In 1500, the first French ship landed, just after the crossing of Christopher Columbus in Guyana. But it is only in 1644 that the real European commercial establishment began. In 1902, because of the tragic eruption of the volcano “Pelée” in Martinique, many people immigrated to this Latin America coast.
Today, the visiting the isolated villages or Cayenne, the Guyanese capital – show an unexpected cultural mix. The spirit of celebration is omnipresent, including the traditional carnival. Each community has adopted a special craft: basket making for the Amerindian (don’t miss the “couleuvre”: this is a strange tube braided with plant fiber which extracts the non-drinkable juice of the manioc), and sculpted wood.
Museum of the Guyanese cultures is located inside a beautiful Creole house, in Cayenne.
The history of a slave labor
Since 1852, more than 2.000 people have been sent to different camps or forts in Guyana, isolated in the jungle or on islands far from Cayenne and Kourou (Devil’s Island). There was also a prison for women at Mana! The history of famous convicts (Dreyfus, Papillon, Seznec…) permits us to denounce this prison system that didn’t close until1946. The Royal Island and its former prison can be visited (boat shuttle from Kourou).
The future of Guyana is linked to the Space Center of Kourou, one the most important site of rocket launches in the world. The European Space Agency is set along 50km of the coastline. You can even watch a launch from the Carapa observation site.