Guyana, officially the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, is a sovereign state on the northern coast of South America. Although Guyana is part of the Anglophone Caribbean, it is one of the few Caribbean countries that is not an island. The Caribbean Community (CARICOM), of which Guyana is a member, has its secretariat’s headquarters in Guyana’s capital, Georgetown.
Guyana was originally colonized by the Netherlands. Later, it became a British colony and remained so for over 200 years until it achieved independence on 26 May 1966 from the United Kingdom. On 23 February 1970, Guyana officially became a republic. In 2008, the country joined the Union of South American Nations as a founding member.
Guyana is a member state of the Commonwealth of Nations and has the distinction of being the only South American nation in which English is the official language. The majority of the population, however, speak Guyanese Creole; an English-based creole language with slight Dutch, West African, Arawakan and Caribbean influences.
Historically, the region known as “Guiana” or “Guyana” comprised the large shield landmass north of the Amazon River and east of the Orinoco River known as the “Land of many waters”. Historical Guyana consists of three Dutch colonies: Essequibo, Demerara, and Berbice. Modern Guyana is bordered by Suriname to the east, by Brazil to the south and southwest, by Venezuela to the west, and by the Atlantic Ocean to the north. At 215,000 square kilometres (83,000 sq mi), Guyana is the third-smallest independent state on the mainland of South America after Uruguay and Suriname.