French Guiana - Facts

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  • French Guiana (Guyane) is an overseas department of France, sandwiched between Brazil and Suriname. The atmosphere in the country is more Caribbean, akin to Martinique and Guadeloupe than to the rest of Latin America.
  • The largest city and capital of French Guiana is Cayenne. It is the hub of the region’s economy, government, and culture and is located on the northeast coast.
  • The population of French Guiana is estimated to be 300,000. French is the official language, however, the majority of the population speaks a Creole patois. English is widely spoken.
  • The currency of French Guiana is the euro (EUR).
  • The time zone is UTC -3. The French Guiana Time applies only to French Guiana.
  • The country’s climate is tropical, with average temperatures of 27°C throughout the year, though it can be colder at night in the highlands than on the coast. See Weather for more details.
  • The coast itself has only a few ports or anchorages, but the offlying Iles du Salut (location of the infamous penal colony of Devils Island) is a popular stop for sailors. These islands should only be visited after having cleared into the country. The best anchorage is on Ile St Joseph, although there are no completely protected anchorages.
  • Also interesting to visit is the Ariane Space Centre at Kourou, west of Cayenne, although an appointment has to be made in advance. River trips, usually by canoe, are another attraction of this small country, which is only visited by a small number of cruising yachts, mainly French.
  • The Oyapok River, which borders Brazil, is navigable far into the interior rainforest. At the other end of the country, bordering Suriname is the Maroni River, which is also occasionally visited by yachts
  • Provisioning is good, but expensive in Cayenne (except for French wine). There is only a limited range of repair facilities. Good provisioning is available in Kourou, where emergency repairs may be possible if the help of technicians from the French space center can be enlisted. For details of services for cruising boats see Yachting Essentials.

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French Guiana was last updated 4 months ago.

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