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segunda-feira, 7 de março de 2016

A visit to Guyana

Painting by Leila Locke

Guyana is situated on the northern coast of South America, east of Venezuela, west of Suriname, and north of Brazil.

A tropical forest covers 80% of the country.

The inhabitants number less than a million people.

The name Guyana is derived from an Indigenous Amerindian language and means "land of many waters". In fact it has more than 1500 rivers and 110 waterfalls in which kaieteur is the biggest.

In Georgetown the Demerara River mixes with the Atlantic Ocean

The Demerara Harbour Bridge (DHB) is a landmark and the main transportation link between the East and West banks of the Demerara River.

The Dutch were the first to establish colonies: Essequibo, Berbice and Demerara. In 1831, the three separate colonies became a single British colony known as British Guiana. Nowadays the country is divided into 10 regions.

In 1835 the first immigrants of Portuguese origin, mainly from the island of Madeira, arrived in Guyana to work in the sugar plantations. When people in Madeira want to speak about this region of the world they never actually mention the name of the country or the capital (Stabroek was renamed Georgetown on 29 April 1812 in honour of King George III). Instead they say Demerara, a previous county that included the capital.

I always wanted to know Guyana because since my childhood I was intrigued with the photograph of a woman in a family photo album, who was an ancestor from Demerara.

The country is celebrating 50 years of independence from Great Britain on 26 May 2016. It became a republic on 23 February 1970, remaining a member of the Commonwealth.

It is the only South American nation in which English is the official language.

The Caribbean Community (CARICOM), of which Guyana is a member, is headquartered in Guyana's capital.

The national flower of Guyana is the Victoria Amazonica, a water lilly. The largest flowers can measure 25 to 30 cm in diameter. I didn´t have the opportunity to see one but I admired another variety that grows in the canals of Georgetown.

There are about 800 different species of birds in Guyana. The national bird is the hoatzin and the national animal the jaguar.

Mount Roraima (2,810 metres) is the highest mountain in Guyana on the Brazil-Guyana-Venezuela tripoint border.

(google image)

Since the Dutch period the Guyanese keep the big seawall that was built to prevent the city from flooding as well as a system of canals, constructed for the same reason.

It was for me very interesting to admire the old colonial houses of Georgetown made of wood (with their famous Demerara windows to cool them inside) and built by the British. The most remarkable example is found in Saint George Cathedral.

(detail of painting in Castellani House showing the Demerara windows)

 The Old Colonial Houses of Georgetown:

Saint George Cathedral
The cathedral was completed in 1892. It is considered the tallest wooden building in the world. The interior of this gothic cathedral is fused with elements of Elizabethan architecture.

The City Hall
The City Hall opened in 1889. Except for the tile roofs, cast iron columns, and decorative elements, the structure is entirely fabricated from local timber.

High Court

On 24 May 1887, on the date of Queen Victoria´s jubilee, the building was officially declared open by the governor.

The National Library
It is also known as the Carnegie building after its famous benefactor.

State House

Formely known as the Government House, this building dates back to 1858. It was the residence of the governor general and after 1970 became the official residence of the President of the Republic.

Prime Minister´s Residence

It was built in the late 19th century and it is one of the most pictureque Great Houses in Guyana.

Parliament Building
The building was completed in 1834

Saint Andrew´s Church
It was completed in 1818

Other beautiful colonial houses:

Stabroek Market
It is Georgetown´s favourite market and one of the city´s landmarks with its four-faced clock

The Light House

It was first built by the Dutch in 1817 and then rebuilt in 1830 to help guide ships into the Demerara river from the Atlantic Ocean

The Non Aligned Monument
In 2000 it was declared a National Monument by the government of Guyana

This monument commemorates the 1972 Conference of Non Aligned Countries held in Guyana (8-11 August)

 The 1763 Monument
The monument commemorates the unsuccessful 1763 slave rebellion led by Cuffy, an African Slave

Nearby is the Arch of Independence, where foreign dignitaries lay a wreath.

I had the pleasure to meet friendly people of Portuguese origin like Mr Michael Correia and Mr Charles Defreitas, who made it possible for me to learn and visit so much in such a short time.

3 comentários:

  1. What a fantastically educational trip in what looks like a truly beautiful place! Thanks for sharing your adventure, as always 😊 x

  2. Sim senhor, bela reportagem, parabéns.