French Guiana Flag
- Location: North Atlantic Coast of South America
- Capital: Cayenne
- Language: Officially is French though a number of other languages are common including Spanish, Portuguese, French Guiana Creole, and various Amerindian languages
- Population: 209,000 (as of 2010)
- Total Area: 83,534 sq km
- Currency: Euro (EUR)
- Most Popular Drink: Rum is considered the national beverage of the country. Ti’ punch is a popular drink made of sugarcane syrup and rum.
French Guiana, officially Guyane, borders Brazil on the east and south and Suriname on the west. The country can be divided into two main regions: the inhabited coastal strip and a thick tropical rainforest. The rainforest region also has mountains such as the Tumac-Humac Mountains, and it is very difficult for people to access. Several small islands also comprise the country including the infamous Devil’s Island which was used as a penal colony for prisoners from France for many, many years. French Guiana is considered to be an overseas region of France.
French Guiana has a very diverse population with its inhabitants ranging from Mulattoes (mixed French and African people who comprise the majority of the population) to Brazilian, Haitian, and Surinamese immigrants. A small percentage of the population is people who were born in France. There are also some native groups who reside in the country such as Maroons (the descendants of escaped slaves) and Amerindians. Roman Catholicism is predominantly practiced throughout the region although a few native groups still practice their own religions. While the official language of the area is French, many people speak other languages like Spanish, Portuguese, and French Guiana Creole among others.
Food & Drinks
The cuisine of French Guiana is predominantly French and Creole although there are also many Asian dishes. Rice and fresh shellfish and fish that can be caught off the coast are staples of the cuisine. Bouillon d'awara is one type of popular stews made with fish, seafood, chicken, vegetables, and awara fruit. Cassava, green beans, plantains, bananas, coconuts, and papayas are among the common fruits and vegetables that are consumed in French Guiana. Rum is the national alcoholic beverage, and it is used in such popular drinks as the ti’ punch which is made from sugarcane syrup and rum.
French Guianese music and dance fill the salty sea air at the beginning of each year for the Carnival. This includes the aleke which is drum-based music similar to salsa and merengue. Drums and maracas blend in popular dance music called bigi pokoe. Water skiing and sailing are among the favorite national sports but football is by far the most popular. Some football (American Soccer) players have even played for the French national team.
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Rebecca Dimyan, Danbury, CT, USA.
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