26th May 2018 marks fifty-two years of Guyana’s independence from the United Kingdom. The south American country has been welcomed as part of the Caribbean, since the dawn of time due to its strong links to Caribbean culture, as well as historical and political ties. ‘One nation, one people, one destiny’ is Guyana’s motto.
Historically Guyana was settling place for the Dutch, before it was under the United Kingdom’s rulership in the eighteenth centuries. The British held tight control over the people of Guyana and ruled it as ‘British Guiana.’ With plantation fields as its main source of revenue for the economy until around the 1950’s.
- It is the only country in south America with English as an official language. This is due to the influence from the British rule, prior to independence in 1966.
- There are nine indigenous tribes of Guyana the Wai Wai, Macushi, Patamona, Lokono, Kalina, Wapishana, Pemon, Akawaio and Warao.
- Christopher Columbus was the first explorer to discover Guyana in 1948.
- The first colonies were established by the Dutch.
- The British ruled from 1796.
- After independence from the United Kingdom was gained in 1966, in February 1970 Guyana became a republic and remained part of the Common Wealth.
- English is taught in schools here as a language.
- The average life expectancy as of 2012 is sixty-seven years old for men and women.
- Sadly, the World Health Organisation ranked Guyana as having the highest suicide rate in the world.
- In 2011, the World Health Organisation also estimated that about 1.2 % of the teen and adult population, (aged fifteen – forty-nine years old) are HIV positive. In comparison to the rest of the Caribbean this is a high statistic.
Guyana has a strong Indo- Guyanese- (east Indian) and Afro- Guyanese (African origin) population. The demographic in this part of the Caribbean comparable to the Caribbean island Trinidad, with a rich diverse culture with regard to music and food comparable to Brazil. Major entertainment enjoyment of Guyana is sport. Mainly cricket, football (soccer), volleyball and basketball.
Guyanese cuisine reflects the mixed ethnicity of the population. Influences from Europe mainly Portuguese, African, Chinese and Indian settlers have moulded Guyanese cuisine into a fusion of delight for the taste buds! As with traditional Caribbean cooking, herbs and spices are a must when preparing food. Just like the traditional islands of the Caribbean common dishes such as ‘pepper -pot’ ‘roti’ ‘curry’ and ‘rice ‘n’ beans’ are favourites for the Guyanese. Food is used as a way to bond between family, friends or general members of the community. Like the island of Jamaica, it’s not uncommon to see street vendors selling their culinary delights at the side of the road.
Guyana has a typical south American and Caribbean tropical climate. Elevated temperatures, humidity and rainfall make up Guyana’s weather systems. That said, when temperatures rise well into the eighties or nineties a short shower of rain is welcomed.
Human Rights in Guyana
Guyana might be diverse with its culture, however there is work to be done around equality. Homosexuality is illegal in Guyana. Guyana is the only south American country where gay rights are completely ignored. Members of the LGBTQ community face legal action against them.
Happy Independence Day Guyana! Fifty-two years of ‘one nation, one people, one destiny.’