Guyana is a middle-income country, and the third smallest country in South America after Suriname and Uruguay, with about 800,000 inhabitants. Its per capita income in 2015 was US$4,090 (Atlas method). Guyana is well endowed with natural resources, fertile agricultural lands, bauxite, gold and extensive tropical forests which cover more than 80 percent of the country. Guyana has one of the lowest deforestation rates in the world and 90 percent of Guyana’s forest remains intact. Most of the country’s indigenous population lives in forests on which they depend for their livelihood. About 90 percent of the population lives on the narrow coastal plain, where population density is more than 115 persons per square kilometer.
Agriculture and natural resources are important sources of economic activity in Guyana. In 2015 agriculture, forestry, fishing and mining industries accounted for 28 percent of total GDP, and bauxite, sugar, rice, gold and timber made up 83 percent of exports (Ministry of Finance, 2016). These sectors are also large source of jobs.
Guyana’s economic fortunes in recent years have reflected the path of global commodity prices. Between 2005 and 2014, the economy grew by 4.7 percent per year on average, ending a disappointing decade of alternating years of growth and contraction. However, real GDP growth decelerated to 3.1 percent in 2015, as commodity prices collapsed for Guyana’s major exports. Drought, and uncertainty surrounding the 2015 elections also contributed to slower growth. Preliminary estimates show growth of 3.3 percent in 2016. Increased output from mining, agriculture, and fishing compensated for lower global prices and balanced out contractions in forestry and manufacturing.
The economy is expected to grow by around 3.6 percent in 2017–19. Most of this growth is expected to come from continued rapid growth of gold production and rebounding performance in other sectors. The discovery of oil off Guyana’s coast holds the promise of increased revenue to finance the country’s development needs—but brings with it new challenges that will require careful management of economic, governance, and environmental risks.
Last Updated: Apr 10, 2017