History

History

Guyana is the only English speaking country among the twelve countries of South America. “Guyana” is a Native American Indian (Amerindian) word which means “Land of Many Waters” due to its numerous rivers, creeks and waterfalls. The first Europeans to settle in the country were the Dutch who traded with Native Indians and began cultivating cotton and sugar cane in the 17th century.

For more than 100 years Guyana was colonized by Holland, France and England as these three countries competed for ownership over Guyana and other territories in the region. Eventually Britain gained overall control in 1814 and named the country British Guiana. It remained a colony of Britain until becoming independent in 1966. The country’s name was changed to Guyana after Independence.  In 1970, Guyana became a Republic.

The Europeans enslaved Africans and brought them to work in Guyana to produce sugar cane and cotton because the Native Indians resisted against compulsory labor. The slaves were freed by 1838. Laborers were then brought from India, China and Portugal to do the work. The descendants of these laborers make up the present day inhabitants of Guyana. The population of the country now is about 750,000 people.

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