S. Embassy
P.O. Box 10507
Georgetown, Guyana,
South America

Radio and TV Last Updated: 3/31/2004 9:14 AM

Guyana's two government-owned radio stations (Voice of Guyana and Radio Roraima) operate on two AM and two FM frequencies in Georgetown. Direct relays of the Voice of America (VOA) are used for special events, and VOA is available on medium wave, mornings and evenings.

Television service in Guyana is in NTSC format. Georgetown has 20 TV stations, one of which is government owned. Many re-broadcast U.S. programs, including CBS and CNN newscasts. Television sets, DVD players and VCRs are highly recommended. VCRs should be VHS format, and 50/60 cycles if you want the timer to work. There are several video clubs in Georgetown offering both videocassettes (in NTSC format) and DVDs. Direct satellite TV is also available, although many of the stations are Spanish. There is a one-time fee of US$600.00 to rent the equipment, and the monthly subscription is US$50.00 payable in quarterly installments. There also is a de-activation fee of US$15.00 per month (payable between occupants). For more information, contact the GSO section.

Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals Last Updated: 3/31/2004 9:20 AM

Three daily newspapers are published in Guyana: the state-owned Guyana Chronicle, the independent Stabroek News, and Guyana’s tabloid version, the Kaieteur News. The Mirror is the twice-weekly organ of the ruling Peoples Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) and the New Nation is the weekly organ of the People's National Congress (PNC). The Catholic Church publishes the Catholic Standard every Friday, often with important local news missed by the daily papers. The daily papers devote one or two pages each day to wire service reports of international news. The international editions of Newsweek and Time magazine are available each week, but many current foreign periodicals are not. Several small bookstores and the book departments of general stores offer a very limited selection.

Health and Medicine

Medical Facilities Last Updated: 3/31/2004 9:57 AM

Medical services in Guyana are extremely limited and the standard of care in or out of hospital is well below the U.S standard. Doctors work with only the basic diagnostic aids and are extremely busy.

The Embassy utilizes the services of a local physician to obtain medical care, which the Registered Health Unit nurse cannot provide. Local hospitals also provide services for outpatient care where a limited number of consultants with U.S or U.K. training have offices.

Cash payment for outpatient care is required at the time of service. Credit cards are not accepted but receipts can be obtained and used for claiming re-imbursement from your health insurance provider.

The Embassy Health Unit (HU) is small but modern and comfortable. It is staffed by a local-hire contract registered nurse who takes care of some of the needs of the Embassy staff. The nurse has a 20-hr schedule in the Embassy and is also available for after-hour emergencies. An orientation briefing is done for all new arrivals where immunizations and medical records are reviewed. The HU has compiled a list of qualified health care providers in the community.

The HU maintains a limited stock of emergency medicines and vaccines. Vaccines usually in stock are Hepatitis A&B; Tetanus & Diphtheria; Typhoid and PPD skin tests. The HU does not routinely administer Yellow Fever vaccine, but it is available locally at the Ministry of Health. Vaccines are usually ordered as required. Employees are therefore advised to have their immunizations updated before traveling to post.

Most hospitals provide a 24-hour Emergency Room Service. The standard of care varies widely, due to lack of trained and qualified nursing and maintenance staff. There are very few qualified and experienced nurses at the hospitals. Specialist doctors are very few and at present there is no qualified cardiologist or urologist at post. CAT scan facilities are now available but much time is lost waiting for the interpretations to come back from a U.S facility.

There is no lab in the HU, therefore referral to local laboratory facilities is done. Many routine tests are done but the lab may be affected by shortages of supplies and shortages of reagents. Venepuncture techniques have improved with training. Pap-smears can be done locally but are sent to U.S labs for reading and interpretation.

The Regional Medical Officer (RMO) is available from his/her office at Florida Regional Center, Fort Lauderdale. The RMO makes approximately three trips to post annually, depending often on the level of demand for medical services. The office also has a Foreign Service Nurse Practitioner (FNP) and a Medevac Coordinator.

The Regional Psychiatrist (RMO/P) based in Lima visits annually or whenever there is need at post.

Medical evacuation is usually authorized by the RMO or M/MED for employees and eligible family members, who travel to Miami for treatment not available at Post. Serious medical or trauma cases often need evacuation. Employees may choose to travel cost-construct to an alternative site.

Several qualified dentists practice in Guyana, but the Embassy has identified only two referral dentists for treatment of minor problems. Personnel assigned here are advised to complete all necessary dental work in the U.S before traveling to post. There have been occasions when dental travel to Miami had to be approved by the RMO to take care of emergency or required conditions. There is no periodontist at post, but an orthodontist does visit occasionally.

Local opticians and optometrists are qualified to fill prescriptions for glasses, but the choices of frames and lenses are limited. There are very few qualified ophthalmologists in practice locally, but a Canadian-based vitreo-retinal surgeon makes occasional visits.

Local pharmacies are fairly well stocked with generic brands, but supplies may be erratic. Purchase of medicines on the local market is done with caution and only products from approved manufacturers should be chosen. Arrangements may be made with certain pharmaceutical suppliers to obtain regular prescription medications. One should be aware that the humid climate affects some medicines.

Community Health Last Updated: 3/31/2004 11:37 AM

Sanitation problems persist as vermin, insects and rodents thrive due to irregular garbage collection and illegal dumping. The Embassy has organized collection for its residences. Sewage disposal in the suburbs of the city is by septic tank. In the city there is an antiquated underground sewer system, which presents many problems due to frequent blockages and overflows. The drainage system is often blocked and this results in flooding and accumulation of stagnant water during the rainy season.

The incidence of malaria in the interior of Guyana has increased over recent years, and cases number about 40,000 per year. Chloroquine-resistant falciparum malaria occurs as well as combined infections of the plasmodium vivax and plasmodium falciparum types. Cases do occur in Georgetown but routine malaria chemoprophylaxis with tablets is not advised. Personnel visiting malarious areas for an overnight stays or longer are advised to contact the HU well in advance of their travel to obtain prophylaxis. Mefloquine or doxycycline is usually prescribed.

Personal Protective Measures (PPM) are the means of primary prevention for staff residents in Georgetown. Embassy personnel should routinely apply insect repellent containing approximately 30% DEET to exposed skin, along with keeping body parts adequately covered (with clothing) during times of mosquito activity (dusk to dawn). The use of mosquito bed nets, well-screened or air-conditioned houses and taking precautionary measures to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes are also advised. The presence of Dengue fever in Guyana has been confirmed and there are reports of the more serious Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever (DHF) in the Caribbean. At present, there is no specific treatment or vaccine available.

Embassy personnel are advised to keep their properties clean, and grass and trees well trimmed to prevent mosquitoes from breeding.

Lymphatic Filariasis (LF) is prevalent in the Guyanese population and the advanced stage of infection with this parasite is seen in the form of noninfectious elephantiasis and testicular hydrocele. Infected mosquitoes transmit the infection from person to person. This year the local Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) launched a three-year pilot project aimed at eliminating LF from the population by adding dietylcarbamazine citrate (DEC) to the cooking salt.

Tuberculosis is reportedly on the upsurge in certain regions of Guyana, especially in Region 4. Routine surveillance with annual skin testing for adults and children is done. Additionally, chauffeurs are afforded an annual physical examination. The incidence of respiratory illnesses and allergies increases during the dry season.

Cholera is also a threat with regular outbreaks in neighboring countries. Typhoid and intestinal parasites are now considered endemic in Guyana. Sporadic outbreaks of gastrointestinal diseases occur along with hepatitis. Spates of conjunctivitis also occur. Cutaneous larva migrans has affected the American population in the past.

The high incidence of HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases (STD) have been cause for concern in Guyana with the number of cases reportedly being the second highest in the region. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has now set up a local office in Georgetown to monitor and assist the Guyana Government with treatment and control. USAID, along with local NGOs, are making heroic efforts to educate the population. New sources of funding are coming on stream. The avoidance of high-risk behavior is being stressed. The Embassy has also put in place the HIV in the workplace policy.

The use of sunscreens and eye protection are required to prevent sunburn and undue exposure to UV light. The use of seatbelts in vehicles has become mandatory.

The water supply is adequate, but can be interrupted without notice due to electrical power cuts or breaks in the water mains. Tap water is not safe to drink. Water coming from the source should be pure but may become contaminated within the system due to seepage of into damaged pipes. Water should be filtered and then boiled, or distilled. The Embassy provides distillers for all American personnel residences. Local brands of bottled water are also on the market.

Care is required when buying fresh food, as market standards are poor. Frequent and long lasting power outages may pose a threat to refrigerated stocks in commercial establishments or markets. There may be traces of pesticides on locally grown greens and vegetables and parasitic infection from the use of night soil or manure is husbandry. Local fruits and vegetables require proper cleaning and sanitizing.

Mercury contamination of rivers in some mining areas has resulted in increased illness and skin diseases in the communities of mining concentration.

Preventive Measures Last Updated: 3/31/2004 11:39 AM

The following preventive measures are recommended:

1. Ensure that water for drinking is safe especially when on trips away from home. Use milk treated by UHT or pasteurization. Sanitize fruits and vegetables by washing well with detergent and soaking for 15 minutes in 5% chlorine bleach solution (one tablespoon of household bleach to one gallon of potable water). Rinse well with potable water.

2. Ensure that required immunizations are kept up-to-date.

3. Check with the Health Unit before traveling out of town or into the interior to obtain information and supplies for malaria prevention.

4. Rest, exercise and good nutrition are advised. Wash hands frequently.

Employment for Spouses and Dependents Last Updated: 3/31/2004 11:40 AM

Those eligible family members (EFM) who desire remunerative work while in Guyana should consult the Embassy's Community Liaison Office (CLO). Some positions are available for EFM employment at the Mission. EFM positions include the RSO Assistant, the Community Liaison Office Coordinator (CLO), the GSO assistant, and one consular associate position. The small Georgetown American School hires qualified teachers and has some part-time positions for those who do not have teaching degrees, e.g., librarian, substitute teacher, and physical education instructor.

Jobs in the local community with salaries comparable to those in the U.S. are almost impossible to find. Some spouses, however, have taught English as a second language to non-English speaking diplomats.

Depending on the availability of funds, Post tries to employ, at least temporarily, teenage family members who come to Guyana for a summer vacation.

American Embassy - Georgetown

Post City Last Updated: 3/31/2004 11:42 AM

Guyana's capital city, Georgetown (pop. approximately 248,500), is located at the mouth of the Demerara River on the northeast coast of Guyana. Because it lies below sea level, it is protected by a sea wall. Georgetown's only reliable link to the outside world is by air, since roads connecting it with any of the neighboring countries are bad and frequently impassable, and because only cargo vessels visit its port. The only other communities of any size in Guyana are New Amsterdam (pop. 17,700), 70 miles east of Georgetown at the mouth of the Berbice River, and the bauxite mining town of Linden (pop. 27,200), 67 miles south on the Demerara River. Inhabitants of the three principal urban areas are predominantly African; while inhabitants of the countryside are mainly East Indian.

Following heavy state intervention and nearly two decades of economic decline, Guyana launched an economic recovery program in 1988 that fueled healthy rates of growth through most of the 1990’s. The December 1997 elections marked the end to this period of growth as the country endured political turmoil and a number of other shocks including drought, loss of some preferential rice markets, rising oil prices, and deterioration of world prices for the country’s main export commodities. As a result, real GDP growth has stagnated – contracting by 1.7% in 1998, increasing 3% in 1999, declining again to 0.7% in 2000, and increasing (according to the government) to 1.9% in 2001. Most consumer goods, which virtually disappeared during the 1980s, are now widely available again but still unaffordable for many Guyanese. Many basic services such as electricity, transportation, and health care, remain limited and unreliable.

About 500 third-country nationals and several thousand U.S. citizens live in Guyana, most of them dual nationals born in Guyana or born abroad of Guyanese parents. There are 12 foreign missions in Georgetown: the High Commissions of the UK, Canada, and India, and the Embassies of Brazil, Suriname, Venezuela, the People's Republic of China, Russia, Cuba, and the U.S. The U.N. Development Program (UNDP), the European Union, the World Health Organization, the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture (IICA), the World Bank, and the Inter-American Development Bank also have offices in Georgetown. The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat is headquartered in Georgetown, and has nearly completed construction of its new headquarters outside of Georgetown. Most of the other major countries have nonresident ambassadors who visit Guyana from time to time and a dozen or are also represented by Guyanese acting as honorary consuls.

Declining national income during the 1980s and deteriorating infrastructure have resulted in substandard living conditions for most Guyanese citizens. Beginning in 1991, however, because of privatization, foreign investment, and the government's economic recovery program, the gross domestic product (GDP) has grown at rates in excess of 6% a year, and wages and benefits, employment and working conditions have improved. Most consumer goods, which virtually disappeared during the 1980s, are now widely available again but still unaffordable for many Guyanese. Many basic services such as electricity, transportation, and health care, remain limited and unreliable.

About 500 third-country nationals and several thousand U.S. citizens live in Guyana, most of them dual nationals born in Guyana or born abroad of Guyanese parents. There are 12 foreign missions in Georgetown: the High Commissions of the UK, Canada, and India, and the Embassies of Brazil, Colombia, Suriname, Venezuela, the People's Republic of China, Russia, Cuba, and the U.S. The U.N. Development Program, the European Union, the World Health Organization, the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture (IICA), the World Bank, and the Inter-American Development Bank also have offices in Georgetown. The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat is headquartered in Georgetown. Most of the other major countries have nonresident ambassadors who visit Guyana from time to time and a dozen or are also represented by Guyanese acting as honorary consuls.

Security Last Updated: 3/31/2004 11:43 AM

Persons visiting or residing in Guyana need to be aware of crime and security issues. While there is no generalized anti-American sentiment in Guyana, no one is immune from crime. Foreigners are more frequently the targets of criminal elements for purely economic reasons. The Guyanese Police Force (GPF), although very cooperative, is poorly equipped and often unable to respond to incidents of crime. Therefore, all Mission homes have private guard coverage 24 hours per day. Certain areas of the city cannot be safely entered. The key to a safe and enjoyable tour in Georgetown lies in the practice of common sense, care, and caution.

The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 3/31/2004 3:25 PM

Post, formerly a Consulate General, was raised to Embassy status on Guyana's Independence Day, May 26, 1966. A new Embassy Chancery was completed and occupied in April 1991. Located at the corner of Young and Duke Streets in Kingston, the Chancery houses the offices of the Ambassador and DCM; the Consular, Political/Economic and Administrative Sections, the Military Liaison Office (MLO), and USAID; Peace Corps and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) have offices located a short drive from the Embassy. Nineteen (19) full-time Americans are employed at the Embassy (14 State, 2 Peace Corps, 1 USAID, 1 CDC and 1 MLO), along with 78 Foreign Service nationals, (64 State, 8 Peace Corps, 5 AID, and 1 MLO).

United States Agency for International Development (USAID)

USAID/Guyana is a small Mission with twelve permanent staff, with offices located in the U.S. Embassy. The Mission’s work is concentrated under three program areas, Economic Growth, Democracy and Governance and HIV/AIDS.

Under its current five year strategy, which ends in 2003, USAID/Guyana’s support to Guyana has recognized the strong synergy between the sectors; more specifically that broad-based economic growth, increased employment and improved real wages are essential for democracy to flourish, while stable institutions of governance, characterized by transparency and accountability, are vital for continued economic growth.

In the fight against HIV/AIDS, USAID/Guyana seeks to reduce and mitigate the threat this deadly disease poses not only to Guyana, but also to the U.S. and the Latin American and Caribbean regions. In recognition of this, Guyana was made one of the recipients under President Bush’s PMTCT Initiative and is also to benefit from assistance under the President’s AIDS Emergency Fund.

The Mission also manages the U.S. Government’s PL-480 assistance program to Guyana, and oversees other Washington-funded projects.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Due to the increasing threat of the HIV/AIDS epidemic to Guyana and the Caribbean region, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) established an office in Guyana in September 2002 to assist the Government of Guyana to expand and strengthen its response. CDC/Guyana is a small program with fifteen permanent staff. It is located less than a quarter mile from the Embassy.

The purpose of CDC support is to reduce and mitigate the impact of HIV/AIDS in Guyana. Because Guyana has one of the highest HIV prevalence rates in the Caribbean region (second only to Haiti), it is one a few countries benefiting from President Bush’s Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) Initiative for HIV, and will also be a beneficiary of the President’s AIDS Emergency Relief fund.

CDC supports to the Government of Guyana to focus on: expansion of voluntary counseling and testing services; strengthening of PMTCT services; prevention and treatment of opportunistic infections; developing policies and plans for treatment of HIV/AIDS infected children and adults; conducting HIV surveillance activities, strengthening health infrastructure; improving HIV/AIDS training; and improving data quality.

CDC/Guyana works collaboratively with USAID, CDC/Regional Office in Trinidad and Tobago, and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.

Peace Corps

The Peace Corps Volunteer program first received a formal invitation from Guyana in 1966, the year of its independence. At that time the Guyanese Government, led by Prime Minister Forbes Burnham, requested Volunteers to serve in education and infrastructure projects. From 1966 until 1971, more than 160 Volunteers served in Guyana with the Peace Corps. Education Volunteers broadened the school curricula to include technical and vocational subjects, including home economics, crafts, and manual arts. Peace Corps/Guyana provided skilled technicians, architects, and engineers to assist in developing and carrying out plans of Guyana's Ministry of Works and Hydraulics. Peace Corps discontinued the Guyana program in 1971 after the Government of Guyana requested all overseas voluntary agencies leave. After an absence of nearly a quarter-century, the Guyanese Government, led by President Cheddi Jagan, approached Peace Corps in 1993 about the prospects for Peace Corps' re-entry into Guyana. In March of 1995, Peace Corps officially re-opened a joint Peace Corps Office for Suriname and Guyana. The first Volunteers arrived in 1995 to work in Community Health and Youth Development. During 1997, Peace Corps/Guyana and Peace Corps/Suriname split to form two separate programs, each with its own permanent country staff and programmatic operations. In 1998, Peace Corps/Guyana moved away from Youth Development and into the field of Education and Community Development. Presently, approximately twenty Volunteers arrive in groups twice a year to work in Community Health and Education projects throughout all areas of the country. As of October 16, 2003, there were 52 Peace Corps Volunteers serving in Guyana. Peace Corps Guyana moved into it's own building in January 2003, which is located two blocks from the U.S. Embassy. Peace Corps Guyana consists of 2 American staff and sixteen locally hired staff.


Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 3/31/2004 3:25 PM

Embassy personnel are usually able to move into permanent quarters on arrival. However, if temporary quarters are required, Guyana has several adequate hotels. The Meridien Pegasus, located by the sea wall just across the street from the Chancery, opened in 1969, and is Guyana's largest hotel. All rooms are air-conditioned. There is a swimming pool, coffee shop, cocktail lounge, and dining room. Rates for U.S. Government employees are about US$127 for a single.

The Hotel Tower, 71 Main Street, has some air-conditioned rooms, a swimming pool, cocktail lounge, and dining room. The Embassy rate for an air-conditioned room in the new wing is about US$83.

The Cara Lodge Hotel, 176 Middle Street, has air-conditioned rooms and the rate per night is US$88. Other hotels in Georgetown used by travelers to post include the Main Street Plaza Hotel ($79) and the Grand Coastal Inn ($78).

Permanent Housing Last Updated: 3/31/2004 11:46 AM

The U.S. Government owns one residential property. Other Mission houses, including the Ambassador's residence, are under U.S. Government lease. New personnel generally move directly into the house vacated by their predecessor if family status permits. Incoming personnel moving into U.S. Government-owned or -leased housing will be given a Welcome Kit until their household effects arrive. The kit includes dishes, pots and pans, flatware, iron and ironing board, a television and VCR, and linens. These items should be included in airfreight shipments.

Georgetown has three major types of housing. Modern plumbing facilities, including showers, are available in all houses. Most homes located in the older parts of the city are 19th-century-style wooden bungalows erected on stilts. As Georgetown is below sea level, the elevated construction technique improves ventilation and flood protection. In newer suburban areas, where most Embassy housing is currently located, masonry construction on stilts and modern design predominate. A few houses are square, two-story concrete buildings, without stilts. Lots are fenced and have lawns large enough for small group entertainment.

The stilt-type houses, whether wood or masonry, generally have laundry facilities, parking space, and servants quarters on the ground floor. This area can also be used for entertainment. The living quarters on the second floor include a living room, dining room, kitchen, bedrooms, and veranda. Kitchen cabinets and workspaces are often inadequate. Most of these houses have large Dutch-style showers that are larger than standard U.S. size, and may or may not have bathtubs.

Guyana's warm, humid climate promotes mildew. Metal tables, lamp bases, and silver hollowware are subject to corrosion and pitting, and poorly seasoned wood and wood veneers will warp. Many staff bring dehumidifies with them to post. It is advised that Embassy staff leave your valuable pieces in storage. Wood infestation by termites, particularly in furniture, is endemic, but preventive measures can be taken to minimize damage. Other prevalent pests are mosquitoes, cockroaches, ants, mice, sand flies, and "betes rouge" (similar to chiggers). U.S. Government-owned and -leased homes are screened and the Embassy provides periodic exterminator service. Embassy personnel are advised to include a supply of US EPA bug/pest approved sprays in your HHE. All bedrooms are air-conditioned. In the rest of the house, most people are comfortable with the ventilation provided by sea breezes and fans.

Furnishings Last Updated: 3/31/2004 11:47 AM

The Embassy supplies basic furniture, carpeting, and appliances. These include a refrigerator, freezer, stove, washer, dryer, microwave oven, and bedroom air-conditioners. All homes have emergency generators for use during power outages. The generators are outfitted to automatically switch on if a power failure or “blackout” occurs. For details on furnishings for particular houses, write the CLO or the Management officer.

China, glassware, and cooking utensils are furnished only for the Ambassador's residence. Lightweight blankets are necessary in air-conditioned bedrooms. Bring nursery furniture, as local supplies are limited, of poor quality, and expensive. Household equipment is available but usually more expensive than if purchased in the US. Bring personal items, such as stereo systems, tape recorders, photographic, and sports equipment. Extra tables and floor lamps are useful. If you have an artificial Christmas tree, bring it. Fit pianos with electric heaters to prevent humidity damage. There are some Embassy-owned lawnmowers, but most staff hire someone with their own equipment to cut the lawn. Those services regularly cost between G$1000-15000 (US$5.12-7.96). Bring a blender and small fans. Voltage regulators and surge protectors are necessary to protect against power surges. The Embassy does not provide dehumidifiers, but these are handy to have because of the high humidity. These may be shipped to post or purchased locally.

Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 3/31/2004 11:48 AM

Electric current in Georgetown is similar to that of the U.S.: single-phase, 60-cycle, 110/220v, 3-wire. Accordingly, transformers are not needed at this post. Bring a battery-operated or spring-type alarm clock. Some electrical equipment (VCR, stereo) may have a built-in voltage switch or require only an external step-down transformer (if the unit is 220v). Many people have personal computers, but care must be taken to protect them against power surges and outages. All computers should be run off an UPS (set for 110v 60 cycles) or a line conditioner.

Food Last Updated: 3/31/2004 11:51 AM

Grocery stores and public markets in Georgetown offer a variety of meat, poultry, fish, and seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables. Sanitary conditions in the markets are poor. U.S. Government personnel assigned to Georgetown are authorized a consumables allowance (see end of this section). Guyana's two principal beverage producers, Banks DIH, and DDL, operate tax-free shops offering wines and liquor and a limited selection of food and cosmetics. Prices in all cases are above U.S. supermarket prices.

Common locally grown vegetables include cassava, plantains, yams, breadfruit, eddoes (a dry variety of sweet potato), and eggplant. These are high in carbohydrates and available in season only. Green and yellow vegetables-bora beans (a thin green bean), leaf lettuce, okra, cabbage, pumpkin and various squash, cucumbers, onions, potatoes, spinach, callaloo, and tomatoes-are available throughout the year. Local celery is adequate for seasoning, but unsuitable for relish trays. Green onions (scallions), small red and green peppers, and fresh thyme are usually available. Parsley is expensive and occasionally found. Some of the local stores will import fresh vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower from time to time, but quantities are limited and prices are high. Locally grown rice that has been parboiled before packaging is cheap and a staple in the Guyanese diet. Some Embassy employees cultivate their own vegetables and herbs; if that interests you, bring packets of seeds.

Local oranges, grapefruits, tangerines, watermelons, bananas, pineapples, mangoes, papaya, yellow melons, and avocados are good and plentiful, although some are available only seasonally. Recently at special fruit stalls and some supermarkets one can find grapes, pears, and a variety of apples from the U.S. A wide variety of canned foods, including canned baby foods and pet food, is available but expensive.

Local meats are generally available and special orders can be placed at several meat stores. Fish, chicken, and pork are usually good; prawns (shrimp) and red snapper are especially tasty. Butter and milk (UHT, evaporated, and powdered, but not fresh), are available at larger grocery stores. Cheese, in limited variety, sour cream, whipping cream, cottage cheese, and yogurt are sporadically available.

The consumables allowance for government employees assigned to Georgetown for 2 years is 2,500 pounds and should be specified in your travel orders. It may be used during 1 year, and employees have found that shipping a few hundred pounds of specialty items before arrival helps one to settle in. An additional allowance is available to employees on three- or four-year tours. Remember that whatever you purchase has to be stored properly until consumed to prevent spoilage and infestation by insects. The consumables allowance may be used on multiple occasions during the year, so it is preferable to ship only one-half or less of this allowance before you arrive at post. Food charged to the consumables allowance must be packed and weighed separately by your packers; however, food may also be shipped in your HHE if you have the weight available. Some Americans have found that locally available foods and products are adequate and have used only a small portion of their consumable allowance for special, hard-to-find items that are very expensive, if found.

Clothing Last Updated: 3/31/2004 11:51 AM

Dress for tropical weather. Summer clothing is worn year round. Cotton wash-and-wear and synthetic knit fabrics are suitable. Silks are impractical because of the need for expert dry cleaning. Nylon is an easy-care fabric, but uncomfortable in the heat. Woolens are generally not worn, except for men's tropical weight wool suits.

Men Last Updated: 3/31/2004 11:52 AM

In the office, most men wear slacks with a short-sleeved shirt and a tie. Bring a good supply of short-sleeved shirts for office comfort. Suits and slacks can be made to order locally.
Most social occasions are informal or casual. Casual events call for sport shirts or the guayabera. Reasonably priced short-sleeved guayaberas can be purchased locally. Long-sleeved guayaberas (difficult to purchase locally) may be worn in place of a suit on some occasions. Bring a selection of slacks to be worn with shirts to evening engagements. Formal wear is not used, although the Ambassador may wear formal attire to the President's annual dinner for the diplomatic corps. Male officers often wear dark suits on formal occasions, especially diplomatic functions.

Women Last Updated: 3/31/2004 11:58 AM

Sport and straw hats are worn frequently for outdoor events because of the strong sun. Few women wear stockings. Slacks are popular, but shorts are worn only for sports or at home. Long dresses are occasionally worn but cocktail dresses are popular for receptions and dinners. Bring any evening dresses you already have. In the office, most women wear cotton dresses or blouses and skirts. Short-sleeved cotton or cotton-blend sweaters are also worn. Women may find the Chancery air-conditioning and some air-conditioned restaurants, uncomfortably cool. Light sweaters or stoles are sometimes needed. Bring a good supply of shoes, sandals, sneakers, old shoes, and rubber boots. A fold up plastic raincoat is useful, as is an umbrella. Bring a supply of lightweight undergarments.

Children Last Updated: 3/31/2004 11:59 AM

Guyana is beginning to produce some good children's clothing, particularly inexpensive, attractive dresses. But bring most children's wear from the U.S., especially boys' pants, underwear, and shoes of all types. Local clothing is limited in selection, size, and price, and even items of poor quality cost more than in the U.S. The Georgetown American School requires a particular uniform. This can be purchased from the school upon arrival. For babies, it would be advisable to bring a supply of baby toiletries and disposable diapers with you.

Supplies and Services

Supplies Last Updated: 3/31/2004 12:02 AM

Personnel assigned to Guyana should consider bringing toiletries and medicines they commonly use; supplies for cocktail parties; and party favors, party invitations, reminders, and thank-you notes. Although all of these supplies can be purchased locally, the cost is usually high. Plain invitation cards can be printed locally, quite inexpensively. Wooden or plastic hangers are better than metal hangers, which can rust in this climate, and should be shipped in the employee's airfreight and HHE. A variety of candles is useful, as well as an assortment of inexpensive gifts for children's birthday parties and a few wedding gifts, as local selection is limited and prices are high.

Basic Services Last Updated: 3/31/2004 12:03 AM

Dry-cleaning services are available and are reasonably good. Georgetown has numerous seamstresses and tailors, whose work is inexpensive but varies in quality. Shoe repair is adequate. Radio and electrical appliance repair is unreliable and slow, mainly because parts may need to be imported. Most beauty shop operators have been trained in the U.S. or UK and offer good services. Most beauty shops/salons are unisex and offer acceptable haircuts.

Domestic Help Last Updated: 3/31/2004 12:05 AM

Domestics seldom live in, and will rather return in the evening to baby-sit or stay to help with parties. Servants receive extra pay for work outside their usual 8-hour workday. Although plenty of domestics wish to work for Americans, many do not meet work requirements. Employ a maid/gardener/cook on a trial basis first. Cooks are most easily found via departing U.S. personnel. Maids, laundresses, and gardeners are easier to find.

Guyana's National Insurance Scheme (NIS) covers illness or accidents to local employees. Both employers and employees must contribute to the NIS monthly. NIS provides maternity leave to a pregnant employee at 70% of her salary. Domestic employees are entitled to 1 day's paid vacation for each completed month of service, after 12 completed months of service. Unless employees are separated for cause, they are entitled to 14 days' notice of intention to separate, or 14 days pay in lieu of notice from the employer.

Religious Activities Last Updated: 3/31/2004 12:06 AM

There are many religious denominations in Guyana, and Georgetown has churches, temples and mosques of many faiths, although the order of service and the music may differ from U.S. churches. The East Indians are mainly Hindu or Muslim. The largest Christian church is Anglican (Episcopal), with about 110,000 members; Roman Catholics number about 60,000. Other denominations include Methodist, Seventh-day Adventist, Presbyterian, Christian Scientist, Lutheran, Jehovah's Witness, Assemblies of God, Baptist, Pentecostal, Church of Christ, Moravian, Assembly of God, Baha'i, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Education Last Updated: 3/31/2004 12:07 AM

Most American children in nursery through grade 12 attend the Georgetown American School, a fully accredited private institution sponsored by the U.S. State Department through its Office of Overseas Schools. Founded in 1971, the school's goal is to provide an education equal to that offered at better American public schools. American texts are used in all courses. The faculty is well qualified and includes several Americans, one of whom is the Director. Enrollment for the 2003-2004 academic year was 56. Class size is quite small, and individualized instruction is the norm.

The school year runs from September through mid-June. The school day begins at 7:45 a.m. and ends at 2:15 p.m. Classes in music, art, foreign languages and physical education are an integral part of the curriculum. The school has a respectable library, a science lab, and an adequate number of computers.

The Parent Teachers Association (PTA) is composed of the parents of students enrolled at the school. School policy is set by a seven-member Board of Directors, six of whom are elected annually by the parents, and one, usually the Embassy Management Officer, is appointed by the Ambassador.

Special Needs Education Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM

Quality educational programs for students with moderate to severe learning disabilities are non-existent.

Higher Education Opportunities Last Updated: 3/31/2004 12:08 AM

Few opportunities for advanced study or adult education exist in Georgetown, other than those offered by the University of Guyana. Foreign language instruction in Spanish and Portuguese is offered to the public by the Venezuelan and Brazilian embassies. Language instruction in German is also available. A few music teachers instruct beginning and intermediate students, but facilities for advanced musical education are nonexistent. Ballet and modern dance lessons are available to adults as well as children.

Recreation and Social Life

Sports Last Updated: 3/31/2004 12:13 AM

There is a nine-hole golf course about 10 miles from town, which is rough but playable. Due to the April 2003 kidnapping of an American diplomat, Post has implemented a new policy that requires Americans to hire armed guards to accompany them on the golf course. For further information, please contact the RSO’s office.

Both the Ambassador's and DCM's residences have tennis courts; the Ambassador's residence also has a swimming pool that is available to the Embassy American community. Bicycles are widely used here for transportation among Guyanese, and bicycle racing is a popular sport. The National Park is just down the street from the Embassy. Many people cycle, jog, or walk there before or after work. It is not recommended that Americans walk/jog alone at the national park or the sea wall late in the evenings or early in the mornings.

The Georgetown Hash House Harriers meet at the British High Commission every other Saturday at 3 p.m.

The Pegasus and Tower Hotels offer swimming, tennis, and weightlifting facilities for a membership fee. Annual dues for access to tennis and swimming at the Pegasus for a family with children are about US $600. The Georgetown Club has a restaurant, bar and squash court, and annual dues are low. There also are a number of local fitness clubs that have reasonable membership fees.

Cricket and soccer are the two most popular sports for Guyanese. There are rugby and basketball clubs, squash courts, and several karate groups. The Embassy often holds domino team competitions. There is also seasonal horse racing.

Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 3/31/2004 12:15 AM

Guyana offers a number of tourist attractions, but Embassy personnel are reminded that many are not easy or cheap to get to. The east-west road offers endless views of rice and sugar plantations and the pavement on the north-south road ends at the bauxite mines. Few foreigners swim in either the ocean or the Demerara River. Ocean currents from Brazil carry silt from the Amazon to Guyana's coast, and silt from Guyana's own rivers make the ocean the color of thick coffee, with mudflats to match. However, for those willing to travel by boat, truck, or small plane, Guyana offers a vast wilderness of undiscovered eco-tourism sites. Excursions can be arranged independently or through local travel agencies to sugar plantations (most of which have guesthouses), jungle creeks, Amerindian villages, rustic tourist lodges (Timberhead, Shanklands, Madewini, and Kaow Island) and spectacular waterfalls. Guyana offers fabulous hunting (duck, deer, wild hog, and other exotic animals) and fishing. Birdwatchers find a large selection of species.

The adventurous may want to consider investing in a boat of some type, as the best sporting and travel opportunities in the interior are on Guyana's numerous rivers and creeks. Embassy employees have found canoes, foldable kayaks, and aluminum boats with 25 horsepower outboard motors useful and enjoyable. The key to boating in Guyana is having a craft that your vehicle can transport from the road to the river. This generally means having both a four-wheel-drive vehicle and a boat that can fit on or inside it. A boat that requires a trailer is restricted to those major rivers reachable by paved road.

Points of interest in Georgetown include the Botanical Gardens that has a decent zoo and an adjacent playground with slides, swings, etc. The National Museum in Georgetown is small, but its exhibits on the history of Guyana, Amerindian life and customs, gold and diamond prospecting methods, animals, and plants are well worth a visit.

Entertainment Last Updated: 3/31/2004 12:17 AM

Baganara Island Resort: All-inclusive resort on the Essequibo River; 1.5 hours by boat up the Essequibo. Accommodates 8 guests per evening; prices include all meals and local drinks. Many people go to Kaieteur Falls by plane for the day and fly here and spend the evening and return the following afternoon to Georgetown. Current price: US$125 per person a night includes transportation; many do as a day trip from Georgetown.

Timberhead Resort: Up the Demerara River from Timehri, the resort is owned and operated by Le Meridien Pegasus. Three different huts each have three bedrooms with a common bathroom. Current price: US$100; discounts available depending on the number in the group; includes meals and transportation from Le Meridien Pegasus Hotel; may do as a day trip.

Shanklands Resort: Located on the Essequibo River, this resort consists of several different self-contained houses. Travel time is an hour by car from Georgetown and 1.5 hours by boat up the Essequibo itself; different price plans depending on accommodations; current price: from US$30 to US$120 for the "honeymoon suite," including meals and transportation from Parika. May do as day trip.

Ampa Bay: On the Essequibo (near Shanklands). You must arrange your own transportation from Parika. A spacious house to rent: three big bedrooms downstairs and dormitory-style sleeping arrangements with mosquito nets upstairs. Bring your own food, drink, and games. The local caretaker cleans all dishes, sweeps floors, and handles whatever else is necessary; linens provided; current price: US$150 per night ($25 per person for groups of 6); price doubles for New Year's weekend.

Rockview Island Resort, Southern Guyana: Set in an Amerindian village in the open and wide savannas of Guyana; a definite change of pace from the green, tropical resorts mentioned above. Local products and materials have been incorporated into the architectural scheme. The resort has an outdoor pool, complete with lily pond, private bathrooms in each bedroom, and family-style eating arrangements; current price: US$75 per person double occupancy, price includes three meals.

Other resorts include:
Arrowpoint Resort, up the river past Timberhead Resort; may do as day trip from Georgetown.

Kaieteur Falls. Guyana's premier tourist destination. A wonderful day trip, a chance to see an unspoiled natural wonder set in a fascinating tropical rain forest park. Leave around 8 a.m. and fly for 1-1/2 hours over rain forest to the Falls. A once in a lifetime experience; current price US$170 depending on size of party and cost of aviation fuel; may be reached overland after 4 days travel.

St. Cuthbert's Mission. A two-hour (minimum) drive out of Georgetown to an Amerindian village. Most Amerindian crafts come from this village, also home to the internationally known sculptor ant artist Oswald Hussain.

Rodeo, Lethem, Southern Guyana. Held every Easter weekend. Plan at least 4 days for a different experience. Local Amerindian and Brazilian cowboy; ride bulls and broncos barefoot. Lots of different events and lots of different foot venues. Drive down in a convoy of vehicles and book your hotel accommodations well in advance. Stay at the Savannah Inn in Lethem. About a 13- hour drive from Georgetown, although you can stay overnight at Annai. From Annai, it is another 3 hours to Lethem. If it has been rainy, the trip can take twice as long. Fly back to Georgetown via TransGuyana Airlines (current price US$100 each way) and arrange to have your car driven back to Georgetown; one night at Rockview Resort (current price: US$75 per person, double occupancy) and then the Savannah Inn at approximately US$18 per night, double occupancy; add meal for an additional US$6-$10.

Jonestown, Guyana. This can be a day trip to the one place many people associate with the word "Guyana." After a 45-minute flight to Port Kaituma it's another 45 minutes by truck to Jonestown. It requires someone with local knowledge to show you where the town once existed and where the buildings stood. Afterwards, visit Port Kaituma, situated on a river and part of the bauxite mining industry; current price: US$150, including lunch. Price fluctuates with size of party and cost of aviation fuel.

Shell Beach, Northeast Guyana. Sleep in a tent on the beach and watch the turtles come in to lay their eggs. See leatherbacks and hawksbill turtles, some of the world's endangered species.

For a change of scenery, vacation trips are possible to Antigua, Barbados, St. Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, or other West Indian islands, and also to neighboring Venezuela, Suriname, and French Guiana. The islands are popular for their excellent beaches and more cosmopolitan atmosphere. However, flight schedules usually require more than a 2- day weekend. Flying time is about 1 hour to Trinidad or 2 hours to Barbados or Antigua. Round-trip fares to those islands are about US$150. Hotel prices are high in season, mid-December to mid-April, but considerably lower during the off-season. Some hotels give discounts to diplomats or residents of the Caribbean Community.

Suriname. With an early start it's possible to make Parimaribo, Suriname, in one day from Guyana, provided you make the early afternoon ferry. After that it's 3 hours to Paramaribo.

Barbados. Once a day via BWIA; current price: US$170 round trip.

Trinidad. Twice a day via BWIA; book in advance for a great price, sometimes as low as US$100 round trip.

Notes For Travelers

Getting to the Post Last Updated: 3/31/2004 12:56 AM

Travel to post is by air, as no passenger ships call at Georgetown, and the only overland routes are from Suriname or Brazil via bad roads. The only U.S. carrier serving Guyana is North American Airlines with direct service out of New York. Most travelers from Washington use a U.S. carrier as far as Trinidad or Barbados and fly to Georgetown from there on BWIA. It is possible to fly BWIA from the U.S. (Miami, New York, or Washington) but official travelers must obtain a waiver to the Fly America Act. American Airlines has daily flights from Miami to Trinidad and Barbados, but passengers must stay overnight in either country before taking a BWIA, Suriname Airways, or LIAT flight to Georgetown. American has flights twice a day from JFK New York to Barbados, both of which arrive in time to connect with a daily BWIA flight to Georgetown. United Airlines has daily flights from Miami to Trinidad and Barbados and from New York to Trinidad and Barbados. BWIA, a Trinidadian airline, provides daily service to Georgetown from JFK New York (via Barbados) and Miami (via Port-of-Spain). Leeward Islands Air Transport (LIAT) offers daily service from Barbados to Georgetown. LIAT has a strict excess baggage charge on all luggage over 20 kg. (44 pounds) and very limited cabin space for carry-on items. Suriname Airways provides air service from Paramaribo 2 days a week, which continues on to Trinidad and Venezuela.

It is post policy to meet all new permanently assigned personnel. TDY travelers are required to pay the cost of transportation from the airport; this may be claimed on your travel orders. Please be sure to inform the Embassy in advance of your arrival plans. If for any reason you are not met, telephone the Embassy (592- 225-4900(-9) or 592-225-7961(-3) during working hours (7:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday), unless you prefer to take a taxi into town (about an hour's ride). Taxi service from the airport is currently G $2400 (US $18), but the price must be negotiated before accepting service.

Surface shipments of household effects average 8-10 weeks from the U.S. east coast. Your packers should use waterproof containers for protection in case of exposure. Air shipments, particularly from other South American posts, may be more economical than indirect surface routing. No shipment should be made without routing information from post. The usual shipping times to post are as follows:

From Airfreight Surface, Household, and Vehicle (In Weeks)
U.S 3-4 8-10
Far East 6 12
Europe 4 8-10
Central America 5 6-8
South America 6 8
Middle East 6 10

The airlines' scheduling of airfreight shipments can be erratic. A part of the airfreight arrives before the traveler; some arrives within the normal 6-week period after the newcomer gets to Georgetown, but occasionally airfreight is misplaced or sent to another post and does not arrive until after your HHE. Travelers to Georgetown should keep these difficulties in mind, and bring essential items with them, even if it necessitates excess baggage.

Customs, Duties, and Passage

Customs and Duties Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM

Personnel with diplomatic titles are accorded free entry of personal effects, including vehicles and consumables during the entire time of their assignment to Guyana. Other official American personnel have free-entry privileges only during their initial 6 months. Duty-free importation of more than one motor vehicle, including motorcycles, requires prior approval of the Ambassador. All American personnel are entitled to make duty-free purchases via commercial sources in the U.S.

If vehicles are imported duty free and later sold to a person without duty-free privileges, customs duties must be paid by the purchaser, unless the vehicle has been in the country for at least 3 years. Cars and personal items imported duty free may be sold only at the time of transfer and with prior Embassy approval, and in any case, may be imported only for personal use and not primarily for resale.

No special procedures are required for shipment of baggage and effects, but the packers should use locks and/or banding and sturdy containers. Shipments should be consigned to the U.S. Embassy and marked with your name. There is no limitation on the amount of dollars or travelers checks brought into the country by Embassy personnel, but do not send currency by mail.

Passage Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM

Effective February 16, 1993, all U.S. passport holders (including diplomatic, official and service passports) no longer require a Guyanese visa to enter Guyana. For non-U.S. citizen family members, contact the visa assistance office at the Department prior to traveling to post.

Pets Last Updated: 3/31/2004 3:21 PM

If you are bringing pets to post, paperwork must be completed well in advance of their arrival. If possible, pets should arrive with employee. Pets may not under any circumstances arrive prior to your arrival.

Pets brought into the country must have a valid health certificate showing rabies inoculations at least 30 days prior to arrival and must have an entry permit from the Government of Guyana. The following information must be received by post in order to obtain the entry permit for arriving pets: breed, age, sex and a copy of the health certificate. The owner must have the original health certificate in his or her possession on the arrival of pets in Guyana. Pets may not/not be shipped to post without first obtaining permission from the Government of Guyana.

The Government of Guyana has a 90-day quarantine period for all pets entering the country. However, the official Government of Guyana quarantine stations are usually full; for most house pets permission for home quarantine is granted on a case-by-case basis. Employees in the past two years have been successful in "negotiating" a "home" quarantine. But Post cannot guarantee success in the future.

The quarantine cost at the Government of Guyana, Ministry of Agriculture/police kennels is US$10 daily or US$900 for 90 days. Food, etc., is extra.. Cats are automatically approved for a "home" quarantine. The quarantine cost at the Government of Guyana, Ministry of Agriculture/police kennels is US$10 daily or US$900 for 90 days. Food, etc., is extra.

North American Airlines is the only U.S. Flag Carrier serving post. This airline currently operates four flights weekly from JFK New York to Georgetown:

Depart JFK Tuesdays, 12:30 a.m.
Arrive Georgetown, Wednesdays, 7:05 a.m.

Depart JFK Thursdays, 12.30 a.m.
Arrive Georgetown, Fridays 7.05 a.m.

Depart JFK Saturdays, 12.30 a.m.
Arrive Georgetown, Sundays 7.05 a.m.

Baggage Allowance:
Checked luggage: 2-pcs weighing 70 lbs each
Carry-on: 1-pc weighing 15 lbs.

North American Airlines has advised that they will accept pets for carriage both in the cabin and in the holds of the aircraft. Pets are defined as dogs, cats and birds. Carriage of pets in the cabin is limited to domestic dogs and cats and the pets must be small enough to be carried in a pet container, which can be stowed under the seat. Outer dimensions of the cage should not exceed 18 inches by 14 inches by 8 inches. No birds are allowed in the cabin. Pets carried in the hold should be comfortably secured in their cages. The shipper of the pets is required to comply with the local regulations of customs and the Ministry of Agriculture (Veterinary division) regarding the export of the pets. Additionally the requirements for acceptance of the pets at JFK/New York should be met. The charge for the carriage of pets whether in the cabin or hold is U.S. dollars 75.00 per pet. The airline should be notified as early as possible of the intention to ship the pets. North American New York offices can be contacted via telephone number 718-322-1300, 800-371-6297 or fax 718-322-7572. Website is

Foreign Flag Carrier, BWIA, the air carrier frequently used by USG employees, has advised that there are no specific size restrictions for cages to transport pets on their aircraft. The pet must be able to stand and have enough space to turn around freely in the cage. The airline will refuse to load pets, which appear to be uncomfortable. Please note, however, that BWIA flies MD-80 aircraft to Georgetown. These aircraft have relatively small loading hatches for baggage. Some pet carriers may be too large to load on the aircraft. BWIA does not allow pets in the cabin, regardless of size. Pets are shipped as cargo in baggage compartment. If transiting Port-of-Spain or Barbados, transit permits must be obtained from the BWIA office in either of these countries or in Miami. Seventy-two (72) hours notice must be given when traveling with pets. We advise that pet owners contact the BWIA office in Miami (305-371-2942, 305-526-6813, 305-526-2012, or 800-538-2942) for specific information on shipping pets.

Some brands of pet food are available locally. It is advisable, however, that pet owners include an initial supply of pet food in their HHE or consumables shipment. Please contact the Management Officer or GSO Assistant if you need additional information.

Firearms and Ammunition Last Updated: 3/31/2004 2:33 PM

Prior approval of the Chief of Mission is required before the shipment of any firearm to post. Post policy restricts the use and carrying of firearms to those used for target and hunting purposes only. Employees intending to bring a firearm to post should contact the Regional Security Officer (RSO) prior to the shipment of any weapon, providing the make, model, caliber, and serial number as well as the intended use and shipping method. If importation is approved, contact the RSO after arrival to arrange for registration with the Guyanese authorities. Guyanese law prohibits the importation of any fully automatic firearm and requires registration of all other firearms. The Embassy will assist in the registration procedures. You may import a reasonable amount of ammunition for the approved weapons.

Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures Last Updated: 3/31/2004 2:35 PM

Guyana's currency is the Guyana dollar. The current rate of exchange is US$ 1 = G$195. The rate is subject to change periodically. Georgetown has seven commercial banks, three of which are foreign owned: the Bank of Baroda (India), and the Bank of Nova Scotia, a small private Canadian bank, and the National Bank of Industry and Commerce (bought by Republic Bank of Trinidad and Tobago). There are three private Guyanese banks: Citizens Bank, Demerara Bank, and Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry. The Bank of Guyana is the central bank in Guyana.

Commercial banks provide limited banking services; some will sell and redeem dollar or sterling travelers checks and cash personal checks. The Embassy provides accommodation exchange facilities at the Embassy Cashier.

You should maintain a checking account in a U.S. bank to facilitate payments here and abroad. American staff must arrange for automatic deposit of their salary check in a U.S. checking account.

Weights and measures are British, although the metric system was officially introduced in 1982. In many cases British units of measures are the same as American units. Liquid measurements differ; the imperial gallon is equal to 1.20094 U.S. gallons and the British cup is 10 ounces rather than 8.

Taxes, Exchange, and Sale of Property Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM

No tax, other than gasoline and hotel taxes, affects official American personnel in Guyana. Diplomats are exempt from automobile license fees, but they are reasonable for other employees. No direct-hire U.S. Government employee is subject to income, inheritance, or similar direct taxes. No excise taxes are levied on the resale of automobiles or other property.

Recommended Reading Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM

These titles are provided as a general indication of the material published on this country. The Department of State does not endorse publications.

Bernard, Deryck M. A New Geography of Guyana. Macmillan Education: London, 1999.

Burrowes, Reynold A. The Wild Coast: An Account of Politics in Guyana. Schenkman: Cambridge, Mass., 1984.

Carew, Nan. Black Midas. Seaker & Warburg: London, 1958.

Daly, Vere T. A Short History of the Guyanese People. Macmillan Education: London, 1975.

Depres, Leo A. Cultural Pluralism and Nationalist Politics in British Guiana. Rand-McNally & Co.: Chicago, 1967.

Heath, Roy. Orealla. Allison and Busby: London, 1984.

Heath, Roy. The Armstrong Trilogy: From the Heat of the Day, One Generation. Genetha: Persea, 1994.

Hudson, W. H. Green Mansions. The World Publishing Co.: New York.

Jagan, Cheddi. The West on Trial. Seven Seas: Berlin, 1972.

Mecklenburg, Kurt K. Guyana Gold. Carlton Press: 1990.

Merrill, Tim L., ed. Guyana and Belize: Country Studies. Federal Research Division, Library of Congress, U.S. Government Printing Office: Washington, D.C., 1993.

Mittleholzer, Edgar. Children of Kwayana. John Day Co., Inc.: New York, 1976. (Many novels by Edgar Mittleholzer, Guyana's most prolific writer, provide a good introduction to Guyanese life.)

Naipaul, V.S. The Middle Passage. Macmillan: New York, 1963.

Naipaul, Shiva. Journey to Nowhere: A New World Tragedy. Simon and Schuster: New York, 1981.

Reiterman, Tim and John Jacobs. Raven: The Untold Story of Rev. Jim Jones and His People. Dutton: New York, 1982.

Singh, Chaitram. Guyana: Politics in a Plantation Society. Praeger: New York, 1988.

Spinner, Thomas J., Jr. A Political and Social History of Guyana, 1945-1983. Westview Press: Boulder, Colo., 1984.

Local Holidays Last Updated: 3/31/2004 3:24 PM

2004 Local Holidays Date
New Year's Day Jan. 1
Martin Luther King’s Birthday Jan. 19
Eid-Ul-Azha Feb. 2
President’s Day Feb. 23
Republic Anniversary Feb. 23
Phagwah Mar. 8
Good Friday Apr. 9
Easter Monday Apr. 12
Labor Day May 1
Youman Nabi May 3
Independence Day May 26
Memorial Day May 31
Independence Day (C.V.) July 5
Freedom Day Aug. 2
Labor Day Sep. 6
Columbus Day Oct. 11
Veterans’ Day Nov. 11
Deepavali Nov. 12
Thanksgiving Day Nov. 25
Christmas Day Dec. 24
Boxing Day Dec. 27

Adapted from material published by the U.S. Department of State. While some of the information is specific to U.S. missions abroad, the post report provides a good overview of general living conditions in the host country for diplomats from all nations.
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