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Quick Facts
CapitalCayenne
GovernmentNA
Currencyeuro (EUR); French franc (FRF)
Areatotal: 91,000 sq km
water: 1,850 sq km
land: 89,150 sq km
Population182,333 (July 2002 est.)
LanguageFrench
ReligionRoman Catholic

First settled by the French in 1604, French Guiana was the site of notorious penal settlements until 1951. The European Space Agency launches its communication satellites from Kourou.

Cities

  • Cayenne the aministrative capital of French Guiana
  • Kourou, the city which hosts the space center and Arianespace
  • Saint-Laurent, bordering the river of Le Maroni, which is the natural frontier between Surinam and Europe.
  • Saint-Georges, bordering the river Oyapoque, which is the natural frontier between Brazil and Europe.

Get in

By plane

  • From Surinam, with Surinam Airways
  • From Brazil, with Penta or Air Caraibes
  • From Martinique, Guadeloupe, with Air France and Air Caraibes
  • From France mainland, with Air France

By car

From Brazil and Suriname, you have to cross the rivers Oyapoque and Le Maroni.

By bus

From Brazil and Suriname, you can hit the frontier, then you have to cross the river.

By boat

From Brazil and Suriname, to cross the rivers Oyapoque and Le Maroni, which takes 15 minutes, it's not very expensive, but you have to haggle.

Talk

French is the official language of France, although Creole is widely spoken. Everyone understands French but few people understand English. See also: French phrasebook

Work

For European people coming from an EU country, working in Guadeloupe is allowed without problem. If you're from outside the EU, you will probably need a work permit - check with the French Embassy in your country. Do not forget though that the unemployment rate is high. But if you work in the heath sector (doctor, nurse), it will be much easier.

Voluntary service: Volontariat Civil � l'Aide Technique (VCAT). Conditions: you must be French or from another EU-member state or a country belonging to the European Economic Area. You must be over 18 and under 28 years old (inclusive). You must not have had your civic rights revoked by a court or have been convicted of certain offences. stub and needs your attention. Plunge forward and help it grow!

Geography

Location 
Northern South America, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Brazil and Suriname
Geographic coordinates 
4 00 N, 53 00 W
Map references 
South America
Area 
total: 91,000 sq km
water: 1,850 sq km
land: 89,150 sq km
Area - comparative 
slightly smaller than Indiana
Land boundaries 
total: 1,183 km
border countries: Brazil 673 km, Suriname 510 km
Coastline 
378 km
Maritime claims 
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
territorial sea: 12 NM
Climate 
tropical; hot, humid; little seasonal temperature variation
Terrain 
low-lying coastal plains rising to hills and small mountains
Elevation extremes 
lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Bellevue de l'Inini 851 m
Natural resources 
bauxite, timber, gold (widely scattered), cinnabar, kaolin, fish
Land use 
arable land: 0.11% NEGL
permanent crops: 0.03%
other: 99.86% (90% forest, 10% other) (1998 est.)
Irrigated land 
20 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards 
high frequency of heavy showers and severe thunderstorms; flooding
Environment - current issues 
NA
Geography - note 
mostly an unsettled wilderness; the only non-independent portion of the South American continent

People

Population 
182,333 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure 
0-14 years: 30.2% (male 28,140; female 26,876)
15-64 years: 64.2% (male 63,183; female 53,902)
65 years and over: 5.6% (male 5,192; female 5,040) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate 
2.57% (2002 est.)
Birth rate 
21.66 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate 
4.78 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate 
8.78 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio 
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.17 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.03 male(s)/female
total population: 1.13 male(s)/female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate 
13.22 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)
Life expectancy at birth 
total population: 76.49 years
female: 79.99 years (2002 est.)
male: 73.16 years
Total fertility rate 
3.13 children born/woman (2002 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate 
NA%
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS 
NA
HIV/AIDS - deaths 
NA
Nationality 
noun: French Guianese (singular and plural)
adjective: French Guianese
Ethnic groups 
black or mulatto 66%, white 12%, East Indian, Chinese, Amerindian 12%, other 10%
Religions 
Roman Catholic
Languages 
French
Literacy 
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 83%
male: 84%
female: 82% (1982 est.)

Government

Country name 
conventional long form: Department of Guiana
conventional short form: French Guiana
local short form: Guyane
local long form: none
Dependency status 
overseas department of France
Government type 
NA
Capital 
Cayenne
Administrative divisions 
none (overseas department of France)
Independence 
none (overseas department of France)
National holiday 
Bastille Day, 14 July (1789)
Constitution 
28 September 1958 (French Constitution)
Legal system 
French legal system
Suffrage 
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch 
chief of state: President Jacques CHIRAC of France (since 17 May 1995), represented by Prefect Ange MANCINI (since 31 July 2002)
elections: French president elected by popular vote for a five-year term; prefect appointed by the French president on the advice of the French Ministry of Interior; presidents of the General and Regional Councils are appointed by the members of those councils
head of government: President of the General Council Joseph HO-TEN-YOU (since 26 March 2001); President of the Regional Council Antoine KARAM (since 22 March 1992)
cabinet: NA
Legislative branch 
unicameral General Council or Conseil General (19 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve six-year terms) and a unicameral Regional Council or Conseil Regional (31 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve six-year terms)
elections: General Council - last held NA March 2000 (next to be held NA 2006); Regional Council - last held 15 March 1998 (next to be held NA 2004)
election results: General Council - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - PSG 5, various left-wing parties 5, independents 7, other 2; Regional Council - percent of vote by party - PS 28.28%, various left parties 22.56%, RPR 15.91%, independents 8.6%, Walwari Committee 6%; seats by party - PS 11, various left parties 9, RPR 6, independents 3, Walwari Committee 2
note: one seat was elected to the French Senate on 27 September 1998 (next to be held NA September 2007); results - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - NA; 2 seats were elected to the French National Assembly on 9 June-16 June 2002 (next to be held NA 2007); results - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - UMP/RPR 1, Walwari Committee 1
Judicial branch 
Court of Appeals or Cour d'Appel (highest local court based in Martinique with jurisdiction over Martinique, Guadeloupe, and French Guiana)
Political parties and leaders 
Guyanese Democratic Action or ADG [Andre LECANTE]; Guyanese Socialist Party or PSG [Marie-Claude VERDAN]; Guyana Democratic Forces or FDG [Georges OTHILY]; Popular National Guyanese Party or PNPG [Jose DORCY]; Rally for the Republic or RPR [Roland HO-WEN-SZE]; Socialist Party or PS [Pierre RIBARDIERE]; Walwari Committee [Christine TAUBIRA-DELANON]
Political pressure groups and leaders 
NA
International organization participation 
FZ, WCL, WFTU
Diplomatic representation in the US 
none (overseas department of France)
Diplomatic representation from the US 
none (overseas department of France)
Flag description 
the flag of France is used

Economy

Economy - overview 
The economy is tied closely to the French economy through subsidies and imports. Besides the French space center at Kourou, fishing and forestry are the most important economic activities. Forest and woodland cover 90% of the country. The large reserves of tropical hardwoods, not fully exploited, support an expanding sawmill industry that provides sawn logs for export. Cultivation of crops is limited to the coastal area, where the population is largely concentrated; rice and manioc are the major crops. French Guiana is heavily dependent on imports of food and energy. Unemployment is a serious problem, particularly among younger workers.
GDP 
purchasing power parity - $1 billion (1998 est.)
GDP - real growth rate 
NA%
GDP - per capita 
purchasing power parity - $6,000 (1998 est.)
GDP - composition by sector 
agriculture: NA%
industry: NA%
services: NA%
Population below poverty line 
NA%
Household income or consumption by percentage share 
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices) 
2.5% (1992) (1992)
Labor force 
58,800 (1997) (1997)
Labor force - by occupation 
services, government, and commerce 61%, industry 21%, agriculture 18% (1980)
Unemployment rate 
21.4% (1998) (1998)
Budget 
revenues: $225 million
expenditures: $390 million, including capital expenditures of $105 million (1996) (1996)
Industries 
construction, shrimp processing, forestry products, rum, gold mining
Industrial production growth rate 
NA%
Electricity - production 
450 million kWh (2000)
Electricity - production by source 
fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
other: 0% (2000)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption 
418.5 million kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports 
0 kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports 
0 kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products 
corn, rice, manioc (tapioca), sugar, cocoa, vegetables, bananas; cattle, pigs, poultry
Exports 
$155 million f.o.b. (1997)
Exports - commodities 
shrimp, timber, gold, rum, rosewood essence, clothing
Exports - partners 
France 62%, Switzerland 7%, US 2% (1997)
Imports 
$625 million c.i.f. (1997)
Imports - commodities 
food (grains, processed meat), machinery and transport equipment, fuels and chemicals
Imports - partners 
France 52%, US 14%, Trinidad and Tobago 6% (1997)
Debt - external 
$1.2 billion (1988) (1988)
Economic aid - recipient 
$NA
Currency 
euro (EUR); French franc (FRF)
Currency code 
EUR; FRF
Exchange rates 
Euros per US dollar - 1.1324 (January 2002), 1.1175 (2001), 1.0854 (2000), 0.9386 (1999); French francs per US dollar - 5.8995 (1998), 5.8367 (1997)
Fiscal year 
calendar year

Communications

Telephones - main lines in use 
47,000 (1997)
Telephones - mobile cellular 
NA
Telephone system 
general assessment: NA
domestic: fair open wire and microwave radio relay system
international: satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)
Radio broadcast stations 
AM 2, FM 14 (including 6 repeaters), shortwave 6 (including 5 repeaters) (1998)
Radios 
104,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations 
3 (plus eight low-power repeaters) (1997)
Televisions 
30,000 (1997)
Internet country code 
.gf
Internet Service Providers (ISPs) 
2 (2000)
Internet users 
2,000 (2000)

Transportation

Railways 
0 km
Highways 
total: 1,817 km
paved: 817 km
unpaved: 1,000 km (1998)
Waterways 
3,300 km navigable by native craft
note: 460 km navigable by small oceangoing vessels and coastal and river steamers
Ports and harbors 
Cayenne, Degrad des Cannes, Saint-Laurent du Maroni
Merchant marine 
none (2002 est.)
Airports 
11 (2001)
Airports - with paved runways 
total: 4
over 3,047 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 1 (2002)
Airports - with unpaved runways 
total: 7
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 5 (2002)

Military

Military branches 
no regular indigenous military forces; French Forces, Gendarmerie
Military manpower - availability 
males age 15-49: 50,504 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service 
males age 15-49: 32,720 (2002 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure 
$NA
Military expenditures - percent of GDP 
NA%
Military - note 
defense is the responsibility of France

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international 
Suriname claims area between Riviere Litani and Riviere Marouini (both headwaters of the Lawa)
Illicit drugs 
small amount of marijuana grown for local consumption; minor transshipment point to Europe