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Country Reports

Guyana Country Report

Overview

INTRODUCTION

English-speaking Guyana (population 750,000) - situated between Brazil to south and Venezuela to the west - features high crime rates, limited infrastructure, and poor health conditions.

CRIME

Crime rates, including rates of violent crime (armed robbery, murder) are high, particularly in the capital, Georgetown. Criminals are often armed and often resort to violence during robberies; never resist if confronted by a thief. Foreigners can be specifically targeted due to their presumed affluence; try to minimize signs of wealth. It is advisable to avoid walking outside after dark, particularly if alone. For safety reasons, it is also advised to avoid exchanging money on the street.

Be aware that much of the interior of the country is remote with limited police presence; highway banditry and river piracy has been reported. If traveling outside coastal areas, it is advisable to do so with a reputable tour operator.

In December 2015, Guyana launched Operation Dragnet to tackle crime. Additional security forces and law enforcement officials were subsequently deployed to key locations throughout the country, including areas along the border with Venezuela (with which diplomatic tensions are currently high regarding the disputed Essequibo region) and Suriname. The operation - which, according to the government, has made strides in bringing down crime rates - was extended indefinitely in mid-2016.

NATURAL RISKS

The country is often subjected to torrential rains, with the potential to result in flooding in coastal areas. The main rainy seasons occur in December-January and May-June, although heavy rains can strike year-round.

While direct hits are rare, Guyana can be affected by tropical storm systems during the Atlantic hurricane season, which officially runs from June 1 to November 30.

SOCIOPOLITICAL RISK

Guyana enjoys relative political stability and cordial relations between its diverse ethnic populations (primarily of indigenous, East Indian, and African descent). Legislative and presidential elections were held in May 2015 without incident. The next national elections will be held by 2020.

Demonstrations have the potential to turn violent; all protests and demonstrations should be avoided as a precaution.

TRANSPORTATION and INFRASTRUCTURE

The main coastal roads are paved, but the coastal road system is not continuous - i.e. there are not always bridges over rivers, necessitating travelers' use of ferries. Ferry services also link Guyana with neighboring Suriname. There are no passenger rail services in operation. Much of the interior of the country is only accessible by plane or boat. More information regarding the state of transportation infrastructure is available here. Drivers should be aware that Guyana suffers from high rates of road accidents due to poor driving habits, non-enforcement of traffic laws, and the poor conditions of many roads.

To augment personal security, do not use public transportation; taxi services can be used if referred by major hotels or tourism officials.

There is little tourist infrastructure and few hotels located outside the capital.

Short-term power outages are relatively common in the country.

LEGAL

Homosexual activity is illegal in Guyana.

HEALTH

Health services are inadequate throughout much of Guyana. Medical facilities are scarce throughout the country, and those that do exist offer care far below Western standards. Ambulance services are limited and generally are not staffed by medical personnel. All visitors to the country are advised to purchase comprehensive travel medical insurance prior to departure.

Untreated tap water is not considered safe to drink, particularly outside the capital.

Additionally, several mosquito-borne diseases are present in Guyana:

  • Malaria afflicts much of the country, with peaks of infections during the periods from May to August and November to January. The disease is relatively rare in the cities of Georgetown and Amsterdam but sporadic cases are reported.
  • Dengue fever is present throughout the country, notably in urban and semi-urban areas.
  • There is a risk of contracting yellow fever throughout the country, particularly in jungle areas (NB: a yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for travelers arriving from a country with a risk of yellow fever transmission).
  • Chikungunya and the Zika virus may also be present in the country.

Chagas disease, carried by insects, is endemic to the region.

Climate

Guyana's climate is hot and humid with humidity rates often approaching 100%. Temperatures remain relatively constant throughout the year with the hottest temperatures recorded in inland areas far from the coastline, where nights are cool (14°C). It rains more in the north (coastal regions) than in the south (savanna). The rainy season lasts from May until July along the coasts and until September inland; there is a second rainy season along the coast from November until January.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +592 Police: 911 or 225 6411 Fire Dept.: 912 Ambulance: 913

Electricity

Voltage: 240 V ~ 60 Hz

Outlets:

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