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French Guiana MAP AND DESCRIPTION
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French Guiana Officially just (Guyane) is an overseas region of France on the North Atlantic coast of South America. It has borders with two nations: Brazil to the east and south, and Suriname to the west. Its 83,534 km2 (32,253 sq mi) have a very low population density of less than 3 /km2 (7.8 /sq mi), with half of its 236,250 people in 2011 living in the metropolitan area of Cayenne, its capital. The addition of the adjective "French" in English comes from colonial times when five such colonies existed (The Guianas), namely from west to east: Spanish Guiana (now Guayana Region in Venezuela), British Guiana (now Guyana), Dutch Guiana (now Suriname), French Guiana, and Portuguese Guiana (now Amapá, a state in far northern Brazil). French Guiana and the two larger countries to the north and west, Guyana and Suriname, are still often collectively referred to as the Guianas and comprise one large shield landmass.

A large part of the department's economy derives from the presence of the Guiana Space Centre, now the European Space Agency's primary launch site near the equator.

French Guiana was originally inhabited by a number of indigenous peoples. The French tried to create a colony there in the 18th century in conjunction with its settlement of some Caribbean islands. Bill Marshall wrote, "The first French effort to colonize Guiana, in 1763, failed utterly when tropical diseases and climate killed all but 2,000 of the initial 12,000 settlers. During its existence, France transported approximately 56,000 prisoners to Devil's Island . Fewer than 10 percent survived their sentence."

Though sharing cultural affinities with the French-speaking territories of the Caribbean, French Guiana is often not considered to be part of that geographic region, because the Caribbean Sea is located several hundred kilometres to the west, beyond the arc of the Lesser Antilles. However, the boundaries of what people have defined as the Caribbean have changed over time. Historically, the boundaries of the Caribbean were at their greatest extent during the 17th and 18th centuries and as such French Guiana was situated on the edge and during some periods may have been thought to be part of the Caribbean proper.


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