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French Guiana Country Information

Background:
First settled by the French in 1604, French Guiana was the site of notorious penal settlements until 1951. The European Space Agency launches its communication satellites from Kourou.

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

Area: total: 91,000 sq km
Water: 1,850 sq km
Land: 89,150 sq km
Area - comparative: slightly smaller than Indiana

Border countries: Brazil, Suriname

Climate: tropical; hot, humid; little seasonal temperature variation
Terrain: low-lying coastal plains rising to hills and small mountains

Elevation extremes:
Lowest point: Atlantic Ocean - 0 m
Highest point: Bellevue de l'Inini - 851 m

Natural resources: bauxite, timber, gold (widely scattered), petroleum, kaolin, fish, niobium, tantalum, clay

People
Population: 191,309 (July 2004 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 29.6% (male 28,959; female 27,657)
15-64 years: 64.5% (male 66,388; female 57,020)
65 years and over: 5.9% (male 5,736; female 5,549) (2004 est.)
Median age: 28.3 years
Population growth rate: 2.25%
Life expectancy at birth: male: 73.57 years
female: 80.38 years (2004 est.)

Ethnic groups: black or mulatto 66%, white 12%, East Indian, Chinese, Amerindian 12%, other 10%
Religions: Roman Catholic

Languages: French
Literacy (age 15 and over can read and write): total population: 83%

Government
Country name: Department of Guiana
Dependency status: overseas department of France
Government type: NA
Capital: Cayenne
Independence: none (overseas department of France)
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch: chief of state: President Jacques CHIRAC of France (since 17 May 1995), represented by Prefect Ange MANCINI (since 31 July 2002)
head of government: President of the General Council Joseph HO-TEN-YOU (since 26 March 2001); President of the Regional Council Antoine KARAM (since 22 March 1992)
Legislative branch: unicameral General Council or Conseil General (19 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve six-year terms) and a unicameral Regional Council or Conseil Regional (31 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve six-year terms)
Judicial branch: Court of Appeals or Cour d'Appel (highest local court based in Martinique with jurisdiction over Martinique, Guadeloupe, and French Guiana)

Diplomatic representation in the US: none (overseas department of France)
Diplomatic representation from the US: none (overseas department of France)
Flag description: the flag of France is used

Economy
The economy is tied closely to the larger French economy through subsidies and imports. Besides the French space center at Kourou (which accounts for 25% of GDP), fishing and forestry are the most important economic activities. Forest and woodland cover 90% of the country. The large reserves of tropical hardwoods, not fully exploited, support an expanding sawmill industry that provides sawn logs for export. Cultivation of crops is limited to the coastal area, where the population is largely concentrated; rice and manioc are the major crops. French Guiana is heavily dependent on imports of food and energy. Unemployment is a serious problem, particularly among younger workers.

Population below poverty line: NA
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture 18.2%, industry 21.2%, services, government, and commerce 60.6% (1980)
Unemployment rate: 22% (2001)

Agriculture - corn, rice, manioc (tapioca), sugar, cocoa, vegetables, bananas; cattle, pigs, poultry

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

Exports - commodities: shrimp, timber, gold, rum, rosewood essence, clothing

Currency: euro (EUR)

Communications
Telephone system: general assessment: NA
international: country code - 594



All information on this page provided by The World Factbook. See http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/index.html.
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