(Co-Operative Republic of Guyana)
- Location: Northern Coast ofSouth America, part of the Anglophone Caribbean
- Capital: Georgetown
- Language: English (official), Guyanese Creole (national), Hindi, Spanish and Portuguese
- Population: 752,940
- Total Area: 214,970 sq km
- Currency: Guyanese Dollar (GYD)
- Curious Alcohol Fact: Locals use fresh fruit to make beverages called “local drink”.
- Annual Average Liquor Consumption per Capita: 9.50
- Most Popular Drink: The national drink is Caribbean style dark rum including brands produced locally by BANKS DIH Limited, El Dorado, and X-tra Mature.
The Co-operative Republic of Guyana, formerly British Guyana, is a tropical, hot, humid country. The name “Guyana” comes from the Amerindian word for “land of many waters”. Mountains, volcanoes, and waterfalls decorate the landscape of this South American country. Long rivers such as the Essequibo and the Courantyne River slither through the land. The largest rainforests in South America are found in Guyana, and they contain vast numbers of wildlife including very rare species such as the giant otter and the harpy eagle. The Dutch were the first to establish colonies on Guyana though it was Britain who had control of the region from the late eighteenth century until May 1966.
Native American tribes called Arawak and Carib were the original inhabitants of Guyana. Modern day Guyana is comprised mostly of descendants of slaves or indentured servants from India and Africa. The descendants of Indian immigrants, also called East Indians or Indo-Guyanese, make up the largest majority of the populations. Afro-Guyanese (the African descendants) make up the second largest ethnic group. While English is the official language of the country, Guyanese Creole is commonly spoken as well as several Caribbean languages. Slightly more than half the population is considered to be Christian while around thirty percent are practicing Hindus.
The culture of Guyana is very similar to English-speaking Caribbean countries. It blends Indo-Guyanese and Afro-Guyanese traditions to create a uniquely Guyanese culture. A festival that celebrates Guyana becoming a republic is celebrated annually and is called Mashramani. It is celebrated with a parade, games, steel drums and calypso music and food each year on February 23rd. The Guyanese play international cricket as part of the West Indies Cricket team, and they also enjoy football (soccer) and softball cricket (which is basically cricket on the beach).It is also a founding member of the Caricom or the Caribbean Community.
Guyanese food is very similar to Caribbean cuisine. Popular native dishes include pepperpot, a stew made with cassareep (a bitter cassava extract), hot pepper, and seasoning, metemgie (a thick, rich soup with a coconut base and fluffy dumplings), and cassava bread. Fresh fish such as catfish and tilapia are very popular dishes as well. Crab soup and soups made with okra are also commonly consumed.
Fresh fruit is used by the Guyanese to create beverages called “local drink”. Some of these homemade drinks are called mauby (made from tree bark), sorrel (made from a leafy vegetable) and ginger beer (made from ginger root). Caribbean style dark rum is the national beverage and is produced by local companies like BANKS DIH Limited, X-tra Mature, and El Dorado. The national beer, which is produced by Banks Beer, comes in a lager or a milk stout.
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Rebecca Dimyan, Danbury, CT, USA.
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