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French Guiana facts for kids

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Overseas department of France
Flag of France.svg
Coat of arms of French Guyana.svg
Country  France
Divisions 2 arrondissements, 22 communes
Préfecture Cayenne
Highest point Bellevue de l'Inini
 - location Guiana Shield
 - elevation 851 m (2,792 ft)
 - coordinates 3°32′N 53°34′W / 3.533°N 53.567°W / 3.533; -53.567
Lowest point Atlantic Ocean
 - elevation m (0 ft)
Area 83,533.9 km² (32,253 sq mi)
Population 252,338 (2014)
Density 3 /km² (8 /sq mi)
President Rodolphe Alexandre
Timezone GFT (UTC-03)
ISO 3166-2 FR-GF

French Guiana (French: Guyane) is an overseas department and region of France, on the north Atlantic coast of South America. By land area, it is the second largest region of France and the largest overseas department of France and of the European Union.

Its prefecture and largest city is Cayenne.


Guiana comes from an Amerindian language (Arawak) that means "land of many waters". The addition of the word "French" in most languages other than French comes from colonial times when there were five in the region; they were, from west to east:

  1. Spanish Guiana (now Guayana Region in Venezuela)
  2. British Guiana (now Guyana)
  3. Dutch Guiana, (now Suriname)
  4. French Guiana (now Guyane)
  5. Portuguese Guiana (now Amapá in Brazil).

French Guiana and the two larger countries to the north and west, Guyana and Suriname, are still often collectively referred to as the Guianas and form the Guiana Shield.


Guyane map-en
Geographic map of French Guiana

French Guiana borders two countries: Surinam to the west, and Brazil to the east and south. To the north is the Atlantic Ocean. There are two main geographical regions: a coastal strip where the majority of the people live, and a dense rainforest which gradually rises to the modest peaks of the Tumuc-Humac mountains along the Brazilian frontier.

The highest point in the department is Bellevue de l'Inini (3°35′N 53°31′W / 3.583°N 53.517°W / 3.583; -53.517 (Bellevue de l'Inini)) in the Maripasoula commune; it is (851 m (2,792 ft)) high. Other mountains are Mont Machalou (782 m [2,566 ft]), Pic Coudreau (711 m [2,333 ft]) and Mont St Marcel (635 m [2,083 ft]).

Several small islands are found off the coast, the three Îles du Salut which include Devil's Island, and the isolated Îles du Connétable further along the coast towards Brazil.

The Petit-Saut Dam in the north of the department forms an artificial lake and provides hydroelectricity. There are many rivers in French Guiana.

It is the French department with more forests, 98% of the department is covered with an equatorial forest.

As of 2007, the Amazon rainforest in the most southern part of the department, is protected as the Guiana Amazonian Park, one of the ten national parks of France. The territory of the park covers some 33,900 square kilometres (13,100 sq mi) in the communes of Camopi, Maripasoula, Papaïchton, Saint-Élie and Saül.


The climate in Cayenne, at an altitude of 9 m (30 ft) above sea level, is of the subtype Af (Tropical Rainforest Climate also known as Equatorial Climate) in the Köppen climate classification.

The average temperature for the year in Cayenne is 26.7 °C (80.1 °F). The warmest month, on average, is September with an average temperature of 27.2 °C (81.0 °F). The coolest month on average is January, with an average temperature of 26.1 °C (79.0 °F).

The average amount of precipitation for the year in Cayenne is 3,205.5 mm (126.2 in). The month with the most precipitation on average is May with 513.1 mm (20.2 in) of precipitation. The month with the least precipitation on average is September with an average of 43.2 mm (1.7 in). There is an average of 201.0 days of precipitation, with the most precipitation occurring in May with 27.0 days and the least precipitation occurring in September with 5.0 days.


The department of French Guiana is managed by the Collectivité territorial de la Guyane in Cayenne.

Administrative divisions

There are 2 arrondissements (districts) and 22 communes (municipalities) in French Guiana. The cantons of the department were eliminated on 31 December 2015 by the Law 2011-884 of 27 July 2011.

Arrondissement Capital Population
9731 Cayenne Cayenne 164,489 42,588.9 3.9 14
9732 Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni 87,849 40,945.0 2.1 8

The 22 communes in the department are:

Commune Population
Area Density
Arrondissement of Cayenne
97302 Cayenne 55,817 23.60 2,365.13 Le Centre Littoral
97307 Matoury 31,934 137.20 232.76 Le Centre Littoral
97304 Kourou 25,868 2,160.00 11.98 Les Savanes
97309 Remire-Montjoly 21,787 46.11 472.50 Le Centre Littoral
97305 Macouria 11,209 378.00 29.61 Le Centre Littoral
97308 Saint-Georges 3,960 2,320.00 1.71 L'Est Guyanais
97310 Roura 3,537 3,902.50 0.91 Le Centre Littoral
97312 Sinnamary 2,984 1,340.00 2.23 Les Savanes
97313 Montsinéry-Tonnegrande 2,477 737.20 3.36 Le Centre Littoral
97303 Iracoubo 1,931 2,762.00 0.70 Les Savanes
97356 Camopi 1,751 10030.00 0.17 L'Est Guyanais
97301 Régina 968 12130.00 0.08 L'Est Guyanais
97314 Ouanary 147 1,080.00 0.14 L'Est Guyanais
97358 Saint-Élie 119 5,680.00 0.02 Les Savanes
Arrondissement of Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni
97311 Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni 44,169 4,830.00 9.14 L'Ouest Guyanais
97353 Maripasoula 10,984 18,360.00 0.60 L'Ouest Guyanais
97306 Mana 9,916 6,332.60 1.57 L'Ouest Guyanais
97360 Apatou 8,040 2,020.00 3.98 L'Ouest Guyanais
97357 Grand-Santi 6,656 2,123.00 3.14 L'Ouest Guyanais
97362 Papaichton 6,572 2628.00 2.50 L'Ouest Guyanais
97361 Awala-Yalimapo 1,364 187.40 7.28 L'Ouest Guyanais
97322 Saül 148 4,475.00 0.03 L'Ouest Guyanais


The inhabitants of French Guiana are known, in French, as Guyanais (women: Guyanaises).

French Guiana has a population, in 2014, of 252,338, for a population density of 3.0 inhabitants/km2. The city with more people living in it is the capital, Cayenne (55,817 inhabitants). The subprefecture of Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni has 44,169 inhabitants.


The main traditional industries are fishing, gold mining and timber. In addition, the Guiana Space Centre has played a significant role in the local economy since it was established in Kourou in 1964.

Devils Island Prison

Three Islands off the countires coast were USed by the French Government from 1852 to 1953 as Prison Islands. They were:

  • Royale ISland
  • Saint-Joseph Island used for solitary confinement in silence and darkness for escape attempts
  • Devils Island for political prisoners [Dreyfus was kept here]

Convicts who were sentenced to more than 8 years and survied and served their terms could not return to France but were required to stay on as involunatary settlers for the rest of their lives.
Famous Inmate:


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See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Guayana Francesa para niños

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