Situated in the tropics, Guyana has an equatorial climate. But on the low lying coastlands where most of the people live, the northeast trade winds have a moderating effect, creating a pleasant climate throughout the year. On the coastlands, the temperature ranges from 68 to 91 degrees Fahrenheit with a mean shade temperature of 80 degrees Fahrenheit, while in the interior regions it ranges from 61 to 102 degrees Fahrenheit with a mean of 82 degrees Fahrenheit in the shade.
There are two marked rainy seasons during the year - a long rainy season from April to August and a short rainy season from November to January. Annual rainfall varies from about 90 inches on the coast to as much as 140 inches in the rain-forest areas. But in the savannahs where the dry periods are more prolonged, the average is only about 60 inches, with most of the rainfall occurring during the months of May to August.
Guyana is not affected by hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes or volcanoes and although the rains are sometimes delayed, prolonged or severe droughts are relatively rare.
The name Guyana is derived from an Amerindian word meaning "land of many waters". The word aptly describes the country with its extensive network of rivers (the picture is of the Abary River) and creeks and its large number of rapids and water-falls, including the famous Kaieteur Falls, which, with a perpendicular drop of 741 feet, is about five times the height of Niagara. The country is divided into four natural regions:
(a) The Coastal Region: (The inset picture is of palm trees near the coast of the Atlantic).This is a low coastal plain varying in width from about 10 miles in the West, to about 40 miles in the East. Much of the coastal area is below sea level with some areas being as much as 8 feet below the high tide mark. This low elevation necessitates an elaborate sea defense and drainage system consisting basically of sea walls or dykes to keep out the sea, and a network of canals controlled by pumps and sluices, or kokers, as they are commonly known. The system was first constructed by the early Dutch settlers and many of the original structures have survived to this day.
(b) The Hilly Sand Clay Belt: This region extends across the country immediately south of the coastal plain. It is an undulating expanse of white and brown sands increasing in width from west to east. The area is covered with scrub lands and hardwood forests with hills rising up to almost 400 feet. The region covers over 14 percent of the country and contains extensive deposits of bauxite with proven reserves estimated at around 300 million tons.
(c) The Highland Region: This region covers about two-thirds of the area of the country. There are four mountain ranges - the Imataka in the Northwest, the Pakaraima in the West, the Kanuku in the Southeast and the Akarai in the South. The mountains range in height from roughly 1,000 to 4,000 feet with several peaks above this level. The highest peak, Mount Roraima (9,091 feet), in the Pakaraima range, is at the point where the boundaries of Guyana, Venezuela and Brazil converge. The region is composed mainly of ancient pre-Cambrian rocks and is rich in minerals including gold and diamonds which have been exploited for over a hundred years.
(d) The Interior Savannahs: There are two savannah areas: the Rupununi Savannahs and the intermediate savannahs. The largest, the Rupununi , is about 6,000 square miles in extent. It lies in the southwestern part of the country and is divided into the North and South Savannahs by the Kanuku mountain range. The intermediate savannahs lie about 60 miles from the mouth of the Berbice River. These smaller savannahs cover over 2,000 square miles of territory.