French Guiana facts & figures:
- Surface area: 90,000 sq. kilometers
- Capital city: Cayenne
- Geographical location: The northeast coast of South America, between the countries of Brazil and Surinam
- Status: A French overseas department since 1947. French Guiana has been a French possession since 1664
- Population: 158,000 inhabitants (1999 census), of which more than half are under 25 years of age
- Languages spoken: French, Creole and several local dialects
- Currency: Euro
Exploring French Guiana > Overview
French Guiana has a rich history, and its young population is composed of many ethnic cultures.
About half of the population is less than 25 years old, and is made up of communities that include Amerindian, Africa, Asian, Brazilian, Haitian and European.
Business activity in the country ranges from traditional trades such as agriculture, timber, gold mining, fishing and crafts to high-tech space launches from the Guiana Space Center - Europe's Spaceport.
French Guiana boasts an exceptional natural heritage that is little known to the outside world. Virgin rain forest covers 90 percent of the Guianese landscape. Flora and fauna have been left largely untouched, since the only way in or out of the otherwise impenetrable rain forest is by river.
There are many rivers in French Guiana, the largest being the Maroni, Mana, Sinnamary, Approuage and Oyapock. Numerous ethnic groups such as the Amerindian and Maroon, descendants of African slaves, populate the banks of these rivers.
French Guiana's near-equatorial location – which is ideal for the launch of satellites into geostationary orbit - was one of the main reasons behind Europe's decision in 1966 to build a launch base in the country. The open coastline allows launches into all useful orbits, and the site has ideal conditions for space flight operations: no hurricanes or earthquakes.