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There are two administrative districts: the coastal region of Cayenne, where 90% of the population lives, and the inland region of St. Laurent du Maroni.

The majority of the approximately 250,000 inhabitants live in the marshy lowlands along the coast. They are quite prosperous. In the inaccessible interior, the life of the people is completely different.

Most members of the population are Creole, a mixture of South American Indians and black Africans (descendants of slaves). Minorities include French and other Europeans (mainly living in Kourou), Lebanese, Indians and West Indians.

Six different Indian tribes live there: the Arawaks (in Cayenne), the Galibis (other coastal towns), the Palikours (at the mouth of the Oiapock), the Oiampis (near Tampoc and Camopi) and the Wayanas (near the source of the Maroni). The Oiampis, Emerillons and Wayanas live quite isolated and traditional lives, the other three tribes are westernised.

Along the rivers there are also settlements of the Saramanca, Boesch and Bonis, descendants of African slaves. In the interior, Hmong have settled, exiled members of a Laotian people group.

French Guiana was the only French colony on the South American continent and French influences are still noticeable. Culturally, the country does not belong to Latin America but is more reminiscent of the Caribbean. This has everything to do with the import of large numbers of African slaves in the 18th and 19th centuries.


The official language of French Guiana is French and is spoken by the majority of the population of the country. The language is used in government administration, education and is also the language used by the media. Furthermore, French-Creole and English are spoken. Indigenous languages are spoken by various tribes.


Most inhabitants of French Guiana (87%) are Roman Catholic. Other common religions are Protestantism and Hinduism. The Maroons and some Amerindian peoples maintain their own religions.


Elmar Landeninformatie


CIA - World Factbook

BBC - Country Profiles

Last updated June 2024
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