Guyana is a small country situated in the Northern Coast of South America, on the Atlantic Ocean. People of Indian ancestry form nearly 50 per cent of its population. The rest are local Amerindians, and people of European and Chinese descent. Christopher Columbus is believed to have discovered Guyana in 1498. The Dutch landed there in the late 16th century and the local Amerindians welcomed them as trading partners. But the
Dutch became permanent settlers and began ruling the country.
Britain took over the country in 1796, and ceded the country with Great Britain and named it British Guiana in 1831. In 1834, slavery was abolished, and thousands of indentured labourers were brought from India, Portugal and China to replace the slaves working in sugar cane plantations. Two ships from Calcutta carried the Indians.
The Whitby sailed with 249 people on 13th January 1838 and arrived in Guyana on 5th May. The Hesperus left 6 days later with 165 passengers and arrived in Guyana late on the night of 5th May. Today the country’s population is nearly 8, 00, 000 in an area of 214969 sq.km. The average population density for Guyana is less than four persons per sq.km.
It’s capital is George Town and is the home of nearly 150000 people. It is the national capital and a major sea port. The country’s economy is largely based on sugar, rice, coffee, bauxite, shrimps, livestock, cotton, molasses, timber and rum. Guyana enjoys a
literacy rate of nearly 99 per cent.
Indians have contributed a great deal to the country’s development. Dr. Cheddi Jagan became the first Premier of British Guiana. He also served as the President. Bharat Jagdeo was sworn in as President in 1999. Famous Guyanese of Indian origin include Rohan Babulal Kanhai, veteran cricketer and Sreedath Ramphal, former Secretary General of the Commonwealth.