[Country map of French Guiana]

French Guiana

(overseas department of France)


Location: Northern South America, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Brazil and Suriname

Map references: South America

total area: 91,000 sq km
land area: 89,150 sq km
comparative area: slightly smaller than Indiana

Land boundaries: total 1,183 km, Brazil 673 km, Suriname 510 km

Coastline: 378 km

Maritime claims:
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
territorial sea: 12 nm

International disputes: Suriname claims area between Riviere Litani and Riviere Marouini (both headwaters of the Lawa)

Climate: tropical; hot, humid; little seasonal temperature variation

Terrain: low-lying coastal plains rising to hills and small mountains

Natural resources: bauxite, timber, gold (widely scattered), cinnabar, kaolin, fish

Land use:
arable land: 0%
permanent crops: 0%
meadows and pastures: 0%
forest and woodland: 82%
other: 18%

Irrigated land: NA sq km

current issues: NA
natural hazards: high frequency of heavy showers and severe thunderstorms; flooding
international agreements: NA

Note: mostly an unsettled wilderness


Population: 145,270 (July 1995 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 32% (female 22,511; male 23,535)
15-64 years: 63% (female 41,995; male 50,064)
65 years and over: 5% (female 3,608; male 3,557) (July 1995 est.)

Population growth rate: 4.13% (1995 est.)

Birth rate: 25.23 births/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Death rate: 4.61 deaths/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Net migration rate: 20.65 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 15.1 deaths/1,000 live births (1995 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 75.52 years
male: 72.27 years
female: 78.94 years (1995 est.)

Total fertility rate: 3.46 children born/woman (1995 est.)

noun: French Guianese (singular and plural)
adjective: French Guianese

Ethnic divisions: black or mulatto 66%, Caucasian 12%, East Indian, Chinese, Amerindian 12%, other 10%

Religions: Roman Catholic

Languages: French

Literacy: age 15 and over can read and write (1982)
total population: 83%
male: 84%
female: 82%

Labor force: 23,265
by occupation: services, government, and commerce 60.6%, industry 21.2%, agriculture 18.2% (1980)


conventional long form: Department of Guiana
conventional short form: French Guiana
local long form: none
local short form: Guyane

Digraph: FG

Type: overseas department of France

Capital: Cayenne

Administrative divisions: none (overseas department of France)

Independence: none (overseas department of France)

National holiday: National Day, Taking of the Bastille, 14 July (1789)

Constitution: 28 September 1958 (French Constitution)

Legal system: French legal system

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state: President Francois MITTERRAND (since 21 May 1981)
head of government: Prefect Jean-Francois CORDET (since NA 1992); President of the General Council Elie CASTOR (since NA); President of the Regional Council Antoine KARAM (22 March 1993)
cabinet: Council of Ministers

Legislative branch: unicameral General Council and a unicameral Regional Council
General Council: elections last held 25 September and 8 October 1988 (next to be held NA); results - percent of vote by party NA; seats - (19 total) PSG 12, URC 7
Regional Council: elections last held 22 March 1992 (next to be held NA); results - percent of vote by party NA; seats - (31 total) PSG 16, FDG 10, RPR 2, independents 3
French Senate: elections last held 24 September 1989 (next to be held September 1998); results - percent of vote by party NA; seats - (1 total) PSG 1
French National Assembly: elections last held 21 and 28 March 1993 (next to be held NA 1998); results - percent of vote by party NA; seats - (2 total) RPR 1, independent 1

Judicial branch: Court of Appeals (highest local court based in Martinique with jurisdiction over Martinique, Guadeloupe, and French Guiana)

Political parties and leaders: Guianese Socialist Party (PSG), Elie CASTRO; Conservative Union for the Republic (UPR), Leon BERTRAND; Rally for the Center Right (URC); Rally for the Republic (RPR); Guyana Democratic Front (FDG), Georges OTHILY; Walwari Committee, Christine TAUBIRA-DELANON

Member of: FZ, WCL, WFTU

Diplomatic representation in US: none (overseas department of France)

US diplomatic representation: none (overseas department of France)

Flag: the flag of France is used


Overview: The economy is tied closely to that of France through subsidies and imports. Besides the French space center at Kourou, fishing and forestry are the most important economic activities, with exports of fish and fish products (mostly shrimp) accounting for more than 60% of total revenue in 1992. The large reserves of tropical hardwoods, not fully exploited, support an expanding sawmill industry that provides sawn logs for export. Cultivation of crops - rice, cassava, bananas, and sugarcane - is limited to the coastal area, where the population is largely concentrated. French Guiana is heavily dependent on imports of food and energy. Unemployment is a serious problem, particularly among younger workers.

National product: GDP - purchasing power parity - $800 million (1993 est.)

National product real growth rate: NA%

National product per capita: $6,000 (1993 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 2.5% (1992)

Unemployment rate: 13% (1990)

revenues: $735 million
expenditures: $735 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (1987)

Exports: $59 million (f.o.b., 1992)
commodities: shrimp, timber, rum, rosewood essence
partners: France 52%, Spain 15%, US 5% (1992)

Imports: $1.5 billion (c.i.f., 1992)
commodities: food (grains, processed meat), other consumer goods, producer goods, petroleum
partners: France 77%, Germany 11%, US 5% (1992)

External debt: $1.2 billion (1988)

Industrial production: growth rate NA%

capacity: 180,000 kW
production: 450 million kWh
consumption per capita: 3,149 kWh (1993)

Industries: construction, shrimp processing, forestry products, rum, gold mining

Agriculture: some vegetables for local consumption; rice, corn, manioc, cocoa, bananas, sugar; livestock - cattle, pigs, poultry

Illicit drugs: small amount of marijuana grown for local consumption

Economic aid:
recipient: Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1970-89), $1.51 billion

Currency: 1 French franc (F) = 100 centimes

Exchange rates: French francs (F) per US$1 - 5.9243 (January 1995), 5.5520 (1994), 5.6632 (1993), 5.2938 (1992), 5.6421 (1991), 5.4453 (1990)

Fiscal year: calendar year


total: 22 km (est.)

total: 1,137 km
paved: 455 km
unpaved: improved, unimproved earth 682 km (1988)

Inland waterways: 460 km, navigable by small oceangoing vessels and river and coastal steamers; 3,300 km navigable by native craft

Ports: Cayenne, Degrad des Cannes, Saint-Laurent du Maroni

Merchant marine: none

total: 11
with paved runways over 3,047 m: 1
with paved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 2
with paved runways under 914 m: 5
with unpaved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 3


Telephone system: 18,100 telephones; fair open-wire and microwave radio relay system
local: NA
intercity: open wire and microwave radio relay
international: 1 INTELSAT (Atlantic Ocean) earth station

broadcast stations: AM 5, FM 7, shortwave 0
radios: NA

broadcast stations: 9
televisions: NA

Defense Forces

Branches: French Forces, Gendarmerie

Manpower availability: males age 15-49 41,986; males fit for military service 27,298

Defense expenditures: $NA, NA% of GDP

Note: defense is the responsibility of France