French Guiana is an overseas region of France, consisting of a single overseas department located on the northern Atlantic coast of South America. It has borders with two nations: Brazil to the east and south, and Suriname to the west. Its 83,534 km2 (32,253 sq mi) have a very low population density.
Endangered species in French Guiana in 1987 include the tundra peregrine falcon, three species of turtle (South American river, olive ridley, and leatherback), and the black caiman. The glassy plateaus of the interior of the country are partly unexplored.
Petty street crime occurs throughout the major cities. Counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available.
The military service age and obligation is 17-40 for male and female voluntary military service (with parental consent). No conscription; 12-month service obligation; women serve in noncombat posts (2010).
Arable land and labor both being scarce, agriculture in French Guiana is still in a primitive state. Trade is mainly with France. The territory exports, mainly shrimp, fish, and timber.
Although it has rich forest and mineral resources, such as bauxite (aluminium ore), French Guiana is a developing country with high unemployment. It depends greatly on France for money to run its services and the government is the country's biggest employer. Since 1975, Kourou has been the European Space Agency's rocket-launching site and has earned money for France by sending communications satellites into space.
The educational system there is modeled after that of France. Higher education in the country is limited to teacher training and agricultural colleges and the University Antilles-Guyane, which offers postsecondary studies in administration, French language and literature, and law.
The principal languages spoken are French (official); Creole; Taki-Taki (Sranan), spoken by the ethnic blacks; American Indian dialects; and the various languages of the immigrant communities. There was immigration from Southeast Asia, Haiti, and the French Caribbean territories beginning in the late 20th century.
The vast majority of French Guianans are Roman Catholic. There are many other religions practiced by the minority groups. These include indigenous Amerindian shamanistic religions, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and Africanbased religions.
French Guiana’s population in 2007 was estimated at 203,321, for an average population density of about 2 people per sq km (6 per sq mi). About two-thirds of the residents are Creoles, people of mixed white, Indian, and black African descent. Indians, descended from the aboriginal ARAWAK CARIB, and TUPÍ-GUARANÍ, groups, inhabit the remote interior of French Guiana.
The Guianas is a term used to describe the area around Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana. French Guiana comes from colonial times when territories bore the name of their sovereign country.