First Published: 5th of July, 2022 by Patrick CarpenLast updated: August 16, 2023 at 2:52 am
People sometimes get confused: if Guyana is located in South America, then why is it sometimes referred to as the Caribbean? The answer is that Guyana belongs to both South America and the Caribbean. Confusing? Sort of. But here is a healthy explanation. Guyana is geographically a part of South America, but it is culturally and historically a part of the Caribbean.
While Guyana is located in the continent of South America, and not in the Caribbean Sea, the people of Guyana share a similar history and culture to many Caribbean countries. For example, like many Caribbean countries, we were colonized by Great Britain and later granted independence.
Guyana also shares the same population history as many Caribbean countries: the indigenous peoples were there first, followed by the Europeans who set up sugar plantations and brought African slaves to toil. Following the abolition of slavery, East Indian indentured workers were brought.
Most of South America, on the other hand, was colonized by the Spanish, with the exceptions of South America’s largest nation, Brazil, which was colonized by the Portuguese, Suriname, which was colonized by the Dutch, Guyana, which was colonized by the British, and French Guiana, which is a French overseas territory. Because most of South America speak either Spanish, French, or Portuguese – all of which are Latin based languages, the South American continent is often referred to as “Latin America.” Guyana certainly doesn’t fit well into the box of “Latin American” countries even though it is geographically inside the Latin American continent.
The Language barrier between Guyana and other Latin American countries, which speak mostly Spanish or Portuguese, has made it difficult for Guyana to forge strong ties or partnerships with the Latin American community. Nevertheless, there is some amount of cooperation and trade between Guyana and its Latin American counterparts.
On the other hand, Guyana shares strong ties with Caribbean countries because they speak the same language, English, and because they have a similar history and goals. Like many other Caribbean countries, Guyana is also struggling to build a name for itself after cutting ties with the British Empire.
To this end, Caribbean countries, with which Guyana readily identifies, have formed the Caribbean Common Market, or CARICOM, which aims to promote trade and business between member states. Suriname, which shares a similar history, culture, and population to Guyana, is also part of CARICOM even though it is geographically also in South America.
As you can see, Guyana is geographically part of South America, but it has been adopted by the Caribbean because of their strong historical, linguistic, and cultural bonds.