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French Guiana

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Overseas department of France
Flag of French Guiana.svg
Coat of arms of French Guyana.svg
Country  France
Divisions 2 arrondissements, 22 communes
Préfecture Cayenne
Highest point Bellevue de l'Inini
 - location Guiana Shield
 - elevation 851 m (2,792 ft)
 - coordinates

Template-specific style sheet:

3°32′N 53°34′W / 3.533°N 53.567°W / 3.533; -53.567
Lowest point Atlantic Ocean
 - elevation m (0 ft)
Area 83,533.9 km² (32,253 sq mi) [1]
Population 252,338 (2014) [2]
Density 3 /km² (8 /sq mi)
President Rodolphe Alexandre[3]
Timezone GFT (UTC-03)
ISO 3166-2 FR-GF
Location of Guiana in northern South America
Location of Guiana in northern South America
Website: Territorial collectivity

French Guiana (French: GuyaneLua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'Module:Category handler/data' not found.) is an overseas department and region of France, on the north Atlantic coast of South America. By land area, it is the second largest region of France and the largest overseas department of France and of the European Union.

Its prefecture and largest city is Cayenne.


Guiana comes from an Amerindian language (Arawak) that means "land of many waters".[4] The addition of the word "French" in most languages other than French comes from colonial times when there were five in the region; they were, from west to east:

  1. Spanish Guiana (now Guayana Region in Venezuela)
  2. British Guiana (now Guyana)
  3. Dutch Guiana, (now Suriname)
  4. French Guiana (now Guyane)
  5. Portuguese Guiana (now Amapá in Brazil).

French Guiana and the two larger countries to the north and west, Guyana and Suriname, are still often collectively referred to as the Guianas and form the Guiana Shield.


Geographic map of French Guiana

French Guiana borders two countries: Surinam to the west, and Brazil to the east and south. To the north is the Atlantic Ocean. There are two main geographical regions: a coastal strip where the majority of the people live, and a dense rainforest which gradually rises to the modest peaks of the Tumuc-Humac mountains along the Brazilian frontier.

The highest point in the department is Bellevue de l'Inini (

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3°35′N 53°31′W / 3.583°N 53.517°W / 3.583; -53.517 (Bellevue de l'Inini)) in the Maripasoula commune; it is (851 m (2,792 ft)) high.[5] Other mountains are Mont Machalou (782 m [2,566 ft]), Pic Coudreau (711 m [2,333 ft]) and Mont St Marcel (635 m [2,083 ft]).

Several small islands are found off the coast, the three Îles du Salut which include Devil's Island, and the isolated Îles du Connétable further along the coast towards Brazil.

The Petit-Saut Dam in the north of the department forms an artificial lake and provides hydroelectricity. There are many rivers in French Guiana.

It is the French department with more forests, 98% of the department is covered with an equatorial forest.[6]

As of 2007, the Amazon rainforest in the most southern part of the department, is protected as the Guiana Amazonian Park, one of the ten national parks of France. The territory of the park covers some 33,900 square kilometres (13,100 sq mi) in the communes of Camopi, Maripasoula, Papaïchton, Saint-Élie and Saül.


The climate in Cayenne, at an altitude of 9 m (30 ft) above sea level, is of the subtype Af (Tropical Rainforest Climate also known as Equatorial Climate) in the Köppen climate classification.

The average temperature for the year in Cayenne is 26.7 °C (80.1 °F). The warmest month, on average, is September with an average temperature of 27.2 °C (81.0 °F). The coolest month on average is January, with an average temperature of 26.1 °C (79.0 °F).

The average amount of precipitation for the year in Cayenne is 3,205.5 mm (126.2 in). The month with the most precipitation on average is May with 513.1 mm (20.2 in) of precipitation. The month with the least precipitation on average is September with an average of 43.2 mm (1.7 in). There is an average of 201.0 days of precipitation, with the most precipitation occurring in May with 27.0 days and the least precipitation occurring in September with 5.0 days.[7]


The department of French Guiana is managed by the Collectivité territorial de la Guyane in Cayenne.

Administrative divisions

There are 2 arrondissements (districts) and 22 communes (municipalities) in French Guiana.[8] The cantons of the department were eliminated on 31 December 2015 by the Law 2011-884 of 27 July 2011.[9]

Arrondissement Capital Population[10]
9731 Cayenne Cayenne 164,489 42,588.9 3.9 14
9732 Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni 87,849 40,945.0 2.1 8

The 22 communes in the department are:

Commune Population[10]
Area Density
Arrondissement of Cayenne
97302 Cayenne 55,817 23.60 2,365.13 Le Centre Littoral
97307 Matoury 31,934 137.20 232.76 Le Centre Littoral
97304 Kourou 25,868 2,160.00 11.98 Les Savanes
97309 Remire-Montjoly 21,787 46.11 472.50 Le Centre Littoral
97305 Macouria 11,209 378.00 29.61 Le Centre Littoral
97308 Saint-Georges 3,960 2,320.00 1.71 L'Est Guyanais
97310 Roura 3,537 3,902.50 0.91 Le Centre Littoral
97312 Sinnamary 2,984 1,340.00 2.23 Les Savanes
97313 Montsinéry-Tonnegrande 2,477 737.20 3.36 Le Centre Littoral
97303 Iracoubo 1,931 2,762.00 0.70 Les Savanes
97356 Camopi 1,751 10030.00 0.17 L'Est Guyanais
97301 Régina 968 12130.00 0.08 L'Est Guyanais
97314 Ouanary 147 1,080.00 0.14 L'Est Guyanais
97358 Saint-Élie 119 5,680.00 0.02 Les Savanes
Arrondissement of Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni
97311 Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni 44,169 4,830.00 9.14 L'Ouest Guyanais
97353 Maripasoula 10,984 18,360.00 0.60 L'Ouest Guyanais
97306 Mana 9,916 6,332.60 1.57 L'Ouest Guyanais
97360 Apatou 8,040 2,020.00 3.98 L'Ouest Guyanais
97357 Grand-Santi 6,656 2,123.00 3.14 L'Ouest Guyanais
97362 Papaichton 6,572 2628.00 2.50 L'Ouest Guyanais
97361 Awala-Yalimapo 1,364 187.40 7.28 L'Ouest Guyanais
97322 Saül 148 4,475.00 0.03 L'Ouest Guyanais


The inhabitants of French Guiana are known, in French, as Guyanais (women: Guyanaises).[11]

French Guiana has a population, in 2014, of 252,338,[2] for a population density of 3.0 inhabitants/km2. The city with more people living in it is the capital, Cayenne (55,817 inhabitants). The subprefecture of Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni has 44,169 inhabitants.[10]

Evolution of the population in French Guiana <timeline> Colors=

 id:lightgrey value:gray(0.9)
 id:darkgrey  value:gray(0.7)
 id:sfondo value:rgb(1,1,1)
 id:barra value:rgb(0.6,0.7,0.8)

ImageSize = width:500 height:373 PlotArea = left:50 bottom:30 top:30 right:30 DateFormat = x.y Period = from:0 till:275000 TimeAxis = orientation:vertical AlignBars = justify ScaleMajor = gridcolor:darkgrey increment:50000 start:0 ScaleMinor = gridcolor:lightgrey increment:25000 start:0 BackgroundColors = canvas:sfondo


bar:1967 text:1967
bar:1974 text:1974
bar:1982 text:1982
bar:1990 text:1990
bar:1999 text:1999
bar:2008 text:2008
bar:2014 text:2014


color:barra width:30 align:left
bar:1967 from:0 till: 44392
bar:1974 from:0 till: 55125
bar:1982 from:0 till: 73022
bar:1990 from:0 till: 114678
bar:1999 from:0 till: 157213
bar:2008 from:0 till: 219266
bar:2014 from:0 till: 252338


bar:1967 at: 44392 fontsize:S text: 44,392 shift:(-12,5)
bar:1974 at: 55125 fontsize:S text: 55,125 shift:(-18,5)
bar:1982 at: 73022 fontsize:S text: 73,022 shift:(-18,5)
bar:1990 at: 114678 fontsize:S text: 114,678 shift:(-18,5)
bar:1999 at: 157213 fontsize:S text: 157,213 shift:(-18,5)
bar:2008 at: 219266 fontsize:S text: 219,266 shift:(-18,5)
bar:2014 at: 252338 fontsize:S text: 252,338 shift:(-18,5)



The main traditional industries are fishing, gold mining and timber. The Guiana Space Centre of the European Space Agency has played a significant role in the local economy since it was established in Kourou in 1964.

Devils Island Prison

Three Islands off the coast were used by the French Government from 1852 to 1953 as Prison Islands. They were:

  • Royale Island
  • Saint-Joseph Island used for solitary confinement in silence and darkness for escape attempts
  • Devils Island for political prisoners [Dreyfus was kept here]

Convicts who were sentenced to more than 8 years and survived and served their terms could not return to France but were required to stay on as involunatary settlers for the rest of their lives.
Famous Inmates:

  • Alfred Dreyfus
  • Henri Charrière [b.16 November 1906-d.19 July 1973] aka Papillion (Butterfly). A Burgler and safe cracker he was convicted 26 October 1931 of the Murder of a pimp named Roland Le Petit [ He admitted being a criminal but denied the murder charge]. He was sentenced to life in prison and ten years of hard labour. He married Georgette Fourel, mayor of the 1st arrondissement of Paris, on December 22, 1931. [They divorced on 8 July 1970 by decision of the Paris High Court]. After a brief imprisonment at the transit prison of Beaulieu in Caen, France, he was transported in 1933 to the prison of St-Laurent-du-Maroni on the Maroni River, in the penal settlement of mainland French Guiana. He claimed to have engaged several escapes from 1933 to 1941 when he finally succeded in escaping. In 1942 he was arrested and sent to a brutal penal settlement in El Dorado, Bolivar State, Venezuela. After a year of imprisonment, Charrière was released with identity papers on 3 July 1944. Five years later he was given Venezuelan citizenship; he became a businessman and married again. His 1969 autobiography became a best selling book and later made into a movie with Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman. French records of his life from 1933-1944 present a different account: He left the citadel of Saint-Martin-de-Ré on 29 September 1933 aboard the Martinière and landed on 14 October with the status of "transported" to Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni. There is little time left in the transportation camp as he is assigned as a nursing assistant to the André-Bouron Colonial Hospital, where he sees many inmates returning from the run and tell him their escape stories from which he will draw inspiration. This place prevents him from the work of logging sites or agricultural concessions that annihilate convicts in a few months. He escaped for the first time on September 5, 1934, but failed in Colombia, a country that returned escaped convicts to France. Judging by the Special Maritime Court, he spent two years in the cells of the St. Joseph's Island Seclusion. Several times transferred, he ended up as a nurse-chief in an Indochinese camp on the Guyanese mainland, the Cascades forest camp from which he escaped on the night of March 18-19, 1944, along with four other companions.]



  1. 1.0 1.1 "Département de la Guyane (973)" (in French). Comparateur de territoire. Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques - INSEE. Retrieved 12 February 2017. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Populations légales 2014: Recensement de la population - Population des régions" (in French). Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques - INSEE. Retrieved 12 February 2017. 
  3. "L’Assemblée" (in French). Collectivité Territoriale de Guyane. Retrieved 12 February 2017. 
  4. "Guyana". Oxford Dictionaries. Retrieved 12 February 2017. 
  5. "Bellevue de L'Inini, French Guiana". Retrieved 12 February 2017. 
  6. "Global Forest Resources Assessment 2010 - Main report" (PDF). FAO. 2010. p. 48. Retrieved 12 February 2017. 
  7. "Avignon, France - Köppen Climate Classification". Weatherbase. Retrieved 12 February 2017. 
  8. "Département de la Guyane (973)" (in French). Géographie administrative et d'étude. Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques - INSEE. Retrieved 12 February 2017. 
  9. "LOI n° 2011-884 du 27 juillet 2011 relative aux collectivités territoriales de Guyane et de Martinique (1)" (in French). Lé Retrieved 12 February 2017. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 "Régions, départements, arrondissements, cantons et communes" (in French) (PDF). Populations légales 2014. Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques - INSEE. Retrieved 12 February 2017. 
  11. "Guyane" (in French). Retrieved 12 February 2017. 

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