French Guiana
(overseas department of France)
[Country Flag of French Guiana]
Transnational Issues
[Country map of French Guiana]

French Guiana


[Top of Page]

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

Geographic coordinates: 4 00 N, 53 00 W

Map references: South America

total: 91,000 sq km
land: 89,150 sq km
water: 1,850 sq km

Area—comparative: slightly smaller than Indiana

Land boundaries:
total: 1,183 km
border countries: Brazil 673 km, Suriname 510 km

Coastline: 378 km

Maritime claims:
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
territorial sea: 12 nm

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), cinnabar, kaolin, fish

Land use:
arable land: 0%
permanent crops: 0%
permanent pastures: 0%
forests and woodland: 83%
other: 17% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: 20 sq km (1993 est.)

Natural hazards: high frequency of heavy showers and severe thunderstorms; flooding

Environment—current issues: NA

Environment—international agreements:
party to: NA
signed, but not ratified: NA

Geography—note: mostly an unsettled wilderness


[Top of Page]

Population: 162,547 (July 1998 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 31% (male 26,003; female 24,840)
15-64 years: 64% (male 56,034; female 47,250)
65 years and over: 5% (male 4,245; female 4,175) (July 1998 est.)

Population growth rate: 3.4% (1998 est.)

Birth rate: 23.73 births/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Death rate: 4.53 deaths/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Net migration rate: 14.76 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.19 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.02 male(s)/female (1998 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 13.48 deaths/1,000 live births (1998 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 76.34 years
male: 73.12 years
female: 79.71 years (1998 est.)

Total fertility rate: 3.35 children born/woman (1998 est.)

noun: French Guianese (singular and plural)
adjective: French Guianese

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

Religions: Roman Catholic

Languages: French

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 83%
male: 84%
female: 82% (1982 est.)


[Top of Page]

Country name:
conventional long form: Department of Guiana
conventional short form: French Guiana
local long form: none
local short form: Guyane

Data code: FG

Dependency status: overseas department of France

Government type: NA

National capital: Cayenne

Administrative divisions: none (overseas department of France)

Independence: none (overseas department of France)

National holiday: National Day, Taking of the Bastille, 14 July (1789)

Constitution: 28 September 1958 (French Constitution)

Legal system: French legal system

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state: President of France Jacques CHIRAC (since 17 May 1995), represented by Prefect Dominique VIAN (since NA January 1997)
head of government: President of the General Council Stephan PHINERA (since NA March 1994); President of the Regional Council Antoine KARAM (since NA March 1992)
cabinet: NA
elections: representative of the French Government appointed by the president of France on the advice of the French Ministry of Interior; presidents of the General and Regional Councils are appointed by the members of those councils, who vote on party lines

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)
elections: General Council—last held 20-27 March 1994 (next to be held NA 2000); Regional Council—last held 22 March 1992 (next to be held NA 1998)
election results: General Council—percent of vote by party—NA; seats by party—PSG 8, FDG 4, RPR 1, other left 2, other right 2, other 2; Regional Council - percent of vote by party—NA; seats by party—PSG 16, FDG 10, RPR 2, independents 3
note: one seat was elected to the French Senate on 24 September 1989 (next to be held NA September 1998); results—percent of vote by party—NA; seats by party—RDSE 1; 2 seats were elected to the French National Assembly on 25 May—1 June 1997 (next to be held NA 2002); results—percent of vote by party—NA; seats by party—RPR 1, PSG 1

Judicial branch: Court of Appeals or Cour d'Appel (highest local court based in Martinique with jurisdiction over Martinique, Guadeloupe, and French Guiana)

Political parties and leaders: Guianese Socialist Party or PSG [Leone MICHOTTE]; Socialist Party or PS [Jean BART] (may be a subset of PSG); Nationalist Popular Party of Guyana (Parti Nationaliste Populaire Guiana) or PNPG [Jose DORCY]; Union of Social Democrats (Union des Socialistes Democates) or USD [Leon BERTRAND] (umbrella group of RPR and UDF); Rally for the Republic or RPR [Leon BERTRAND]; Union for French Democracy or UDF [R. CHOW-CHINE]; Guyana Democratic Forces or FDG [Georges OTHILY]; Walwari Committee [Christine TAUBIRA-DELANON]; Action Democrate Guiana or ADG [Andre LECANTE]; Democratic and European Rally of the Senate or RDSE

International organization participation: FZ, WCL, WFTU

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


[Top of Page]

Economy—overview: The economy is tied closely to that of France through subsidies and imports. Besides the French space center at Kourou, fishing and forestry are the most important economic activities, with exports of fish and fish products (mostly shrimp) accounting for more than 60% of total revenue in 1992. 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. French Guiana is heavily dependent on imports of food and energy. Unemployment is a serious problem, particularly among younger workers.

GDP: purchasing power parity—$800 million (1993 est.)

GDP—real growth rate: NA%

GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$6,000 (1993 est.)

GDP—composition by sector:
agriculture: NA%
industry: NA%
services: NA%

Inflation rate—consumer price index: 2.5% (1992)

Labor force:
total: 46,300 (1993)
by occupation: services, government, and commerce 60.6%, industry 21.2%, agriculture 18.2% (1980)

Unemployment rate: 24.1% (1993 est.)

revenues: $176 million
expenditures: $350 million, including capital expenditures of $92 million (1994)

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

Industrial production growth rate: NA%

Electricity—capacity: 165,000 kW (1995)

Electricity—production: 420 million kWh (1995)

Electricity—consumption per capita: 2,890 kWh (1995)

Agriculture—products: rice, corn, manioc, cocoa, vegetables, bananas, sugar; cattle, pigs, poultry

total value: $81 million (f.o.b., 1994)
commodities: shrimp, timber, gold, rum, rosewood essence, clothing
partners: France 60%, EU 7%

total value: $605 million (c.i.f., 1994)
commodities: food (grains, processed meat), machinery and transport equipment, fuels and chemicals
partners: France 62%, Germany 4%, Belgium-Luxembourg 4%, US 2%

Debt—external: $1.2 billion (1988)

Economic aid:
recipient: ODA, $NA

Currency: 1 French franc (F) = 100 centimes

Exchange rates: French francs (F) per US$1—6.0836 (January 1998), 5.8367 (1997), 5.1155 (1996), 4.9915 (1995), 5.5520 (1994), 5.6632 (1993)

Fiscal year: calendar year


[Top of Page]

Telephones: 31,000 (1990 est.)

Telephone system:
domestic: fair open wire and microwave radio relay system
international: satellite earth station—1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)

Radio broadcast stations: AM 5, FM 7, shortwave 0

Radios: 79,000 (1992 est.)

Television broadcast stations: 9

Televisions: 22,000 (1992 est.)


[Top of Page]

Railways: 0 km (1995)

total: 1,817 km (national 432 km, departmental 385 km, community 1,000 km)
paved: 727 km
unpaved: 1,090 km (1995 est.)

Waterways: 460 km, navigable by small oceangoing vessels and river and coastal steamers; 3,300 km navigable by native craft

Ports and harbors: Cayenne, Degrad des Cannes, Saint-Laurent du Maroni

Merchant marine: none

Airports: 11 (1997 est.)

Airports—with paved runways:
total: 4
over 3,047 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 1 (1997 est.)

Airports—with unpaved runways:
total: 7
914 to 1,523 m: 3
under 914 m: 4 (1997 est.)


[Top of Page]

Military branches: French Forces, Gendarmerie

Military manpower—availability:
males age 15-49: 46,136 (1998 est.)

Military manpower—fit for military service:
males: 29,878 (1998 est.)

Military expenditures—dollar figure: $NA

Military expenditures—percent of GDP: NA%

Military—note: defense is the responsibility of France

Transnational Issues

[Top of Page]

Disputes—international: Suriname claims area between Riviere Litani and Riviere Marouini (both headwaters of the Lawa)

Illicit drugs: small amount of marijuana grown for local consumption; minor transshipment point to Europe