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French Guiana a piece of Europe in South America!

You can experience French Guiana by talking French, paying in Euros and eating French food for example. The Department of Guiana, known as French Guiana, is the biggest overseas department of France. It is on the northern coast of South America and it is nestled between Suriname, Brazil and the Atlantic ocean. The capital is Cayenne. Colonial architecture can still be found in French Guiana. Cayenne's Franconia Museum, housed in a wooden Creole building, is listed as a cultural site. The Cathedral of Saint Sauveur, built in the first half of the nineteenth century, is also in the capital.  Popular places to visit are the Rocket base in Kourou and Devils Island. Kourou, is the location of the European Space Agency rocket launch site, since 1965. French Guiana was the location of penal settlements from the middle of the nineteenth century until the middle of the twentieth century. The infamous Devil's Island, one of the Iles du Salut, was part of the French penal colony in South America. So step in Papillon's footsteps and visit Devils Island!

The population of French Guiana was estimated at 281,500 in 2018. French is the official language but Creole and indigenous languages are spoken also. In the late 1970s, several thousand Hmong refugees from Laos immigrated to French Guiana, fleeing displacement after United States involvement in the Vietnam War. The vast majority of French Guianas are Roman Catholic. There are many other religions practiced by minority groups. These include indigenous Amerindian shamanistic religions, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and African based religions. In February (11-13) carnival is celebrated.

Table of contents

TRAVEL DOCUMENTS AND VISAS

BRITISH CITIZEN

British Citizen will not need a visa to enter French Guiana. British nationals should contact the British Embassy Paris in France if there are any problems. The maximum stay is 90 days and you need a valid passport.

EU PASSPORT HOLDERS

EU passport holders do not need a visa to enter French Guiana. The maximum stay is 90 days and you need a valid passport.

OTHER PASSPORT HOLDERS

Other passport holders should check the current entry requirements on the website of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and if necessary confirm with the nearest French Diplomatic mission.

HEALTH & VACCINATION

For a visit to French Guiana, it is advisable to get one or more vaccinations before you arrive. Check this out with your Tropical doctor.

YELLOW FEVER VACCINATION CARD (also read Yellow Fever FAQs)

A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for all travelers aged 1 year or over. Previously World Health Organization (WHO) listed French Guiana as requiring a yellow fever certificate for travelers aged 1 year or over arriving from countries with risk of yellow fever transmission and for travelers having transited through an airport of a country with risk of yellow fever transmission.

There is a risk of yellow fever transmission throughout French Guiana and yellow fever vaccination is recommended for travelers from 9 months of age for personal protection. Travelers should also avoid mosquito bites day and night.

DENGUE

There is a risk of dengue in French Guiana. Dengue is a viral infection transmitted by mosquitoes that predominantly feed between dawn and dusk.  It causes a flu-like illness, which can occasionally develop into a more serious life-threatening form of the disease. Severe dengue is rare in travelers. The mosquitoes that transmit dengue are most abundant in towns, cities and surrounding areas. All travelers to dengue areas are at risk.

Prevention

All travelers should avoid mosquito bites, particularly between dawn and dusk. There is currently no medication or vaccination available for travelers to prevent dengue.

ZIKA VIRUS

French Guiana is considered to have a moderate risk of Zika virus transmission. Pregnant women should consider postponing non-essential travel until after the pregnancy.

Zika virus (ZIKV) is a viral infection transmitted by mosquitoes that predominantly feed between dawn and dusk. A small number of cases of sexual transmission of ZIKV have also been reported. Most people infected with ZIKV have no symptoms. When symptoms do occur they are usually mild and short-lived. Serious complications and deaths are not common. However, there is now a scientific consensus that the Zika virus is a cause of congenital Zika syndrome (microcephaly and other congenital anomalies) and Guillain-Barré syndrome.

Prevention

  • All travelers should avoid mosquito bites, particularly between dawn and dusk.
  • There is no vaccination or medication to prevent ZIKV infection.
  • It is recommended that pregnant women planning to travel to areas with a moderate risk of ZIKV transmission should consider postponing non-essential travel until after pregnancy.
  • Women should avoid becoming pregnant while traveling in, and for 8 weeks after leaving an area with active ZIKV transmission or 8 weeks after the last possible ZIKV exposure.
  • Couples should follow guidance on the prevention of sexual transmission of Zika and avoid conception while traveling and for up to 6 months on return.
  • If a woman develops symptoms compatible with ZIKV infection, it is recommended she avoids becoming pregnant for a further 8 weeks following symptom onset.
  • Pregnant women who visited this country while pregnant, or who become pregnant within 8 weeks of leaving this country, or within 8 weeks after the last possible ZIKV exposure, should contact their GP, obstetrician or midwife for further advice, even if they have not been unwell.
  • Further information about when to perform fetal ultrasound scanning, and, if necessary, referral to the local fetal medicine service is available.

EMERGENCY

FOR US CITIZENS: U.S. Embassy Paramaribo
Kristalstraat 165
Paramaribo, Suriname
Telephone: (597) 556-700 ext. 2129
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: (597) 710-1112
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

CRIME

Crime levels are low, but serious crime does occur in French Guiana. Avoid isolated areas including beaches, particularly after dark. Do not carry large amounts of cash or jewelry with you. Leave valuables and travel documents in safety deposit boxes and hotel safes.

WEATHER

It is always summer in Cayenne!. The climate is tropical, hot and equatorial, with high annual temperatures. Rainfall is heavy, although August to October is dry. The rainy season in French Guiana, during which tropical storms may occur, takes place between December and July. Rainforest covers c.90% of the land and contains valuable hardwood species. Mangrove swamps line parts of the coast; other areas are covered by tropical savanna.

NATIONAL HOLIDAYS

All religious holidays of France are celebrated in French Guiana.

  • 1 January: New Year's Day
  • 19 April: Good Friday
  • 22 April: Easter Monday
  • 1 May: Labour Day
  • 8 May: Victory Day
  • 30 May: Ascension Day
  • 9 June: Whit Sunday
  • 10 June: Whit Monday
  • 14 July: Bastille Day
  • 15 August: Assumption Day
  • 1 November: All Saints' Day
  • 11 November: Armistice Day
  • 25 December: Christmas Day
  • 26 December: St Stephen's Day