French Guiana, which is located in South America, is actually an overseas region that is overseen by France. French is the official language of the region, which is home to 240,000 people, and the official currency is the Euro. About 100,000 people visit this region every year.
1. A Land of Rain Forests
The largest city in French Guiana is Cayenne, with about 60,000 full-time residents. Most of the nation outside of its coastal areas is still actually tropical rain forest. There is a particular dense area of rain forest that has been designated a national park.
2. Loved By Turtles
French Guiana has numerous coastal beaches that are popular nesting sites for turtles. The Leatherback turtle in particular is very fond of this region’s shoreline. It is one of the largest nesting sites for this turtle anywhere in the world.
3. To Infinity and Beyond
French Guiana also serves as the primary location for France’s space activities. The Guiana Space Center sees several launches every year and has been operational since 1968. What makes this location unique is that it is so close to the equator that the planet actually gives launched rockets extra velocity due to its rotation. The European Space Agency shares the facility and pays for 67% of its annual budget.
4. It Used to Be a Jail
French Guiana was originally awarded to France in 1667 thanks to the Treat of Breda. From 1852 until 1939, however, the French actually used this territory as a penal colony. There have been occasional votes for independence over the centuries, but because of the large amount of subsidies that come into this region, the highest vote total for independence has been just 5%.
5. Part of the EU
Because of its assignment as an overseas region of France, French Guiana is technically part of the European Union even though it is in South America. That’s why the Euro is the official currency. Once there were 5 different Guiana colonies from Europe, which is why it still has the “French” moniker to its title. Calling it just “Guaina” because it is the only surviving colony is still common as well.
French Guiana is an interesting piece of Europe located on the other side of the world. Gold prospectors love this nation and it has many important exports that help to make it a healthy and wealthy part of today’s world.