|The Host Country
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Department of State
3170 Georgetown Pl.
Washington, D.C. 20189-3170
International mail should be addressed as follows:
P.O. Box 10507
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Mercury contamination of rivers in some mining areas has resulted
in increased illness and skin diseases in the communities of mining
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
4. Rest, exercise and good nutrition are advised. Wash hands
Employment for Spouses and Dependents Last Updated: 3/31/2004 11:40
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
Depending on the availability of funds, Post tries to employ, at
least temporarily, teenage family members who come to Guyana for a
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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