|Dominion of Guiana
File:Locator Guiana.pngLocation of Guiana
|British Guiana pound
Guiana or Guyana is a country on the northern mainland of South America bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the north, Equador to the south and southwest, Colombia to the west, and Palissandria to the east. It is the 2nd least populous nation in South America & one of the only two whose official language is English. The majority of the population, however, speak Guyanese Creole, an English-based creole language, as their primary language.
The region known as "the Guianas" consists of the large shield landmass north of the Amazon River and east of the Orinoco River known as the "land of many waters". There are nine indigenous tribes residing in Guiana: the Wai Wai, Macushi, Patamona, Lokono, Kalina, Wapishana, Pemon, Akawaio and Warao. Historically dominated by the Lokono and Kalina tribes, Guiana was colonized by the Dutch before coming under British control in the late 18th century.
In the mid 17th century, the region where Guiana is located today was divided between the Dutch Republic and Kingdom of England. The Dutch had control over a few trading points in the mouth of the Essequibo River, while England established the colony of Surinam west of the Courantyne River. Surinam was composed of a few dozen sugar plantations and around a thousand settlers. After the Second Anglo-Dutch War (1664-1667), the region was re-organized by the Treaty of Breda (1667). According to the treaty, the Guianas were considered to be status quo ante bellum, staying the same as prior to the conflict.
In 1795, the Dutch Republic government was dissolved and substituted by a French puppet state, the Batavian Republic. The stadtholder of the Dutch Republic escaped to Great Britain, and led the Dutch government in exile. During this period Britain received permission to occupy the Dutch overseas holdings until peace was reestablished in the European continent. In late 1795, the Dutch small outposts in Essequibo were occupied.
Guiana in the 19th century
Penal Colony of Guiana
By the end of the Augustine Wars, the northwestern part of the colony, formerly Dutch Guiana, was transferred to Britain. The colony of Guiana had an economy based upon sugar plantations, that until 1833, were heavily dependent on slave labor. After the abolishment of the practice, the colony production was still under a almost slavery like condition. Payments were low, work conditions unhealthy and exhausting hours of work under the heat. Due to this conditions, the colony saw a great influx of former slaves leaving to other locations, particularly to Colombia. This migration made the workforce to the sugar plantations get lower, and threatened the production numbers. To overcome this situation, the Guiana colonial government started recruiting workforce especially from India in the mid 1830s. Also in the 1830s, Georgetown became the main port of dispatch of convicts. Due to the First Virginian War For Independence starting in 1833, Britain needed a new place touse a penal colony during and after the turmoil, and Guiana was perfect place for this, since the convicts could be used to further develop the region. This police lasted until the late 1860s. The people brought from Europe started to work on the sugar production or other services for a variety of time periods until their sentences were forgiven. After the time of sentence ended, the majority of former convicts chose to leave the colony. Virginia and Carolina were the places which received them the most. With the passage of the 19th century, descendants of ex-convicts developed into a white middle class in the colony, which had a few more privileges than the Indian and remaining black population.
The Roraima Dispute
In 1890, Guiana and Equador signed a treaty ending their territorial dispute in northeastern Roraima. The region was initially explored by British missionaries with two goals: convert natives and acquire knowledge of the possibility of the existence of precious minerals since the 1840's. In the late 19th century, Equadorian explorers interested in mapping the north of the country encountered British outposts in the region. With the maps of the time having a lot of inconsistency about the borders in the deep Amazon, a territorial dispute started.
In 1888, the government of Equador send a direct message to York demanding which to order the dismantling of the operations in Roraima. The demands were denied in a letter sent to Belém a few weeks later. In response to the denial, Equador started to build military outposts in the region claimed by Britain. This move raised the tension in the region. In 1889, Guiana started to arm its outposts as well. In the same year, a letter explaining the situation was sent to Britain. Not willing to deal with a minor dispute, the British government agreed to discuss the problem with Equadorian envoys in London. In may of 1890, was decided to end the dispute by dividing the region under litigation into two almost equal sized areas, therefore drawing the border officially.