French Guiana : Sacred land of biodiversity
French Guiana's 8 million hectares of virgin forest are an exceptional natural heritage. This French department, in the North East of South America, is also famous for its carnival and its European space base.
French Guiana's history has been strongly marked by the gold prospectors who landed in large numbers in the 17th century but also, more sombrely, by the penal colonies: 80,000 prisoners were deported there up to 1946, among them Dreyfus, Papillon and Seznec. In 1964, on a decision by Général de Gaulle, a space base was set up at Kourou as a home for the CNES, the National Space Research Centre.
The Guiana space centre
Four or six times a year, the Kourou base organises launches of the Ariane rocket. Watching one from the observation centre is a once in a lifetime experience. The Guiana Space Centre and Space Museum are also unmissable for finding out about the history of the conquest of space by visiting the exhibitions and displays.
Gathering of leatherback turtles
Guiana is home to one of the largest egg-laying sites of leatherback turtles in the world. These impressive animals, weighing between 400 and 900 kg, can be observed on the beaches of the Amana nature reserve. An amazing sight provided by nature.
Guiana has incomparably rich fauna: numerous species cohabit in its luxuriant vegetation: jaguars, pumas, armadillos, anacondas, tarantulas, toucans, parrots, scarlet ibises, piranhas… For nature lovers, it's a magic place.
The Guiana Carnival is famous for being the longest in the world: one and a half months, from the first week after Epiphany to Ash Wednesday. Each weekend the streets are enlivened by richly decorated floats, traditional costumes, musical parades and frenetic dances.