The Co-operative Republic of Guyana is a country in South America bordered by Suriname, Venezuela, Brazil, and the Atlantic Ocean. Guyana is the third smallest nation in the mainland continent and the second nation with the least population. It is home to nine indigenous tribes, namely, Patamona, Wapishana, Warao, the Wai Wai, Lokono, Macushi, Pemon, Kalina, and Akawaio. The country is in the Caribbean region. It belongs to the Anglophone Caribbean and is also the only country in South America that uses English as its official language. Guyana was once a British territory and became independent as a dominion on May 26, 1966. On February 23, 1970, it became a republic and is currently a member of the Commonwealth.
Guyana’s economy demonstrated moderate growth during recent years, relying mainly on agriculture, mineral extractions, timber, gold and bauxite mining, and shrimp fishing. Along with rice, these export commodities contribute about 60% of Guyana’s GDP. These staple products are not only flexible with the fluctuating prices but can also withstand the country’s adverse weather conditions.
In 2006, Guyana entered into the Caricom Single Market and Economy. This action has opened the country to its export market for raw materials. In 2005, a major flood occurred in Georgetown which is Guyana’s capital. The flood had impacted the economy at an estimated amount of US$465 million which is about 59% of the country’s GDP. Following the catastrophe, Guyana has recovered because of remittances and foreign investments in the mining industry as well as the rice and sugar sectors. However, the country still lacks expert workers and infrastructure. The nation became heavily indebted caused by its state-led development projects implemented in the 1970s and 1980s. The Guyanan government struggles in maintaining a balance between its paying off its substantial debt and the necessity for funding the expansion of public investment.
In March 2007, Guyana’s debt of about $470 million was written-off by the Inter-American Development Bank. That debt tantamount to approximately 48% of the nation’s GDP, bringing its debt-to-GDP ratio down to 120% in 2007 from 183% in 2006. As a result of the global economic crisis in 2009 and 2010, Guyana experienced an economic downturn and generated lower revenue from exports.
Guyana’s official currency is the Guyanese dollar which was introduced on January 29, 1839. Banknote issuers were private banks such as the Colonial Bank and the British Guyana Bank until the Bank of Guyana was formed in 1965. The 1965 Guyanese dollar banknotes highlight the bank logo that reflects ship construction, rice, timber, and minerals sectors. The banknotes also featured the Kaieteur Falls that was named after Chief Kai, a tribe leader who paddled over the fall as a self-sacrifice to ask the great spirit Makonaima to save his people from raiding Caribs.
On the larger denominations of banknotes released between 1988 and 1992, the waterfall was replaced with the Guyana map showing rivers, gold, sugar, diamonds, bauxite, and timber reserves. The 500 and 1,000 paper bills released between 2011 and 2013 bear enhanced security elements such as holographic stripes, registration devices, a windowed security thread, and an electrotype denomination on the watermark design.
Along with 2,000 and 5,000 dollar coins, a commemorative 50-dollar banknote was issued by the Bank of Guyana in 2016 in celebration of the 50th year of the country’s independence from the United Kingdom. Finally, in 2019, a 1,000-dollar bill was released. It bears improved security features such as a solid security thread that replaced the windowed security thread and a 6-mm blue RAPID thread instead of the holographic stripe.