Facts about French Guiana

World Facts Index

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.

Geography of French Guiana

Northern South America, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Brazil and Suriname
4 00 N, 53 00 W
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
378 km
Maritime claims:
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
territorial sea: 12 NM
tropical; hot, humid; little seasonal temperature variation
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
Natural hazards:
high frequency of heavy showers and severe thunderstorms; flooding
Geography - note:
mostly an unsettled wilderness; the only non-independent portion of the South American continent

Population of French Guiana

199,509 (July 2006 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 28.9% (male 29,540/female 28,210)
15-64 years: 64.8% (male 69,302/female 59,980)
65 years and over: 6.3% (male 6,350/female 6,127)
Median age:
total: 28.6 years
Growth rate:
Infant mortality:
11.76 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 77.27 years
male: 73.95 years
female: 80.75 years
Fertility rate:
2.98 children born/woman
noun: French Guianese (singular and plural)
adjective: French Guianese
Ethnic groups:
black or mulatto 66%, white 12%, East Indian, Chinese, Amerindian 12%, other 10%
Roman Catholic
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 83%
male: 84%
female: 82% (1982 est.)


Country name:
conventional long form: Department of Guiana
local short form: Guyane
Dependency status:
overseas department of France
National holiday:
Bastille Day, 14 July (1789)
28 September 1958 (French Constitution)
Legal system:
French legal system
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)
head of government: President of the General Council Pierre DESERT (since 26 March 2004); President of the Regional Council Antoine KARAM (since 22 March 1992).
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).
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:
Guyana Democratic Forces or FDG [Georges OTHILY]; Guyanese Democratic Action or ADG [Andre LECANTE]; Guyanese Socialist Party or PSG [Marie-Claude VERDAN]; Popular National Guyanese Party or PNPG [Jose DORCY]; Socialist Party or PS [Alix LABBE]; Union for French Democracy or UDF [Georges HABRAN-MERY]; Union for a Popular Movement or UMP (includes RPR) [Remi Louis DUBOC]; Walwari Committee (aligned with the PRG in France) [Christine TAUBIRA-DELANON].


The economy is tied closely to the much larger French economy through subsidies and imports. Besides the French space center at Kourou (which accounts for 25% of GDP), 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.

purchasing power parity - $1.551 billion (2003 est.)
GDP per capita:
purchasing power parity - $8,300 (2003 est.)
Inflation rate:
1.5% (2002 est.)
Labor force:
58,800 (1997)
Labor force - by occupation:
services, government, and commerce 60.6%, industry 21.2%, agriculture 18.2% (1980)
22% (2001)
revenues: $225 million
expenditures: $390 million, including capital expenditures of $105 million (1996)
Electricity production by source:
fossil fuel: 100%
other: 0% (2001)
construction, shrimp processing, forestry products, rum, gold mining
corn, rice, manioc (tapioca), sugar, cocoa, vegetables, bananas; cattle, pigs, poultry
shrimp, timber, gold, rum, rosewood essence, clothing
Export partners:
France 62%, Switzerland 7%, US 2% (2004)
food (grains, processed meat), machinery and transport equipment, fuels and chemicals
Import partners:
France 63%, US, Trinidad and Tobago, Italy (2004)
euro (EUR)

SOURCES: The CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State, Area Handbook of the US Library of Congress

Copyright 2004 - 2008 worldfacts.us