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In 1781 war broke out between the Dutch and the British over ownership of the colony, resulting in a year of British control over Guyana.In 1782 the French seized power and governed for two years, during which time they created the new town of Longchamps at the mouth of the Demerara River.With a slave labor force, which consisted of men and women forcibly removed from their native Africa, the farms began to grow in size and in yield.The success of the Dutch venture encouraged the development of sugar plantations in other inland regions of Guyana.About 91 percent of the Guyanese population is literate—one of the highest rates among new nations of the world.

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It was not until 1499 that Alonso de Ojeda became the first Spaniard to actually set foot on the land that would later be known as Guyana.

Larger than the rest of the English-speaking Caribbean put together, it sprawls across 83,000 square miles of the northeastern coast of South America, bounded on the west by Venezuela, on the southwest by Brazil, and on the east by Suriname.

Its northern boundary consists of 250 miles of coastline on the Atlantic Ocean.

The major religious holidays of each of the three faiths—Christianity, Hinduism, and Islam—are observed nationally. Amerindian dialects and East Indian tongues are spoken as well, and three major Indian languages—Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu—are still in use among the Indo-Guyanese.

Each of a dozen native groups speaks a different Carib, Arawak, or Warrau dialect.

The Caribs roamed the heavily forested regions of the interior.