Guyana, officially known as the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, is nestled on the northern mainland of South America. It is the third-smallest sovereign state in mainland South America. Despite being relatively small in size, Guyana’s diverse landscapes include lush rainforests, savannahs, and highland areas, contributing to its high biodiversity. Read along to learn about the currency of Guyana.

Map of Guyana on Earth | Source: AS

Colonial Legacy On The Currency of Guyana

Historically, Guyana was colonized by the Dutch before coming under British control in the late 18th century. It was known as British Guiana until gaining independence in 1966.  

Guyana 100 Dollars | 2021 | 55 Years of Guyanese Independence | Currency of Guyana | Source: Banknote World

The 100 Guyanese dollar nickel coin and the 10,000 dollar gold-plated silver coin were issued in 2021 to celebrate the 55th anniversary of Guyana’s independence. One side of the 100 Guyanese dollar nickel coin depicts the colored commemorative logo and a cheetah while the 10,000 dollar coin boasts the national bird, the Canje Pheasant. The other side highlights the Guyanese coat of arms which was granted by the College of Arms on February 25, 1966.   

Guyana 10,000 Dollars Gold Plated Silver Coin | 2021 | 55 Years of Guyanese Independence | Source: Banknote World

At its core is the Cacique’s Crown, symbolizing the indigenous people. Flanking the head-dress are two diamonds representing Guyana’s mining industry, while a helmet, reminiscent of monarchical insignia, provides the base. Two jaguars, holding symbols of labor—pick-axe, sugar cane, and rice—depict the country’s agricultural prowess. The shield, adorned with the Victoria Regia Lily, signifies protection, and three blue wavy barrulets represent Guyana’s major rivers. At the base is the Canje Pheasant that underscores the nation’s rich fauna. The national motto, “One People, One Nation, One Destiny,” sums up the unity and shared destiny of Guyana’s diverse population.  

Guyana 10,000 Dollars Gold Plated Silver Coin | 2020 | 50 Years of the Republic of Guyana | Source: Banknote World

In 1970, Guyana attained republic status within the Commonwealth of Nations. In honor of its 50th anniversary as a republic, a commemorative 10,000 Guyanese dollar gold-plated silver coin was issued in 2020. The coin showcases the Guyanese coat of arms on one side, while the reverse side features a special commemorative logo. 

Land of Many Waters 

The name “Guyana” is most likely derived from an indigenous word meaning “Land of Many Waters,” a fitting description for a country with diverse and abundant natural habitats. Guyana’s abundant water resources aren’t just limited to its name. The Kaieteur Falls, nestled in the heart of the country’s rainforest, unveils its uniqueness as one of the world’s tallest single-drop waterfalls—standing at about four times the height of Niagara Falls and boasting a majestic stature approximately twice that of Victoria Falls on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe in Africa.  

Guyana 20 Dollars Banknote | 1989 ND | Source: Banknote World

Named after the Patamona tribe’s chieftain Chief Kai who sacrificed himself over the falls to the Great Spirit, the Kaieteur Falls is shown on the obverse of the Guyana 20 Dollar banknote from 1989. Also on the banknote’s front design is the logo of the Bank of Guyana. On the note’s reverse is a shipbuilding factory and the ferry vessel MV Malali navigating along the Essequibo River between Parika and Adventure. 

Indigenous Tribes On The Currency of Guyana

Nine indigenous tribes call Guyana home, each contributing to the country’s unique cultural mosaic. These tribes include the Wai Wai, Macushi, Patamona, Lokono, Kalina, Wapishana, Pemon, Akawaio, and Warao. Renowned for their profound bond with the rainforest, the Wai Wai tribe predominantly inhabits the southern reaches of Guyana, close to the source of the Essequibo River. 

Guyana 2,000 Dollars Banknote | 2021 | Source: Banknote World

The reverse on the Guyana 2000 dollar banknote issued in 2021, commemorating the country’s 55th year of independence, shows six children of different ethnic races. It also depicts a Wai-wai pattern to the left. The note’s obverse centers the national emblem. It also features the national flag and the map of Guyana.  

Economic Transformation 

Guyana’s economy has undergone a significant transformation since the discovery of crude oil. However, the country’s economic boom is not limited to oil. Among its economic lifebloods include agriculture and mining. 

Guyana 1-10 Dollars 3 Pieces Coin Set | 1996 | Source: Banknote World

This coin set includes three Guyanese dollar coins with each denomination representing a key economic aspect – rice harvesting, sugar canes, and gold mining. 

From the diverse indigenous tribes to the recent oil discoveries. Guyana, the “Land of Many Waters”, is a nation with a story still unfolding—one of growth, resilience, and a promising future on the global stage. 

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