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Guyana

Guyana

Summary

Guyana was originally a Dutch colony, falling under British rule in 1815. The nation gained independence from Britain in 1966, and has been subject to a primarily socialist structure since then. When slavery was abolished, former slaves settled in the urban regions, and indentured servants from India were imported to work on sugar plantations. As a result, ethnic and cultural tension has created systemic issues within Guyanese politics. Guyana faces extreme poverty and infant mortality rates, and has had difficulty carrying out any reform due inefficiencies and corruption in government infrastructure. Gold, sugar, timber, shrimp, bauxite and rice account for 60 percent of Guyana’s GDP of $6.3 billion, which is ranked 171 in the world.1 1 https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/gy.html

Demographics

Nationality
Guyanese
Population
739,903 (July 2013 est.)
Ethnic Groups
Languages
Religions

Explore Guyana Subcases

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Environment
Family
Human Rights
Education
Poverty
Religion
Clean Water
Economy
Government
Health
Children
Animals

Environment

Guyana is home to some of the largest areas of untouched rainforest in South America, though many such areas are claimed by Venezuela and Suriname.1 Water pollution, particularly from sewage and agricultural or industrial waste, is one of the nation’s environmental concerns, as well as deforestation.2 In 2009, the Guyanese government enacted the Low Carbon Development Strategy, an initiative promoting sustainable environmental and economic development from 2009 through 2020.3

Family

There are no nationally recognized statistics available on domestic violence in Guyana,1 but the child marriage rate is 30 percent — 30 percent of women were married before age 18. Although there are several issues that pertain to gender equality within Guyana, the country has made several significant strides towards achieving gender equality within society.2 There have been two important pieces of legislation, the Domestic Violence Act in 1996 and the Sexual Violence Act in 2010, that provided the legal framework towards gender equality.3 The infant mortality rate is approximately 30 per 1,000 births, placing it in the upper 90th percentile for worst mortality rates,4 and the maternal mortality rate is 229 per 100,000 births.5

Human Rights

Although there are still several issues that pertain to gender equality within Guyana, the country has made several significant strides towards achieving universal gender equality within society.1 There have been two important pieces of legislation; the Domestic Violence Act in 1996 and the Sexual Violence Act in 2010, that have provided the legal framework towards gender equality.2 Guyana has implemented a new program that will help adolescent girls who are victims of unplanned pregnancies and sexual violence to return and finish school, and reduce discrimination against them.3 According to UNICEF, Guyana holds the second highest teen pregnancy rate in Latin America and the Caribbean.4

Education

Guyana has made significant positive progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goal of universal primary education.1 Since the early 2000s, net enrollment in primary school has consistently been at 95 percent and the government has worked to improve the access for students who live in the rural regions.2 The Ministry of Education has identified access and quality of education as a major factor in the reduction of poverty, explaining the priority on education reforms.3 The ministry has frequently asserted that the well-being of children is at the heart of all education system reform.4 In recent years, the focus on education has shifted from improving access to increasing quality.5

Poverty

Approximately 3 in 10 youth are living in poverty, ages 16–25, and almost 50 percent of Guyanese children under the age of 16 live in poverty. 40 percent of Guyanese people, on whole, live in poverty and 19 percent in extreme poverty — living on under $1.25 a day. These are extremely high poverty rates, especially for South America. 1 As a result, malnutrition is also a significant problem.2 Unfortunately, the rates in rural areas are even higher. 73 percent of Guyanese in rural areas live in poverty, and nearly a third of Guyana’s population lives in these areas. 3 Data on poverty has not been collected by the government since 2006.4

Religion

For a small country, Guyana is rather religiously diverse. The population is 34.8 percent Protestant, 24.8 percent Hindu, 7.1 percent Roman Catholic, 6.8 percent Muslim, 0.5 percent Rastafarian, 1.3 percent Jehovah’s Witness, 20.8 percent Other Christian denominations, .9 percent Other and 3.1 percent claimed none.1 Despite the diversity of religious faiths, Guyana has managed to have all religions coexist peacefully.2 During the UN’s World Interfaith Harmony Week, the President of Guyana spoke on how the country has done remarkably well with its multi-ethnic and multi-faith culture.3 He reiterated that the government was fully supportive of interfaith dialogues and discussions.4

Clean Water

Guyana has managed to meet its Millennium Development Goal of increased access to clean water sources for a significant portion of the population,1 as currently, 97 percent of Guyanese people have clean water.2 Guyana was able to achieve this goal due in part to heavy foreign investment. However, there are still minor regional disparities that need to be dealt with over time, and another challenge is the loss of non-revenue water.3

Economy

The backbone of Guyana’s economy is in agriculture and the extraction of raw materials.1 Since a large portion of their economy is based on these industries, the economy’s health can fluctuate based on the weather and commodity prices.2 Recently, the economy has maintained steady growth and kept inflation in check.3 When the Inter-American Development Bank forgave Guyana’s $470 million debt, the debt-to-GDP-ratio fell from 183 percent to 52 percent.4 In 2018, 3.2 billion barrels of oil were discovered in offshore drilling, and Guyana is expected to enter the oil market in spring of 2020.5 Its most persistent problems include a waning population of skilled laborers and a weak infrastructure.6 The economy suffers from heavy corruption, bureaucratic inefficiencies and insufficient economic law.7

Government

Guyana is a parliamentary republic led by a president that is both the chief of state and head of government.1 The Guyanese government is hindered by a history of ethnic and cultural division,2 as well as corruption and bureaucratic inefficiencies on many levels, and is ranked 102 out of 180 nations on the Economic Freedom Index.3 The current president was elected in 2015, and led the multiracial coalition movement.4 The president has struggled to carry out reform, but it is expected that the oil industry post-2020 will improve his agenda.5 Additionally, Guyana also experiences high levels of drug trafficking and violent crime.6

Health

The infant mortality rate is approximately 30 per 1,000 births, placing Guyana in the upper 90th percentile for worst mortality rates,1 and the maternal mortality rate is 229 per 100,000 births.2 Guyana’s risk of infectious disease contracted is categorized as “very high” by the CIA World Factbook, with particular concern over bacterial or protozoal diarrhea, typhoid and hepatitis A, as well as dengue fever and malaria.3 The government implemented the Health Vision 2020 with the support of the World Health Organization, as well as the Pan-American Health Organization.4 This health vision will help continue the progress that was started by the Millennium Development Goals.5

Children

In recent years, Guyana has been unable to properly implement measures to eradicate child labor practices; 23 percent of Guyanese children aged 5–14 are part of the labor force.1 These levels persist even though Guyana’s Employment of Young Persons and Children Act sets the minimum age of employment at 15.2 Additionally, there have been minimal efforts made to offering rural areas access to education.3 However, programs have been implemented to aid in Guyanese children’s development, as well as seminars to inform parents on proper child nutrition and the detriments of child labor.4 Guyana developed the Child Protection Monitoring System in 2005, which was a concerted effort toward monitoring all aspects of child welfare services within the country.5 The Rights of Child Commission led this new Read More initiative.6 Currently, Guyana is struggling to adequately staff the various child welfare services available.7 Show Less

Animals

Guyana is not ranked on the World Animal Protection Index.1 Currently there is an Animal Welfare bill in committee within the Guyanese parliament; the bill was published in fall of 2016 and sent to committee in winter of 2017.2 Objections were made as to the agricultural impacts of the bill, stating that farmers were unaware of the bill’s potential ramifications.3 The bill would instate new standards regarding humane animal treatment, shelter and food supply.4 In the discussion of the bill, the minister of agriculture argued that such policy could improve trade, as international concern for organic food, fair trade and animal welfare is rising.5 The bill was sent to a Special Select Committee.6

Guyana

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