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Cayenne Travel Guide, French Guiana

The city is the capital of French Guiana and it is situated in the north east of South America, on an island formed by the estuaries of Cayenne and Mahury Rivers.

It is said that Guiana was occupied by the French simply because it was considered too poor by the Spanish. However, it had been for a while under Portuguese, English and Dutch occupation, it had been also subject to many invasions of the Amerindians and under Brazil’s administration before it returned to the French for good at the beginning of the 19th century.

The French turned Guiana into a prison colony. The prison buildings were not in Cayenne, but on Devil’s Island and Cayenne was a sort of labor camp where the prisoners could work to gain their way back home. There were very few to survive.

Besides Cayenne, the only larger city in Guiana is Kourou, a place for launching space rockets, the rest being largely unpopulated. Maybe once poor, Cayenne is now a producer and exporter for goods like: shrimps, tropical fruit, Cayenne pepper, wood (90% of the country’s surface is covered with forests), refined petroleum, gold.

It has an airport – Cayenne Rochambeau with excellent links to Europe. The capital city of Guaina is home to many ethnic groups, generally with mixed origins: Creoles, American Indians, blacks, French, Lebanese, Chinese (there is even a China town), Vietnamese etc. Many dialects are heard, still the official language is French and the main religion is Catholicism.

Cayenne Travel Guide - Dangers to Be Aware Of

Although it is part of France and of the European Union with all the rights given by this status, it is not the classical capital city. When traveling there Cayenne Travel Guide advises visitors to take into account that Cayenne is located near a tropical forest. This means insects, especially mosquitoes everywhere, becoming carriers for diseases such as malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever. Also be aware of snakes or lobsters.

If you think of bathing, consider that neither rivers, nor the Atlantic are safe. There are a few beaches, for instance Montjoly or Montabo, but the water is full of sharks. Some people will find it hard to stand the humid and hot temperature all the time and there is also a high risk of getting sunburns. Get hydrated, but make sure the source of your water is safe.

Cayenne Travel Guide - Places to Enjoy

For a while, all the risks of visiting a tropical country can be ignored, relaxing in one of the many plazas of the city, admiring the architecture and the Caribbean- French atmosphere of the places. A few examples of plazas are: Place Grenoble to admire the buildings of the Town Hall and the “Prefecture”, Place des Palmistes to do some shopping, Place Victor Schoelcher, named like this after the man who ended slavery in this colony. There are also several museums to enjoy: Musée Départmental with exhibitions of natural history, archaeology, colonial material and pieces of information regarding the penal colonies, Franconie Museum, Museum of Guyanese Cultures. You may visit as well one of the nicest collection of tropical plants gathered in a botanical garden. If you are in Cayenne in February, you will attend the Carnival as well.

Cayenne may not be as welcoming as Belem or Sao Luis, but it is definitely unique.

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