Berbice. I. A river of British Guiana, which rises about lat. 3° 30' N. and lon. 57° BO' W., and flows generally N. to New Amsterdam, where it falls into the Atlantic through an estuarv 3 1/2 m. wide, crossed by a bar having but 7 ft. of water at low tide. The mouth is divided by Crab island into two channels, both pretty deep. The river is navigable by vessels drawing 12 ft. for 105 m., where the influence of the tide ceases, and above which point numerous cataracts impede navigation. Larger vessels can reach Fort Nassau, 45 m. from the sea. At new moon shipping is imperilled by a formidable bore. The river is si added with bowlders and abounds in caymans, and its banks are generally low and covered with luxuriant vegetation. In a basin of this river Schomburgk in 1837 discovered the magnificent water lily, the Victoria regia. II. The eastern of the two counties into which British Guiana is now divided, bounded E. by Dutch Guiana, and having a coast line on the Atlantic of about 150 in.; area, about 21,000 sq. m.; pop. about 50,000. It is watered by the Berbice and several smaller rivers.
The interior is principally inhabited by aborigines, numbering about 30,000. The surface is mostly covered with water during the rainy seasons (April to July, and December and January), and the cultivated portions are narrow strips along the coast and the banks of the rivers for some distance inland. Sugar, coffee, cacao, and cotton are the staple productions; rum and molasses are exported in large quantities; and dye and other valuable woods, spices, and fruits are plentiful. Travelling is chiefly done by boats on the rivers. Berbice was first settled by the Dutch, but was several times seized upon (last in 1803) by the British, to whom it was finally ceded in 1814. It was united with Essequibo and Demerara under one government in 1831. Capital, New Amsterdam.