Guyana Overview

Ramotar sworn in as seventh Executive President

By Stabroek editor
Saturday, December 3, 2011

Donald Ramotar was this afternoon sworn in as the country’s seventh executive president at State House.

In a brief address after the oath was administered President Ramotar said he will name his cabinet in 48 hours but that this should not hinder cooperation with political parties on other matters.

At several points during his address he recognized the new circumstances produced by the elections where for the first time since 1992 the PPP/C does not control Parliament.

He said it was now time to “cast aside the partisan cloak” and “put on national garb”. He “invited Guyanese from all our political parties and all or civic and religious groups” to engage in the further development of the country over the next five years.

He said with the new make-up of parliament, all sides have to work together. He said he knew it will not be easy but said he is prepared to work beyond the call of duty to ensure that the country did not regress.

“This new arrangement in our Parliament will no doubt test our maturity as political leaders”, Ramotar said.

Noting that presidential candidates of the parties had held brief discussions in Parliament on the day of the release of the official results, Ramotar said that these discussions will continue.

He said he believed that the various parties can work together will all other stakeholders for the betterment of the country. He pledged to use all of his energy and the influence of his office as president to make Guyana a better place.

Earlier in his address he expressed gratitude to outgoing President Bharrat Jagdeo who smiled broadly as he was recognised. President Ramotar said that Jagdeo had provided “exemplary service” to the country and that the nation was indebted to him for his “phenomenal” work.

He also thanked his wife Deolatchmee and his children, his comrades in the PPP/Civic, his extended family and the Essequibo River community of Caria Caria. He said he knew life was not easy for political families in the PPP and was therefore recognising all of the others.


ocated on the littoral of South America between Suriname on the east, Brazil on the south and Venezuela on the west and with its northern shores caressed by the warm waters of the Atlantic Ocean, is the Republic of Guyana. Guyana is a relatively small developing country of 83,000 square miles. Better known in the history books as "Demerara" or "British Guiana," Guyana has a multi-ethnic population of just over 800,000 people which reflects the country's immigrant history.

The largest ethnic group is the descendants of the East Indian indentured labourers from India. The descendants of Africans who were brought as slaves from West Africa, comprise the next largest ethnic group. Other significant groups are the native Amerindians, (who it is believed, came originally from Mongolia) Chinese and Europeans, many of the latter being of Portuguese extraction. Like the Indians and the Chinese, the Portuguese who came to "Demerara" mainly from Madeira, the Azores and Cape Verde, were indentured labourers. During colonial rule they were regarded as separate and apart from other Europeans because of their indentured status. Due to many years of interracial marriage, a large segment of Guyana's population today is racially and ethnically mixed.

The name "Guyana" is derived from an Amerindian word which means "land of many waters." It is certainly an apt description of this sub-tropical country with its intricate network of rivers, streams, numerous rapids and waterfalls. Among the more notable of its waterways is the so-called Hot and Cold Lake which is one body of water in which the temperature varies from extreme hot to cold. Better known internationally, is the famous Kaieteur Falls where the continuous perpendicular drop of a large volume of water for 741 feet makes it the highest waterfall in the world.

Georgetown is the capital city of Guyana. It is a port city and the main commercial and administrative center of the country. With a checker-board street layout, tree-lined avenues, well manicured parapets and an interesting mix of architectural designs, Georgetown has often been referred to as the "Garden City of the Caribbean." It is an accolade of which all Guyanese are proud. Although Guyana is geographically a South American nation, it has always been historically, politically and culturally linked to the English-speaking Caribbean. The official language is Engfish, making Guyana the only English-speaking country on the continent. An English-based Creole dialect called Creolese is widely used as an informal means of communication. The indigenous Amerindians have maintained their many dialects, while Hindi and Urdu are used almost exclusively for religious purposes by Hindus and Muslims respectively.

The earliest records of Guyana's history date to the sixteenth century when Spanish conquistadores discovered the Guianas. After being settled by the Dutch in the seventeenth century, there was a succession of conflicts among the Dutch, the French and the British for outright possession of the then colonies of Essequibo, Demerara and Berbice which today comprise the three counties of Guyana. In 1814, these three colonies were ceded to the British who, in 1831, merged them into one colony which they called British Guiana. Guyana gained her independence from Britain in 1966 and in 1970 (became a Republic within the British Commonwealth of Nations). Guyana is one of the Charter Members of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).