February 7, 2015

1443 FRANCE (French Guiana) - The map of French Guiana

French Guiana is the largest overseas department and region of France, located on the north Atlantic coast of South America, between Brazil and Suriname. Historically speaking, The Guianas (Las Guayanas in spanish) refers to a region in South America, north of the Amazon River and east of the Orinoco River, which includes French Guiana, Guyana (former British Guiana), Suriname (former Dutch Guiana), the Guayana Region in Venezuela (former Spanish Guyana), and Brazilian State of Amapá (former Portuguese Guiana). It consists of two main geographical regions: a coastal strip where the majority of the people live, and dense, near-inaccessible rainforest which gradually rises to the modest peaks of the Tumuc-Humac mountains along the Brazilian frontier.

The region was originally inhabited by ameridians, who forms now only about 3-4% of the population. The first French effort to colonize Guiana, in 1763, failed utterly when tropical diseases and climate killed all but 2,000 of the initial 12,000 settlers. Its infamous Île du Diable (Devil's Island) was the site of a small prison facility, which was operated from 1852 to 1953. During its existence, France transported approximately 56,000 prisoners to it, and fewer than 10% survived their sentence (Do you remember Papillon?). In addition, in the late 19th century, France began requiring forced residencies by prisoners who survived. In 1964, French president Charles de Gaulle decided to construct a space-travel base in Guiana, located a short distance along the coast from Kourou, now part of the European space industry.

Guiana has a very low population density of only 3 inhabitants per km2, with half of its 250,109 inhabitants in 2013 living in the metropolitan area of the capital city, Cayenne, located on the banks of the estuary of the  Cayenne River, founded as a permanent french settlement in 1664. Creoles, or Mulattoes (people of mixed African and French ancestry), are the largest ethnic group of the country, and the main group living in the interior are the Maroons, descendants of escaped African slaves. Guiana has some of the poorest soils in the world, so it is heavily dependent on mainland France for subsidies, trade, and goods. The main traditional industries are fishing, gold mining, and timber. In addition, the Guiana Space Centre plays a significant role in the local economy, directly and indirectly.

About the stamp
The stamp is part of the definitive series issued on  July 16, 2014, about which I wrote here.

French Guiana - Guiana

Sender: Mine Chu
Sent from Cayenne (French Guiana), on 15.11.2014

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