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It was governed as British Guiana, with mostly a plantation-style economy until the 1950s.

It gained independence in 1966, and officially became a republic within the Commonwealth of Nations in 1970.

The country can be divided into five natural regions; a narrow and fertile marshy plain along the Atlantic coast (low coastal plain) where most of the population lives; a white sand belt more inland (hilly sand and clay region), containing most of Guyana's mineral deposits; the dense rain forests (Forested Highland Region) in the southern part of the country; the dryer savannah areas in the south-west; and the smallest interior lowlands (interior savannah) consisting mostly of mountains that gradually rise to the Brazilian border.The region known as "the Guianas" consists of the large shield landmass north of the Amazon River and east of the Orinoco River known as the "land of many waters".Originally inhabited by many indigenous groups, Guyana was settled by the Dutch before coming under British control in the late 18th century.Historically the Lokono and Kalina tribes dominated Guyana.Although Christopher Columbus was the first European to sight Guyana during his third voyage (in 1498), and Sir Walter Raleigh wrote an account in 1596, the Dutch were the first Europeans to establish colonies: Essequibo (1616), Berbice (1627), and Demerara (1752).

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