Guyana, officially the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, is a sovereign state on the northern mainland of South America. It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the north, Brazil to the south and southwest, Suriname to the east and Venezuela to the west. With 215,000 square kilometres (83,000 sq mi), Guyana is the fourth-smallest country on mainland South America after Uruguay and Suriname and French Guiana.
The region known as “Guyana” comprised the large shield landmass north of the Amazon River and east of the Orinoco River known as the “Land of many waters”. Originally inhabited by several indigenous groups, Guyana was settled by the Dutch before coming under British control in the late 18th century. It was governed as the plantation economy of British Guiana until independence in 1966, and officially became a republic within the British Commonwealth of Nations in 1970. The legacy of British rule is reflected in the country’s diverse population, which includes Indian, African, Amerindian, and multiracial groups.
The local climate is tropical and generally hot and humid, though moderated by northeast trade winds along the coast. There are two rainy seasons, the first from May to mid-August, the second from mid-November to mid-January.
The present population of Guyana is racially and ethnically heterogeneous, with ethnic groups originating from India, Africa, Europe, and China, as well as indigenous or aboriginal peoples. Despite their diverse ethnic backgrounds, these groups share two common languages: English and Creole.
The largest ethnic group is the Indo-Guyanese (also known as East Indians), the descendants of indentured servants from India, who make up 43.5% of the population, according to the 2002 census. They are followed by the Afro-Guyanese, the descendants of slaves from Africa, who constitute 30.2%. Guyanese of mixed heritage make up 16.7%, while the indigenous peoples (known locally as Amerindians) make up 9.1%. The indigenous groups include the Arawaks, the Wai Wai, the Caribs, the Akawaio, the Arecuna, the Patamona, the Wapixana, the Macushi and the Warao. The two largest groups, the Indo-Guyanese and Afro-Guyanese, have experienced some racial tension.
English is the official language of Guyana and is used for education, government, media, and services. The vast majority of the population speaks Guyanese Creole, an English-based creole with slight African and East Indian influence, as their native tongue. In addition, Cariban languages (Akawaio, Wai-Wai, and Macushi) are spoken by a small minority, while Indic languages are retained for cultural and religious reasons.
The main economic activities in Guyana are agriculture (production of rice and Demerara sugar), bauxite mining, gold mining, timber, shrimp fishing and minerals. Chronic problems include a shortage of skilled labour and a deficient infrastructure. In 2008, the economy witnessed a 3% increase in growth amid the global economic crisis, grew an impressive 5.4% in 2011 and 3.7% in 2012.
Until recently, the government was juggling a sizeable external debt against the urgent need for expanded public investment. Low prices for key mining and agricultural commodities combined with troubles in the bauxite and sugar industries, had threatened the government’s tenuous fiscal position and dimmed prospects for the future. However, the Guyanese economy has rebounded slightly and exhibited moderate economic growth since 1999, thanks to an expansion in the agricultural and mining sectors, a more favourable atmosphere for business initiatives, a more realistic exchange rate, fairly low inflation, and the continued support of international organisations.
The mission outpost in Guyana is located in the top north west corner of the country called Region 1. The AWA airbase works out of a village called Mabaruma. This base has been in existence for 10 years. In that time, the AWA missionaries have created deep roots within the community and have many ministries aside from aviation operations. The flight program in Guyana is very active. A large majority of the flights within this project are focused on providing emergency medical evacuations for the surrounding villages and transporting critically ill patients from the jungle interiors to the capital city of Georgetown where they can get lifesaving medical care. Our program works very closely with the Guyanese government and has a well-established relationship and partnership. This keeps our aviation base very active and busy. Aside from medical emergency flights, AWA also delivers supplies to remote villages and transports Pastors to areas that cannot be reached by any other means. The villages our aircraft impacts are so remote, that very often aviation is the only way to reach the jungle inhabitants.