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Guyana: West Demerara landscape

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West Demerara landscape | Guyana | Americas

[Visited: March 2008]

Whether you arrive by air or by road, you cannot help but wonder at the landscape of coastal Guyana. Is this the country of the rainforest? Is this the country with few inhabitants? Is this the country of rivers teeming with caimans, jaguars and macaws? The landscape is flat as a pancake, neatly organized with straight canals, dykes, and sluices, with one village after the other. Many of them have names like Uitvlugt or Weltevreeden - not the kind of exotic names you would expect here. Much of this land lies under sea level, and if you are here when a flood hits the country, you will immediately see the consequences.

Picture of West Demerara landscape (Guyana): Road, canal and cyclist in West Demerara

The coastal area is the surprise of the country, and looks much like the Netherlands. Which is, upon a second thought, not so strange. When the Dutch went to Guyana in the 17th century, they established colonies on the coastal areas and quickly realized that this land shared some characteristics with their home country. They constructed water irrigation systems, ingenuous ways to regulate water in- and outflow using so-called kokers, and a defensive sea wall against the mighty Atlantic Ocean. While there is much to see and do in the large part of Guyana that fulfills your expectations of this attractive country, visiting the coastal areas is equally interesting. Once you cross the pontoon bridge (one of the longest of its kind worldwide) taking you from Georgetown to Vreed en Hoop on the westbank, or West Demerara as it is called, you enter a landscape that could well be Dutch at first sight.

Picture of West Demerara landscape (Guyana): Sluice or koker in the seawall, with boat

When I crossed the countryside for the first time, I was amazed to see the flatness of the country, the general look of the countryside, as well as the canals and cows. It was so different from what I had seen previously in this country, so different of the associations one can have with Guyana. On my way back through the West Demerara region, I chartered a taxi and took my time to enjoy this completely different and overlooked area of the country. Hopefully climate change and raising sea levels will somehow spare this region, I thought as the sun was setting on the glistening waters and the driver prepared to turn for the pontoon bridge back to Georgetown.

Picture of West Demerara landscape (Guyana): Cow at a canal in West Demerara
Picture of West Demerara landscape (Guyana): Seawall and palm trees in West Demerara
Picture of West Demerara landscape (Guyana): Dyke and canal are typical ingredients of the West Demerara landscape
Picture of West Demerara landscape (Guyana): Canal in West Demerara
Picture of West Demerara landscape (Guyana): Typical landscape for the north of Guyana: flat land with rice fields
Picture of West Demerara landscape (Guyana): The landscape in West Demerara consists of many straight canals
Picture of West Demerara landscape (Guyana): Part of the defence system against the sea: canal in West Demerara

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