About French Guiana


French Guiana’s uniqueness comes from the contrast of its European heritage, tropical climate and the ghostly shadow of Devil’s Island, a penal colony and camp operating from the 19th to the 20th century.

The country, stretching for 83,534 km2 on the northern Atlantic coast of South America, is an overseas region of France, a former colony, and a French department since 1946. It borders Brazil on the east and south, and Suriname on the west. The country’s population is relatively small, with just 282,761 people, and highly diverse comprising Native Americans, Europeans, Chinese, Brazilians, Haitians and others. French Guiana is part of the European Union and the Eurozone and its currency is the Euro. However, it is not part of the Schengen Treaty but the citizens of the European Union and the European Economic Area can stay in French Guiana visa-free for unlimited time. Citizens of most other countries can stay in French Guiana without a visa for 90 days.

French Guiana’s economy is connected to that of France with both subsidies and imports, and to the French Space Centre established in Kurou in 1965. Other key sectors are fishing and forestry as well as the cultivation of crops — but the country is dependent on the imports of food and energy.

The country’s capital and administrative centre is the city of Cayenne, known for its Creole architecture and vibrant street markets. The climate is hot and tropical and the majority of the country’s territory is covered by rainforests separated by two main rivers: the Oyapok and the Maroni. Some of the main attractions include the Îles du Salut — the setting of the famous book Papillon — Guiana Space Centre, and Tresor Natural Reserve.

Expats come to the region for the familiarity of the European feel against the background of lush tropics, fascinating history, and the developing market economy.