Travel Stories

French Guiana

French Guiana

Officially called Guiana, this country is an overseas department and region of France, on the north Atlantic coast of South America. It borders Brazil to the east and south, and Suriname to the west. Its 32,253 square mile area has a very low population density, with half of its 250,109 inhabitants in 2013 living in the metropolitan area of Cayenne, its capital. By land area, it is the largest overseas department of France. As an overseas region, it is inside the European Union, and its official currency is the euro.

This tiny country is home to some of the world’s most diverse plant and animal life. It’s a strange mix of French law and rainforest humidity where only a few destinations along the coast are easily accessed, and travel can be frustratingly difficult, as well as expensive.

The beaches of French Guiana, particularly in the Amana nature reserve, are one of the largest breeding grounds for the Leatherback Turtle. The Atlantic Ocean leatherback turtles use the beaches of French Guiana, Suriname and Guyana to lay their eggs, with the nesting season being between March and August in the region. The females use their flippers to dig a nest, before laying their eggs and covering the nest with sand to hide it. Once hatched, the young dig their way out of the nest and head for the sea, running the gauntlet of predators which include crabs, lizards and seabirds. The Leatherback turtle is one of the largest reptiles, with only the saltwater, Nile and Orinoco crocodiles being bigger.

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