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Guyana History Timeline

1400s - 1700s

  • (1498) Christopher Columbus sighted Guyana
  • (1565) Sir Walter Raleigh exploration discovered land now known as Guyana
  • (1580) Dutch established trading posts upriver
  • (1598) First voyage to Guyana by the Dutch
  • (1621) Dutch West India Company received charter for Essequebo region
  • (1640) First African slaves arrived in colonies
  • (1666) War between England and Holland
  • (1780-1813) Guyana changed hands several times between Dutch, French, and British
1800s - 1900s
  • (1834) Slavery abolished
  • (1870) Kaieteur Falls on Potaro River in central Guyana discovered by geological survey team
  • (1879) Gold discovered; economic boom followed
  • (1899) Guyana's borders established by International Tribunal
  • (1961) Guyana granted full autonomy, Britain retained control over internal, defense matters; Jagan became prime minister
  • (1966) Guyana became independent, Burnham as prime minister
  • (1970) Guyana restructured government, became the "Republic of Guyana"
  • (1978) 900 members of religious sect committed suicide at Jonestown, sect leader Jim Jones
  • (1980) New constitution made Burnham first executive president
  • (1985) President Burnham died, Desmond Hoyte became president; economy began to deteriorate
  • (1992) Cheddi Jagan elected president
  • (1997) President Cheddi Jagan died; wife Janet Jagan won presidential election
  • (1998) Guyana police, US anti-drug agents seized three tons of cocaine on cargo ship
  • (1999) President Janet Jagan resigned due to health issues, Bharat Jagdeo succeeded
2000s
  • (2000) US, Japan, Europe, other industrial powers agreed to provide relief to 22 poor nations, including Guyana
  • (2001) Brazil signed trade agreement with Guyana; President Jagdeo re-elected
  • (2002) Caribbean Community trading bloc held summit in Guyana; Haiti admitted as 15th member
2000s continued
  • (2003) US embassy employee kidnapped, released after payment of ransom
  • (2004) Home Affairs Minister Ronald Gajraj travel visa revoked, Gajraj accused of organizing hit squad blamed for the deaths of more than 40 suspected criminals
  • (2004) Guyana cattle farmer assassinated after inquiry into alleged hit squad
  • (2005) Ronald Gajraj reappointed as interior minister after inquiry cleared him of direct involvement in killings of suspected criminals; Gajraj resigned
  • (2005) Guyanese lawmakers voted to raise age of female sexual consent from 13 to 16 years of age
  • (2006) President Bharrat Jagedo won another five- year term
  • (2007) UN decision awarded Guyana, rather than Suriname, most of disputed area of coastal Atlantic Ocean
  • (2008) President Jagdeo signed trade agreement with EU
  • (2009) Leaders of Brazil and Guyana met to inaugurate the $5 million Takutu River Bridge
  • (2010) American rower Katie Spotz (22) completed solo journey across Atlantic Ocean, touched pier in waters of Guyana to claim a record as youngest person to accomplish 2,817-mile feat

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This page was last updated on April 7, 2017.