French Guiana Country Report
The political environment has become less stable over the past 24 months, with a series of protests over crime and the high cost of living having taken place in March/April 2017 and then again during October 2017 when President Emmanuel Macron was visiting the territory. Although the government has agreed to provide EUR1 billion in emergency funding to the territory, the public remain dissatisfied with the state of local healthcare and education systems, as well as crime and a rise in illegal immigrants. Labour disputes and protests over public services will remain common in 2019, causing disruption to public and commercial activities.
The operational environment is adequate, although infrastructure such as transport and communications tends to be in a greater state of neglect in the interior. Unions remain powerful and further strike action is highly likely through 2019, affecting multiple sectors as a result of solidarity action. Protests involving roadblocks remain likely to block major highways for up to several days. The most important union is the Union of Guianese Workers, which is affiliated to the opposition Socialist Party of Guiana (PSG). Sectors vulnerable to strike action include education, health, and transport. Foreign investors may come across low levels of corruption, such as bribery among local government officials.
The threat of terrorism is low. The Front National de Libération de la Guyane (FNLG) has been inactive since the 1980's. As a result of several terrorist attacks in mainland France since January 2015, security around major infrastructure, including the Félix Eboué airport and the Guiana Space Centre near Kourou, has been increased by state security forces, who have also increased patrols in commercial areas. Co-operation with neighbouring Brazil and Suriname has been increased. The jihadist threat faced in mainland France does not extend to French Guiana.
The risk of civil or interstate war in French Guiana is low. The territorial integrity of French Guiana is guaranteed by mainland France and its considerable military resources. As a result, a minor border dispute with Suriname is unlikely to lead to conflict. Calls for independence in French Guiana are relatively muted, and civil war risks remain low despite growing social unrest over crime, the cost of living and public services. State use of force is likely to be limited to restricting illegal gold mining and logging activities, combating drug trafficking and dealing with instances of rising public disorder.
Labour strikes, solidarity protests, and demonstrations involving thousands of protesters over cost-of-living issues, the state of public services, and rising crime will remain frequent in 2019, causing disruption to roads, airports, public services, and the European Space Agency spaceport in Kourou. Protest groups, including "500 Frères" (500 Brothers) and Pou Lagwiyann Dekole (Creole for "let Guyana take off"), have been successful in organising large-scale protests and work stoppages, causing severe disruption to public and commercial activities. There is also the potential for environmental activism to grow in strength as new gold mines are developed.
Vaccines required to enter the country
Yellow fever: A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for all travelers over one year of age upon entry to the country. A single dose of YF vaccine is sufficient to confer sustained life-long immunity against the disease; it should be taken ten days in advance to be fully effective.
Vaccines recommended for all travelers
Routine vaccinations: Consult your doctor to ensure all routine vaccinations - such as for diphtheria, tetanus, polio, tuberculosis, influenza, measles, mumps, pertussis, rubella, varicella, etc. - are up to date (include booster shots if necessary).
Vaccines recommended for most travelers
Hepatitis A: The vaccine is given in two doses, six months apart, and is nearly 100 percent effective. The WHO recommends the vaccine be integrated into national routine immunization schedules for children aged one year or older.
Typhoid fever: The typhoid fever vaccine can be administered via injection (administered in one dose) or orally (four doses). The vaccine is only 50-80 percent effective, so travelers to areas with a risk of exposure to typhoid fever, a bacterial disease, should also take hygienic precautions (e.g. drink only bottled water, avoid undercooked foods, wash hands regularly, etc.). Children can be given the shot beginning at two years of age (six for the oral vaccine).
Vaccines recommended for some travelers
Hepatitis B: The WHO recommends that all infants receive their first dose of vaccine as soon as possible after birth, preferably within 24 hours. The birth dose should be followed by two or three doses to complete the primary series. Routine booster doses are not routinely recommended for any age group.
Malaria: There is currently no malaria vaccine. However, various antimalarial prophylactics are available by prescription and can reduce risk of infection by up to 90 percent. Different medications are prescribed depending on the risk level and the strains of the virus present in the destination. Antimalarial tablets need to be taken throughout the trip to be effective and may need to be taken for as long as four weeks following the trip.
Rabies: The rabies vaccination is typically only recommended for travel to remote areas and if the traveler will be at high risk of exposure (e.g. undertaking activities that will bring them into contact with dogs, cats, bats, or other mammals). The vaccination is administered in three doses over a three-to-four week period. Post exposure prophylaxis is also available and should be administered as soon as possible following contact with an animal suspected of being infected (e.g. bites and scratches).
The rainy season lasts from December to July. Floods, which can disrupt ground transportation, often occur during this time.
The Northern Atlantic hurricane season lasts from June 1 to November 30. While hurricanes and tropical storms rarely hit French Guiana directly, storm systems can bring torrential rains, winds, and associated flooding and material damage to the region.
The rainy season lasts from January until June, with a peak of rain in May and a relative respite in March. Temperatures are higher in the forest than along the coastline; however, nights there are much cooler. Humidity levels are generally high along the coast where temperatures remain steady (28°C).
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