French Guiana Travel Guide: All you need to know to visit French Guiana in 2024
Welcome to French Guiana

French Guiana is an abroad territory of France found on the northeastern coast of South America. It is the largest region of France by land area and shares borders with Brazil to the southeast and Suriname to the west. The capital city is Cayenne, and the official currency is the Euro. French Guiana has a unique cultural blend of Indigenous, African, European, and Asian influences due to its history of colonization and immigration.

Geography:

The total area covered by French Guiana is approximately 83,534 square kilometers. It is the second smallest region of France and smaller than many other countries worldwide. French Guiana has a diverse geography with a mix of coastal plains, tropical rainforests, and mountain ranges. The Amazon rainforest covers a significant portion of the territory, making it one of the most biodiverse regions in the world. The Maroni and Oyapock rivers form natural borders with Suriname and Brazil, respectively, and are essential transportation routes within the territory. Mount Bellevue is the highest peak, at 851 meters (2,792 feet).

Climate:

French Guiana has a tropical climate with high temperatures and humidity throughout the year. The rainy season lasts from December to July, with the heaviest rainfall between April and June. During this period, the region can experience frequent heavy rain, flooding, and landslides in some areas. The dry season lasts from August to November, with lower temperatures and less rainfall. French Guiana is known for its rich biodiversity and tropical rainforests, which support a diverse range of flora and fauna despite the high humidity and precipitation. However, deforestation and other human activities have put pressure on these ecosystems, leading to concerns about their long-term sustainability.

Population:

As of 2023, the population of French Guiana estimate is around 300,000. Most of the population consists of diverse ethnic groups, including Creoles, Maroons, Amerindians, Haitians, Europeans, and Asians. The capital city of Cayenne is the most populous in the territory.

Government:

French Guiana is an abroad department and region of France, and its governance is based on the French system. The President of France is the nation’s ruler, and a Prefect, appointed by the French government, serves as the highest representative of the state in the territory. The local government is composed of an elected regional council and a departmental council, which have legislative powers over certain areas of governance, such as education, health, and transportation.

Languages:

The official language of French Guiana is French, as it is an overseas territory of France. However, other languages, such as Creole, Amerindian, and English, are spoken by various ethnic groups within the territory.

Economy:

The economy of French Guiana primarily bases on a few key industries. Space exploration is a significant driver of the economy, as the European Space Agency operates a spaceport in Kourou, which launches satellites and other space missions. Additionally, fishing, agriculture, and mining (particularly gold mining) are important economic activities. Tourism is also a growing sector, with visitors drawn to the Amazon rainforest’s unique biodiversity and the territory’s cultural heritage.

Religion:

Christianity is the predominant religion in French Guiana, with Roman Catholicism being the most widely practiced. Other Christian denominations, such as Protestantism and Evangelicalism, also have a significant presence. Additionally, there are smaller populations of practitioners of other religions, including Hinduism, Islam, and Indigenous beliefs.

Culture:

French Guiana has a rich and diverse culture shaped by its history, geography, and the influences of its indigenous, African, and European populations. The region has several indigenous groups, including the Wayana, Teko, and Palikur, with unique traditions and languages. French Guiana is also known for its vibrant Creole culture, which blends African, European, and indigenous influences. Music, dance, and storytelling are essential to local culture, and festivals such as Carnival and Easter are celebrated enthusiastically. The region is also known for its delicious cuisine, which features local ingredients such as cassava, plantains, and seafood. Despite its small size and relative isolation, French Guiana has made significant contributions to the arts and sciences, with several notable writers, artists, and scientists hailing from the region.

Recent History:

In recent years, French Guiana has faced challenges such as illegal gold mining, deforestation, and social issues, including poverty and crime.

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Before entering the territory of French Guiana, individuals of Indian nationality need to have a visa. Visas are available at the French Guiana Embassy or the consulate located in India.

  • Choose the French Guiana visa category you need.
  • Pay online.
  • Kindly send us your documents using our pick-up and drop-off service.
  • Upon approval, receive your visa.

The best time preferable for applying French Guiana visa is 1 to 2 months before the traveling date.

Visa validity in French Guiana goes up to 90 days within the first 180 days.

Generally, short-term visas are not extendable in French Guiana as they are issued for a short period and cannot be extended. However, long-stay visas such as student visas or work visas may be extended in the country under certain circumstances, which also depend on various factors.

Indian nationals generally need to obtain a visa before their travel to French Guiana if they intend to visit for tourism, business, work, or any other purpose. They can apply for the visas at the nearest French consulate or Embassy in India.

Traveling checklist

  • Valid passport with six months before expiry
  • Valid visa
  • Confirmed return ticket
  • Foreign currency
  • Proof of accommodation
  • Additional documents supporting the purpose of the visit.