Guyana is the third smallest country in South America with an area of 216,000 km². It is located between 1°North and 9°North Latitude and 56°West and 62°West Longitude and is bordered by Venezuela, Suriname and Brazil. The word Guyana comes from an Amerindian word meaning “land of many waters”, reflected in the numerous rivers criss-crossing the landscape. Georgetown is the country’s capital and other towns of significance are Linden and New Amsterdam.
Guyana has four distinct geo-morphological zones. The North of the country consists of a narrow flat coastal zone where 90% of the population lives. This zone is below sea level and is comprised of riverine alluvial material deposited over a sandy substrate. Past and current sedimentation and deposition in the coastal zone have resulted in an indistinct coastline where very brown, heavily sedimented coastal waters give way to mudflats and then to swamps and marshes. The deposition of alluvial material in the coastal zone has resulted in a fertile belt where most of the country’s agriculture e.g. rice and sugar cane cultivation takes place. Around the urban centres, the low-lying coastal zone is protected by a sea wall. In other areas rip-rap type coastal defence structures have been put in place (Sea and River Defence pers. comm.). Elsewhere, the coastline is protected by mangroves and as such there is a heavy focus on mangrove protection and rehabilitation given potential sea level rise due to climate change. Flooding and seawater intrusion in the coastal zone is managed through a series of dams and sluice gates, some of which were constructed as early as the 1800’s during the Dutch colonization of Guyana.
South of the coastal plain is a white sand belt, and further South is an extensive undulating plain and savannah region. The Guyana highlands are found in the Mid-West area including the Pakaraima Range which hosts Mount Roraima, the highest mountain in the country. Guyana’s most recent geological formations are in the North of the country comprised mainly of meta-sedimentary rocks. Further South is the Guyana Shield complex comprised of both meta-sedimentary and volcanic rocks. The Guyana Shield also has large deposits of gold, and as such gold mining is common in this area. Gold and diamond mining is also carried out in the Essequibo area and in the Roraima plateau especially along the Mazaruni River. Apart from gold and diamonds, Guyana is known for its semi precious stones like agate and jasper as well as metal deposits of copper and lead. Extensive bauxite deposits are found around the town of Linden which is primarily a mining town.
Guyana has a wet tropical climate with limited seasonal variation. Annual rainfall ranges between 1778mm and 2800mm. The average daily maximum temperature is 29.6°C and the average minimum temperature is 24.0°C. The country is South of the hurricane belt, but regularly experiences flash flooding during heavy rainfall events (Guyana Hydro-meteorological Service 2012).