Guyana Guiana, Or Guayana. I. An extensive territory on the 1ST. E. coast of South America, comprising three distinct colonies, viz.: British, Dutch, and French Guiana. It lies between lat. 0° 55' and 8° 40' N, and Ion. 51° 30' and 61° W., and is bounded N. by the Atlantic, E. and S. by Brazil, from which it is separated by the Oyapok river and the Tumucuraque and Acaray mountains, and W. by Brazil and the Venezuelan province of Guayana; area estimated at 195,000 sq. m.; pop. about 280,000. The coast line is about 740 m. long. The shore is skirted with mud banks, the water on which gradually decreases in depth toward the beach; which circumstance, added to the absence of landmarks, and the existence of rocks, bars of mud, and quicksands at the mouths of the rivers, renders the approach difficult for all craft, and impossible for vessels drawing more than 12 ft., these being obliged to moor 3 m. from shore. The level of the coast region, from Ion. 54° to 61°, normally corresponding to that of the sea at high water, sinks at least one foot when the lands are drained and cultivated, so that the water can only be kept back by means of embankments and sluices.
From Ion. 54° eastward, the shore is not quite so low; but it is in some parts marshy, and is chiefly covered with mangrove forests. Beyond the flat country, which extends to a mean distance of 50 m. inland, except E. of Ion. 54°, where it ends much nearer the sea, the surface gradually swells to an elevation of 200 ft., forming the northern edge of the table land of Guiana. This plateau, with a generally rising tendency, is intersected by parallel ranges of hills, much more numerous to the eastward, extending rib-like to the sierras of Tumucuraque and Acaray at the extreme south, and limiting the basins of large rivers. The loftiest eminonces, however, are in the west. Mt. Roraima, in the Socaraima range, forming for a distance of 18 m. part of the western limit of the country, is at once the highest in Guiana (7,500 ft.) and one of the most remarkable on the globe; it is a flat-topped solid mass, the upper portion of which presents a precipice 1,500 ft. high, glistening with the spray of numberless cascades which plunge down its sides. None of the other mountains attain a greater altitude than 4,000 ft.
They are mostly of granite, and not a few isolated pyramidal or conical peaks shoot abruptly upward, and present with their denuded summits a striking contrast to the luxuriant vegetation at their base. The hills at the N. border of the table land are mostly of sandstone; and some of white quartz, with numerous particles of mica, glitter like gold. Throughout the whole flat country between the plateau and the sea a granite stratum underlies alluvial soil and clays, the last being covered with a black vegetable mould many feet deep, deposited by the rivers during their inundations. In the Essequibo is found a species of pure white clay. - The territory is drained by six large rivers. The Essequibo and the Berbice, in the western or British division, are both navigable by large vessels for 50 m. from the sea. The Corentyn separates the British from the Dutch possessions; and in the latter are the Saramaca and the Surinam, both of considerable magnitude. The Maroni forms the dividing line between Dutch and French Guiana. The Demerara, though comparatively small, is navigable for 100 m. up.
All these rivers hold a generally northern course, through regions of great natural beauty, and receive the waters of numerous and extensive tributaries, especially the Essequibo, which has the Cuyuni and Masaruni (both little inferior to itself in magnitude), the Rupununi, Potaro, and others. The grand waterfall of Kaieteur is formed by the waters of the Potaro dashing in a single leap from the basin of that river into the valley of the Essequibo, a depth of 822 ft. The width of the river at the edge of the fall is 369 ft., and the depth of the water near the edge is 15 ft. in the dry season. Several smaller rivers fall into the Atlantic at various points. The climate, naturally hot in the low regions, is tempered by easterly breezes blowing steadily all the year round, the mean annual temperature being 80° F., and is much more salubrious than that of any of the West India islands, especially in the interior, where epidemics are almost unknown. In the rainy seasons, which embrace the months of December, January, February, June, July, and August, the rivers inundate the surrounding country, and intermittent fevers prevail. These seasons are ushered in by terrific thunderstorms, but hurricanes never occur. Slight shocks of earthquake are sometimes felt.
The fertility of the soil is unsurpassed in South America, and vegetation is everywhere luxuriant. Fully one half of the territory is occupied by dense forests, whose majestic trees, supporting numberless convolvuli and other parasitic plants of endlessly varying hues, afford excellent timber prized for its hardness and durability, and inexhaustible quantities of fancy woods. The hard-wood species include varieties of minu-sops, such as the bully tree, often growing to a height of 100 ft., with a trunk 6 ft. in diame-ter, destitute of branches for the first 60 or 70 ft.; the greenheart (nectandra Rodioei), whose ash-colored bark is efficacious as a febrifuge; the crabwood (carapa Guianensis), sirwabali, sawari, purpleheart (copaifera pubiflora, and C. bracteata), and the mira tree (mimosa ex-celsa), attaining a height of 150 ft., whose wood is reputed as not inferior to teak. Chief among the precious woods is the mahogany, and among the palms the areca oleracea or cabbage palm. The Bertholletia excelsa, or Brazil-nut tree, constitutes in some parts whole forests; and almost all the intertropical fruit trees are found in abundance.
Of woods and plants used for dyeing, there are several varieties; medicinal plants are common; and there are numerous fibrous plants furnishing a substitute for flax. The wild flowers are of indescribable splendor, including the gorgeous Victoria regia. One fourth of the country is devoted to plantations, where maize, cassava, yams, sweet potatoes, and arrowroot are cultivated to a considerable extent. The soil is well adapted to sugar, coffee, and cotton; and tobacco and indigo are likewise produced. The remaining fourth of the territory comprises meadow plains, affording excellent pasture to numerous herds of cattle and horses. The hilly regions are frequented by couguars and jaguars; the tapir is the largest quadruped; ant-eaters, armadillos, and agoutis are common; there are two or three varieties of deer; and the forests are inhabited by hosts of monkeys of many kinds. Vampire bats are numerous; the boa constrictor and anaconda or tragave-nados abound along the banks of the rivers; and all the South American varieties of venomous snakes are here represented. 'Ihere are several sorts of lizards, and the iguana is eaten as a delicacy by the natives.
The marshy districts, and the flat country generally, after the rains have subsided, are infested by myriads of insects capable of inflicting troublesome if not dangerous wounds. The rivers swarm with alligators, sharks, and peris or omas. 2 ft. long, and armed with strong and formidable teeth; and they also afford excellent edible fish, such as the silurus, often measuring 12 ft. and weighing upward of 200 lbs. In most of the large rivers there are electric eels, turtles, and manatees or sea cows of gigantic size, but differing in most respects from the manatee of the West Indies. Among the birds are flamingoes, toucans, pelicans, spoonbills, peacocks, and Mus-covv ducks; macaws, parrots, and other birds of brilliant plumage, including the humming bird. - The population is made up of English, Dutch, French, and other Europeans, negroes and mulattoes, descended from the slaves formerly imported from Africa, and Indians, including the remnants of half a dozen tribes. The Warrows dwell in the vicinity of the plantations, where they sometimes work for wages; the Arrawaks inhabit the coast, and are skilled in boat building; but they are intemperate, improvident, and filthy. The other tribes live far from the European settlements; many of them are of a remarkably fair complexion.
A few still practise cannibalism, but with these are not to be confounded the small number of Caribs to be met with in the same region, and who, like all the continental Caribs, have never been addicted to eating human flesh. - Guiana, discovered by Columbus in 1498, was visited by Vicente Pinzon two years later. Diego de Ordaz founded in 1531 the first town, St. Thomas; Dutch settlements were established about 1580; and in 1595 Sir Walter Raleigh landed in the country with the intention of exploring it in search of gold, a project which he did not execute till 1617. African slaves were first introduced in 1621. II. British Guiana, sometimes called Demerara, the largest of the three colonies comprised in the preceding territory, lies between lat. 0° 55' and 8° 40' N., and Ion. 56° 20' and 61° W., and is bounded N. by the Atlantic, E. by Dutch Guiana, from which it is separated by the river Corentyn, S. by Brazil, and W. by Brazil and the Venezuelan province of Guayana; area, 99,925 sq. m.; pop. in 1871,193,491. In 1851 the population was about 130,000, and by the end of 1861 no fewer than 80,000 immigrants had been received, consisting of Europeans, free negroes, and East Indian and Chinese coolies.
The census of that year gave 148,026 as the total population, 79,644 of whom were males. The immigration, though costly (agents having been sent to Calcutta and Canton to promote it), has been successful. (See Cooly.) The number of indentured laborers in June, 1866, was 32,124, and 3,069 not indentured, 8,739 of the whole being females. Some invest their money in the purchase of land, the price being fixed by law at $10 per acre. Licenses for cutting timber, large quantities of which are exported, can be obtained for from 300 to 1,000 acres, at Is. 3d. per acre. The country was formerly divided into the three counties of Essequibo, Demerara, and Berbice, but the two first are now united. The chief towns are Georgetown, at the mouth of the Demerara river, the capital of the colony, Demerara, and New Amsterdam or Berbice. The staple products are coffee (the cultivation of which has diminished of late years), tobacco, indigo, maize, rice, sugar cane, fruits of various sorts, vegetables, etc. Wheat does not thrive. The principal exports are sugar, rum, molasses, cacao, cotton, timber, dye woods, and dye stuffs.
The total exports to Great Britain in the five years from 1868 to 1872 inclusive were as follows:
5 287, 810
Sundries (dye stuffs, etc.)..........
The imports from the same country in the same period were:
The total exports for the year 1871 amounted to $13,745,000, and the total imports to $9,485,000. The internal communication is carried on by boats upon the rivers. In 1871 441 vessels entered and cleared. The finances of the colony in the same year were as follows :
The public debt was $2,565,000. The government consists of a court of policy, of ten members, five of whom are official, the governor, chief justice, attorney general, collector of customs, and government secretary, and five non-official. There were 101 public schools in 1863 receiving public aid, and attended by 8,251 scholars; and the whole number of children receiving instruction in the colony was 12,425. In 1866 the schools numbered 118, with an average attendance of 6,615 pupils. - British Guiana was discovered by Vicente Pinzon in the spring of 1500, and the Dutch formed the settlements of New Amsterdam, Demerara, and Essequibo about 1580. The English, who settled in the neighborhood of New Amsterdam in 1634, withdrew in 1667. The colonies were attacked by the French in 1690 and in 1712, and a contribution levied on each occasion. A negro insurrection took place in 1762. The colonies were occupied by the English, under Gen. Whyte, in 1796, but were restored to the Dutch in 1802. They were retaken in 1803, and by an agreement between England and the Netherlands, concluded in 1814, retained by the former country.
In 1831 they were formed into one colony, under the name of British Guiana. Slavery was abolished in 1834, and the system of apprenticeship was abandoned in 1838. In 1827 the territory was included in the bishopric of Barbadoes and the Leeward Isles; but in 1838 it became an archdeaconry, and in 1842 was erected into a separate bishopric. III. Dutch Guiana, or Surinam, extends from the Corentyn to the river Maroni, lying between lat. 1° 20' and 6° N., and Ion. 53° 15' and 57° 45' W. It is bounded N. by the Atlantic, E. by French Guiana, S. by Brazil, and W. by British Guiana; area, 55,785 sq. m.; pop. in 1871, 59,860, including 650 soldiers, 400 marines, 1,000 Indians, and 7,500 maroons or fugitive African slaves and their descendants, who live chiefly in the hill country. Paramaribo, on the bank and about 10 m. from the mouth of the Surinam river, is the capital; the governor's residence is at Zeelandia, a short distance N. of that city. Since the importation of slaves ceased, the population has gradually diminished; in 1852 it was 64,270. The country is flat and swampy near the coast, mountainous in the interior, and watered by numerous rivers.
The products are the same as in British Guiana. The exports, principally cacao, sugar, rum, cotton, indigo, and other dyes and dye woods, are far from being as extensive now as when slavery existed. The total value of the exports to Great Britain in 1868 was $406,980; 1869, $369,650; 1870, $544,420; 1871, $823,295; 1872, $874,890; of the imports in 1868, $177,015; 1869, $184,-845; 1870, $235,505; 1871, $192,965; 1872, $213,700. Surinam is an expensive colony to the Netherlands, as may be seen by the state of the finances in 1872, viz.: revenue, $79,-944 80; expenditure, $480,274 40; deficit, $300,329 60. The government is vested in a governor general and council. - Dutch Guiana was visited by the French in 1640. It was taken by the English in 1650, and granted by charter of Charles II. to Lord Willoughby in 1662. The Dutch took possession of it in 1667; the English retook it shortly afterward, but ceded it back to the Dutch in 1669. By the peace of Westminster it was allotted to the Dutch in exchange for the province of New York. It was again taken by the English in 1796, restored in 1802, recaptured in 1804, and again given up to Holland in 1814. IV. French Guiana, or Cayenne, lies between lat. 1° 15' and 5° 45' N., and Ion. 51° 30' and 54° 35' W. It is bounded N. by the Atlantic, E. and S. by Brazil, and W. by Dutch Guiana; area, 40,140 sq. m.; pop. in 1868, 25,151. The territory includes the island of Cayenne (see Cayenne), and is divided into the two districts of Cayenne and Sinnamary, and subdivided into 14 communes or arrondissements.
The country near the coast is flat, marshy in some parts, and in others covered with forests of mangroves. The climate is much hotter and more unhealthy than in the other divisions of Guiana. The products of the other two colonies are likewise found here, with the addition of pepper (especially the kind bearing the name cayenne), cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, etc. The state of agriculture is very low. The total exports in 1864 amounted to $265,475, and the imports to $1,956,765. The governor has a privy council, with a colonial council of 16 members elected by the colonists. - The country was settled by the French in 1604, and again in 1635. The English seized the colony in 1654, and held it till 1664. The Dutch took it in 1676, but were obliged to restore it to the French in 1677. It was again taken by the British in 1809, and finally restored to France at the peace of Paris in 1814.