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Guyana is officially named the Co-operative Republic
of Guyana, and is the only nation state of the Commonwealth of Nations
on the mainland of South America. Guyana lies north of the equator,
in the tropics, and is located on the Atlantic Ocean.
|| The flag of Guyana, known as The Golden
Arrowhead, was adopted in 1966. It was designed by Dr. Whitney
Smith, a prominent American vexillologist. The colours are symbolic:
green for agriculture and forests, white for rivers and water,
gold for mineral wealth, black for endurance, and red for zeal
Guyana is bordered to the east by Suriname, to the south and southwest
by Brazil and to the west by Venezuela. It is the third smallest
country on the mainland of South America. Culturally it is more
associated with the Caribbean than with Latin America and is the
only English-speaking country in South America. It is also one of
4 non-Spanish-speaking nations on the continent, along with Brazil
(Portuguese), Suriname (Dutch) and French Guiana (French).
The Coat of arms of Guyana was granted by Parliament on 25 February
1966.. It includes a crest of an Amerindian head-dress symbolizing
the indigenous people of the country, this crest is also called
the Cacique's Crown; two diamonds at the sides of the head-dress
representing mining industry; a helmet; two jaguars as supporters
holding a pick axe, sugar cane, and a stalk of rice; a shield decorated
with the Victoria regia lily, Guyana's national flower; three blue
wavy lines representing the three main rivers of Guyana; and the
national bird, the Canje Pheasant.
The national motto, "One people, One Nation, One Destiny",
appears on the scroll below the shield.
Guyana is an Amerindian word meaning "Land of many waters".
The country can be characterized by its vast rain forests dissected
by numerous rivers, creeks and waterfalls, notably Kaieteur Falls
on the Potaro River. Guyana's tepuis are famous for being the inspiration
for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's 1912 novel The Lost World. The country
enjoys a diverse, multicultural society, high floral and faunal
biodiversity, prize-winning rum, and Demerara sugar. Guyana is also
known internationally for being the site of the notorious Jonestown
Guyana's educational system, which at one time was considered to
be among the best in the Caribbean, significantly deteriorated in
the 1980s because of the emigration of highly educated citizens
and the lack of appropriate funding. Although the education system
has recovered somewhat in the 1990s, it still does not produce the
quality of educated students necessary for Guyana to modernize its
workforce. The country lacks a critical mass of expertise in many
of the disciplines and activities on which it depends.
The educational system does not sufficiently focus on the training
of Guyanese in science and technology, technical and vocational
subjects, business management, nor computer sciences. The Guyanese
education system is modeled after the former British education system.
Students are expected to write SSEE (secondary school entrance exam)
by grade 6 for entrance into High School in grade 7. The write CXC
at the end of high school. Recently they have introduced the CAPE
exams which all other Caribbean countries have now introduced. The
A-level system left over from the British era has all but disappeared
and is now offered only in a few schools (current as at January
2007). The reason for the insufficient focus or various disciplines
can be directly attributed to the common choices made by students
to specialize in areas that are similar (math/chemistry/physics
or geography/history/economics). With the removal of the old A-level
system that encouraged this specialization, it is thought that it
will be more attractive for students to broaden
There are wide disparities among the geographical regions of the
country in the availability of quality education, and the physical
facilities which are provided are in poor condition.
Further adding to the problems of the educational system, many
of the better-educated professional teachers have emigrated to other
countries over the past two decades, mainly because of low pay,
lack of opportunities and crime. As a result, there is a lack of
trained teachers at every level of Guyana's educational system.
There are however several very good Private schools that have sprung
up over the last fifteen years. Those schools offer a varied and
 Health conditions
One of the most unfortunate consequences of Guyana's economic decline
in the 1970s and 1980s because of the rule of the PNC (People's
National Congress) was that it led to very poor health conditions
for a large part of the population. Basic health services in the
interior are primitive to non-existent and some procedures are not
available at all. The U.S. State Department Consular Information
Sheet warns "Medical care is available for minor medical conditions.
Emergency care and hospitalization for major medical illnesses or
surgery is limited, because of a lack of appropriately trained specialists,
below standard in-hospital care, and poor sanitation. Ambulance
service is substandard and may not routinely be available for emergencies."
Many Guyanese seek medical care in the United States, Trinidad or
Compared with other neighboring countries, Guyana ranks poorly
in regard to basic health indicators. In 1998, life expectancy at
birth was estimated at 66.0 years for Guyana, 71.6 for Suriname,
72.9 for Venezuela; 73.8 for Trinidad and Tobago, 74.7 for Jamaica,
and 76.5 for Barbados. In Guyana, the infant mortality rate in 1998
was 24.2, in Barbados 14.9; in Trinidad and Tobago 16.2; in Venezuela
22; in Jamaica 24.5; and in Suriname 25.1.
< Read about Guyana mlanutrition >
Maternal mortality rates in Guyana are also relatively high, being
estimate at 124.6/1000 for 1998. Comparable figures for other Caribbean
countries are 50/1000 for Barbados, 75/1000 for Trinidad and 100/1000
It must be emphasized, however, that although Guyana's health profile
still falls short in comparison with many of its Caribbean neighbours,
there has been remarkable progress since 1988, and the Ministry
of Health is constantly upgrading conditions, procedures, and facilities.
Open heart surgery is now available in the country, and in the second
half of 2007 an ophthalmic center will open.
The leading causes of mortality for all age groups are cerebrovascular
diseases (11.6%); ischemic heart disease (9.9%); immunity disorders
(7.1%); diseases of the respiratory system (6.8%); diseases of pulmonary
circulation and other forms of heart disease (6.6%); endocrine and
metabolic diseases (5.5%); diseases of other parts of the Digestive
System (5.2%); violence (5.1%); certain condition originating in
the prenatal period (4.3%); and hypertensive diseases (3.9%).
The picture in regard to morbidity patterns differs. The ten leading
causes of morbidity for all age groups are, in decreasing order:
malaria; acute respiratory infections; symptoms, signs and ill defined
or unknown conditions; hypertension; accident and injuries; acute
diarrhoeal disease; diabetes mellitus; worm infestation; rheumatic
arthritis; and mental and nervous disorders.
This morbidity profile indicates that it can be improved substantially
through enhanced preventive health care, better education on health
issues, more widespread access to potable water and sanitation services,
and increased access to basic health care of good quality.