Guyana Government and Politics

Following the Constitution of 1980, last revised in 2001, Guyana is a democratic and unified state republic. According to, legislative power has been added to the National Assembly. It has 65 members, elected in direct elections for five years 40 of the seats elected on national party lists, the rest on regional lists. The executive is appointed a president, nominated by the National Assembly’s largest party and elected in direct elections for five years. The President appoints the Prime Minister and the Government, who are responsible to the National Assembly.

Guyana Country Flag

Reference: Guyana Flag Meaning

Ethnic tensions, economic crisis, growing repression, widespread corruption and growing isolation from the western world have characterized Guyana politics. Emigration and border disputes with Surinam and Venezuela have also helped to destabilize the government. The most important parties are the African-American People’s National Congress (PNC) and the Asian-based People’s Progressive Party (PPP), which is in coalition with the Civic Alliance (party based on the business environment).


Administratively, the country of Guyana is divided into 10 regions, each governed by an elected regional council. Also see AbbreviationFinder for abbreviation of GY and its meanings of Guyana.

The judiciary

The judiciary is characterized by British law. Local magistrates’ courts will be sentenced in the first instance. The Supreme Court is the Supreme Court, consisting of a Court of Appeal and a Supreme Court of Justice. Supreme Court decisions can be appealed to the Caribbean Court of Justice, which is based in Port of Spain, Trinidad.

Guyana’s defense

Guyana has a small and easily equipped defense force, which also handles semi-military internal security tasks. The country has received increased military support from Brazil in recent years. The total force figures for Guyana’s armed forces are 3400 active personnel, with a reserve of 670 personnel (2018, IISS).


The army has a workforce of 3000 active personnel. Materials include nine light trucks and medium-heavy artillery.

Air Force

The Air Force has a personnel force of 200 active personnel, four light transport aircraft and three helicopters.

The Navy

The Navy has a workforce of 200 active personnel and five patrol vessels.

History and Politics

The indigenous people

Around 10,000 BC The area of ‚Äč‚Äčtoday’s Guyanas was settled. The first hunters and gatherers came here via Central America. From 5000 BC They settled down. The Caribs and Arawak were particularly numerous among the indigenous peoples who lived here.

The Indians called this region Guiana: land of many waters. However, this meant a much larger area: It also included what is now Suriname and French Guiana, as well as parts of Venezuela and Brazil.

Dutch Guiana

While the Spaniards conquered Central and South America, the area further east aroused less interest among them. The Dutch took advantage of this and founded their first branch on the Pomeroon River in 1581. In 1616 their first colony was founded on Essequibo, which they named after the Essequibo river. In 1627 the colony of the same name followed on Berbice, and in 1745 the Demerara colony.

The area included the current states of Guyana and Suriname. The Dutch colonies were also known as the Dutch Guiana. The Dutch built plantations, mainly for sugar cane, but also for coffee, tobacco and cotton. They brought slaves here from Africa to farm them.

Conflicts with the English and the French

But the English and French also wanted to gain a foothold here. All three countries fought in several wars for European supremacy in the 17th and 18th centuries. In the Guiana area there were several changes of ownership of the colony. The English conquered the area for a short time in 1665 and 1781. It fell to France in 1782, back to the British in 1796, and back to the Netherlands in 1802.

British Colony (1814-1966)

In 1814 the British and Dutch signed a treaty that should now clarify their possessions. The Essequibo colony finally fell to the British. Demerara and Berbice came along. The whole colony was now run under the name of British Guiana. The area east of it, Suriname, remained with the Dutch.

In 1823 there was an uprising of more than 10,000 slaves in Demerara. They were led by the plantation worker Jack Gladstone and his father Quamina. The British brutally suppressed the uprising.

With the final abolition of slavery in 1834, the almost 85,000 black plantation workers left their jobs. Because there was now a lack of workers, the British began to recruit new farm workers in their colony in India from 1838. They were in the service for ten years, in return they received the passage, accommodation and a small payment. Anyone who stayed after their contract had expired received land. This system was practiced until 1917.

In addition to Indians, Portuguese (from Madeira) and Chinese were also brought into the country. But they quickly abandoned the plantation work and earned their money mainly in trading. Political power was in the hands of the white plantation owners.

Indo-Guyan and Afro-Guyan

The black slaves released in the 19th century had no land. The Indians who were laid off from work received land. This was the starting point for a conflict that continues to this day between the Indian and African ethnic groups of the country.

Schomburgk toured Guyana (1835-1839 and 1840-1844)

Robert Hermann Schomburgk was a German explorer. In 1835 he was sent to British Guiana by the British Geographical Society. Until 1839 he examined animals and plants there. Between 1840 and 1844 he traveled the border rivers to Venezuela and Suriname on behalf of the British government. The border line he established with Venezuela, the so-called Schomburgk Line, has not been recognized there (until today).

Foundation of the PPP and the PNC (1950 and 1957)

In 1950 Cheddi Jagan founded the PPP, the People’s Progressive Party. This is a politically left-wing party. It has its supporters mainly among the Indo-Guyans.

In 1957 the PNC (People’s National Congress) was founded. She is also politically left, but is mainly supported by Afro-Guyanese voters.

Independence 1966

On May 26, 1966 the country declared its independence and was now called Guyana.

1970s and 1980s: Forbes Burnham and the PNC

In 1970 Arthur Chung became the country’s first president after this office was newly created. Chung was non-party and of Chinese descent. The real power was in the hands of Prime Minister Forbes Burnham (PNC). Under Burnham in 1970, Guyana was declared a “Cooperative Republic”. Politics was oriented towards socialism. In 1980 Burnham became president. After his death in 1985, Desmond Hoyte followed him, also from the PNC.

In the 1970s and 1980s the economy struggled with major problems after the sugar factories in particular were nationalized. Poor harvests eventually drove the yield down even more. In 1989 a new economic program started under Hoyte, which was to lead from a state-controlled planned economy to a free market economy.

Rule of the PPP (1992-2015)

In 1992 Cheddi Jagan won the elections – the first to be considered free and fair internationally – and became president. After his death in 1997, his widow Janet Jagan took over the office. She resigned in 1999 for health reasons and Bharrat Jagdeo became the new president. He stayed in office until 2011. Donald Ramotar was then elected, he too belongs to the PPP.

2015: David Granger becomes President

In the elections in May 2015, an opposition alliance made up of APNU (A Partnership for National Unity) and AFC (Alliance for Change) won. Their candidate David Granger became the new president.

Guyana has life sentences for homosexuals and is the only country in South America to use the death penalty.

Guyana Head of Government

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