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French Guiana (overseas department of France)

World Factbook (1990) French Guiana.jpg

 See regional map IV


Total area: 91,000 km²; land area: 89,150 km²

Comparative area: slightly smaller than Indiana

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

Coastline: 378 km

Maritime claims:

Extended economic zone: 200 nm
Territorial sea: 12 nm

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

Climate: tropical; hot, humid; little seasonal temperature variation

Terrain: low-lying coastal plains rising to hills and small mountains

Natural resources: bauxite, timber, gold (widely scattered), cinnabar, kaolin, fish

Land use: NEGL% arable land; NEGL% permanent crops; NEGL% meadows and pastures; 82% forest and woodland; 18% other

Environment: mostly an unsettled wilderness


Population: 97,781 (July 1990), growth rate 3.4% (1990)

Birth rate: 29 births/1,000 population (1990)

Death rate: 5 deaths/1,000 population (1990)

Net migration rate: 10 migrants/1,000 population (1990)

Infant mortality rate: 19 deaths/1,000 live births (1990)

Life expectancy at birth: 68 years male, 76 years female (1990)

Total fertility rate: 3.8 children born/woman (1990)

Nationality: noun—French Guianese (sing., pl.); adjective—French Guiana

Ethnic divisions: 66% black or mulatto; 12% Caucasian; 12% East Indian, Chinese, Amerindian; 10% other

Religion: predominantly Roman Catholic

Language: French

Literacy: 73%

Labor force: 23,265; 60.6% services, government, and commerce, 21.2% industry, 18.2% agriculture (1980)

Organized labor: 7% of labor force


Long-form name: Department of Guiana

Type: overseas department of France

Capital: Cayenne

Administrative divisions: none (overseas department of France)

Independence: none (overseas department of France)

Constitution: 28 September 1958 (French Constitution)

Legal system: French legal system

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

Executive branch: French president, commissioner of the republic

Legislative branch: unicameral General Council and a unicameral Regional Council

Judicial branch: highest local court is the Court of Appeals based in Martinique with jurisdiction over Martinique, Guadeloupe, and French Guiana

Leaders: Chief of State—President François MITTERRAND (since 21 May 1981);

Head of Government—Commissioner of the Republic Jean-Pierre LACROIX (since NA August 1988)

Political parties and leaders: Guianese Socialist Party (PSG), Gérard Holder; Rally for the Republic (RPR), Paulin Bruné; Guyanese Democratic Action (ADG), André Lecante; Union for French Democracy (UDF), Claude Ho A Chuck; National Front, Guy Malon; Popular and National Party of Guiana (PNPG), Claude Robo; National Anti-Colonist Guianese Party (PANGA), Michel Kapel

Suffrage: universal at age 18

Elections: Regional Council—last held 16 March 1986 (next to be held March 1991); results—PSG 43%, RPR 27.7%, ADG 12.2%, UDF 8.9%, FN 3.7%, PNPG 1.4%, others 3.1%; seats—(31 total) PSG 15, RPR 9, ADG 4, UDF 3;

French Senate—last held 24 September 1989 (next to be held September 1992); results—percent of vote by party NA; seats—(1 total) PSG 1;

French National Assembly—last held 24 September 1989 (next to be held September 1992); results—percent of vote by party NA; seats—(2 total) PSG 1, RPR 1

Communists: Communist party membership negligible

Member of: WFTU

Diplomatic representation: as an overseas department of France the interests of French Guiana are represented in the US by France

Flag: the flag of France is used


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 about two-thirds of total revenue in 1985. The large reserves of tropical hardwoods, not fully exploited, support an expanding sawmill industry that provides sawn logs for export. Cultivation of crops rice, cassava, bananas, and sugarcane are 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, with an unemployment rate of 15%.

GDP: $210 million, per capita $3,230; real growth rate NA% (1982)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 4.1 % (1987)

Unemployment rate: 15% (1987)

Budget: revenues $735 million; expenditures $735 million, including capital expenditures of NA (1987)

Exports: $37.0 million (f.o.b., 1986); commodities—shrimp, timber, rum, rosewood essence; partners—US 41%, Japan 18%, France 9% (1984)

Imports: $297.7 million (c.i.f., 1986); commodities—food (grains, processed meat), other consumer goods, producer goods, petroleum; partners—France 55%, Trinidad and Tobago 13%, US 3% (1984)

External debt: $1.2 billion (1988)

Industrial production: growth rate NA%

Electricity: 92,000 kW capacity; 185 million kWh produced, 1,950 kWh per capita (1989)

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

Agriculture: some vegetables for local consumption; rice, corn, manioc, cocoa, bananas, sugar

Aid: Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1970-87), $1.1 billion

Currency: French franc (plural—francs); 1 French franc (F) = 100 centimes

Exchange rates: French francs (F) per US$1—5.7598 (January 1990), 6.3801 (1989), 5.9569 (1988), 6.0107 (1987), 6.9261 (1986), 8.9852 (1985)

Fiscal year: calendar year


Highways: 680 km total; 510 km paved, 170 km improved and unimproved earth

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

Ports: Cayenne

Civil air: no major transport aircraft

Airports: 11 total, 11 usable; 5 with permanent-surface runways; none with runways over 3,659 m; 1 with runways 2,440-3,659 m; 1 with runways 1,220-2,439 m

Telecommunications: fair open wire and radio relay system; 18,100 telephones; stations—5 AM, 7 FM, 9 TV; 1 Atlantic Ocean INTELSAT earth station

Defense Forces

Military manpower: males 15-49 27,866; 18,430 fit for military service

Note: defense is the responsibility of France