Jan 1500 Coastline sighted by Spanish Capt. Vicente Yáñez de Pinzón.
1604 French expedition under Daniel de La Ravardière.
1624 French establish Sinnemary as a trading post.
1637 French establish Cayenne as a trading post.
27 Nov 1643 - 1654 French
settlement at Cayenne (under the Compagnie de Rouen)
1654 - 15 May 1664 Dutch
15 May 1664 Re-occupied by France (Guyane Français); under the Compagnie
de la France Équinoxiale to 1674).
05 May 1676 - Dec 1676 Dutch occupation of
25 Oct 1797 - 1801
Organized as département of France; from 1801 a colony
12 Jan 1809 - 08 Nov 1817 Portuguese/Brazilian occupation.
08 Nov 1817 Restored to France.
10 Jun 1848 Slavery Abolition Day.
1852 - 1946 Penal colony
on Devil's Island.
14 Sep 1939 - 16 May 1943 Subordinated to High Commissioner and
Commander of the
Theater Atlantic West (under Martinique).
16 Jun 1940 - 18 Mar 1943 Administration loyal to Vichy France
(from 18 Mar 1943, under Free French).
06 Jul 1930 - 19 Mar 1946 French Guiana divided into two
territories; French Guiana
(Cayenne and the Atlantic coast) and Inini (inland area).
19 Mar 1946 French overseas département (previously colony).
28 Mar 2003 French overseas region.
10 Jan 2010 Referendum votes 69.8% against increased autonomy.
French Guiana (French: Guyane Française; officially
just Guyane) is an overseas region of France, consisting of a single
overseas department located on the northern Atlantic coast of South America.
It has borders with two nations, Brazil to the east and south, and Suriname
to the west. Its 83,534 km2 have a very low population density of less than
three inhabitants per kilometre squared, with almost half of its living in
the urban area of
Cayenne (formerly known
as La Ravardiere 1643-1664), its capital. Defense is the responsibility of
The addition of the adjective "French" in English comes from colonial times
when five such colonies existed (The Guianas), namely from west to east:
Spanish Guiana (now Guayana Region in Venezuela), British Guiana (now
Guyana), Dutch Guiana (now Suriname), French Guiana, and Portuguese Guiana
(now Amapá, a state in far northern Brazil). French Guiana and the two
larger countries to the north and west, Guyana and Suriname, are still often
collectively referred to as the Guianas and comprise one large shield
French Guiana was originally
inhabited by a number of indigenous American people. It was settled by the
French during the 18th century. According to Bill Marshall, "The first
French effort to colonize Guiana, in 1763, failed utterly when tropical
diseases and climate killed all but 2,000 of the initial 12,000 settlers.
During its existence, France transported approximately 56,000 prisoners to
Devil's Island. Fewer than 10 percent survived their sentence. The coast of
Guiana was sighted by Columbus in 1498 and explored by Amerigo Vespucci in
1499. The French established the first successful trading stations and
settlements, and placed the area under direct control of the French Crown in
1674. Portuguese and British forces occupied French Guiana for five years
during the Napoleonic Wars. Devil's Island, the notorious penal colony in
French Guiana where Capt. Alfred Dreyfus was imprisoned, was established in
1852 and finally closed in 1947. Therefore its infamous known as Île du Diable (Devil's Island), the site of penal
settlements from 1852 until 1951. When France adopted a new
constitution in 1946, French Guiana voted to remain within the French Union
as an Overseas Department.
In 1809, a Portuguese-British naval squadron took French Guiana for the
Portuguese Empire. With the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1814 the
region was handed back to the French, though a Portuguese presence remained
A border dispute with Brazil arose in the late 19th century over a vast area
of jungle, leading to the short-lived pro-French independent state of
Counani in the disputed territory and some fighting between settlers, before
the dispute was resolved largely in favour of Brazil by the arbitration of
the Swiss government. Counani [Republic of
Independent Guyana (French: La République de la Guyane indépendante)] was
created in the area that was disputed by France (as part of French Guyana)
and Brazil in the late nineteenth century. The state was founded by French
settlers and existed from 1886 to 1891. The territory of the former state of
Counani is now located in the Brazilian state of Amapá. Some pattern coins
of 10 centimes (bronze), 20 centimes (Copper-Nickel-Zinc) and 5 Francs (.900
silver and White metal), all dated 1887 are well known.
In 1946, French Guiana became an overseas department of France. The 1970s
saw the settlement of Hmong refugees from Laos.
In 1964 the French president, Charles de Gaulle,
decided to construct a space-travel base in French Guiana. This would
replace the existing Sahara base in Algeria and stimulate economic growth in
French Guiana. A large part of the department's economy derives from the
presence of the near-equatorial Guiana Space Centre, the European Space
Agency's primary launch site. The department is particularly suitable for
the purpose both because it is near to the equator and because of the
extensive access to a large ocean. The Guiana Space Centre a short distance
along the coast from Kourou has grown considerably since the initial
launches of the “Véronique” rockets, and has brought commercial success to
the European space industry with launchers such as the Ariane 4 and Ariane
A movement for increased autonomy from France gained some momentum in the
1970s and 1980s, but has since abated.
Euro = 100 euro cents
In the late 18th century, a series of 2 sous coins was struck for the colony
as Colony of Cayenne, mainly dated 1789. It is probable that contemporary
imitations of these issues, many emanating from Birmingham, England,
outnumber the originals. These, both genuine and bogus, host coins for many
West Indies counterstamps,
Livre = 20 Sols (Sous) = 80 Liards. Notable
coin of Colony of Cayenne are: 2 Sous 1789A and 2 Sous 1816A billion. French
Francs = 100 centimes were used till 31st Dec 2001.
2 Sous. Year:
21.75 mm. Edge:
Obverse: "2 SOUS 1789 A" written within
the circle. "COLONIE DE CAYENNE" written clockwise outside the circle.
"LOUIS XVI . R . DE FR . ET DE NAV."
written clockwise with French Empire
logo and crown in center.
Only 1789A and 1816A are well known. Governor:
Jacques Martin de Bourgon (1789 - 05 Jan 1791).
Very thin coin.
Note: Louis XVI was King of France and
Navarre from 1774 until 1791, after which he was subsequently King
of the French from 1791 to 1792, before his deposition and execution
during the French Revolution.
In 1794, as an Overseas Department, Guiana used the coins of France,
Franc = 100 centimes. However, the Franc used
in the former colony was always distinct in value from that of the homeland
as well as that used in the islands of the French West Indies. Later on 01st
10 centimes. Year:
Weight: 3.22g [3.50g].
21.50 mm. Edge:
Obverse: 10 CENT. in center lowered
circle with "A" mintmark and BARRE (engraver´s signature) written below. "GUYANE FRANÇAISE
1846" written outside the circle.
"LOUIS PHILIPPE I ROI DES FRANÇAIS" with
crowned monogram of Louis-Philippe in center.
Minted Years: One
year type. Governor:
André Aimé Pariset (18 Feb 1846 - 16 May 1850).
KM#A1 also exists as 10
centimes 1818A billion 2.50g.