Of the country's total area, 86 percent is forest, 10.5 percent is savannah grassland, and 3.5 percent is the coastal belt on which nearly all its people live.
Guyana has a population of about three-quarters of a million people; 50 percent are of East Indian descent and about 30 percent are of African ancestry.
Although Raleigh failed to locate any gold, his efforts resulted in the earliest mapping of the Guyanese coastline.
The Dutch were the first Europeans to gain a real foothold in Guyana.
The Caribs roamed the heavily forested regions of the interior.
By 1770 more than 15,000 Africans were enslaved in Guyana.
Another native group, the Warrau, inhabited the swampland near the mouth of the Orinoco in present-day Venezuela but eventually moved east into Guyanese territory.
Christopher Columbus was the first European known to have sailed along the coast of Guyana.
Similar settlements sprang up along the Berbice, Demerara, and Pomeroon rivers.
The Berbice district became a separate territory in 1732, and a Demerara district was established in 1741.