The most intact rainforest on the planet

Guianan saki.
Guianan saki © Digital ART2

"Guianas", "the guianas" or "the guyanas" is a generic name used to describe a vast tropical region in NE South America, bounded by the Orinoco, Negro, and Amazon rivers and the Atlantic ocean.

An area covering about 181,000 sq miles (468,800 sq km), formed some two billion years ago during the precambrian period.

In fact, the name "guiana " comes from Amerindian language, meaning "land of many waters".

First inhabitants were the Carib, Arawak, and Warao Indians.

The list of rivers include the Caroní, Essequibo, Courantyne (Corantijn), Maroni, and Oiapoque (Oyapock)

Even though when territorial disputes are still in place - including Venezuela claiming part of Guyana (Guayana Esequiba) - the region embraces three countries in South America...

Guianas Map. South America
Guianas Map

They all share the Guiana (Guyana) shield, together with parts of Venezuela, Colombia and Brazil.

Similar in nature to the Amazon rainforest, the Guiana shield encompasses one of the highest biodiversity regions in the world, together with the largest expanse of undisturbed tropical jungle.

In fact, the Guianas shield represent the most intact rainforest on the planet.

A good example of this is the Central Suriname Nature Reserve (1.6 million ha), in Suriname, declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO in year 2000.

There is a new initiative to help preserve the tropical forests that you may have heard of. It's called the Guyana Rainforest Conservation Proposal, put forward by current Guyana's President Bharrat Jagdeo.
Read more here..

The Guianas highlands are best represented by the "tepuis" (table-top mountains) found in Venezuela, as well as impressive waterfalls such as Angel falls and Kuquenan (Cuquenan) in Venezuela, and Kaieteur falls in Guyana.

The Guianas - Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

Download it in PDF format.

Guianan Toucanet
Guianan Toucanet. © Manjith Kainickara

Guianas were first sighted by Cristopher Columbus in 1498 (please refer to History of South America, particularly Columbus, for more info on this).

The Dutch were the first ones to settle in the region, but also the English and French colonialists came along, and countries changed hands rapidly as a consecuence.

In 1776, for instance, the British exhanged Suriname for the Dutch possession of New Amsterdam (later named New York).

As a result, the Guianas became a true melting pot of ethnic diversity - coastal areas basically, where population density soars.

African migration (slaves brought from Africa to work in sugar cane plantations) - together with Asians, old Europeans and indigenous Amerindian people conform an amazing mosaic of cultures and religious believes.

Guianan Cock of the Rock
Guianan Cock-of-the-Rock

Runaway slaves became "Maroons" and still inhabit deep in the jungle, as they have done since the last part of 17th century, in Suriname for instance

Languages spoken vary according to its former colonizer: English in Guyana, French in French Guiana and Dutch in Suriname, where also Sranan Tongo (aka Taki-Taki) is used as lingua franca.

Indonesian, Hindi and Mandarin are also spoken, as a result of migrant workers brought along when slavery was abolished.

Guianas are provably the least developed tourist destinations in South America, an extra reason to visit them, before they become vox populi and part of the beaten path.

Completely different from its neighbours, each of them has a very peculiar blend of cultures, languages, religious believes and an absolute superb cuisine worth to be discovered when you are ready for a very unique South America vacation...


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