New York, New York, USA

It’s Guyana, Not Ghana!

Too often people mistake Guyana for Ghana.  During  a recent trip to Florida, I was having a conversation with a colleague about the Mashramani celebrations in Guyana and she said to me “that’s in Africa right?”  I’ve also been asked quite a few times “what other language do you speak in Guyana?  That’s why I decided to put together this synopsis  to enlighten some folks on the difference between “Guyana” in South America and the African nation of “Ghana”.

Guyana officially the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, is a sovereign state on the northern coast of South America.  It’s the only South American nation whose official language is English, and one of the four non-Spanish-speaking countries on the continent. The other three countries, and neighbors of Guyana, are Brazil (Official language is Portuguese), Suriname (Official language is Dutch), and French Guiana (Official language is French).

The name ‘Guyana’ comes from an Amerindian word meaning “land of many waters” and it is known as the country of Six People- Africans, Amerindians, Chinese, East Indians, Europeans and Portugese. Guyana is notably famous for Kaieteur Falls, which is situated on the Potaro River, where that river falls off the Pakaraima Plateau.

The climate type of Guyana is tropical generally with hot and humid characteristics. Rains happen in the country two times in the year i.e. first from May to mid-August and second from mid-November to mid-January. It has an area of 214,969 sq km (83,000 sq mi) with a estimated population of 741,908 (July 2012).

East Indians (Indo-Guyanese) make up 43.5% of the population,  followed by people of African heritage (Afro-Guyanese) (30.2%). The third in number are those of mixed heritage (16.7%), while Aboriginals (Arawak, Wai Wai, Carib, Akawaio, Arecuna, Patamona, Wapixana, Macushi and Warao) are fourth making up close to 10% of the population. The smallest groups are European, including Portuguese (2%) and Chinese (1.8%).

Culturally Guyana is part of the Anglophone Caribbean. While it’s not an island, it nonetheless identifies more closely with the Caribbean; and its natives speak with a Caribbean English dialect.   Other Caribbean countries that are in close proximity to Guyana are Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada and Barbados.  The Caribbean Community (CARICOM), of which Guyana is a member, has its secretariat’s headquarters in Guyana’s capital, Georgetown.


Related Posts

Comments (12)

Interestingly, black slaves from Ghana went mainly to Guyana, Barbados. Those from Nigeria went to Jamaica, Haiti etc. You may have noticed the similarity in temperaments?

Global Aspirations

That is so funny! When I tell people I am from Ghana, they sometime think I am saying Guyana!…lol

I tried to book a hotel in Guyana once and the operator told me that they don’t have any hotels in Africa.

Wow…I don’t know if it’s the pronunciation of the two words that causes the confusion, or people are not well-informed.

I have learned to answer the where are you from question in the following way "I am from Guyana, South America"! There is no room for confusion there!

Omg! happens to me most of the times!
I’ll literally spell the word GHANA any time i mention where i come from.

There’s also a country named Guiana (sounds the same) and it’s in Africa. Can you explain that?

Hi Danee – The Guianas are a region in north-eastern South America which includes three territories: Guyana, formerly known as British Guiana; French Guiana, and Suriname, formerly Dutch Guiana. Guyana (in South America) is often confused with Ghana (in West Africa) because of the similarity of the names but they are located on 2 different continents. Hope this explains.

There is also a country called Guinea in West Africa

I work with a man named Kwasi. He has tiny scars on his cheekbones. Because of his name and the tribal scarification, I always assumed he was from Ghana. Last week I found out he is from Guyana. Now, I’m confused as to the relationship between the two countries. I assume it had something to do with the slave trade. Can you explain?

hmm “kwasi” is actually an Akan name in Ghana

Many African in the nowadays three Guyanas came from Akan nations in Ghana or neighbouring Cote d’Ivoire

Leave a comment