Guyana is a sovereign country on the northern coast of South America, and one of the only Caribbean nations that isn't an island. The country was colonized by the Netherlands and then became a British colony for more than 200 years before gaining independence in 1966. It's the third smallest independent state of South America with just 215,000 square kilometers (83,000 sq mi) of land.
Guyana has only one city with a population more than 50,000. The capital, Georgetown, is home to about 240,000, or 355,000 in the metro area, and the next largest city is Linden with 45,000 people. 90% of Guyana's population lives on the coastal strip, which accounts for only 10% of the total land area and is just 40 miles across at its widest point.
Guyana has a very racially, ethnically heterogeneous population originating from India, Africa, China and Europe, as well as many indigenous peoples.
The Indo-Guyanese, or East Indians, are the largest ethnic group at 44% of the population, and they are descendants of indentured laborers from India. The second largest group is the Afro-Guyanese (30%), descendants of African slaves. 17% of the population is of mixed heritage, and the indigenous Amerindians make up 9%. The largest indigenous groups of Guyana are the Arawaks, Wai Wai, Caribs, Akawaio and Arecuna.
For the past three decades, the Indo-Guyanese proportion of the population has continued to decline. In 1980, the Indo-Guyanese accounted for 51.9% of the population, which dropped to 48.6% in 1991 then 43.5% in 2002.