Guyana is an 83,000 square mile South American nation with particularly close cultural ties with countries in the Caribbean region. Guyana is one of South America's smallest nations both in the area covered and the population with only 773,000 people living in the country according to estimates taken in 2016. Most of the country's population live along the coastal plains that make up 5% of the nation's territory. The state's largest city is Georgetown with a population exceeding 230,000 which is close to 30% of the total population. Guyana is a culturally diverse state due to the interaction of local communities and societies that moved to the country. The first European to set his eyes on the nation was Christopher Columbus in 1498. Control of the country shifted between the British and the Dutch with the Dutch having the distinction of being the first to establish colonies on the nation. In 1970, Guyana attained the status of a republic after gaining independence from Britain in 1966. Among all South American countries, Guyana is unique since English is the nation's official language. Guyana's border is approximately 1,815 miles, and it shares 1,530 miles of the border with three countries: Suriname, Venezuela, and Brazil.
Nations Bordering Guyana
Suriname and Guyana are separated by a border approximately 520 miles long. Despite the longstanding territorial issue between the two nations, they maintain an embassy in each other's capital. While Guyana was under British rule, the border with Suriname, which was under Dutch control at the time, was still a contentious issue. The British government planned to ensure that at the time of its independence all of Guyana's border issues were resolved and conducted negotiations with Suriname to no avail. The territory under contention is the Tigri area, and the two nations have had a dispute over the area since 1840. In 1969, forces from both countries were involved in a conflict at the border. The issue was resolved in 1971 when representatives of the two governments met in Trinidad and Tobago and agreed to withdraw their respective militaries from the contentious area. The Surinam government claims 6,000 square miles of land currently under the control of the Guyana government. Disputes have also arisen between the two countries along their maritime borders. In 2000, oil explorers from Guyana had a battle with Surinamese coast guards. International arbitration managed to resolve the maritime dispute between the two countries. The principle of equidistance was utilized to set the location of the boundary that separated the exclusive economic zones of the two countries.
The border between Venezuela and Guyana is approximately 490 miles long. Guyana maintains an embassy in Caracas as well as a consulate in Venezuela while Venezuela maintains an embassy in Georgetown. The border dispute between the two countries dates back to when both countries were under a colonial rule. Venezuela claims that territory, which was once part of the Dutch colony of Essequibo, should be under its control. The government of Guyana disputes the claim as the area was subdivided and is administered by several administrative regions such as Essequibo Islands-West Demerara. During the 1850's, gold was discovered in the contested region which led to a renewal of the conflict. During the time Guyana was under British rule, and despite the insistence or arbitration by Venezuela, the matter was not resolved as Britain was uninterested. The dispute led to Venezuela cutting off its diplomatic ties with Britain and requesting the assistance of America to solve the issue. Britain finally accepted American intervention after then American president, Grover Cleveland, threatened to invoke the Monroe doctrine and interfere in the dispute. In 1905, both nations agreed with the boundary proposed to them although in 1962 Venezuela presented a claim for the territory that is yet to be resolved. The land being contested also includes a region in the Orinoco basin that has vast deposits of minerals. The dispute between the two nations also involves their maritime border. A maritime territory claimed by both states has been found to have vast oil deposits causing Guyana to unilaterally give Exxon Mobil, an oil company, permission to explore the area. Guyana's decision angered the Venezuelans who called for dialogue to resolve the issue.
The boundary between Brazil and Guyana is approximately 812 miles long and is the longest of Guyana's borders. Guyana and Brazil have traditionally had a positive relationship since the country's independence. Guyana has an embassy in Brazil as well as two consulates; one in Rio De Janiero and the other in Boa Vista. The Brazilian government is represented by an embassy in the capital Georgetown as well as a vice consulate in the city of Lethem. The relationship between the two nations is affected by Guyana's relationship with Cuba. An allegation in 1975 by America that Guyana was aiding Cuban troops who at the time were involved in the Angolan civil war. The Brazilian government ordered its military to undertake military exercises along the border with Guyana. Brazil and Guyana cooperate on many issues such as the war on drugs with Brazil allegedly conducting an operation in Guyana in 2002 to cripple the activities of drug traffickers by destroying some airstrips they operated. The airfields were located in a region of Guyana that Suriname had previously claimed. Brazil and Guyana also work together on infrastructure projects such as the highway linking the two countries that were completed in the early 1990's.
The borders of a country are integral to its safety. The steps a nation will take to safeguard its borders are mainly dependent on the relationship it has with its neighbours. Countries that historically have cordial relationships tend to have fewer border controls. Countries defend their borders mainly to prevent the entry of contraband substances as well as individuals who would pose a threat to their security. Governments also collect taxes on products coming into their borders. Methods of ensuring border security vary with countries with some having a barrier along their borders. A military presence is common along the borders of most nations to maintain the security.
About the Author
Benjamin Elisha Sawe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Statistics and an MBA in Strategic Management. He is a frequent World Atlas contributor.
Your MLA Citation
Your APA Citation
Your Chicago Citation
Your Harvard CitationRemember to italicize the title of this article in your Harvard citation.