Guyana is a sovereign state on the northern coast of South America that is culturally part of the Anglophone Caribbean. Guyana was a former colony of the Dutch and (for over 200 years) the British. It is the only state of the Commonwealth of Nations on mainland South America, and the only one on that continent where English is an official language.
Government dominates broadcast media. The National Communications Network (NCN) TV is state-owned and a few private TV stations relay satellite services. The state owns and operates 2 radio stations broadcasting on multiple frequencies capable of reaching the entire country and it imposes limits on licensing of new private radio stations which constrain competition in broadcast media.
All of the area west of the Essequibo River is claimed by Venezuela preventing any discussion of a maritime boundary. Guyana has expressed its intention to join Barbados in asserting claims before UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) that Trinidad and Tobago's maritime boundary with Venezuela extends into their waters.
U.S. policy toward Guyana seeks to develop robust, sustainable democratic institutions, laws, and political practices; support economic growth and development; and promote stability and security. During the last years of his administration, President Hoyte sought to improve relations with the United States as part of a decision to move his country toward genuine political nonalignment.
Since the 1980s a parallel system has developed alongside the Ministry-controlled system of education. In response to the shortcomings of the educational system, parents began hiring competent teachers to tutor their children. The practice spread throughout the educational system and has become an important adjunct of the educational system, despite its negative implications.
In 1998 the average life expectancy was 64.6 years. Yellow fever remains a constant threat. In 1997, 82% of Guyana's children were vaccinated against measles, roughly a 28% increase from 1988.
Housing is a critical problem, as is the lack of adequate water supplies and of effective waste disposal and sewage system. Housing is provided by some firms for their employees. To spur housing development the government established the Guyana Housing Corp. in 1974.
South Asians form the largest ethnic group in the country—they represent more than two-fifths of the population—and have been increasing more rapidly than other groups. Their ancestors arrived mostly as indentured labour from India to replace Africans in plantation work. Today South Asians remain the mainstay of plantation agriculture, and many are independent farmers and landowners; they also have done well in trade and are well represented among the professions.
The official language is English. No African languages survived slavery, nor have those of the indentured laborers (Indians, Madeiran Portuguese, and Chinese). Guyanese speak creole dialects of English with varying ethnic lexical imprints, however, all dialects are mutually intelligible.
Its resources include gold, bauxite (aluminium ore) and other minerals, its forests and fertile soils. Agriculture and mining are the chief activities. Farmers also produce beef, pork, poultry and dairy products. Fishing and forestry are other activities.
Guyana has a tropical climate, with little seasonal temperature change. The annual rainfall (about 1525 to 2030 mm/about 60 to 80 in) on the coast occurs mainly from April to August and November to January. The savanna region receives some 1525 mm (some 60 in) of rain annually, mainly from April to September.