If you plan on visiting South America anytime soon, it might interest you to learn more about the region. French Guiana is one destination that will certainly intrigue your adventurous spirit. Geographically it may be miniature compared to the larger South American countries, but where it falls short in size, it more than adequately makes up for its rich history. We take a look at some of the most amazing French Guiana facts that may have you considering a visit to this little country as your next exploratory destination.
1. It is a French territory
Despite being 4,403 miles away from France and situated in South America, French Guiana has been a French territory since 1797, making it the only Americas mainland territory to have full integration in a European country. The French have remarkably been inhabitants of this South American country since as far back as 1624. Bordering Suriname to the West and Brazil to the East and South, French Guiana is a country rich in French history and is sure to offer some insights to the European culture.
2. Leatherback turtle’s nesting paradise
Witnessing the spectacle of nesting turtles is certain to offer a thrill to any adventurous explorer out there. If you are a turtle nesting enthusiast, then French Guiana beaches would offer among the best sightseeing opportunities. Famously known for being a haven for nesting turtles and particularly the leatherback turtles, French Guiana beaches offer the best sightings of nesting leatherback turtles from April to July every year during the turtle nesting period that spans through six months from March to August.
3. Home to ‘Le Centre Spatial Guyanais’
It will be easier to refer to it as the Guiana Space Centre if its French name proves a little bit challenging to pronounce. Since its formation on 14th April of 1964 under the jurisdiction of the French government, the Guiana Space Centre has served as a facilitating launchpad from which essential supplies, as well as satellites, are launched into space. Recent launches have, however, stalled due to the current worldwide Coronavirus pandemic.
4. Home to the Devil’s Island
A criminal’s nightmare and considered to be among the worst places dreaded by French convicts, Cayenne’s penal colony, otherwise known as the devil’s island, has throughout its history made a name for itself as one of the most intolerable maximum-security prisons ever developed. While there may be some exaggeration regarding the tales surrounding this offshore facility’s operations, the devil’s island has remained a mystifying phenomenon since its foundation in 1852 to its closure in 1953 and stretching even beyond its closure as it continues to intrigue modern-day explorers.
5. There is sustainable agricultural activity despite unfavorable conditions.
Sustainable and successful agricultural activity heavily depends on soil fertility and beneficial mineral levels in the ground to support farming. While French Guiana considerably lacks in terms of favorable soil mineral levels, its citizens have found a way to engage in beneficial agricultural activities successfully. They have subsequently been able to sustainably provide themselves with various agricultural products such as bananas, rice, cocoa, sugar, manioc, and various types of vegetables. They as well engage in livestock and fish farming to support their livelihoods.
6. Relatively constant temperature throughout the year
Owing to the country’s tropical geographical location, French Guianese are favorably subjected to tropical climates with hot and humid weather through the most part of every year. There is considerably little temperature variation throughout the year in French Guiana; this makes the country ideal for vacationing and get-away.
7. The Euro is the official currency
French Guiana may be in South America and thousands of miles from Europe. Still, European influence is experienced almost as closely as if the country was physically in Europe. With the Euro as French Guiana’s officially recognized national currency, the country uniquely identifies itself as having established European ties of binding nature compared to other South American countries.
8. Getting around may be a little bit challenging
Despite being a French territory and even utilizing the Euro as their national currency, the country’s transportation system is significantly underdeveloped compared to most of the European countries. More often than not, visitors are forced to depend on hitchhikes and well-wishers to get them from one location to another. Hiring a car is an option, even though it would be a considerably costly one. Another option would be catching a ride on a hired bus that offers significantly limited options. French Guianese citizens are, however, welcoming and hospitable and are known to offer rides either for free or on a shared basis.
9. The Cayenne pepper owes its name to the capital of French Guiana
As the name would suggest, the spicy cayenne pepper gets its name from the capital city of French Guiana. Cayenne, as the capital is known, is identified by its 17th-century old town district that predominantly embodies the French culture. It also serves as the Atlantic Ocean port of French Guiana. You might be thinking of French Guiana’s capital the next time you use cayenne pepper as an ingredient.
10. There is relatively high life expectancy
Life expectancy across the world has considerably reduced over the past years. This has been attributed to several factors, including both natural and artificial. Thus, the average life expectancy from around the world was recorded at 72 years in 2016. In French Guiana, Life expectancy has been recorded at slightly above the global average. At an average of 77 years, French Guianese citizens live a slightly longer life than the average witnessed worldwide.
French Guiana is a lovely country in the Caribbean offering tropical climate and an experience worth exploring. With its predominantly French history, this South American country offers an experience in European culture and ways of life. A visit to French Guiana will certainly fulfill your adventurous spirit.