Georgetown, Guyana

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Environment

Georgetown, is the capital and largest city of Guyana, located in the Demerara-Mahaica region., Georgetown is located on the Atlantic Ocean coast at the mouth of the Demerara River and it was nicknamed ‘Garden City of the Caribbean.’ The city serves primarily as a retail, administrative, and financial services centre for the region.

Georgetown_mapThe present area of Georgetown is about 40 square kilometres with estimated population is 239,227 (2002 Guyana census). Georgetown is divided into three regions: (1) Central Georgetown; (2) Greater Georgetown; and (3) South Georgetown. Georgetown is laid out in a north-south, east-west grid, interlaced with canals protected by kokers, or sluices, built by the Dutch and later the British that provide drainage to a city that lies one meter below high-tide level. The city has an abundance of tree-lined streets and avenues and contains many wooden colonial buildings and markets and quaint Dutch colonial and Victorian architecture stemming from its days as Dutch and English colonies.

The Georgetown sea wall helps prevent flooding with a series of canals crisscrossing the city. When rains are heavy, flooding, as occurred in early 2005, is a risk. Seawalls were found necessary because of constant erosion of land by the sea. Historians note that two estates, Kierfield and Sandy Point, known to be existing in 1792 north of the present Georgetown Seawall, were completely washed away by 1804. The foreshore is subject to cycles of erosion and accretion. It appears that accretion in the early 1840s was followed by erosion in the late 1840s. By 1855, the great Kingston Flood took place when the sea-dam was breached. It was after this catastrophe that the sea wall between Fort William Frederick and the Round House was started in 1858. Built principally by convict labor with granite from the Penal Settlement at Mazaruni (now Mazaruni Prison), it was completed in 1892. Serious flooding resulting from breaches in the sea wall took place at Enmore in 1955, at Buxton in 1959, and at Bladen Hall in 1961.

Economic

As Guyana’s largest city, Georgetown retains a large portion of the country’s major businesses and is an important city for Guyana and the Caribbean. The Caribbean Community, CARICOM headquarters are located in the metro Georgetown area. The Administrative Arm of the Caribbean Regional Integration Organisation is also found there.

The city accounts for a large portion of Guyana’s GDP and it also is the centre of major commercial business. The economy is resource-based. Georgetown businesses include: international trade in Demerara sugar, timber, bauxite, gold, and diamonds are exported through the Georgetown seaport and harbour. The cost of living in Georgetown, Guyana is high. Many items used in daily life are imported with high transportation cost. Monopoly operations in some business sectors also implies higher prices of common commodities.

Social

Of the 134,497 people accounted for by the 2002 Guyanese Census, about 70,962 (53%) listed themselves as Black/African; 31,902 (24%) as mixed; 26,542 (20%) as East Indian; 1,441 (1.1%) as Amerindian; 675 (0.5%) as Portuguese; 475 (0.35%) as Chinese; 2,265 (1.7%) as “don’t know/not stated”; 196 (0.15%) as white; 35 as “other”. The figure below shows the change in the Georgetown population by region over the last 3 census years (1980, 1991, 2002). (Source: 2010 Bureau of Statistics – Guyana, Accessed April 30, 2010, statisticsguyana.gov.gy).

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The figure below shows the Georgetown population ownership of household accommodations from the 2002 Census indicating that nearly one-half the sample own their household dwelling properties.

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The government has worked to rehabilitate all roads in the country in preparation for the ICC Cricket World Cup, West Indies 2007 such as the four-lane East Coast Highway was completed in 2005. This event was seen as a major opportunity to develop the tourism industry.

The Cheddi Jagan International Airport acts as the air transportation hub of the city, which is located on the right bank of the Demerara River, 41 kilometres south of Georgetown. Closer to the city is the newly-expanded Ogle Airport, with a new terminal facility geared to handle regional international and inter-Caribbean flights, connecting CARICOM states with the CARICOM Secretariat headquarters in Georgetown.

Georgetown_pic2Most of the main buildings in Georgetown are centred around the western region of the town. Independence Square and Promenade Gardens, the Walter Roth Museum of Anthropology, the National Library (built by Andrew Carnegie), the Bank of Guyana, the National Museum of Guyana and State House (built 1852) where the President resides, and St. George’s Anglican Cathedral are all located in and around the western-central area. There are many churches, mosques and mandirs in Georgetown.

In the south the neo-Gothic City Hall (1889) is to be found, as well as the Parliament Building (1829–1834), the large Stabroek Market (1792) containing the prominent cast-iron clock tower that dominates the city sky line. Georgetown is the seat of the University of Guyana and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat which are both located at Turkeyen, on the city’s outskirts.

The northern area of the city near the Atlantic coast contains many parks. The Georgetown Lighhouse is a famous landmark. The City is protected from the Atlantic Ocean by the Georgetown Seawall, the wall of concrete built along the foreshore with the sea in Guyana, mostly in Demerara. It is part of the battle against the Atlantic Ocean.

Cultural

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Georgetown, originally called Stabroek, is rich in natural resources, notably, timber, bauxite, gold and diamonds. The land supported sugar cane plantations that enriched earlier the colonial governments. The Spanish, Dutch, French and English all invested in this region and struggled to possess it. The Dutch initially established Stabroek modeled after a any tidy, Dutch city. The British occupied the Dutch colony during the Napoleonic Wars and renamed the capital, and largest city, in 1812 as Georgetown in honor of George III. British Guiana, as it was then called, was the center of border conflicts with its neighbours, Venezuela and Suriname. Guyana achieved independence from the United Kingdom on May 26, 1966 and became a republic on 23 February 1970 with Georgetown as it capital.

April 2010 © C-Change Secretariat (Canada) & C-Change Partners for Georgetown.

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