Do Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana even exist?

“You know, it’s funny,” I remarked to my friend Leonardo.

“I’ve met people from all over the rest of South America, but I’ve never met anyone from Guyana, Suriname or French Guiana.

“Maybe they don’t travel outside their countries.”

Leonardo looked at me and smiled.

“That’s because those countries are not in South America,” he replied confidently.

There was a short pause.

“I’m sorry?” I ventured.

“It’s because they’re not in South America. Those countries are islands,” my friend continued.

Now, this is a smart guy with a very good job, so I thought I would have a little fun. I asked him to draw a map of South America. He complied – guessing something was amiss – and, sure enough, the Guyanas appeared as three little islands off the coast.

I drew my own map. (I’ll admit, I had the advantage. I’m a South America geek, always studying the map to plan my next trip. But still, I wasn’t born and raised here.)

We compared sketches and laughed. He had drawn Bolivia above Peru, complete with a coast (if only). Uruguay was in the wrong place and was suddenly as big as Argentina. Peru, by contrast, was tiny.

These are easy mistakes to make (Personally, I sometimes forget the location of Germany) but I started to become worried when Leonardo refused to believe the Guyanas were part of the mainland. He eventually had to pull out his touch-screen BlackBerry and check an online atlas.

The following day I asked seven more friends – all smart, professional people – to draw me their own maps.

“I’ve forgotten the name of those three little countries. I think one of them is called Suriname,” my friend Anita groaned.

She wasn’t the only one with that problem. Two of the maps missed all three countries completely – stretching the nation of Venezuela until it reached all the way to the east coast.

(Other amusing mistakes included forgetting the existence of Ecuador and/or Bolivia completely, Argentina suddenly becoming smaller than both Paraguay and Uruguay and Chile moving to the wrong side of the continent. But hey, like I said, the location of Germany frequently befuddles me)

Still, again, one friend tried to tell me my three little countries were “not part of the continent”. Another insisted: “You know Vicki, they’re not actually real countries”.

Well, my friends, I would like to welcome you to the first (and probably only) post from my new campaign: French Guiana, Suriname, Guyana ARE South American. It will be called FGSGASA for short. (Yes, I am aware that could also stand for For God’s Sake Get A Sodding Atlas)

I would like to say this:

1) Guyana is definitely a real country. It’s a republic and, okay, so culturally it might belong more to the Caribbean than the rest of mainland South America – but the fact is, it’s here, it’s bigger than Uruguay and it deserves its place on any map we draw.

Interesting fact: Guyana won independence from the United Kingdom in 1966 – the first (and only) year that England’s footballers managed to win the World Cup.

2) Suriname is definitely a real country – even though it’s the smallest one in South America. It has its own airline and its very own UNESCO World Heritage Site in the form of its central nature reserve.

Interesting fact: The people of Suriname are brilliant at languages, so much so they frequently can’t decide on their national language and even considered choosing English or Spanish for trade reasons. You’ll find Dutch, a creole language called Sranan and even Hindi… with a smattering of Javanese and Portuguese thrown in.

3) French Guiana is, okay, an outpost of France. BUT although it uses the Euro and is part of the EU… blah, blah… it does have its own flag… and, yes, you know what I’m going to say… it is actually here so, yes, it definitely does deserve its place on any map we draw.

Interesting fact: Even though only about 250,000 people live in French Guiana, the place has its own space station which has launched several rockets into the outer reaches.

So there you go. Forget them at your peril.

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126 Comments

  1. Enrique Franco

    Hi Vicky, yes is true most of south american people forget those three countries, I did the same thing with some of my friends and I told them hey how many countries are there in south america?, and all of them told me 10, and ok are you sure?, and the answer was again the same, so I told them please tell me all south american countries, they started like Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil, Ecuador, Perú, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay, and i told them hey, what about Guyana, Guyana Francesa and Suriname, and all of them was like ok, I did not realized that those countries are in south america too, so there are 13 countries in south america, don’t 10 as all people think.

    What is the reason to forget or to skip those three countries?, I don’t know, just nobody realized that they are there in south america!

  2. Armando

    I am Colombian and even though I was aware of the geographical location of these three countries they are not considered part of latinamerica for the cultural reasons thatyou just exposed. If you asked me it would never crossmy mind to mention them. There mit be another reason for that….we never play against them in the World Cup qualifiers. They are not part of the Conmebol (thesouth american ewuivalent of Uefa). Only the 10 countries in southamerica are (col, ven, per, ecu, bol, chi,arg,uru,par,bra). I am sure citizens of these countries don’t call themselves southamericans (at least as we mean it).
    Living here will astonish you as how culture sometimes decides over things that we consider facts. For example, ask any Colombian (or southamerican) howmany continents are there. I can bet you’ll think what a stupid question, everybody agrees there are X continents. You’ll be amazed as you engage in a dispute about something you took as a fact your whole life. And to counter your likely answer, in which continennt are Mex, Hon, Nic, El salvador, Costa rica, belize andpanama. Did you know that up until the early 1900’s panama was just another Colombian state? How would your answer to the placement of the above mentioned countries would be if i had asked 110 years ago? Cheers.

    1. D

      I am of guyanese descent and we refer to our selves as both Carribean and south american, Carribean due to the culture and language and south america Due to the geography (proximity to the amazon rain forest) and the large number of native american people residing in guyana in comparison to the rest of the carribean, its a similar concept of egypt and often they refer to themselves as arab and african, Latin america should be more welcoming to these nations as I believe they have been isolated despite the fact that both guyana and suriname are members of Union of South American Nations

      1. andrew

        i would agree with U an all the basis even to say we are the only ENGLISH speaking one the rest of the world tried to conquer who knows we would have ended up speaking spanish like the rest of them…..DUH and trust me we have a wealth of un hidden treasures called EL DORADO…!!!! i loved yur comparison to EGYPT…nice one….at least u learnt yur geography well in high school…

      2. Dietmar

        for latin countries welcoming hinduism and islam is (sadly/happily) unacceptable, plus remember brazilians had to learn spanish to integrate with the rest of countries, english is taught as second language in latin countries, why not spanish in yours?

    2. Karen

      You people are very ignorant. My parents are from Guyana and yes they do consider themselves to be South American, for crying out loud. There are Guyanesse people all over the United States. You Guys need to be more educated.

    3. SapodillaPru

      I am an overseas based Guyanese and always refer to myself as Guyanese/South American. Yes we identify more with the Caribbean islands, yet we never neglect to say we are South Americans. I am sure I speak on behalf of most Guyanese. We know who we are.

      1. Clo Lepps

        Surely, the grouping of territories (ie. Guyana and the other Bristish Caribbean Islands) by British colonial administrative powers was a matter first of convenience. Later followed by the developing Caribbean economic trading sector with it’s established transport and commerce to/from the rest of the world played the central role in making these countries on the North West coast of South America become ‘identified’ as ‘Caribbean’. It seems that post independence there may have been strong cultural political links to the Caribbean also from the dominant ethnic group asserting it’s power and which may have driven the ‘identification’ as ‘Caribbean’ further into common awareness/identity.

    4. Lana

      They are part of South America, but not part of the community called Latin America. Latin America is considered a community not a continent. And it is wrong to say that you dont consider the citizens from these countries not South American, because THEY ARE South American. You guys are just being ignorant because its a fact that you cant change. Not because they dont speak your language they should not be considered South America. And by the way they have a way more modern and women-friendly culture than the other 10 countries or Latin America.

    5. S

      I am from Suriname. We actually do refer to ourselves as South American. We might not be participating in the World Cup but we do have great athletes from Suriname in other places around the world. Suriname is a dutch speaking country. Starting middle school, we learn the languages English and Spanish. We are a multi-cultural country, which means that many other languages are used here like Hindi, Javanese, Chinese, Sranan Tongo (Surinamese), Portugese, Spanish..etc. We respect each others believes and live in peace with all these different cultures in one country. We even like to learn more about each others cultures. We have a beautiful rainforest. We are known to have one of the lowest deforestation rates in the world and are ranked by the World Bank as among the 17 potentially richest countries in the world, given its gold, oil, diamond, and other natural resources. I’m not saying that Suriname is ta perfect counrty, but life here is pretty nice. I don’t have much to complain about.

    6. SmallxMighty

      But French Guiana IS a part of Latin America… French is a romance language. Haiti is also Latin America and Martinique, Guadeloupe, St. Martin etc… Poor Frenchies everybody always forgets about them. My mother is Guyanese btw. (The English one) and I thought this post was funny.

    7. felicity

      Hey im from suriname but live not there
      But I call myself every day a south american because im proud where I came from
      The thing is that Suriname and the other 2 not even got a million people there
      Most people went to Europe in 1975
      Have a good day if you will ever read this haha

  3. Alexander C

    I think that these these countries are unknown for most South Americans because they do not play in the South American football world cup qualifiers, as simple as that.

  4. Emma P

    Guyana is a real place, my brother went there and spent a week festering in the jungle. Its capital, Georgetown, has a major suburb called Kitty, which is only really amusing to me and my friend Kitty. Thanks for the geography lesson!

  5. Clay

    As someone living in Suriname I can confirm that Suriname is indeed a real country! We are probably one of the least known countries in the world, so it’s always nice to read that at least some people know we exist :-).

    1. bananaskinflipflops

      I have learned more about these two countries and one territory in a week than I ever thought possible… I’ve got everyone in on the act… now I really want to visit them so any tourist advice you have would be much appreciated!

      1. Jose Gaspar

        I’m born and raised in Suriname. I don’t know if you had the chance already to visit our area, but in case you haven’t, just connect with me and I can give some information and tips regarding visiting our beautiful country 🙂

  6. Jon

    Im Guyanese. Since I live in a country called Guyana, Guyana does exist! Travelled to a few places and everytime I tell people where I’m from either they dont know what I’m talking about or think I’m from Ghana, French Guiana, Guinea or space. I even met a guy from Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru and Panama and noone knew what the hell Guyana is or where it is.
    Im South American by geography but West Indian by culture. Even Suriname tends to incline towards the Caribbean. (Surinamese are really good with languages according to the blogger)
    Because Guyana is in the contradictory position that it is and doesnt have much press, it hardly heard of or mentioned.
    As a result we have much preserved culture from Indo, Afro, Portuguese, Chinese, Native Indian and mixed Guyanese. In addition to one of the world’s largest untouched pristine rainforests.
    If noone knows about us, thats okay, but hey at least we can preserve our society as well as natural wealth from external forces. 🙂

    1. Bibi Zorina Khan

      I to am Guyanese, since I was born in British Guiana (now called Republc of Guyana). I now live in the U.S.A. but my roots go way back to Guyana, and although my ancestors came from India, I love my Guyana, and all my roots are there; Land of Many Waters as it was called, and our people live peacefully with everyone, including our neighbors. Long Live Guyana! Bibi Zorina Khan.

    2. fran

      I am amazed at some of these replies. Guyana doesn’t play world cup football so they are not considered to be south America. Fact is Guyana is a South American Country by all Geographical standards. We are not an island, as a matter of fact, our lush 83,000 square miles is large enough to fit some other Caribbean islands and places in SA several times in it.
      Guyana as it stands was part of what was once “The Guiana’s” It was once French, Dutch & lastly British Guiana. When Guyana became independent in 1966, the spelling changed from Guiana to Guyana. All of the names of the streets and villages etc., still retains it’s Dutch names. (the entire country). Guyana consists of 6 races-: Amerindians, Chinese, White, Blacks, Portuguese & East Indians. Guyana is bordered by Venezuela, Trinidad & Tobago, Suriname & the Atlantic Ocean. We are rich in natural minerals namely: Gold, diamond, bauxite ( aluminum) lumber/timber of all types u name it we’ve got it. Oil which is currently being drilled by Exxon equivalent to billions of barrels. Sugar & rice industry is a staple. The Chinese are now in our hinterlands chopping down our lumber, for which I am opposed, but I am not a politician. Sir Walter Raleigh once touted us “El Dorado” meaning land with the streets paved with gold. Our famous Kaieteur Falls is most impressive with the longest single drop fall in the world, located in the Potaro river, (5 star rating) Our primary language is English, but Spanish, French are taught in school. Latin also but was discontinued. Thans

      1. SmallxMighty

        Hey Fran, don’t take this as an attack but “Amerindians, Chinese, White, Blacks, Portuguese & East Indians” do you see what you did there? … Europeans and Africans. You were specific with everyone else. You know what is also funny, Guyana is preserving world history very covertly because today a lot of people would say that Portugese people are white! Obviously the worldview in colonial times was different.

  7. Crisspe

    I’ve always remembered them, but if you ask me which one is more to the east, which one is on the centre, and which one more to the west… ahi si me rajas! I must admit my map would have been all out of scale too!

  8. Lindsay

    That’s a very interesting topic. Coming from French Guiana but living in the UK, I know that it sometimes very hard to explain where I’m coming from. People usually think that I mean Ghana or Guinea. It’s so hard to make them realise that even though French Guiana is not located in France, it is still part of it: it is an overseas region of France. So basically if you’re saying to someone that you are going to France, you need to precise where exactly because you could mean the Metropolitan France or its overseas regions. What’s even worse is that there is so many French people (living in the Metropolitan France) who don’t even know where French Guiana is!!!

      1. Lindsay

        Well I am not sure people in French Guiana would want to be independent… They truly consider themselves as being “French” and they think that there wouldn’t be much interest for them to be independent… obviously you would meet some persons there who would tell you otherwise… Remember French Guiana is an overseas region (or departments) and not an overseas territory which is completely different.

      2. Jon

        Never met anyone from Fr. Guiana before. Seems u guys are the hardest to run into, out of guyanese, surinamese and fr. guianese

      3. Arjune Singh

        hey i m guyanesse living in French Guyane,they locals here put forward for independent bt was refuse by France for many reasons,In French Guyane there are two lancing base for sending space rockets, one in Kourou and Sinnamary

    1. Orlane Stewenson

      Yes, I can confirm your answer. I knew this problem too. When I went to London, it was hard for me to explain where I am coming from. Lol and yes, some French people (living in Metropolitan France) doesn’t even know where French Guiana is. It’s sad because as you say, we are a part of European Union, we have the same money, same French president, our own space station, 2 now! European space station and russian Space station, we are the only French spoken too… People who lives in Metropolitan France think that French Guiana is in west indies like Martinique,Guadeloupe. But we are in South America, even if it’s the smallest country in South America! But, yes, our culture is more similar to west Indian countries but we have so many différents cultures in there! Most of French Guyaneses at least Speak 2 differents languages. The official language is French, but à number of other local languages exist, include French Guiana creole (similar to Martinique, St. Lucia, Guadeloupe créole), 6 amerindian languages, 4 maroon dialects ( you Will find them in Surinam too), as well as Hmong language, portuguese spoken because we have many Braslian here that’s mean that you can find many mixed Brasilian/créole here, Hakka from southern china because we have a lot of Chinese here and many mixed Chinese/créole, Haitian créole, spanish (dominican republic, colombian, peruvian), dutch from Surinam and english from Guyana.
      I confirm, we are French Guiana, Surinam and Guyana are in South America!!! Lol

      P.S: sorry for my english, I hope you understand…

  9. Helen

    Oh my goodness, THANK YOU for this article!! I’ve seen these places on countless maps but no one seems to have ever heard of them or know they exist, so I started to wonder whether they were actual countries or part of European nations still (so I got 1/3 right I guess!).

    Why do we never hear about them? Why are they so obscure? I can understand why people in other continents know nothing, but people in South American should know they exist! It’s so bizarre…. So, thank you again! 🙂

    1. bananaskinflipflops

      Hey, thank you! I know, it’s terrible. I went to the jungle/mountains on the Guyana border this summer (on a Venezuela trip) and our guide was from Guyana. He told me no-one knows about them because they’re “pretty chilled, pretty small, not going to bother anyone” – really made me laugh. But still, they do exist contrary to what some of their Latin neighbours will tell you! 🙂

  10. elsa rudge

    I was born in Suriname, South America. I have travelled all over the world(being a US soldier) and yes, most people don’t know where my country is. First thing I say is that it is in South America, yet people suggest it to be in Africa. LMAO. Hello? South America! Brasil…..ooh…. Anyways, yes we exist. Come take a look!!

  11. nalini orie

    wow wow wow. Suriname does exist. And is one of the most beautiful, safest, countries in the world. Want to learm more? Please look it up. Wikipedia has a nice article. And facebook pictures. Add sranan mi lobi yu

  12. Mellisa

    Hey,
    well i am From Guyana. and i moved to the U.S couple years back. and it is true, most people did not know Where Guyana was located, i had to tell them it was by Brazil and Venezuela. i found it pretty instresting and funny about what you said to how your friendds reacted to your question.

  13. Kaamila

    I am Guyanese and no we do not have to play football or speak spanish or to have Latin culture to be there. I have always known all the countries in South America, because I read, so for my fellow South Americans that this fact escaped, educate yourself and stop this total lack of respect and frankly embarrassment to yourselves.

  14. Rosie Kalika

    I am Guyanese and have been living in the US for over 20 years. I have to agree that most people don’t know where Guyana when I tell them where I was born – they tend to think I said Ghana. I have to explain that it’s in South America, but then they think I am Latin American and speak spanish. I have to further explain the history and location and tell them that we consider ourselves from the Carribean (West Indies). Sometimes, it’s just easier to just say I am from the Carribean, because this most accurately describes our culture and causes less confusion.

  15. Banks Beer

    People just have to read and realize the world around them is bigger then they think. One of the main reasons for this is because of language. Guyana is the only English speaking country, Suriname the only Dutch speaking, and French Guiana the only French speaking countries in South America.With the exception of French Guiana which is a overseas department, Guyana and Suriname are independent countries with historical backgrounds.

  16. VonM

    Ha cool post. Thanks for mentioning us. I’m a Guyanese woman born and raised living in NY, married to a Uruguayan, and when we first met it was hilarious to hear how little he knows about Guyana, besides it being next to Venezuela. Some more cool facts about Guyana: the fabled city of “El Dorado” was in Guyana, The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was written after his trip to Guyana, and he noted Guyana’s untouched natural environment as his inspiration, Guyana is called the land of 6 people bc of its very diverse population (Indian, Black, Asian, Portuguese, Amerindian, mixed race), and slavery was outlawed in Guyana in 1834.

    Cool documentaries on Guyana: Jeff Corwin explores Guyana on the Discovery Channel: http://player.discoveryeducation.com/views/hh_httpView.cfm?guidAssetId=ef7b2253-7ad5-4b1a-aa48-9ecbd68b66c5

    BBC does a series on the Guyanese Rain Forest: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LYogLcSsQ34

    🙂

  17. Odetta

    Luv luv my Guyana. Can’t wait for another trip there.
    It’s so culturally diverse n rich in natural minerals, boosting the highest single beautiful drop waterfall
    Dear land of Guyana of rivers and ….

  18. Putance

    As a guyanese I’ve met many people who has never even heard of Guyana, so I am not surprised, but we are on the map along with Suriname and French Guyana, so all you guys who want to act like we don’t exist get a map and learn your countries.

  19. guyanaboy

    OMG!! I cant believe Guyana is not that noticed!!!
    People we EXIST!!
    i am certain that in the years to come the world will recognize us, since we are a role model to climate change………..and we preserve our forests. which other countries do that?
    Not happy to say this but, i think we were suppose to gain recognition adversely as a result of the plane crash that Guyana had early last year which was broadcasted at least on every news world-wide. most of the broadcast include reports like where Guyana is located n etc.
    BTW, love the article!!!!
    shout out to my neighbor counterparts of Suriname and French Guiana.

  20. mzcerez

    Awesome article. It’s a small world after all 🙂 Articles like these can connect us all and make us more savvy to geography and information.
    I am a US Citizen living in Guyana. I am currently working on Geographic Information Systems in the regions mentioned in this article. Guyana is a very vast country with a gold rush like no other. Come and explore its natural beauty. You may find that it is soon going to be tagged the Gateway to South America.
    The only English speaking country in South America with a perfect peak location. Come one, come all!

    1. bananaskinflipflops

      Really? I went to Angel Falls in Venezuela last year (and put my toe into Guyana on the top of Roraima mountain) Do you have a bigger waterfall than Angel Falls? Where is it? I want to go! (or is AF in the disputed territory??)

  21. Lex Home

    Yes we are here. I can’t wait to go home to Guyana for a visit. Living in America since I was 15yrs (its been 26 yrs now) I have enjoyed educating the people around me about my beautiful country Guyana. There is not one day that goes by that I do not mention something about Guyana from the littlest thing as eating sugar cake to being the only English speaking country in South America. Yeah I love my country………..See you in April 2012 to celebrate Easter and do some kite flying.

  22. Dr. Shelby Givens

    With regards to French Guiana having their own Space Station, that is geographically correct, but in fact the Space Station in French Guiana (an overseas Department of France as is Martinique, Guadeloupe, etc) was established during the French Presidency of Charles de Gaulle as the European Space Station. Being that French Guiana is close to the Equator (shortest distance to outer space relative to rocketing) in was a practical alternative for the French and other Europeans to not be left out of the Space race which was from the 1960’s largely dominated by the U.S. and the Soviet Union.

    Shelby Givens PhD

  23. Fasmwa

    As a Surinamese person – Go to Amsterdam, Rotteram & Den Haag and you will find Surinamese People whom for the majority are passionate about there country! Famous People of Surinamese decent: Clarence Seedorf, Mario Melchiot, Nigel De Jong, Ryan Babel, Ruud Gulit, Frank Rijkard, Ernesto Hoost (K1 Chapmion), Remy Bonjaski, Desi Boutrse (Current President), Jimmy Floyd Hasselbank, Edgar Davids, Patrick Kluivert & Anthony Nesty….

    We Got Great Hospitality and Food ….Come Check it out during Christmas/End of Year…

  24. seetaroath

    In Guyana, Guyanese children study world geography and are mostly aware of the different countries on the globe so we are hardly likely to find people educated in Guyana having this problem about other countries of the world. The headquarters of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is located in the capital city of Georgetown, Guyana. For sporting fans, we not only excel at cricket, boxing, and track and field, but recently our rugby and football (soccer) teams have been making major headlines. Tourism in Guyana is at an all time high. Daily Kaieteur trips involve nature lovers from around the world, The Rupununi rodeo is the last original type rodeos, The rolling mountains/hills are pristine drwaing scientists from around the globe. Guyana has the largest fresh water fish in the world – the Arapaima, largest eagle – the harpy eagle, largest anteater in the world, the largest wooden structure in the world – the St. Georges Cathedral, the tallest single drop water falls in the world – the Kaieteur Falls, hundreds of rivers, creeks, and beautiful waterfalls – thus the name “Land of Many Waters”. We are the home of the jaguar, puma, and countless flora and fauna , some yet to be named and the hardest wood in the world – greenheart. We are also the home of purple hearts much loved in the Scandinavian countries. Check out at least one site: http://www.guyana-tourism.com/ ; http://www.iwokrama.org/wp/

  25. Roger

    I am born Guyanese and I live in Toronto. Almost everyone I met know exactly where Guyana is and what we are about. South America Football has nothing to do with the fact that Guyana DOES EXIST..The reason why Guyana is not considered SA is because we are the only English speaking country in SA and culturally, we tends to be drawn in the Caribbean. Have you ever notice its mostly Caribbean and Guyana in ads? There has been numberous episodes on National Geographic etc. about Guyana. I think these people needs to get a little more aware of the countries as I am sure most Guyanese knows all the countries in SA..Thank You!

  26. Shari

    I am Guyanese who grew up in Suriname and spent summers in French Guiana. People ask where I’m from and I happily make them aware of Guyana being a country not an island. Suriname and French Guiana are countries as well. The rest of south america only know the Latin countries and Brazil whose language is Portuguese. So therefore the awareness is not keen.

  27. susan

    I’m travelling Latin America and on my way to Guyana and Surinam. I have to explain almost everybody, both people who live here and travellers, where those countries are. Amazing! They don’t seem to exist and nobody seems to go there…Cant wait to get there! 😉

  28. lablogotana

    When I went to Venezuela all of the maps on tourist tat (keyrings, tshirts etc) included their ‘territorio en reclamo,’ ie Guyana. As one of my colleagues in London was originally from there, this presented a few problems when dealing with the Venezuelan students in her class…

    Still, I used to think the Falklands were off the Scottish coast (why else would we be fighting over an island with such a non-latin name?) and that Colombia was in Eastern Europe (it ends in ‘ia’ like Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Russia, Latvia, etc).

  29. P

    I am Guyanese, and my country does exist. Geographically in south america, culturally more Caribbean. But I tell people that I am south american, and I indentify myself very much as a lation american. Most latin americans I have met find it strange that we speak english, but they know where Guyana is.
    And I have been to both Suriname and Fr. Guiana – they exist.
    We’re not known because we don’t play football at the same level? Seriously??

    1. Dietmar

      your country chose to play in the concacaf and not in the conmebol, it is not your fault but your country have to embrace latin culture or it will remain isolated, people in jamaica and trinidad are learning spanish, why not in your country?

      1. sigi

        they teach both Spanish and English in our schools, its not our fault that dutch is our main language. You can’t geographically “move” countries just because their differences make it inconvenient for u. we have as much right to be called south american as any of the spanish speaking coutries

  30. Dietmar

    this comment is not gonna sound good but for latins these countries are not soucth americans for several reasons:
    -they have hindu and muslim influence, latin countries are christian almost 100%
    -they dont play “football”, the play “american socca”
    -they do not speak SPANISH, good or bad they cannot expect to integrate to the rest of south america if they do not learn the main language of the continent

    1. Priya

      You are correct about one thing, your comment did not sound good. Are you saying that religion, games and language influence geography? That’s not a very bright thought. We are already members of MERCOSUR. Thankfully your leaders are not as narrow minded as you.

    2. SmallxMighty

      Hahaha the arrogance! “integrate into South America” who made you an authority? We are ALREADY SOUTH AMERICANS as dictated by mother earth, the land, Nature! Please have a seat, have several and pick up a map while you are at it.

  31. Angela Reeves

    Dietmar, for your information we do learn spanish in school but our official language is ENGLISH. Why should playing football make you South American. You seem VERY ignorant. It just goes to show the educational quality of YOUR spanish speaking South American countries is not up to standard. ANYONE knows that culture does not give you a status as to which continent you belong but it the physical location of the country. So please educate your self!!!

  32. Katt Mangini

    They exist but thet are not real countries. Everyone know the only real countries in South America are just Argentina and Brazil, the rest are primitive tribes.

    1. April

      I hope this is a sarcastic reply. My mom was born and raised in Suriname, and that is where they reside, and there are civilized people living there. If you go into the rainforest, you will find primitive tribes, not in the city though. Therefore, i’d like to consider it to be a REAL country. Someone has to really be ignorant to think that there are “fake” countries out there.

  33. dutchguy79

    Wow quiet a reaction, of course everybody knows what that the only not primitive tribe were the Incas (at least for South America). And their base was primarely not in Argetina nor Brazil. So please hold your pride in a more modest way, because it makes your country only look stupid.

  34. AfuSensi

    I am from Suriname.
    And i also love my Guyanese and French guyanese brothers and sisters.

    We have about a half million people living in Suriname.
    Suriname is much more known in The Netherlands than in the rest of the world.
    Also there are i think more than half a million surinamese people living in the netherlands.

    Greetings from Suriname

  35. Giordyy

    I’ve talked with a few people and they know Guyana,Suriname and French-Guiana as
    the Guyanas
    so i tell them,well i live in ‘dutch guyana’=Suriname to make it easier
    We are not easily known,for i think,the fact that there isn’t anything big happening here
    And i dont mean it negatively,if you open the newspaper for eg in the us or elsewere,you can read a lot of news from the united stated,bagdad,you know.all the big countries and countries with great power.

      1. Berto Barababosa

        Right. He didn’t even read the article Bananaskinflipflops. IQ? Aiaiaiai mi caramba 🙂
        Gracias Banana i agree with tha article even if its because of other reasons.
        Please, when can we expect an update / follow up article on the 3 countries mi corazon?

      2. bananaskinflipflops

        Berto, thank you so much for your comments and apologies it took me a while to get them all on the site! I live in Colombia so I guess the next article will be when I finally get to visit these countries, fingers crossed!

  36. S

    You people who’ve never heard of these nations most certainly do not live in a large city, I live in NYC and I’ve met probably more Guyanese and Surinamese people than any other ethnic group.

  37. sranang

    I’m from Suriname studying in the UNITED STATES. Every semester, I meet students who do not know where Suriname or what it is. I always ask them what continent they think it is in and I get Asia and Africa. When I tell them it’s in South America, they think I meant South Africa. Usually if someone does not know where a country is, it has to be in Africa. I know a lot of Surinamese that live in New York, Miami and Canada. We are around, it’s just that you cannot tell by looking at us if we are Surinamese, because we are so diverse.
    Every semester I continue to educate anyone I meet about Suriname and love the excitement when they are so interested about my culture.

  38. S

    Very interesting, I grew up and live in New York City (grew up in queens) and there were more Guyanese and Surinamese students in my elementary school and middle school than any other ethnic group. Despite not being of either country, I know so much about these cultures that it’s preposterous to me that someone can even posit that they’re not real countries. Just goes to show, NYC really is the most diverse place on the planet!

  39. Derek Gaspar

    Guyana Oh Beautiful Guyana, my lovely native land, more dear to me than ALL the world! Thy sea washed sun kissed strands….. Beautiful Guyana. When asked where I am from I say South America. At the question do you speak Spanish I answer not one word. This precludes the 10 Questions string Ghana? Guinea, ….. So Guyana the most beautiful country in the world-for me. To one and all come and see our beauty and share in our culture. Bye

    1. Mario Garraway

      We’ll done Vickey, very Informative you are. But just to add to your geographical education, French Guiana is still a Colony of FRance so it flies the French Flag historically named (Ensign) it is also the French Penal Colony well known for it’s famous Devil’s Island Prison (Presaoune) which kept some of France’s most notorious Prisoners i.e. Henry Charrier, Louie (Louis) Dega and an extended number of famous French prisoners… but hey I was very Impress with your geographic ability keep it up and highlight Guyana to the globe kudos to you!

  40. Shermaine

    I am Guyanese; born into British Guiana. All six peoples run thru my blood (as it does in many Guyanese). Very interesting discussion; and thank you.

  41. T

    I am from Surinam live in Miami, and there are a lot of people from Suriname and the Guyana’s actually living in the miami and orlando area. And we do travel a lot but mostly to the netherlands because that is where most of the relatives from the people of surinam live, but miami is also frequently visited.

  42. Nardie Anthonio Jap

    For the record Suriname is has a president who started a revolution and years after was chosen president by election anyone president that could claim the same. History and i believe should not go unnoticed! And no not all of us live sleep in hammock’s as many americans think. I love SU.

  43. Rafael

    Nice article. Thank you for helping make people aware of Suriname’s existence. If u haven’t already, you should really visit. The end of the year celebration is out of this world so that would really be the best time to visit. Lots of cultural activities and party’s going on from november thru the end of the year!

  44. Berly Doesburg

    Hi i’m from Suriname living in Suriname. I’m very pleased to read this. Thank you! And if you ever want to visit just contact! Bring your friends too.

  45. Norman

    Suriname is over 4 times as large as the Netherlands, but with only a little over half a million (500.000) inhabitants: descendants of African slaves, descendants of contract labourers from India, descendants of labourers from Java and Indonesia, lots of chinese people too, jewish, lebanese, etc etc.

    Suriname borders Brazil in the South, and is a beautiful country with huge areas of pristine rain forest. We are no less developed than ANY contributor on this forum, meaning that we have great schools where, obviously, we learn even English and Spanish from an early age on, good infrastructure, medical care, hospitals etc etc. Myself, I was born and raised Surinamer, from a jewish mother and a mixed (black/indian/amerindian) father.

    Too bad so many people on this forum are ignorant of the existence of these countries, because FYI: our people DO know enough about your countries. Admittedly, we do not excel in soccer on international level, are not very important players in the world economy etc, but yes: we are very real, and moreover: very beautiful countries with very beautiful people. Come to think of it, for those who view us as a primitive country: My name is Norman, and one of the things I studied is the English language, which means that, unbelievable as you may find it, this guy from an unknown country named Suriname in the north of South America is arguably better at English (“your” language”) than you are 🙂

    My native language is Dutch, btw. Love my country….

    1. frank

      We don’t excel in soccer as a nation but there are al lot of world class soccer players who have Surinamese roots, for example: Ruud Gullith; Frank Rijkaard; Edgar Davids; Clarence Seedorf and many many more…. and i didn’t mention other sports yet…..

  46. Sabrina

    We exist I promiss you and we travel alot. Strange that you havent met one of us yet. And all three countries are part of the main land of South America

  47. akshay

    Did you know that Suriname was once an English colony and was traded for New York (which was New Amsterdam a Dutch colony).
    And Yes we in Suriname identify ourself as South Americans, we just don’t speak spanish, though an average Surinamer speaks like 3-4 languages quite fluently.

  48. mos

    Wowwwwwwwww. Soooo surprising! I was actually born in Suriname and my dad is from Guyana. While Suriname is the smallest in south America. Guyana definitely isn’t! They are two beautiful countries. Google them.

  49. Inez

    Thanks for this post! Even I struggle explaining where we are when I travel through Europe eventhough I have the Surinamese passport to proof our existence. 🙂
    This is SU, this is us.. Thankfully we are picking up our marketing game over here.
    We have been here a while, people need to know..Greetz from Suriname the small country on top of Brasil!

  50. Azra

    In Suriname we speak dutch, english, spanish, portugese, hindi and so on. Please educate yourself instead of making ignorant comments about countries. For Suriname organized Carifesta in 2013 and many South American countries ( yes spanish speaking participated with large groups,). In 2013 “Suriname” was the President of UNASUR and we still have delegates that represent Suriname in tneir secretary. These are some recent facts about our involvement in South America. I seems to me that the people bananaskinflipflops interviewed are very internally focused and should have more insiht into what happens around them. because South America is our home. In primary school only we learned about the different states in South America and the other continents.
    What we should not do is mistake South America for Latin America because there is in fact a difference.The 3 guyanas have a rich history and cuture, do the research. it’s worth it!
    I dont have anything against the commenters but do check your facts before commenting.

  51. Naomi

    Yes of course we exist! Suriname all the way. I invite you to Suriname. you will be surprised. Come and enjoy and most important go and tell the world. ❤

  52. Chris

    Im from Jamaica but im a “Caribbean & Central/South American geek” you could say..and I saw this debate coming from miles away…Its as if these three places( guyana, Surinam, french guiana).. have been completely ignored or isolated by the rest of South America..,due to major culture differences…Almost as if they refuse to acknowledge these countries as a part of Suramerica.. .I will admit..that they have more cultural ties to the Caribbean..probably due to past English, French and Dutch occupation, and the arrival of Indian(Hindu) people to these areas and the Caribbean brought over by the colonizers..I would say though ..Guyana and Venezuela might have a few closer ties than we think due to the fact theyre neighbors, they tend to dispute over territory and oil, Trinidad and Tobago included for that last one….Ive also found a good number of Venezuelans reside in Trinidad, so much a direct flight is offered by Caribbean Airlines to Caracas. Also economic suffering has alot to do with the isolation of Guyana i believe. Guyana Surinam and F Guiana are the poorest nations in South America.

    P.S: Also..The 10 other nations are considered the Latin countries of South America…I’ve just found that out,through a Google search into the poverty of Guyana Surinam and F Guiana..That just shows the general idea…and another possible reason for the isolation.

    1. Berto Barababosa

      Brazilian small scale gold miners have besieged these countries, amigo!
      They are living like lords there spending and buying everything with the gold they seem to dig illegally from these 3 countries. Prostitutes and gangsters have followed these gold miners called “Garimpeiros”, having a negative impact on the society there (besides some few positive impulses like ‘Capueira’). But these fortune-hunters would not besiege a country like that if there was nothing to gain… even Caricom members are seen a lot more lately looking for a job. So they look richer than most Caribbean islands, aren’t they?

  53. Mariana

    I sat in an airplane next to a man form French Guayana! Still, my daughter is studying countries and capitals of America, and I had to look up and check capitals for Surinam, Guyana and French Guayna….

  54. Berto Barababosa

    Silly question one might think, but true: these countries don’t “really” exist…

    1) Guyana is just a small ribbon with large occupied landmasses added from its neighbors, due to lies and sneaky geopolitics from its former colonizer, the once ‘almighty’ UK. Thanks to the remaining influence of the British Common Wealth the wrong map of Guyana is obtruded to the rest of the world by Google and other websites. But that’s about change soon with president Maduro of Venezuela in the west and president Bouterse of Suriname in the east. How long can you steal land based on (stupid) mistakes from colonial land surveyors (case Suriname) and manipulated Imperial legal courts (case Venezuela)? Conclusion: ‘Guyana’ is based on manipulation and lies… and this attitude is unfortunately seen in everybody from taxi-driver to politician…

    2) Suriname still thinks it’s a colony of Holland. Give them a chance to change their nationality/passport and Suriname will cease being a country overnight! Despite all their superb (sport/soccer) talent, they still are the ONLY country in the world that does not allow their professional players abroad to play for their national team! One which would easily rank itself within the top 2-3 of the South American FIFA competition Conmebol. Political reason #1: introduce double passports in Suriname and the whole population will obt for it, resulting in not one original (single passport) Surinamese citizen to be left in the country!… (This latter, by the way, is the case of all these 3 ‘Guianese’ countries); Conclusion: Suriname does not have a real “Surinamese” population at all!

    3) French Guyana is not a country, but a department from France. That’s why Suriname is the smallest South American country, because French Guyana is smaller, but NOT a country. Most of the inhabitants are workers at the space station ‘imported’ from mainland France, and will of course never obt for independence (since they work only for several years to leave again for good to their real homes in mainland France). Conclusion: French Guiana does not exist as a country, but as a region/province.

    Sorry if above looks rude and offensive, but only by being clear and by speaking the truth openly, one can really see and admit their true self and position they are in…
    Good luck in becoming real. I will gladly welcome you as real countries and nations soon!

    Because you are 3 super unique and easily the most superb groups of people and pieces of land in the whole wide world… Suriname, i guess, first in rank.

    1. SmallxMighty

      What prejudiced drivel! You should actually be ashamed of yourself. Do you even know people from these countries? Have you been to any of them? You sound ridiculous.

      1. Berto Barababosa

        Of course i know all three of them, SmallxMighty.
        I’ve been in all of them.
        What’s striking is that were they should work together to jointly develop themselves, they will remain divided forever, due to all of the reasons i mentioned in my comment.
        Enormous potential just wasted…
        I’m sorry if it sound offensive, but i nevertheless meant it for good.
        Believe it or not.

        Guyana has enormous territorial problems with almost all of its border…
        Is that a coincidence?
        In stead of holding on so very tightly to historical colonial errors, they should wisely use diplomacy to give in and make very clever partnerships with their neighbors Venezuela and Suriname.
        What use is it to hold on to so much land which is not yours on the first place, leading to unnecessary and costly tensions, if you cannot even feed your people?
        Ridiculously threatening much stronger parties with your tiny little army only causes people to laugh…
        My wish is: Don’t! Use your diplomacy to correct historical errors of your colonial masters and make huge friends and development partners with your good and richer neighbors.
        Guyana can be one of the richest countries in the Caribbean and in Latin America!

        Suriname’s and French Guyana’s problems are evident and easier to solve.

        One way or the other:
        South America should be proud of this most beautiful part of the continent.
        South America is so much richer, so much more unique, so much more amazing, because of these three countries: Guyana, Suriname and French Guyana!!!

        (I hope u all see my point now)

    2. Diana

      You are blatantly being very disrespectful and extremely ignorant. You really have no shame or any respect at all. Pick up some books and atlases. Learn your geography and your history properly. You are severely lacking in those areas. You are completely wrong to dismiss countries that you clearly have no knowledge or education about. How dare you. You have no right to do so. Your blasphemous generalizations lack accuracy and logical factual sources, and they are prejudiced. Please do a thorough fact check before you comment on countries as though you are completely aware of their actual history. This closed mindedness, one sidedness, obscene, and inflammatory rhetoric shouldn’t be tolerated or entertained by anyone. It is extremely unfortunate and highly offensive. It’s very disappointing and utterly disgraceful that these are your insensitive views, and that there are people out there that share similar despicable views.

      1. Berto Barababosa

        Dear Diana,
        You’re very emotional reaction gives you away.
        You’re from Guyana.
        (Possible Suriname or even French Guiana?).
        Sorry, if i hurt you’re feelings, but the truth is often cold and painful, isn’t it? And i’m not being sarcastic…

        Listen dear, let’s make a deal, would you please?:
        I would love to hear your hard facts, stating me wrong.
        I’m never too big to alter my views anytime and to abandon my honest (but possible wrong?) analyzes rightaway! No yoke!

        So do me a favor.
        Stop this emotional act and just provide me (and our beloved audience) of the plain historical, geographical, political and socio-cultural facts, that i have seen to have missed in my reflection of these trully unique and amazing countries!

        “Denial is the first and most severe enemy of healing and change”.

        Hey Diana,
        You know what? I’ve planned to be in this beautiful part of South America a whole lot. Believe me!!
        So, i will have plenty opportunity to register any growth in real cooperation between these sister-countries, any change in Shaking off of their colonial yoke & chains, and any change towards ‘real’ love for this their beautiful and honest part of the world.
        And i’m really looking forward to your contribution.

        Besos y Gracias!

  55. Lise Blanchard

    I was born in Mackenzie, Georgetown, Guyana in South America. It’s right beside Venezuela. As my parents are Canadian on my birth certificate it says I am a Canadian citizen born abroad. I always joke and say I am a broad. Ha ha. A side note, my dad called me a mud head because people from there were called that. I worked with a girl that was born there too. Small world. That is where the Jim Jones tradegy happened. The poisoned Kool Aid.
    They got there Independence in 1962 and it was British Ghuiana on my first original passport. It’s just Guyana now. A very rude french man in the passport office told me I was spelling it wrong even though on my previous passport it was Guyana. The Canadian government typed Guyana on my passport, I pointed out to the idiot. I didn’t realize I could have possibly typed it myself. He gave me such a hard time about my birth certificate as well even though, again, it was not printed by me. My birth certificate spelling still has the H in it because unlike my passport, that was never changed over time. He was such an A-hole, I finally asked for his manager because I wanted to see if he would treat like this in front of someone else. My, how things changed. I am french, very obvious from my name, but he was the biggest A-hole in the Harry Hays building in Calgary. I only wish I could remember his name but anyone applying for a passport dealing with him would know exactly who he was because he was like that with the previous three people ahead of me. Loser. Anyway, have a great day all you fellow mudheads out there. LB

  56. paul

    Guyana, Suriname and French Guyana have absolutely no cultural connection to Latin American countries. they have connections to the countries they got independence from and (each other Guyana – suriname) dutch, french and other English Caribbean countries

    they all have TONS of respect for Brazil and CUBA, but thats about it. other Latin countries are not even on their radar

  57. Rainier

    There is one lad from Surinam presently living in Bogotá. He is setting up a Smoked Meat restaurant in or around Park 93. I remembered flying into Guyana (I am from Trinidad) to see India vs WI cricket game. The captain casually told us: “if you look down to your left you will see an island in the middle of the river…. about the size of Barbados.”

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