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French Guiana / Guyane Française

Unique, Guyana is located on the South American continent, and has borders with Brazil and Suriname. French Guiana has been a French overseas Department since 1946, and as such is subject to French and European law. French Guiana’s economy is dependent on that of France through trade and subsidies. About 90% of its surface of 84,000 km 2 is Amazonian rain forest; the remaining 10% in the north is a coastal plain where 90% of the inhabitants live and Cayenne and surroundings contain almost 50% of the population in 2009.

Cayenne is the capital of Guyana, where the prefecture and the headquarters of the territorial community are located. The State is represented by a prefect and a sub-prefect in Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni. Guyana is one of the outermost regions (RUPs) of the European Union.

The Félix Eboué international airport, in the agglomeration of Cayenne, offers flights to and from the French West Indies, Brazil and France.

The Guyanese and Guyanese are represented in Parliament by two MPs and two senators. Three MEPs represent all of France's overseas parliament in Strasbourg. A member of the Economic, Social and Environmental Council (EESC) originates from this territory.

Guyana is an associate member of the Association of Caribbean States (ACS), which promotes economic, social and cultural relations in the regional environment.

Demonstrations and large events intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational. Avoid areas of demonstrations and exercise caution in the vicinity of any large gathering. Its remoteness and distance from Europe keeps it relatively isolated from civil disturbances and domestic issues.

Foreign nationals account for 35 percent of its population, as opposed to 6.4 percent in mainland France. Yet the local job market and infrastructure have not been able to handle the influx, leaving essential services, such as hospitals and schools, severely overstretched. The ensuing social ills, coupled with the difficulties inherent to policing such a wide territory, have led to a surge in crime. With 42 homicides in 2016, Guiana has by far the highest murder rate of any French département.

Migration is not the only factor behind Guiana’s population boom. With 26 births per 1,000 inhabitants, the overseas territory has a birth rate more than twice as high as France’s national average – which is already the highest in Europe. The demographic surge could be contained if the population had greater access to family planning and education, but such facilities are often inaccessible to residents of shantytowns and isolated forest villages. Teaching methods, which mirror practices in mainland France, are sometimes ill-adapted to local needs, particularly those of indigenous communities that don’t share the same culture and may not speak French.

Thirty years after the first HIV case in French Guiana, the drivers of the epidemic are not clearly known, but the epidemic is usually conceptualized as generalized. Cross-linking results from a study in the general population and a study in the HIV-infected population in Cayenne suggests that in the general population of HIV-positive men, 45% of HIV cases are attributable to having sex with someone they paid. Similarly, for HIV-positive women exchanging sex for presents or money, 10.7% of HIV cases are attributable to transactional sex. A surprising finding was that 16.8% of HIV patients had tried crack cocaine before. On the Maroni river, the female-biased sex ratio suggests the drivers in that remote area may be related to cultural polygyny.

Malaria and dengue fever (DF) represent two major public health concerns in French Guiana. Malaria is endemic and the annual number of cases ranges from 3,200 to 4,700. Dengue fever and malaria are the most common arthropod-borne diseases in humans and represent major public health problems. Dengue virus (family Flaviridae, genus Flavivirus) and Plasmodium parasites are widespread in American and Asian tropical regions and their endemic areas overlap extensively. Co-infection of dengue and malaria was first reported in 2005. There is a greater risk of low blood platelet counts and anaemia in instances of co-infection of dengue and malaria. The recognition of the risk involved with co-infection of dengue and malaria in French Guiana, or other tropical environments, can be implemented into health policy.

“Overseas territories are important to France, but their inhabitants are completely ignored,” argued historian and political analyst Françoise Vergès, lamenting the territories’ “structural backwardness”. She added: “There are many different languages and communities in Guiana. What prospects do the young have? How will they find their place in this world?”

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Page last modified: 31-03-2017 19:40:14 ZULU