French Guiana General Information

By | June 18, 2022

General information: First settled by the French in 1604, French Guiana until 1951 was a place of hard labor. According to itypeusa, the European Space Agency launches its satellites from the Kourou launch site in Guiana.


Location: northern part of South America, Atlantic coast, between Brazil and Suriname.
Geographical coordinates: 4° 00′ N. latitude, 53° 00′ W
Reference map: South America.
Area: total: 91,000 square kilometers; land surface area: 89,150 square kilometers; water surface area: 1,850 km2
Comparative area: somewhat smaller than Indiana.
Land borders: total: 1,183 km; with neighboring states: with Brazil 673 km, with Suriname 510 km.
Coastline: 378 km.
Maritime claims: exclusive economic zone: 200 nautical miles; territorial waters: 12 nautical miles.
Climate: tropical; hot, humid, little seasonal temperature variation.
Terrain: coastal lowlands, hills, low mountains.
Maximum and minimum heights: lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m; highest point: Bellevue de Linini 851 m.
Natural resources: bauxite, timber, gold, kinovar, kaolin, fish.
Land use: arable land: 0%; cultivated land: 0%; pasture: 0%; forests and plantations: 90%; others: 10% (1996 est.).
Irrigated land: 20 km2 (1993 est.).
Natural hazards: frequent heavy rains and thunderstorms, floods.
Current environmental issues: no data available.
International agreements on environmental protection:
Geography note: Mostly uninhabited wilderness.


Population: 177,562 (July 2001 est.).
Age structure: under 14: 30.47% (male 27,669; female 26,428); 15 to 64 years old: 64.05% (male 61,457; female 52,266); over 65: 5.48% (male 4,937; female 4,805) (2001 est.).
Population growth: 2.74% (2001 est.).
Birth rate: 22.02 newborns / 1000 people. (2001 est.).
Mortality: 4.77 deaths / 1000 people. (2001 est.).
Migration: 10.14 people /1000 people (2001 est.).
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male/female; under 15: 1.05 male/female; 15 to 64 years old: 1.18 male/female; over 65: 1.03 male/female; for the general population: 1.13 male/female (2001 est.);
Child mortality: 13.61 deaths/1000 births (2001 est.).
Life expectancy: for the general population: 76.3 years; men: 72.97 years; women: 79.79 years (2001 est.).
General birth rate: 3.17 children/wives. (2001 est.).
Proportion of the adult population infected with HIV: no data available.
Number of people infected with HIV: no data.
Mortality due to AIDS: no data available.
Nationality: noun: French Guiana; adjective: pertaining to French Guiana.
Ethnic groups: black or mulatto 66%, white 12%, East Indian, Chinese, American Indian 12%, other 10%. /s
Believers: Catholics.
Languages): French. 4L
Literacy: definition: persons aged 15 and over who can read and write; for the general population: 83%; men: 84%; women: 82% (1982 est.).


Conventional long form: Department of Guiana;
conventional short form: French Guiana; local long form: no; local short form: Guyane. Dependency status: overseas department of France.
Capital: Cayenne.
Administrative division: none (overseas department of France).
Dependent territories:
Independence: none (French overseas department).
National holiday: Bastille Day, July 14 (1789).
Constitution: adopted 28 September 1958 (French constitution).
Legal system: French legal system.
Suffrage: from the age of 18, universal.
chief of state: French President Jacques CHIRAC (since 17 May 1995), represented by Prefect Dominique VIAN (since January 1997);
head of government: President of the General Council André LECANTE (since March 1998); President of the Regional Council Antoine KARAM (since March 22, 1992);
government: no data; elections: the French president is elected by popular vote for a seven-year term; the prefect is appointed by the president on the proposal of the French Ministry of the Interior; the presidents of the General and Regional Councils are appointed by the members of these councils.
Legislature: unicameral General Council (19 seats; members elected by popular vote for six years) and unicameral Regional Council (31 seats; members elected by popular vote for six years); elections: General Council – last held March 2000 (next to be held in 2006); Regional Council – last held March 15, 1998 (next to be held in 2004); election results: General Council, distribution of votes between parties: NA; distribution of seats among parties: no data; Regional council: distribution of votes between parties: PS 28.28%, various left parties 22.56%, RPR 15.91%, independents 8.6%, WC 6%; distribution of seats among parties: PS 11, various left parties 9, RPR 6, independents 3, WC2; note: one representative to the French Senate was elected on 27 September 1998 (next expected in September 2007); distribution of votes between parties: no data; distribution of seats by parties: no data; elections of two representatives to the National Assembly of France took place on May 25 – June 1, 1997; distribution of votes between parties: no data; distribution of seats among parties: RPR 1, PS 1.
Judicial branch: Court of Appeal (local highest court is in Martinique, its jurisdiction extends to French Guiana, Martinique, Guadeloupe).
Political parties and leaders: Guiana Socialist Party (PSG) (Antoine KARAM); Democratic Forces of Guiana (FDG) (Georges OFI-LI [Georges OTHILY]); Rally for the Republic (RPR) (Roland HO-WEN-SZE); Walwari Committee (WC) (Christine TAU-BIRA-DELANON).
Political influence groups and their leaders:
Participation in international organizations: FZ, WCL, WFTU.
Diplomatic representation in the United States: none (French overseas department).
US Diplomatic Mission: None (French overseas department).
Flag Description: The flag of France is used.


Economy overview: The economy is closely linked to the French through subsidies and imports. In addition to the space center in Kourou, the most important economic activities are fishing and forestry. Large reserves of hardwood rainforest, not yet fully exploited, are supporting an expanding production of sawn timber for export. Agriculture is limited to the coastal region, where the bulk of the population is concentrated; the main crops are rice and cassava. French Guiana is highly dependent on food and energy imports. Unemployment is a serious problem, especially among young people.
GDP: at purchasing power parity – $1 billion (1998 est.).
Real GDP growth rate: no data available.
GDP per capita: Purchasing Power Parity $6,000 (1998 est.)
Composition of GDP by sectors of the economy: agriculture: no data; industry: no data; service sector: no data.
Proportion of the population below the poverty line: no data available.
Percentage distribution of household income or consumption: for the poorest 10% of households: n/a; 10% of the wealthiest families: no data.
Inflation rate at consumer prices: 2.5% (1992).
Labor force: 58,800 people (1997).
Employment structure: services, administration and commerce 60.6%, industry 21.2%, agriculture 18.2% (1980).
Unemployment rate: 21.4% (1998 est.).
Budget: revenues: $225 million; expenses: $390 million, including capital investments – $105 million (1996).
Economic sectors: construction, shrimp processing, timber industry, rum production, gold mining.
Growth in industrial production: no data available.
Electricity generation: 440 million kWh (1999).
Sources of electricity generation: fossil fuels: 100%; hydropower: 0%; nuclear fuel: 0%; others: 0% (1999).
Electricity consumption: 409.2 million kWh (1999)
Electricity export: 0 kWh (1999).
Electricity import: 0 kWh (1999).
Agricultural products: rice, cassava (tapioca), sugar, cocoa, vegetables, bananas; cattle, pigs, poultry.
Export: $155 million (free on board, 1997)
Exports: shrimp, timber, gold, rum, mahogany essence, clothing.
Export partners: France 62%, Switzerland 7%, USA 2% (1997).
Import: $625 million (S.I.F., 1997).
Imports: foodstuffs (grain, meat products), machinery and transport equipment, fuels and chemicals.
Import partners: France 52%, USA 14%, Trinidad and Tobago 6% (1997).
External debt: $1.2 billion (1988) Recipient of economic assistance: no data.
Economic aid donor:
Currency: French franc, euro.
Currency code: FRF; EUR.
Exchange rate: EUR/USD – 1.0659 (January 2001), 1.0854 (2000), 0.9386 (1999); FRF/USD -5.65 (January 1999), 5.8995 (1998), 5.8367 (1997), 5.1155 (1996).
Fiscal year: calendar year.


Telecommunications Telephone lines: 47,000 (1995).
Mobile cellular phones: no data available.
Telephone system: domestic: fairly good wire and microwave radio relay system; international: satellite earth station – 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean).
Broadcast stations: AM – 2, FM – 14 (including repeaters), shortwave – 6 (including 5 repeaters) (1998).
Radio receivers: 104,000 (1997).
Television broadcast stations: 3 (and 8 low power repeaters) (1997).
TVs: 30,000 (1997).
Internet country code: gf
Internet providers: 2 (2000).
Number of users: 2000 (2000).


Transport Railways: 0 km (1995).
Roads: total: 1,817 km; coated: 817 km; unpaved: 1,000 km (1998).
Waterways: 460 km are suitable for the passage of small ocean, as well as river and coastal vessels; 3,300 km are suitable for small boats.
Ports and harbours: Degras de Cannes, Cayenne, Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni.
Merchant Marine: None (2000 est.).
Airports: 11 (2000 est.).
Airports with paved runways: total: 4; over 3,047 m: 1; from 914 to 1,523 m: 2; less than 914 m: 1 (2000 est.).
Airports with unpaved runways: total: 7; from 914 to 1523 m:2; less than 914 m: 5 (2000 est.).

Armed forces

Branches of the armed forces: French armed forces, gendarmerie.
Enlistment age:
Total military manpower: male 15 to 49: 49,495 (2001 est.).
Eligible for military service: males aged 15 to 49: 32,052 (2001 est.).
Number of persons reaching military age each year:
Military spending in dollar terms: not available.
Military spending as part of GDP: no data available. Armed Forces – note: France is responsible for defense.

International Issues

International issues International disputes: Suriname claims the area between the rivers Maroni and Itani.
Illicit drugs: A small amount of marijuana is grown for local consumption; a minor transshipment point for transporting drugs to Europe.

French Guiana General Information