Country List | World Factbook Home
CIA Seal  World Factbook Seal French Guiana
Flag of French Guiana
Map of French Guiana
Introduction French Guiana
First settled by the French in 1604, French Guiana was the site of notorious penal settlements until 1951. The European Space Agency launches its communication satellites from Kourou.
Geography French Guiana
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
water: 1,850 sq km
land: 89,150 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly smaller than Indiana
Land boundaries:
total: 1,183 km
border countries: Brazil 673 km, Suriname 510 km
378 km
Maritime claims:
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
territorial sea: 12 NM
tropical; hot, humid; little seasonal temperature variation
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: 0.11% NEGL
permanent crops: 0.03%
other: 99.86% (90% forest, 10% other) (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
20 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards:
high frequency of heavy showers and severe thunderstorms; flooding
Environment - current issues:
Geography - note:
mostly an unsettled wilderness; the only non-independent portion of the South American continent
People French Guiana
186,917 (July 2003 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 29.9% (male 28,565; female 27,280)
15-64 years: 64.4% (male 64,836; female 55,498)
65 years and over: 5.7% (male 5,455; female 5,283) (2003 est.)
Median age:
total: 28.2 years
male: 29.2 years
female: 27.1 years (2002)
Population growth rate:
2.4% (2003 est.)
Birth rate:
21.33 births/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Death rate:
4.8 deaths/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Net migration rate:
7.49 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.17 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.03 male(s)/female
total population: 1.12 male(s)/female (2003 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 12.84 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 11.96 deaths/1,000 live births (2003 est.)
male: 13.68 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 76.69 years
male: 73.36 years
female: 80.18 years (2003 est.)
Total fertility rate:
3.09 children born/woman (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
noun: French Guianese (singular and plural)
adjective: French Guianese
Ethnic groups:
black or mulatto 66%, white 12%, East Indian, Chinese, Amerindian 12%, other 10%
Roman Catholic
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 83%
male: 84%
female: 82% (1982 est.)
Government French Guiana
Country name:
conventional long form: Department of Guiana
conventional short form: French Guiana
local short form: Guyane
local long form: none
Dependency status:
overseas department of France
Government type:
Administrative divisions:
none (overseas department of France)
none (overseas department of France)
National holiday:
Bastille Day, 14 July (1789)
28 September 1958 (French Constitution)
Legal system:
French legal system
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Jacques CHIRAC of France (since 17 May 1995), represented by Prefect Ange MANCINI (since 31 July 2002)
elections: French president elected by popular vote for a five-year term; prefect appointed by the French president on the advice of the French Ministry of Interior; presidents of the General and Regional Councils are appointed by the members of those councils
head of government: President of the General Council Joseph HO-TEN-YOU (since 26 March 2001); President of the Regional Council Antoine KARAM (since 22 March 1992)
cabinet: NA
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 NA March 2000 (next to be held NA 2006); Regional Council - last held 15 March 1998 (next to be held NA 2004)
election results: General Council - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - PSG 5, various left-wing parties 5, independents 7, other 2; Regional Council - percent of vote by party - PS 28.28%, various left parties 22.56%, RPR 15.91%, independents 8.6%, Walwari Committee 6%; seats by party - PS 11, various left parties 9, RPR 6, independents 3, Walwari Committee 2
note: one seat was elected to the French Senate on 27 September 1998 (next to be held NA September 2007); results - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - NA; 2 seats were elected to the French National Assembly on 9 June-16 June 2002 (next to be held NA 2007); results - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - UMP/RPR 1, Walwari Committee 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:
Guyanese Democratic Action or ADG [Andre LECANTE]; Guyanese Socialist Party or PSG [Marie-Claude VERDAN]; Guyana Democratic Forces or FDG [Georges OTHILY]; Popular National Guyanese Party or PNPG [Jose DORCY]; Rally for the Republic or RPR [Roland HO-WEN-SZE]; Socialist Party or PS [Pierre RIBARDIERE]; Walwari Committee [Christine TAUBIRA-DELANON]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
International organization participation:
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
Economy French Guiana
Economy - overview:
The economy is tied closely to the larger French economy through subsidies and imports. Besides the French space center at Kourou (which accounts for 25% of GDP), fishing and forestry are the most important economic activities. Forest and woodland cover 90% of the country. 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; rice and manioc are the major crops. French Guiana is heavily dependent on imports of food and energy. Unemployment is a serious problem, particularly among younger workers.
purchasing power parity - $2.26 billion (2002 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $14,400 (2000 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: NA%
industry: NA%
services: NA%
Population below poverty line:
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
1.5% (2002 est.)
Labor force:
58,800 (1997)
Labor force - by occupation:
services, government, and commerce 60.6%, industry 21.2%, agriculture 18.2% (1980)
Unemployment rate:
22% (2001)
revenues: $225 million
expenditures: $390 million, including capital expenditures of $105 million (1996)
construction, shrimp processing, forestry products, rum, gold mining
Industrial production growth rate:
Electricity - production:
455 million kWh (2001)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
423.2 million kWh (2001)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2001)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2001)
Oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - consumption:
6,500 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - exports:
NA (2001)
Oil - imports:
NA (2001)
Agriculture - products:
corn, rice, manioc (tapioca), sugar, cocoa, vegetables, bananas; cattle, pigs, poultry
$155 million f.o.b.
Exports - commodities:
shrimp, timber, gold, rum, rosewood essence, clothing
Exports - partners:
France 62%, Switzerland 7%, US 2% (2001)
$625 million c.i.f.
Imports - commodities:
food (grains, processed meat), machinery and transport equipment, fuels and chemicals
Imports - partners:
France 63%, US, Trinidad and Tobago, Italy (2002)
Debt - external:
$1.2 billion (1988)
Economic aid - recipient:
euro (EUR); French franc (FRF)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
Euros per US dollar - 1.06 (2002), 1.12 (2001), 1.09 (2000), 0.94 (1999)
Fiscal year:
calendar year
Communications French Guiana
Telephones - main lines in use:
47,000 (1997)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
Telephone system:
general assessment: NA
domestic: fair open-wire and microwave radio relay system
international: satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 2, FM 14 (including 6 repeaters), shortwave 6 (including 5 repeaters) (1998)
104,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
3 (plus eight low-power repeaters) (1997)
30,000 (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
2 (2000)
Internet users:
2,000 (2000)
Transportation French Guiana
0 km
total: 722 km
paved: NA km
unpaved: NA km (1996)
3,300 km navigable by native craft
note: 460 km navigable by small oceangoing vessels and coastal and river steamers
Ports and harbors:
Cayenne, Degrad des Cannes, Saint-Laurent du Maroni
Merchant marine:
none (2002 est.)
11 (2002)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 4
over 3,047 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 1 (2002)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 7
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 5 (2002)
Military French Guiana
Military branches:
no regular indigenous military forces; French Forces, Gendarmerie
Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 51,444 (2003 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 33,345 (2003 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
Military - note:
defense is the responsibility of France
Transnational Issues French Guiana
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

This page was last updated on 18 December, 2003