Introduction

The territory controlled by Guyana lies between latitudes 1° and 9°N, and longitudes 56° and 62°W.

The country can be divided into five natural regions:

  • a narrow and fertile marshy plain along the Atlantic coast (low coastal plain) where most of the population lives
  • a white sand belt more inland (hilly sand and clay region), containing most of Guyana’s mineral deposits
  • the dense rain forests (Forested Highland Region) in the southern part of the country
  • the desert savannah in the southern west
  • the smallest interior lowlands (interior savannah) consisting mostly of mountains that gradually rise to the Brazilian border

Some of Guyana’s highest mountains are Mount Ayanganna, Monte Caburaí and Mount Roraima &mdash (the highest mountain in Guyana) on the Brazil-Guyana-Venezuela tripoint border, part of the Pakaraima range. Mount Roraima and Guyana’s table-top mountains (tepuis) are said to have been the inspiration for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s 1912 novel The Lost World.

There are also many volcanic escarpments and waterfalls, including Kaieteur Falls. North of the Rupununi River lies the Rupununi savannah, south of which lie the Kanuku Mountains.

The four longest rivers are the Essequibo, the Courantyne, the Berbice, and the Demerara. The Courantyne river forms the border with Suriname. At the mouth of the Essequibo are several large islands, including Shell Beach along the northwest coast, which is also a major breeding area for sea turtles (mainly Leatherbacks) and other wildlife.

The local climate is tropical and generally hot and humid, though moderated by northeast trade winds along the coast. There are two rainy seasons, the first from May to mid-August, the second from mid-November to mid-January.

Guyana has one of the largest unspoiled rainforests in South America, some parts of which are almost inaccessible by humans. The rich natural history of Guyana was described by early explorers Sir Walter Raleigh and Charles Waterton and later by naturalists Sir David Attenborough and Gerald Durrell.

In 2008, the BBC ran a three-part programme called Lost Land of the Jaguar which highlighted the huge diversity of wildlife, including undiscovered species and rare species such as the giant otter and harpy eagle.