The original Guyanese are, of course, the Amerindian people, the Arawak and the Carib tribes who lived here before the Europeans settled in the 17th century. Originally mostly living in the interior of the country, the Europeans established colonies in the coastal areas and traded goods from there. Ultimately, it resulted in the current situation in which a large majority of Guyanese live near the Atlantic coast. Guyana is often dubbed the Land of Six Peoples; these six peoples include the Amerindians, people from African descent, East Indians, Chinese, Europeans and Portuguese (don't ask me why these two last categories are considered separate).
After the Dutch established three colonies, they started importing slaves from Africa to work on the sugar plantations and to carry out the hard work for building the defence systems against the Atlantic. When slavery was abolished in the 19th century, East Indians, Chinese and Portuguese came to work here as indentured servants. Nowadays, after several centuries of living together in the same country, the population is increasingly mixing. I sincerely hope that the Guyanese will treasure the richness of their ethnic diversity. The main ethnic groups are the East Indians and the Africans, while the Europeans and Portuguese are but minor groups. English is the main language, which can be considered a major advantage for many visitors; pronunciation is not always easy to understand for the foreign traveler.
Despite the warnings I got before traveling to Guyana, I almost only had good encounters with Guyanese people from any of the groups. The sincere smiles and vibrance of the blacks, the smartness of the East Indians, the modesty of the Amerindians; overall, they were as curious about me as a visitor than I was as in their lives. Sometimes, they seemed shy or insecure about how to deal with visitors, but it was easy to break the ice and then the Guyanese appeared very friendly people. Several times, people approached me with something I thought they would try to sell, only to find out that they put the object in my hands, walking away saying it was just a gift. Talking to some of the Amerindian people, I realized how many stories there are to be told in this country so closely linked to nature. Yes, Guyana is rightly known for its richness in nature, but its people are an asset of equal value to this country of waters.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Guyanese people (Guyana). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Guyanese people. Read more about this site.