. . .
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N .4 k 5?a
THIS VOLUME HAS BEEN
BY THE UNIVERSITY OF
6? S~ I~
KAIETEUR FALLS -
Centres of Population
TIMBER AND FOREST INDUSTRIES -
SUGAR, RICE AND AGRICULTURAL
MINING INDUSTRIES -
COMMERCE AND SHIPPING -
OPPORTUNITIES FOR CAPITAL
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
Kaieteur Falls, Potaro River
A Road in the Interior, 150 miles from Georgetown
Potaro River, on the way to Kaieteur Falls
Brink of Kaieteur Falls .. .
In the Gorge below Kaieteur Falls, looking down river
Amatuk Rest House, Pbtaro River, on the way to Kaietcur Falls..
Gold Digging Camp at foot of Eagle Mountain
Wismar, 65 miles up Demerara River .. ..
Kanaka Mountains and Interior Savannas
Aboriginal Indians Travelling by Corial
Indian Shooting Fish
The Public Buildings, Georgetown
Main Street, Georgetown, and the War Memorial
The Sea Wall, Georgetown
Water Street, Georgetown
The Georgetown Cricket Club Pavilion ..
Town Hall, New Amsterdam
** Arapaima" Fish, Rupununi River
Entrance to Botanic Gardens, Georgetown
Hewing a Greenheart Log Square ..
Hauling Greenheart by Winch
Punt carrying Greenheart Logs
Greenheart Timber Loaded on Trucks ..
Balata Tree, showing tapping cuts
Balata Bleeders Leaving Rockstone
A Locust Tree (Hymenoea courbaril)
Heading out Sugar Canes to Punts
Steam Hoist Lifting Canes at a Sugar Factory
Loading the Cut Cane into Punts on a Sugar Estate
Ploughing a Rice Field .
Harvesting the Rice .
S LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS-Catkmed.
A Coconut Plantation .. .. .. .. .... facing
Indian Girl Spinning Cotton .. .. .. .. .. 59
The Rupununi Cattle Trail, Bridge Over a Creek .. .. .. 62
Steer Bred on Rupununi Savanna .. .. .... .. 63
Rupununi River, looking North to the Kanaka Mountains .. .. 63
Aluvial Gold Mining .. .. .. .. .. .... 70
Cattle on the Rupununi Savannas .. .. .. .. .. 7I
Dredging for Gold, Potaro District .. .. 74
Washing for Diamonds .. .. .. .. .. .. facng
A Parcel of British Guiana Rough Diamonds .. .. facing
Diagram showing Value of Annual Output of Diamonds .. 75
Diagram showing Comparative Value and Weight of Annual Output
of Diamonds .. .. .. .. .. .. .... 78
Arawatta Rocks, Barima River (Granite) .. ..... 79
Hauling Boats Through the Rapids, Essequibo River .. .. 86
Mining for Bauxite, Loading the Trucks .. .. .. .. 87
Steamer Loading Bauxite, Demerara River .. .. .. .. go
The Public Buildings, Georgetown, Built 1832 .. .. .. 91
Stabrock Market, Georgetown .. .. .. .. .. .. 94
Kaieteur Falls, Potaro River.
Vertical drop 741 feet, nearly five times the height of Niagara ; wudth
350 to 4oo feet, and depth of water from a few feet to 20 feet, according to
season of the year.
B RITISH GUIANA, the only British colony on the South
American mainland, has an area of about 89,480 square
miles, approximately equal to that of England, Scotland and
Wales, and the population by the 1921 Census was estimated at
297,691, which gives an average of 3A per square mile.
In spite of being so near the equator the climate is more sub-
tropical than tropical. For most months of the year the maximum
shade temperature is about 850F, and even in the hottest months
890F is rarely recorded, while the night temperature seldom falls
below 73"F or 74"F, a temperature of 70oF being very rare.
There are two wet and two dry seasons in the coastland regions;
the long wet season, usually from April to August, being succeeded
by the long dry season up to the middle of November, followed
by the wet weather towards the end of January, and the short
dry season until April. The rainfall average is about 85 inches
on the coastland belt, and 58 inches on the savannahs. In the
forest regions of the interior the contrast between the wet and
dry seasons is less marked than on the coast, the rainfall being
more regular throughout the year. In the savannah region of
the interior there is a well-marked dry season from October to
February; while the wettest months are from May to August.
It may be said also that the range of temperature is slightly greater
in the forest regions than on the coastland region, and is even
greater still on the savannah region; thus on the savannahs the
main maximum shade registered is 92-5, while the main minimum
shade is 72-2.
Fresh sea breezes blow steadily almost without intermission
during the daytime for the greater part of the year; during the
months of January, February and March they continue both
night and day and make life, even for the European, exceedingly
pleasant. The general direction of the wind is north-east, east-
north-east or East. Occasionally, however, during the wet months
of the year, a land-breeze is experienced from the south-east,
South or south-west, and with this wind the heaviest falls of rain
occur. The wind varies from 'gentle to fresh and gales are
exceedingly rare. Hurricanes are unknown.
The consta winds temper the heat of the tropical sun and keep
the temperature inside the houses cool and pleasant. Visitors
from other tropical countries frequently express surprise at the
pleasantness of the climate. The nights, too, throughout the year
are uniformly cool and conducive to sleep.
There are rarely twenty days in any year on which bright sun-
shine is not recorded. The daily average throughout the year
is a little over six hours, but except when rain is falling, dull and:
cloudy weather is very rarely experienced. In the dry season
the average record of sunshine is nearly ten hours per diem.
Rain generally occurs during the early part of the day.
History.-Guiana was the Indian name for the country between
the two rivers Orinoco and Amazon, and was probably derived
from the root word winna" = water or watery country."
The coast was first seen by Columbus in 1498, but no Spanish
voyager appears to have landed on the part now known as British
Guiana. The inhabitants were numerous and consisted of three
tribes, Caribs, Arrawaks and Warrows, the first two being con-
tinually at war with each other. The Caribs were noted cannibals
and fighting men, and did not hesitate to raid the European
settlements in the West Indian Islands in search of their favourite
food-human flesh. It is probable that these tribes had driven
out and taken the place of an earlier migration, probably from
Mexico or Yucatan. In the latter half of the sixteenth century
the story of El Dorado incited many adventurers to explore the
country, and in 1595 Sir Walter Raleigh went up the Orinoco
in quest of the Gilded King and his wonderful city. English,
Dutch and French traders followed.
In 1621 the Dutch West India Company received a charter
by which it became possessed of Essequibo. Three years later a
commander was sent to Fort Kyk-over-al, and at the same time
a few settlers went to the Berbice river in the interest of the
mercantile house of van Peere. In i65o the Governor of Barbados
founded a British colony on the Surinam river, and in 1657 a small
Dutch settlement was made on the Pomeroon. In 1666, war having
broken out between England and the Netherlands, both Kyk-over-al
and Pomeroon were captured by an expedition from Barbados.
In 1667 Surinam was exchanged for what is now New York, and
most of the Pomeroon settlers went to what is now Dutch-Guiana.
Those were the days of raiders. A second settlement in the
Pomeroon was destroyed by French corsairs in 1689; in 1708
Kyk-over-al submitted to pay a ransom to Captain Ferry, and
in 1712 Berbice was held by Jaques Cassard as security for a
bill of exchange.
Real colonization did not commence until the introduction of
foreigners in the early years of the eighteenth century. In I74o,
under Governor Storm van's Gravesande, Essequibo was thrown
open to all nations, with free land and ten years' riedom from
taxes, and settlers began to arrive in considerable numbers. The
seat of Government had been removed to Fort Island near the
mouth of the Essequibo; a general move was made to the fertile
coast lands, and permission was given to settle on the river
Berbice, though far behind Essequibo, had become a real colony
with a population of 346 whites and about 4,oo0 slaves, when,
in 1763, a rising of the latter drove their masters from every
plantation to take refuge at the mouth of the river. The revolt
was not put down till nearly a year afterwards.
No real town existed in either colony. There were some houses
near Fort Nassau, in Berbice, and Fort Zeelandia, in Essequibo,
while in Demerara the Government officers were on a small island
called Borsselen, about 15 miles up the river. In 1781 the colonies
were captured by the British, who occupied them for ten months,
and chose a site for a new town near the mouth of the Demerara.
The French, acting as allies of the Netherlands, then ousted the
English, and in z784 the Dutch resumed possession, and called
the new town Stabroek. It became Georgetown in 1812. New
Amsterdam, in Berbice, was laid out about ten years later.
The capture of the colonies by the British and then by the
French allies of the Netherlands upset the easy-going Dutch
authorities, and resulted in a political crisis. The West Indian
Company wanted to introduce changes which the colonists refused
to allow. For two or three years no taxes could be collected;
petitions against the Company were sent to the States-General,
and in the end the renewal of its charter was refused. In 1791
Demerara and Essequibo came under State control, and a Plan
of Redress, the basis of the present constitution, was formulated.
The troubles in Europe that followed the French Revolution
were naturally reflected in the colonies. The Dutch and British
became allies, but the Court of Policy in Demerara refusing to
recognize this, nine English vessels arrived on the z7th of May,
1796, with a demand that the colony be placed under the protection
of the British Government. Thus the two colonies of Demerara-
Essequibo and Berbice became British for the first time. Restored
to the Batavian Republic in 18o2, they were again captured
ten months afterwards, and finally transferred to Great Britain
at the Great Peace of 1814-15 for certain monetary considerations
to the tune of about three millions sterling.
The arrival of the British in 1796 was followed by a remarkable
development of the colonies. Cotton, coffee and sugar, were the
main products, and high prices were realized. Slaves were imported
to the number of about 5,000 a year, and everything looked bright,
when the abolition of the slave trade in 1807 checked further
development, and caused everyone to cry out for labour. Coffee
and cotton gradually disappeared and sugar took their place.
Labour was always inadequate, and gave rise to suggestions for
immigration. A great rising of slaves took place in 1823 on the
East Coast of Demerara. Suddenly emancipation became an
impending fact. A system of apprenticeship was established for
four years, and in 1838 the negroes became their own masters.
The chief danger to threaten the industry of late years was the
Continental Bounty system which encouraged the sale of sugar
in England at a price much lower than the cost of production.
This handicap was removed in 1903, thanks to Mr. Joseph
Chamberlain and the Brussels Convention. The general result of
East Indian Immigration has been very good, and of late years
the colony has enjoyed a fair measure of prosperity. The discovery
of gold in paying quantities was made in 188o, and since that time
the precious metal has furnished a considerable portion of the
colony's revenue. Diamonds, too, have been found in considerable
numbers, and rice-growing for export has undergone a remarkable
development. Politically, the settlement of the Venezuelan
boundary question in 1899, and the demarcation of the Brazilian
boundary in 1906, have had a good effect. The tendency to closer
trade relations with Canada-already the colony's chief market for
sugar-promises much good. That British Guiana contains great
possibilities is a truism; the full development of those possibilities
has yet to be recorded.
Administration.-The existing Administration consists of the
Governor, the Executive Council, the Court of Policy and the
The Governor is appointed by the Sovereign, and holds office
during the Sovereign's pleasure. In him is vested exclusively the
executive power, and he exercises direct supervision over the
whole of the administrative departments.
The Executive Council consists of the Governor, the Colonial
Secretary, the Attorney General, and such other persons as may
be appointed from time to time by the Sovereign or are provisionally
appointed by the Governor.
The Governor is President of the Council. The expression
"Governor-in-Council" is defined under the law to mean "the
Governor acting with but not necessarily in accordance with the
advice of the Executive Council." The primary functions of the
Council are to advise and assist the Governor for the time being
in the administration of the Government. The Annual Estimates
for the Combined Court are prepared by the Governor-in-Council.
With the Council also rests the trial and suspension from office of
Public Officers charged with misconduct.
The Court of Policy is now purely legislative, the executive
functions which it formerly exercised having been transferred in
1891 to the Executive CounciL It passes all Ordinances except
the Annual Tax Ordinance and the Annual Customs Duties
Ordinance, which are passed by the Combined Court. The power
to legislate is derived from the Crown and is subject to veto by
the Crown and to the power of the Crown to pass, by Order in
Council. laws which cannot be altered by the authority of the
The Court of Policy consists of the Governor, seven official
members and eight elective members. The official section includes
the Colonial Secretary, the Attorney General, the Immigration
A Road in the Interior, 15o miles from Georgetown.
of February 7th, 1921. An appeal lies as of right when the matter
in dispute on the appeal amounts to or is of the value of 300.
The courts of Stipendiary Magistrates in the various districts
dispose of minor civil and criminal matters, an appeal lying there-
from to the Full Court.
Up to January Ist, 1917, the Roman-Dutch Law was the common
law of the colony. At that date the Civil Law of British Guiana
came into operation. This ordinance purports to codify certain
portions of the Roman-Dutch law, and in other matters to substitute
the English common law and principles of equity, together with
certain English statutory provisions, for the Roman-Dutch law.
The criminal law of the colony is practically the same as that of
In this colony as elsewhere the legal profession is very much
overcrowded. There are at present on the Roll of Court
forty-nine barristers, of whom thirty are practising, and thirty-five
solicitors, of whom twenty-eight are also practising in the colony.
Finances.-The revenue for the year 1923 amounted to z,I0o,5oo,
and the expenditure 1,o50,921. The public debt at the end of
1922 amounted to 2,409,590*. Nearly 50 per cent. of the amount
collected in taxation comes from import and export duties;
a further 20 per cent. of the average is from excise on rum. There
is no income tax. Customs duties average about 15 per cent.
ad valorem, and a substantial preference is granted to the products
and manufactures of Empire countries. Accounts are kept in
dollars and cents at the rate of 4s. 2d. to the dollar. In addition
to the English silver and copper money there are also in circulation
fourpenny pieces, current only in British Guiana, and usually
known as bits." The Government issues notes to the value of
$x and $2, and other currencies are provided by the Colonial Bank
and the Royal Bank of Canada in the form of $5, $2o and $1oo.
Figure for 1923 not available.
BRITISH GUIANA lies on the north-eastern coast of the
continent of South America between parallels I to 8* North
and meridians 57 to 61 West. It has a coast-line of about
270 miles extending almost from the eastern mouth of the river
Orinoco to the river Courantyne, and is bounded on the North
by the Atlantic Ocean, on the South and south-west by Brazil,
on the East by Dutch Guiana, and on the north-west by Venezuela.
It varies in depth (from the ocean southwards) from 540 miles on
the western to 300 miles on the eastern side. The area is 89,480
The Colony may be divided broadly into three belts, the northern
one is a low-lying, flat and swampy strip of marine alluvium known
as the coastal region. This rises gradually from the seaboard
and extends inland for a distance varying from io to 40 miles.
It is succeeded by a broader and slightly elevated tract of country
composed of sandy and clayey, practically sedentary, soils. This
belt is chiefly undulating land and is traversed in places by sand-
dunes rising from 5o-x8o feet above sea-level. The more elevated
portion lies to the southward of the above-mentioned regions.
It rises gradually to the south-west between the river valleys,
which are in many parts swampy, and contains three principal
mountain ranges, several irregularly distributed smaller ranges,
and in the southern and eastern parts many isolated hills and
mountains. The eastern portion is almost entirely forest-clad
but on thesouth-western side there is an extensive area of flat
grass-cad savannah elevated about 400-700 feet above sea-level
The country is traversed by many large rivers, which, with their
numerous tributaries and branch streams form a vast network
of waterways. All the larger rivers of the colony are impeded
above the tide-way by numerous rapids, cataracts, and falls, which
render the navigation of the upper reaches difficult.
In its scenery British Guiana affords very great contrasts. The
tourists who visits the colony and confines himself to the flat
and settled coast-lands leaves with the impression that British
Guiana is merely a mud-flat not entirely above sea-level; but
the traveller who penetrates any considerable distance into the
vast interior must be greatly impressed by the tropical vegetation
of lofty trees, tangled.lianas and graceful palms, the hilly nature
of the country, the many great anges and curiously-shaped moun-
tains, the elevated undulating plateaus, the extensive savannahs,
and the multitude of cataracts and waterfalls of surpassing beauty,
which occur on the upper parts of the larger rivers and their
The Coast-Lands.-The flat and comparatively narrow plain or
belt which forms the coast-lands is to a considerable extent slightly
below the level of ordinary spring tides which flood the unprotected
parts. Inland it may rise to about 10 or 12 feet above high water
mark and in depth it varies from ro miles on the West to 40 miles
along the Berbice and Courantyne rivers. Its margin is protected
from sea and river by a dense growth of Mangrove (Risophora
Mangle) and Courida (Avicennia nilida). Behind this growth
are flat grassy savannahs mostly inundated during the rainy
It is along the outermost part of the coast-lands from the
Pomeroon to the Courantyne that almost the whole of the popula-
tion and cultivation of the colony are concentrated. Situated on
this comparatively, narrow strip are the two towns of the colony,
nearly all the villages, and with but few exceptions all the sugar
estates, roads and railways. Georgetown, the chief port and capital
of British Guiana, lies at the mouth of the Demerara river on the
East bank. New Amsterdam, the only other town, is situated
70 miles eastward some 5 miles up the East bank of the Berbice
river. A standard gauge railway connects the two towns-a
steam-ferry running from the terminus at Rosignol on the West
bank of the Berbice river to New Amsterdam-and a short line
constructed to a 3 ft. 6 in. gauge runs from Vreed-en-Hoop, on the
West bank of the Demerara river opposite Georgetown, 181 miles
along the West coast to Parika at the mouth of the Essequibo
The drainage-naturally a most important point on the coast-
lands-is inter-tidal, i.e., by the aid of sluices or kokers the water
is discharged from the drainage canals during low tide and is kept
out at high water, but in many cases during heavy weather steam
pumps are also employed for this purpose.
The Sand and Clay Belt.-This lies behind the coast-lands and
extends right across the breadth of the colony. Along the sloping
front it is elevated about 50 feet above sea-level, and as it extends
inland it rises in some places to hills of 18o to 2oo feet in height.
Here and there it is traversed by sand dunes. In width it varies
considerably; in the North West district it ends at a distance of
40 to 50 miles from the ocean. The greater part of this belt is
clothed with high forest containing a great variety of useful and
The Mountain Region.-Behind the two belts just mentioned
lies the Pakaraima Range, a mountainous region consisting of
undulating plateaus rising successively at varying distances one
after another in bold sandstone escarpments from 1,2oo to 2,000
feet high and cut in places into deep gorges of which the Kaieteur
is pre-eminent for its size and beauty. The culminating point
is reached in the flat-topped mountains Roraima and Kukenaam,
which rise 5,000 feet above the surrounding country and 8,600
feet above the sea-level. In the Rupununi District the Kanuku
mountains rise above a low-lying undulating savannah to an eleva-
tion of between 2,000 and 3,000 feet.
Essequibo River.-All the rivers flow into the Atlantic Ocean.
The largest of them is the Essequibo, which, with its tributaries
the Mazaruni, Cuyuni, Potaro, Siparuni and Rupununi, drains
considerably more than half of the total area of the colony. Its
total length is something over 600 miles. It is joined at Bartica
by the Mazaruni, which is itself joined at Kartabo, 5 miles above
Bartica, by the Cuyuni river. Kyk-over-al, an island off Kartabo
Point, was the first important settlement made by the Dutch, and
still retains traces of the old buildings. At Bartica the stream is
about 3) miles across, while at its mouth the estuary of the Essequibo
has a width of 14 miles and contains three great islands, the largest
about 12 miles long. Ocean-going boats can proceed for some little
distance above Bartica. Fort Island, some miles up the river,
was once the seat of Government of the colony. On it there is
a large Dutch church-formerly used as the Court of Policy Hall-
and the remains of an old fort. Above the first series of rapids
on the Essequibo and opposite the lower end of Gluck island, a
metre-gauge railway runs from Rockstone to Wismar on the Deme-
aratriver and thus affords easy access to Georgetown from the
goldfields and balata districts situated in the upper regions of
the Essequibo system.
The Courantyne River.-The Courantyne river ranks second in
size amongst the rivers of the colony, of which its left bank forms
the boundary. East Indians have taken kindly to the Courantyne
river, and small farms extend at intervals along the banks as far
as Orealla, some 52 miles from the river mouth. At that point
hills, about 60 feet high, occur and continue southwards as far as
Epera, about 35 miles along the bank above Orealla. Both at
Orealla and Epera there are Indian reserves and Missions. Beyond
Epera the Courantyne is quite uninhabited to its highest reaches.
In the season balata-bleeders' boats go as far up as the mouth of
the New River.
The Berbice River.-At its mouth the Berbice river is divided
into two channels by Crab Island, the width there being about
three miles from bank to bank. The stream is navigable for large
craft for a longer distance than any of the other rivers of the
colony, the steamer terminus being some rio miles from the sea.
Beyond this point, in the dry season, the riverbecomesvery shallow
and much obstructed by sandbanks, but during the rains its course
is uninterrupted as far up as Marlissa, about 165 miles from the
mouth. Opposite New Amsterdam, on the western bank of the
river, there is the railway terminus of Rosignol and the large sugar
plantation ofBlairmont, beyond which a public road extends for
four miles up the river. Along the eastern bank another road
runs for 25 miles above New Amsterdam. The banks for over
five miles above the town are occupied by sugar plantations. There
is also a solitary estate at Mara about 35 miles up the river. With
these exceptions the low-lying banks of the lower Berbice river
clothed with stunted trees and bordered along their muddy slopes
by Mucca-mucca (Montrichardia spp.) and bush, continue unbroken
on both sides for 50 miles to Bartica on the eastern bank of the
river. There the land rises about 15 feet above the water and the
forest gives way to an open grass-clad stretch of savannah which
commences at this point and extends many miles above the ruins
of the old Dutch fort and town of Nassau (the former capital of
Berbice), about four miles above Bartica. At the Marlissa rapids
the surface of some of the larger granite rocks is carved with picture
writings done in ancient days and resembling those of Timehri
on the Courantyne and at Waraputa on the Essequibo river.
The Canje creek, which flows into the Berbice river just below
New Amsterdam, is narrow but remarkably deep, and is navigable
for 51 miles from its mouth. The forests through which it flows
in its upper reaches are famous for their balata trees (Mimusops
globosa), and in former days the Canje creek was the home of the
balata industry. A good deal of bleeding is still done in the
The Demerara River.-Although commercially the most important
and best known of all the rivers of the colony, yet compared with
some of them the Demerara is but a small stream. It has a length
of only zoo miles, but the depth of water on the bar is sufficient
to allow of large vessels crossing with ease and security. Conse-
quently, Georgetown, the capital and principal port of British
Guiana, has been established on its eastern bank at its mouth
where the river has a width of about three-quarters of a mile, and
furnishes a safe harbour.
The terminus of the colonial steamers-which ascend the
Demerara river daily-is at Wismar, about 65 miles from the sea;
but sailing vessels can be towed for 15 miles further up to load
timber, large supplies of which have for many years been obtained
and exported from the valuable forest country through which the
river flows. Opposite Wismar is McKenzie City," the head-
quarters of the Demerara Bauxite Coy., Ltd. From Wismar a
railway runs across to Rockstone on the Essequibo river, and small
launches run regularly twice a week to the foot of the Malalli
rapids on the Demerara, about 1o4 miles from Georgetown, where
the influence of the tide ends.
Brink of Kaieteur Falls.
In the Gorge below Kaieteur Falls, looking down river.
On the lower Demerara river, for a distance of nearly 20 miles
from Georgetown, the low and flat lands on both sides of the river
are extensively cultivated. There are several sugar plantations
on both banks, Pin Diamond on the right bank, about eight miles
from Georgetown, being the largest in the colony.
Public roads extend from Georgetown for distances of 23) miles
along the eastern and i51 miles on the western bank.
Borsselen, or "No. 2 Island," situated about 2o miles from the
mouth, is of interest, as on it, in 1753, the first capital of Demerara
was laid out.
The Pomeroon River.-The Pomeroon river drains the portion
of the colony lying between the Essequibo river and the upper
Waini river. The low flat alluvial lands which form the banks of
the lower river are among the most fertile in the colony, and a
succession of well-drained and flourishing farms now extend as
far as Makasima, about 36 miles from the Atlantic. The
Pomeroon is navigable for steamers up to and beyond Makasima
some miles beyond which the tidal influence ends.
The Waini River.-Throughout its whole course the Waini flows,
entirely through forest-clad country. It has a width of about two
miles at its mouth and is navigable for steamers for 53 miles up
to the junction of the Barama river. 'The Mora passage-about
seven miles in length-forms a deep and navigable waterway on
the southern side of the Waini river, three miles from its mouth,
through which steamers can pass into the Barima river at
The banks of the Barama river are fiat and swampy and clothed
with forest. Small launches are run during the rainy season, as
far as the Towokpima falls, whence the Barima-Barama road
passes through the Mazawini and Takutu goldfields to Arakaka on
the Barima river, a distance of 29 miles.
The Barima River.-The Barima river gives access to the principal
gold-bearing areas of the North-West District. About 52 miles
from its mouth is Morawhanna, which, as just explained, can be
reached from the Waini river by the Mora passage. Opposite
Morawhanna resides the Commissioner of the North West District.
The steamer terminus is at Morawhanna, but the river is navigable
for the greater part of the year for another 125 miles. Launches
ascend the nver regularly to Arakaka, the centre of the gold-
bearing district. A Warden is stationed at this settlement, which
was at one time of considerable size and importance. Smaller
gold-digging settlements are to be found on the right bank of the
Barima river, the furthest being Five Stars" landing, about
170 miles from Morawhanna by river and 29} miles from Arakaka
by land over the Five Stars Trail, constructed and maintained
KAIETEUR THE MAGNIFICENT.
HE following extracts describing a visit to the Kaieteur Falls--
one of the world's great natural wonders-are taken from
an interesting article appearing in Blackwood's Magazine of
November, 1917 :-
At last the sun having already begun to sink below the edge of
the plateau, we saw ahead, far up on the top of the now almost
encircling escarpment, a faint line of bluff, partly hidden by an
intervening buttress. It was the brink of Kaieteur. There, a
thousand feet above, and nearly six miles away, the river we
were paddling on fell from the edge of the plateau down a sheer
cliff in a fall that dwarfs Niagara. Just a glimpse we caught, but
it was so remote, so high, so far above us, that it seemed impossible
to believe that there was any connection between that strip of water
and the mighty river beneath us. Nevertheless we gained new
vigour from the scene, and paddled on until our progress was
barred by a cataract, and we disembarked to find a camping-
ground. On the morrow we set out for the climb to
Kaieteur as we climbed we could hear to our left
a sullen roar that grew in volume as we ascended. It was a swelling
significant roar of an avalanche, but continuous. It grew upon me
as I pressed laboriously upward, it seemed to envelope my surround-
ings, to be about to engulf the jungle. Imagine, you who have had
experience in the high mountains, the sound of never-ceasing
avalanches, and you will have some idea of the terrible destructive
power of which that roaring was significant.
The lower slopes were of rather friable sandstone, but as we neared
the top we saw, strewn in titanic disorder through the jungle,
great angular fragments of hard conglomerate filled with quartz
pebbles the size of a man's fist. They were as large as a table in
some cases, as large as a waggon in others, and lay upon the slope,
supported by the trees and half clad with mosses. They were
broken from the hard horizontal stratum that forms the summit
of the plateau, and is responsible for the sharpness of the cliffs.
The ever-active forces of erosion easily wear away the soft sand-
stone, but make little impression on the conglomerate until,
undermined, it breaks off its own weight into angular masses.
Out upon this hard layer we stepped at last, after nearly two6
hours' climb. The top was bare so near the brink, for every bit
of soil was carried away by constant rains. Only plants that need
no subterraneous root can subsist on it-coarse, malformed, stunted
plants that cling to it as ivy clings to a wall and live on rain and mist.
The scene was hidden by a cloud that rested on the plateau, the
cloud that had drenched us with rain as we ascended. We could
see only a few yards ahead over an unprepossessing area,
broken only by clumps of fantastic vegetation. Still the mighty
rear, stronger than ever, rose from somewhere on the left. Tudor
led me to a place where the plateau suddenly ceased. The roaring
was louder than ever, and seemed everywhere, as though per-
meating the mist, which now rose in eddying clouds from beneath
Then the clouds began to lift. I saw a line of rushing yellowish
water right in front, so surrounded by mist that it seemed fairly
upon me. Slowly the clouds rolled away, and, like a curtain
withdrawn, revealed the most awful scene I have ever witnessed.
Here was a mighty river, pouring with a force that suggested
terrible wrath, over a precipice over eight hundred feet high,
down into which seemed unfathomable depths. A sense of un-
reasoning dread sought to force me from the eerie rock on which
I stood. But so great was the fascination of this manifestation of
a power so vast that it is as inexorable as fate, so great was its
hidden influence, that it drew me forward. I gazed at the tossing
waters and into the maelstrom below with eyes that could not
turn away, and yet with a sickening sense of puny helplessness,
an oppressive consciousness that I was standing in the presence
of a power before which the boasted might of man is nought.
,My point of vantage was a butting rock at the very summit
of. a wall of a mighty gorge, a sort of amphitheatre two miles
or more across. In front and a little to the right I could see the
distant mountains and the winding river that narrowed to dash
in awful majesty over the brink of the gorge. There the water
shows the rich walnut colour I have spoken of before, but it quickly
changes to amber and becomes lighter and lighter as the rush
through the air separates drop from drop. At the foot all is hidden
by clouds of spray that rise in wild contortions, fly in all directions,
and either rise through the heavy air, where the sunlight spans
them with a brilliant rainbow, or cling to the sides of the gorge
until precipitated on its moist sides, nourishing the mosses and air
plants with which they are profusely clad.. Below my feet wa~
"t seething cauldron, covered with kaleidoscopic films of foam,
in which the waters gathered themselves together for another
rush over the cataracts that lead out of the gorge to the left.
The top of the fall is slightly re-entrant, and measured at the time
of my visit four hundred feet across. The distance from there
to the first obstruction is seven hundred and forty-one feet, while
the total drop is eight hundred and twenty-two. It is therefore
nearly five times as high as Niagara, but its finer proportions,
its concentration, make it incomparably more grand. It is the
perfect waterfall, the most beautiful manifestation of nature's
lavishness and splendour.
As I gazed spellbound in the presence of that cataclysmic power,
watching the ropes of water form and separate into columns of
wind-blown spray, trying to realise what immeasurable '~Vaees
: !I ca it -
were being tossed recklessly into the dark cauldron below, I noticed
that the air was filled with swallows. They wheeled in flocks
into the very edge of the abyss, darted almost into the falls them-
selves, soared overhead, and gathered in flocks of tiny specks
hundreds of feet below between the mist-hung cliffs. At first
I did not know whence they came, but soon I saw a few individuals
disappear behind the solid wall of water. Then a whole flock
followed, defiling as they went. Back under the falls I could see
the outlines of a mighty cave, hollowed in the sandstone by the
backwash of the waters. There the swallows nested. They were
the guests as it were, the familiar spirits of the fall.
I moved away from my jutting rock, and reached a point nearer
the brink. The speed of the rushing water was incalculable, and
its depth, as it pitched forward for the awful plunge, must have
exceeded twenty feet. One of my men tore one of the light pulpy
plants from its hold on the rock and flung it into the water. The
current caught it, raised it for a moment on the bosom of the river,
and then hurled it far out beyond the fall. I watched it spellbound
as it fell through empty space down, down into the cloudof spray.
It seemed an age before it was engulfed by -the hungry waters,
and I was conscious of a sensation of pain in every nerve. I
seemed to suffer as though I myself were falling, and a feeling of
horror passed over me as the rushing waters at my side seemed
to be dashing me also into the abyss. I turned aside and saw the
man tearing at another plant. Fiercely I called to him to cease,
for I could not have endured such another sight.
Then I turned my eyes away from Kaieteur and looked down
the valley, far away beyond the gorge. There was a far different
scene. All was wrapped in peace as in a garment. The gleaming
river showed in patches amid the jungle greenery, and above it
rose the buttresses that border the plateau. There were no scenes
of dynamic waste, no rugged lines, no abysmal drops, only gentle
curves and tree-cad slopes, a fit setting for the chain of jewels
that was the river. But ever present was the roar of Kaieteur,
ever dominant the fierce, uncompromising tyrant of the jungle.
No wonder the red men look upon him as the great fetish, the
God of waters, greatest of worldly forces. In the jungle it is the
water that really dominates, not the sun as in desert lands. The
forest owes its life to the never-ceasing rains, and all the jungle
animals are water lovers. The rivers are the highways, the only
means by which man may go from place to place. Therefore I
could not help feeling that I had found in Kaieteur an expression
of the great secret mystery of the jungle. God of waters," the
Indians call him. To me he was, as it were, the epitome of jungle
NE of the most interesting aspects of British Guiana is the
cosmopolitan character of its population. Europeans,
Portuguese from Maderia, Chinese, East Indians, Aboriginal
Indians, and Negroes may be encountered at any time in George-
town, and the coloured or mixed element between all, some, or any
of the pure races is ubiquitous.
Strictly speaking, the only natives of British Guiana are the
"Buck Indians, or Aborigines. Europeans came next in order
of time, and the negro slaves introduced by these followed. The
sources from which the very mixed population of British Guiana
has been drawn is given in the following table :-
Number of Immigrants, classified according to Nationality, arriving
from 1835 to 1921.
1835 1841 1851 861 1871 11881-818921-9a 9gox-oz 1911
Whence to to to to to to to to to Totals
1840 1850 186o 187o 188o-811890-91190oo-oi 1910-11 1921
WestIndian Is. 8,092 4,836 10,130 i 12,887 4,161 707 40,813
Madeira 429 16,744 9,587 1,533 2,17o 18 30.645
EastIndians.. 406 11,841 23,381 38,71 53,327 38,851 39,473 23,769 9,26 238,979
Casuals oo 878 18 1,027 788 4,411
Azores 164 164
Africa 92 9,893 1,968 ,403 13,355
England-. 21- --------- 2
China.. 3,288 9,343 903 13,534
Capede Verde 8r9 819
Matta.. .. 208 ---- o08
United States 70 70
Totals .. 9,296 43,314 39,22 1,924 7o,165 44,112 41,207 24.557 9,216 343,019
It is estimated that the total number of Aborigines is 9,ooo,
the majority of whom are to be found in the more remote parts
of the Colony. These are not reckoned in the detailed figures given
in the Census returns.
The population of the Colony at the taking of the 1921 census
was 297,691, which shows an increase of 1,650 since 1911, the year
of the previous census. Of this number, no less than 124,938,
or 4':97 per cent., are East Indians.
The Influenza Epidemic in 1918 and I919 which is stated to have
been responsible for 12,ooo deaths in the Colony, and the cessation
of East Indian Immigration to the colony in 1917, almost entirely
account for the smallness of the increase shown.
That the rate of increase in the population is largely determined
by the single factor Immigration' is seen on reference to the
Census Reports, as during those decennia in which large increases
are found, it is also seen that considerable immigration has taken
place and large numbers have remained in the colony and conversely
with a lesser immigration.
During the decade 191I to 1921 the births exceeded the deaths
in the Colony by only 34.
Distribution of the Population.-Of the total population,
22-84 per cent. is resident in the towns, and 77'16 per cent. in the
country. The people are distributed over the three Counties (into
which the Colony is divided) as follows:-
Demerara .. 173,932 .. 58'43 per cent.
Berbice .. 68,483 .. 23oo00
Essequibo .. 55,276 .. 1857 ,
Georgetown, the capital, has a population of 59,624, or
20-03 per cent. of the total of the colony. This is made up of
54-439 from the City itself, and of 5,185 from the Suburbs. The
increase during the past decade has been 2,o47.
There are 8,363 persons resident in New Amsterdam, showing a
decrease of 241 since 1911.
Races.-The number of each nationality or race comprising the
population of the Colony is shown in the following summary:-
Number of total Population Percentage of each Race,
Persons. formed by each 1921
Race Divisions Race division
in in in in
1921 1911 1921 z9i Native-born Foreign-born
Europeans, Northern Race 3,29! 3,937 111 1-33 54*94 45-06
Europeans, Portuguese .. 9,175 10,084 3-08 3'40 87-25 1275
East ndians 124,938 126,517 41-97 42-74 68-oi 31-99
Chinese. .. r 2,722 2,622 *91 -89 86-19 13-81
Blacks and Africans .... 117,69 115,486 39"36 39-oi 93-43 6"57
Mixed Races .. .. 30,587 30,251 xlo-8 o1022 9204 7-96
Aborigines 9,150 6,91o 3-07 2'33 oo-oo -
Races not stated 659 243 -22 -o8 100i00
297,691 296,041 too-oo xoo0oo 82-16 17-84
The proportions per I,ooo of the various races in each district
of the Colony and in the two towns is given in the following table :-
District. Euro- Portu- East Chinese. and Mixed Abori-
peans. guese. Indians. Africans. Races. gines.
City of Georgetown .. 39 93 zo8 14 498 245 I
CountyofDemerara .. 4 21 529 8 365 55
Townof NewAmsterdam i 28 55 3 562 24 -
County of Berbice 3 4 579 5 34 52 5
County of Essequibo .. 4 13 393 6 371 86 125
Of the total population above 5 years of age 66-81.per.cenwt. was
returned as Occupied and 33'19 per cent. as of no occupation.
Amatuk Rest House, Potaro River, on the way to Kaieteur Falls,
Gold Digging Camp at foot of Eagle Mountain.
The chief occupations were Agricultural 47'62 per cent., Industrial
28-38 per cent., Domestic 16'84 per cent., Commercial 4'37 per cent.,
and Professional 1-og per cent.
Religion.-The Religions of the people were first scheduled in
the 1911 Census, 95'32 per cent. of the population being then
returned as professing some specified religion. In the present
Census (1921) 61r7i per cent. of the population are returned as
Christians, and 38'29 per cent. as non-Christians.
Of the Christians, 24-84 per cent. belong to the Anglican Church,
7.80 per cent. to the'Roman Catholic, 5'15 per cent. to the Presby-
terian, and 4-93 per cent. to the Wesleyans, while 16-42 per cent.
come under the head of "Other Denominations." These last
comprise Congr-gationalists, Plymouth Brethren, Moravians,
Canadian Presbyterians, African Methodists, Salvationists, Christian
Mission, and Seventh Day Adventists.
Of the Non-Christians, 83-63 professed Hinduism, this being
76-29 per cent. of the East Indian population, and 32-62 per cent.
of the total population of the Colony. The Mohammedans made up
16-15 per cent. and Parsees, 21 per cent. of the number of the
The Aborigines of British Guiana are widely scattered in many
small groups or families all over the colony, and it is impossible to
estimate the number of them even approximately. In the census
of 1921 the Aboriginal population was returned at 9,700.
Compared with the ordinary European standard all the Buck"
Indians are of small stature. The smooth and almost hairless skin
varies in colour from a dark coppery brown to a light reddish-
yellow hue. The face is broad, the hair black and lank, the eyes
dark and usually narrow, the neck short, and the whole countenance
curiously resembles the Japanese type. The chest is deep, broad,
and muscular, the legs and arms well shaped but somewhat thick,
the hands and feet (especially those of the women) remarkably
The character of the ordinary Buck Indian in his natural state
is a decidedly admirable and moral one. He is of a peaceful and
amiable disposition, and readily responds to fair and just treatment.
He is not civilized," it is true, nor has he any desire to be, but he
certainly does not deserve to be considered a savage.
The Buck Indians are usually willing to act as boathands,
carriers or guides. They cheerfully assist the traveller within the
limits of their tribal district, but beyond these somewhat vague
boundaries they seldom care to go. If much provoked or
dissatisfied they control any animosity they may feel against the
stranger who employs them, but they will quietly disappear,
abandoning their wages-and leaving the offending traveller stranded
-a serious'state of things in the far interior.
The native costume consists of a long strip of cloth or lap"
for the men and a tiny apron called a queyu," made of seeds or
beads, for the women. The men do not consider themselves decently
dressed unless they have painted on their faces their tribal mark.
On festive occasions they adorn themselves with feather crowns of
various colours. Along the coast lands and in the more settled parts
of the colony nearly all the Indians have now adopted European
The Principal Tribes.-The aborigines of the colony are divided
into four distinct tribes, each speaking an entirely different language.
(1) The Warraus or Swamp Indians, found only on the low-
lying coast-lands and around the mission stations near
the coast. They are a timid people, very dirty, and
particularly skilled in the making of dug-outs or corials.
(2) The Arawaks, who live on the slightly elevated lands lying
between the lower reaches of the rivers. They are most
cleanly in their personal habits and more civilised than
any of the other tribes. Nearly all of them can speak
English; some of them also speak Spanish; while others
have learned to read and write in both languages. They
all wear European clothes and are excellent boathands and
(3) The Carib tribe, which includes the true Caribs, the
Arecunas, the Akawois, and the Macusis. The few remain-
ing true Caribs are scattered over the country, mostly
on the upper Barima, Barama, and Cuyuni Rivers. Their
fighting propensities are historical.
The Akawois are born traders and are distributed chiefly
over the forest-clad country round the Upper Mazaruni
basin. They are generally good-humoured and easily
amused at trifles.
The Macusis, a small tribe, are confined to the Savannah
country between the lower Rupununi and the Ireng and
Takutu rivers. Of all the Indian tribes they present the
handsomest appearance and have the most pleasing
manners. They are the chief makers of the famous
wourali poison, experts in the use of the blow-pipe,
keen huntsmen, and are generally of a sporting disposition.
(4) The Wapisiana tribe which inhabits the Savannah country
around the upper reaches of the Rupununi and the Takutu
Rivers. They are the great traders of the southernmost
parts of the colony and the canoe makers of the interior.
They have a somewhat taciturn nature combined with
much decision of character.
Some isolated tribes are to be found in the little explored portions
of the colony to the extreme South and East. Of these very little
is known, and they cannot therefore be classified; but the
Wai-Wois, located around the head waters of the Essequibo river,
are famous for their trained hunting dogs and their ornamental
The Indian dwellings may be divided into two types:-
(1) The Forest type or Benab, rectangular in shape with open
sides and sloping roof, thatched with palm leaves and
almost touching the ground.
(2) The Savannah house, invariably round or oval shaped, with
a high conical roof thatched with palm leaves and resting
on a low wall built of wattle and plastered with kneaded
Protection of Indians.-The care of the Aboriginal Indians
throughout the colony is vested in the Commissioner of Lands and
Mines as Chief Protector of Indians under the Aboriginal Indians
Protection Ordinance No. 28 of Ig9o, and all District Officers of
that Department are Sub-Protectors of Indians under the Ordinance.
Every person desiring to employ Aboriginal Indians must obtain
a permit to do so from a Sub-Protector and sign a Memorandum of
Agreement as to wages and conditions of service; these permits
are issued free of charge.
In cases where it is desired to employ Indians in remote parts
of the interior where no Sub-Protector is stationed the employers
must first obtain a permit from the Protector of Indians in George-
town to employ a stated maximum number of Indians, without
naming them, and either deposit with the Protector a sum of $25
as security for each Indian, or enter into a Bond with approved
surety for the due payment of their wages.
The Protector and Sub-Protectors have power to sue for and
recover on behalf of any Aboriginal Indian any money due for
wages, goods sold, etc.
Indian Reservations.-The areas set apart as Reserves for the
Aboriginal natives of the colony are ten in number, as follows:-
No. I Moruka Reserve containing 305 square miles.
2 Wakapau .. 18
3 Upper Pomeroon .. 262
4 Ituribisi Creek .. 65
5 Vlissengen .. 1*5
6 Muritaro .. 25
7 Wikki Creek 95
8 Orealla 54
9 Epira 52
o1 Rupununi 442
Rights of Indians over Crown Lands.-All Aboriginal Indians have
the right to travel, hunt and fish over the unlicensed Crown lands
of the Colony and its rivers and may dwell on and cultivate such
lands. They:are also permitted to cut and sell timber from the
unlicensed Crown lands but must first obtain a permit, issued free
of charge by Sub-Protectors and "Authorities created for the
Sales of timber so cut are conducted by the Department of Lands
and Mines on behalf of the Indians wherever practicable so as to
ensure that they are fairly dealt with.
Tropical agriculture depends for its success upon its labour
supply, and British Guiana has been no exception to this rule. In
the early days the value of an estate was very largely the value
of the slaves upon it; so much so that this formed the most con-
venient criterion for taxation purposes. The West has never had
the teeming populations of the East; and when in 1814, the slave
trade was abolished by the British Parliament the troubles of the
planters of British Guiana began to grow acute. The importation
of slaves stopped; the working population rapidly decreased; until
in 1834 the Emancipation of the slaves brought matters to a crisis.
Continuous and steady work was what the planter required and this
was just the thing the free negro was incapable of giving. The
planters, faced with ruin, had recourse to immigration; and the
history of the development of this system from its first crude
efforts, through its many and sometimes almost fatal mistakes to
a system which has justly been described as a model one and to its
final abolition in deference to native political opposition to emi-
gration of Indians for labour purposes makes an interesting study.
Incidentally the sixty odd years of immigration have gained for
British Guiana a polyglot population, consisting of large numbers
of Portuguese and natives of Madeira, who have managed to get
into their hands the bulk of the retail trade of the colony, rivalled
in a small way by a fair sprinkling of Chinese; a much larger
number of Africans who as schoolmasters, sick-nurses, artisans,
porters, gold and diamond diggers and balata bleeders fill an
important part in the economy of the colony; and a greater number
still of the natives of India, who with their love of land and
fondness for agricultural and pastoral pursuits will probably, if
their numbers are sustained, have a greater influence on the future
of the colony than all the other races put together.
Diiculties of the Planters. It must always be remembered that
immigration was forced upon the planter by dire necessity, and was
carried out by private enterprise. The British West Indies and
Madeira appear to have been the fields previously exploited. In
1835, the first-date on the record, 157 persons from the former and
429 from the latter arrived in the colony. In 1838 India and Africa
were drawn upon, and in the next couple of years Malta and even
the United States contributed their quota. The old-time planters
Wismar, 65 miles up Demerara River.
Kanaka Mountains and Interior Savannas.
were not afraid of making experiments, and certainly they had
to learn from bitter experience. Always they had to reckon with
the "Anti-Slavery Society" in England, which insisted upon
regarding immigration as a "new species of slave trade," and
wielded a political influence powerful enough to stop the arrange-
ments absolutely in certain directions for several years. In 1839
the situation had become desperate. Immigration from India was
prohibited; immigration from Africa was embarrassed with
vexatious restrictions; immigrants from other countries, obtained
with great trouble, were found unsuitable for the most part, and
in case of the exceptions there was no law to enforce the performance
of their engagements. These difficulties culminated in 1840 in a
deadlock between the Government and the elective section of the
Combined Court, when the latter declined to grant a new Civil
List unless free immigration from all parts of the world was guaran-
teed. This unfortunate state of things lasted till January, 1841.
An arrangement was then come to, the Civil List was voted and
an Ordinance passed providing funds from the revenue of the
colony" for encouraging the introduction of labourers in husbandry,"
creating a Board of Commissioners for the management of these
funds and the payment of bounties for immigrants; and appointing
an Agent General for Immigration, Emigration Agents, and an
Immigration Agent for Berbice.
Improvements in the System.-Up to this point (1841) solely by
the enterprise and energy of private individuals, at their own
expense and risk, and in spite of difficulties and obstacles, 9,160
labourers had been introduced. The law, however, was still found
unsatisfactory and inadequate, and in 1843 another Ordinance was
passed-the first to receive the approval of the Home Government.
It placed the management of immigration from Africa in the hands
of Her Majesty's Government; guaranteed to the immigrants
return passages to their native lands; and provided for contracts
of service for periods not exceeding one year, terminable on three
months' notice. The year 1843 was also marked by the departure
of two ships for India carrying back 235 of the 406 immigrants who
had arrived in 1838. These were the first return ships. The
confirmation of this privilege induced the Secretary of State to
withdraw the prohibition against immigration from India, and
five thousand emigrants were at once applied for and the necessary
financial arrangements made. But the difficulties of employers
were far from ended. They had a good field for recruiting labour,
it is true, and they could induce labourers to emigrate; but could
they make them work? The Home Government- would tolerate
no interference with the liberty of the subject to dispose of his
labour as he pleased; consequently the immigrants wandered
about from estate to estate begging or working as they felt inclined,
and the mortality amongst them was very great.
Two new Ordinances now made their appearance; one in 1847
defining the mutual obligations of employer and employed in
respect of medicines and medical attendance, and regulating the
management of rural hospitals; and a second in 1848 which fixed
the indenture period at three years, and provided that no portion
of an immigrant's stay in the colony should be reckoned as part
of the five years' industrial residence required of the immigrant
to entitle him to free return passage to India, unless during that
time he had worked under a written contract with some planter,
or paid a monthly tax instead. But these remedial measures
came too late; the "Anti-Slavery Society was at work again;
and again immigration from India was stopped.
The Chinese Immigrants.-The influx of labourers from the
British West Indies ceased in 1846, but the scarcity thus caused
was somewhat neutralised by numerous arrivals from Madeira,
where famine was raging. From 1850 onwards, immigration from
Africa began to fall off and recourse was had to China, whence the
first immigrant ships arrived in 1853. The new importations
proved very satisfactory labourers, and most of them engaged in a
second and even a third term of indenture, which was increased
by Ordinance in 1862. Chinese immigration continued steadily
till 1866, when Io,984 had been introduced. The women among
them, although bound to reside on the estate, were under no
obligation to work-a precedent followed in the subsequent three
years system with regard to East Indian women. Meanwhile,
little by little, as experience was gained, the law continued to be
amplified, altered and consolidated. Hardly a year passed but
had its Ordinance for the encouragement of immigration. In the
year 1851 the Immigration Agent General was invested by law
with the privilege of entering any estate for the purpose of enquiring
into immigrants' complaints ; in 1864 the Governor was empowered
to order the removal of all or any of the immigrants from an estate
if he considered such a measure to be in the interest of the people,
and the Immigration Agent General was authorised to prefer
complaints before the magistrate on behalf of the immigrants.
The Immigration Agents resided in Georgetown and visited estates
only half-yearly, or on special complaints; but the medical
officers, appointed and paid by the owners of plantations, were
independent of the Governor and the Immigration authorities,
and there were those who said that the people did not get the
benefit that the law was designed to effect.
The Des Vaeux Inquiry.-August, 1870, saw the famous inquiry
into the immigration system which followed on the serious allega-
tions made by a former magistrate in British Guiana. Mr. (after-
wards Sir) G. W. des Vceux. The report of the Commission, while
pointing out certain defects in the system, was generally satisfactory,
vindicated the Magistracy and the medical officers, and acknow-
ledged the fair dealing and kindness of the managers towards
immigrants. In accordance with the recommendations of the
Commission a new Ordinance was drafted and came into force in
1873. Soon afterwards the powers of the Immigration Agent
General were much increased by the formation of Immigration
Districts, each in charge of a resident Agent and by his being
appointed Secretary to the Governor in immigration affairs and
member ex oficio of the Court of Policy. In 1882 State-aided
immigration from Maderia was brought to an end, and three years
later the same fate befell immigration from the West Indies. In
1887 the medical care of the immigrants was placed under the
charge of the Medical Department. which had just been formed.
The year 1891 saw a further revision and consolidation of the laws
into one-No. 21 of 189g-which, however, did not receive His
Majesty's consent until after the receipt by the Indian Government
of a special report on the treatment of their subjects in British and
Return Passages and Land Settlements.-The right to return
passages after a stated period was early secured by law to the
immigrants, and though it has proved a heavy financial burden
and constant source of wastage of potential population to the
Colony, there seems to be no way of avoiding it in cases where
emigration is only possible with the concurrence of the State or
Government from which immigrants are sought. In an effort
to reduce the wastage caused by the departure of emigrants who
had no real desire to leave the Colony, but felt it incumbent on
them to exercise the privilege of doing so, to which they were
entitled by law, reward grants of land were offered in lieu of back
passages, settlements were laid out at Helena on the East Coast,
Demerara, Bush Lot on the West Coast of Berbice, Whim on the
Courantyne Coast and Huis't Dieren on the Essequibo Coast,
where immigration and drainage facilities existed, and the lands
were eagerly taken up by Indian immigrants who had become
entitled to back passages. But the organisation and control
necessary to carry the scheme to success appears to have been
lacking, and it ended in disappointment and dissatisfaction, though
the settlements so formed still exist as Indian holdings administered
by themselves under the egis of the Local Government Board.
But it may be mentioned that settlements comparatively recently
formed at Windsor Forest, La Jalousie and Hague on the West
Coast of Demerara independently of the question of back passage,
whereby the land was leased to Indians at a fixed rental inclusive
of all charges for sea-defences, irrigation, drainage and general
upkeep of roads, trenches, etc., all of which are controlled by the
Government, have proved entirely satisfactory to the lessees, and
are now practically self-supporting. However, the unrestricted
right to free passages after a fixed period of indenture was reverted
to, but as time went on and the immigration system became more
stable and widely known it was decided that the terms of the law
in that respect might be relaxed in order to deter unnecessary
and ill-considered exercise of the right to return. Accordingly,
in 1895, the male immigrant was required to pay one-fourth of the
cost of his return passage and the female one-sixth. In 1898 these
proportions were increased to one-half and one-third respectively,
and those rates remained in force until the cessation of indentured
immigration in 1917.
Cessation of Indian Immigration.-From 1885 onwards the
Colony depended entirely on immigration from India for increase
of its agricultural population ; but for years prior to its cessation
in 1917, native public opinion in India was being influenced against
emigration in general and indentured emigration in particular,
with its consequent loss of caste and, in the latter case, alleged
injury to India's national dignity and pride.
In 1913 Mr. James McNeill of the Indian Civil Service, and
Mr. Lala Chimanlal, a nephew of Rai Nathimal Bahadur, com-
mercial representative in the Legislative Council of the United
Provinces of Agra and Oudh, and himself a trader of Khurja in
the United Provinces and a member of a firm owning cotton mills,
gins and presses in various parts of India and doing large businsse
in the sale of produce, visited British Guiana (and other Colonies
with which this resume is not concerned) to report to the Govern-
ment of India upon the conditions of life of the Indian im-
migrants in the Colonies and to submit recommendations considered
desirable to promote their welfare. But although the result was
favourable to this Colony-where Indians comprise about 45 per
cent. of the entire population of the Colony; where they enjoy
equal rights and privileges with all other British subjects, with
unrestricted individual rights so far as religion is concerned;
where Indians and their local-born descendants are to be found
in all the professional, industrial, agricultural and commercial
ranks of life; and where they participate freely in the municipal
and political life of the Colony-native public opinion in India
had become so adverse to emigration of Indians for labour purposes,
that the Government of India eventually decided to terminate
the existing system of emigration and the influx of Indian immigrants
into this Colony ceased altogether in 1917.
The Colony was thus once more faced not only with a labour
shortage, but what was far more serious, a diminishing Indian
population on which the agricultural resources of the Colony, both
capitalistic and peasant-proprietory almost entirely depended.
Owing to the fact that the proportion of male immigrants has
always been largely in excess of female, resulting in great disparity
in the respective numbers of the sexes, the births are considerably
below the losses by death and repatriation. Moreover, every
year that passes sees large numbers of immigrants whose labour
was available to the staple industries, becoming land owners and
traders who in their turn become employers of labour, and though
this is a matter for congratulation as indicative of the thrift of the
immigrant and the opportunities for success offered to him by this
Colony, it is obvious that unless their places can be filled by other
immigrants or by natural increase of population, the point at which
deadlock will be reached cannot be far distant. The census of
1921 showed a decrease in Indian population since the 1911 census
of 1,579, and repatriation still continues. A census of those who
have stepped out of the ranks of labour in those of independence
and comparative affluence would probably be more startling
though in some respects it would be the best advertisement the
Colony could desire.
Efforts to Revive Immigration.-In 1919 the Attorney General,
the Hon. Dr. Nunan, K.C., LL.D., conferred with the Sugar
Planters' Association, the Chamber of Commerce, the Royal
Agricultural and Commercial Society and other public bodies in the
Colony with a view to resumption of immigration by the intro-
duction of families who would be free to labour for others or to
settle on land made available for the purpose on sugar estates and
on drained and irrigated Government Settlements prepared for
their accommodation in the vicinity of those estates, where if
they so desired they could obtain remunerative employment
between periods of planting and reaping of their crops. A Colonisa-
tion Scheme was drawn up and approved by all concerned and
measures taken to provide funds for an annual influx of 5,000
families from India and in November, 1919, a deputation consist-
ing of the Attorney General and Mr. Thomas Greenwood, the latter
as representative of the West India Committee, Dr. Wharton and
Messrs. Luckhoo, Barrister-at-Law, and Parbhu Sawh, Merchant,
representing the East Indian Section of the community, visited
India and laid the proposals before the Indian Government, and
certain leaders of native Indian political opinion and the Indian
press. They were also heard by a select Committee of the Imperial
Legislative Council. The reception of these proposals was very
encouraging, but definite decision in the matter was deferred
pending a visit to the Colony by representatives of native Indian
political associations who would be able to satisfy themselves
on behalf of their compatriots as to the genuineness of the offers
In 1922 a deputation consisting of Mr. E. F. Keatinge, C.I.E.,
I.C.S., late Director of Agriculture, Bombay, Diwan Bahadur
Kishava Pillai, Deputy-President of the Madras Legislative Council,
and Mr. Ventkatisa Narayan Tevary, of the Servants of India
Society, visited the Colony and mixed freely amongst the Indian
community of all grades.
Their report has not.yet been published.
At the end of 1923, at' the instance of the Sugar Planters' Associa-
tion, the question of Immigration from India was again revived,
and after deliberations in the Combined Court and various meetings
with representatives of the East Indians and others, it was decided
to send a deputation consisting as before of Messrs. Nunan and
Luckhoo, with the addition of two Indian Delegates selected by
the British Guiana East Indian Association. The two leaders
of the mission left the colony on November 23rd, 1923, and after
consultation with the Colonial India Office, proceeded to India.
The result of the mission is not yet known.
That the immigrant from India is the best class of colonist
for British Guiana is now beyond question. That he can and does
prosper exceedingly and rise to the highest positions in the Colony
has been amply proved. It rests now with India to say whether
this Colony is to continue as an outlet for such of her population
as is desirous of going afield, where their advent will be welcomed
by the Government, the Colony in general and their own kith and
kin resident in the Colony, or whether the 124,00ooo odd Indians
now here are to dwindle and eventually be absorbed by other nation-
alities for lack of the influx of their own people which is necessary
to preserve the racial purity and national traditions.
CENTRES OF POPULATION.
Georgetown. Georgetown, the capital of British Guiana, the seat
of Government and the chief port of entry for the Colony, is
situated at the mouth of the Demerara River on the right bank,
its position (taken at the Post Office) being 6* 48' 48" N. latitude,
and 58g 9' 52'5' W. longitude, giving a difference of 3 h. 52-m 39.5
sec. behind Greenwich time. The Official time for the Colony has
since been made 3h. 45m. later than Greenwich mean time.
The City was so named in the year 1812 after the Prince Regent;
obtained a Corporation by Ordinance in 1837; and about the same
time-with the establishment of the Bishopric of Guiana and of
the Cathedral of St. George-it was constituted a City.
At the census of 19z2 the population was returned at 59, 624,
or 20zo3 per cent. of the total population of the Colony, and may
be described as a very mixed one. It consists of Europeans of various
nationalities, mostly British and Portuguese; Negroes, East
Indians, Chinese, a few Aboriginal (Buck) Indians from the interior,
and people of mixed race of all shades, either native born or from
one or other of the West Indian Islands; this population, cosmo-
politan though it is, forms a quiet and law-abiding body of citizens,
The City is governed by a Mayor and Town Council and for
administrative purposes is divided into nine wards, for each of
Aboriginal Indians Travelling by Corial.
Indian Shooting Fish.
The Public Buildings, Georgetown.
/SV, usurTguwwn, ana oe
which a Councillor is elected. In addition-to these elected Coun-
cillors there are three Councillors nominated by the Governor-in-
Council. The number of registered voters in 1921 was 977. The
revenue of the Council is derived from a tax on the appraised
valuation of lands and houses within the municipal boundaries,
and from market fees, water rates, and so on. The rate of taxation
during 1921 was 3 per cent. with a surtax of 15 per cent. on a total
property valuation of $10,783,185. A Medical Officer of Health
is responsible for the hygiene of the City; a City Engineer for the
roads, drainage works, etc.
The land on which Georgetown stands, in common with the
rest of the Coastlands of the Colony, is an alluvial flat some four
and a half feet below high water at Spring tides and the drainage
of the City being a gravity one is therefore inter-tidal; the sluice
gates or Kokers," to which the open canals that store and carry
off the drainage water lead, being opened on a falling tide and shut
again when the tide rises to the height of the outfall water. The
fact of the land being below sea level makes a pipe system of sewage
disposal a difficult and costly matter and action in that direction
has been unduly delayed in consequence. Modern Science and
education of the people in matters of hygiene have at last prevailed,
however, and the work of installing a pipe-line sewage system
leading to sumps in various parts of the City from which the sewage
will in turn be ejected by electrically operated pumps and eventually
discharged into the Demerara river at suitable outflow points, has
now been started.
The water supply of the City is of a two-fold nature: Bush-
water," which is the local name for water which is conserved in
rear of the sugar estates for irrigation and general agricultural
purposes, is led into the City by the Lamaha Canal at the extremity
of which (at Camp Street) is situate the Water Works." Here
the bush-water is pumped into the street mains to the amount of
about six million gallons daily. This water is of a brown colour
owing to the peaty character of the land from which it is derived
and as there is no purifying plant the water is only used for street-
watering, manufactures, fire extinguishing and rough domestic
purposes. Drinking water is supplied by the storage of rain water
in large vats and tanks which are compulsorily erected on all
private premises and have to be screened to prevent the breeding
of mosquitoes therein. In addition to the private vats, the Munici-
pality has large storage tanks some of which are of a capacity of
one million gallons, attached to the principal public buildings,
churches, etc. from which rain water is sold by ticket at a cheap
rate. A comprehensive scheme to supply the City with pure water
from a system of artesian wells is now under consideration.
As the visitor approaches Georgetown from the sea he first
passes the lightship which is anchored some ten miles from the
land in five fathoms of water. The fairway, which is marked by
bouys, shallows to nineteen feet on the bat at springtide high
water. The entrance to the river is marked by the lighthouse, a
brick building one hundred and three feet high, painted red and
white in vertical stripes and showing at night a strong revolving
white light flashing once every minute and said to be visible in
clear weather for a distance of over twenty miles. At the
junction of the right bank of the river and the Sea Wall stands
Fort William Frederick, which used to mount twenty-one muzzle-
loading guns-still used for saluting purposes-but has now some
modem guns which command the entrance to the harbour. Inside
the river there is ample anchorage, with a depth of water of thirty
feet at springtides-the extreme rise and fall being ten feet. In
the stream the current runs at a speed of three or four knots per
Adjoining the fort is a breakwater recently constructed by the
Harbour Board and designed as a nucleus of a river wall or con-
tinuous wharf which may eventually replace the long series of
wooden wharves or stellings which extend along the river bank
southwards to La Penitence.
The City has all modern conveniences,-electric cars and lighting,
attractive shops, business places, wide streets and fine private
residences surrounded with a glowing wealth of coloured flowers
and a luxuriant growth of vegetation. Many of the streets are
triple, consisting of two vehicular roads and a central pedestrian
avenue between grass borders, and shaded by ornamental trees,
which remove any misleading impressions created by the river
Owing to Georgetown being below sea-level the townspeople had
many a struggle with the encroachments of the sea and tidal river
water in days gone by and it was not until the Sea Wall was com-
pleted in 1882, after thirty years' work, that the trouble was over-
come. This sea wall forms a breezy esplanade extending for a mile
and a half along the ocean frontage to Kitty Village, where it is
joined by a recently erected sea wall of re-inforced concrete which
extends along the coast for many miles. The clean sands which
have accumulated at the western end of the Georgetown-Kitty
Sea Wall make a favourite play-ground for children. One of the
band-stands of the town is situated on the Sea Wall-the other
two are in the Botanic Gardens and the Promenade Gardens. An
excellent and well-trained military band attached to the British
Guiana Militia plays between five and six o'clock p.m. on certain
days of the week and on some Sundays, on the Sea Wall and in
One terminus of the tram-line is near the band-stand on the
Sea Wall: the other end of the Sea Wall line will be found a few
hundred yards along the wall towards Kitty.
Georgetown has two large up-to-date Cinematograph theatres
situated at central sites and a large and well kept race course-
The Sea Wall, Georgetown.
Water, Street, Georgetown.
Bel Air Park-where four race meetings are held annually, is
within very easy reach of the car line.
New Amsterdam. At the mouth of the Berbice river and on its
right bank in latitude 6' 17' oo" North, and longitude 57' 33' 02"
West, stands the town of New Amsterdam, the capital of the
county of Berbice. It covers an area of 662 acres including the
historically interesting Winkel village, and some farm lands known
as Vryman's Erven. Its population as disclosed in the 1921 census
is just under 8,ooo souls. A bird's eye view of the town shows it
to be like Georgetown, embowered in foliage. The town, with
some twelve miles of road, is well laid out and drained, and possesses
an electric light installation, an excellent water supply, and an
efficient Fire Brigade, all controlled by a Town Council to whom
the control of the affairs of the town has been entrusted since 1891.
In its situation and sanitary conditions the town is very similar
to Georgetown, and a special description is therefore not necessary,
but it must be noted that its death-rate is lower.
The Villages. The Colony's rural population is resident in villages
scattered along the coast-lands and for some distance up the
principal rivers. Here the freed negro slaves settled after Emanci-
pation. Forming themselves into companies, they bought with
their savings, accumulated during slavery and the apprenticeship
period, the estates of those of their former masters who were
anxious to quit the Colony, or they purchased the front lands of
plantations, the proprietors of which were eager to establish a
These rural communities range in importance from the hamlet
with a population of ioo to the large village with 5,ooo to 6,ooo
inhabitants. Several of these areas, it must be noted, while called
villages are really potential towns from the point of view of both
area and population.
T HERE can be no doubt that British Guiana offers to thc
Zoologist, be he sportsman, amateur naturalist, or trained
scientific man, a field of immense interest. The Colony
is only a small part of the great continent of South America, yet
its Fauna is typical of the Neotropical region. Many of the animal
forms characteristic of it present fascinating objects of study, while
in birds and insects its wealth is quite inexhaustible. It would be
impossible within the limits of a short article to attempt to do
full justice to so vast a subject; the plan here adopted will be to
touch briefly on the commoner animals which the visitor is likely
to encounter in the Colony, and merely to hint at those rarer or
more curious forms which are deserving of a detailed study.
Fish.-Sharks are common at the mouth of the rivers, the Hammer-
head (Zygaea naalleus) and the Dusky Shark (Carcharias obscurus)
being the two most frequently met with. The Sawfish, too, occurs,
and a fine specimen of Pristis Perotteti may be seen in the George-
town Museum together with a stuffed Devilfish (Ceratoptera vampy-
rus) which managed to entangle itself among the piles of the river
front some years ago and was ignominiously shot for its stupidity.
So ponderous was the fish that a-crane had to be requisitioned
to hoist it from the water. The Devilfish, by the bye, almost certainly
owes its name to its appearance rather than to its disposition; its
leaping antics are no myth, but the stories of its enveloping divers
in its wings and attacking small boats are undoubtedly apocryphal.
Sport with the Rod.-Should the visitor be looking for sport
with the rod he need not be disappointed. The Tarpon or Cuffum
(Megalops or Tarpon atlanticus) is widely distributed and can be
taken either with the fly, spinning, or live bait. The Mahaica
and Boerasirie creeks are favourite haunts of this fish, and in them
specimens of forty pounds' weight may reward the fortunate or
skilful. The largest, however, occur above the lock at the Lama
" Stop-off," which is a favourtie resort for anglers. There Leuk-
anani (Cichla ocellaris)-the best "fly fish-" in the Colony and one
of the tastiest-affords good sport, at it does on most of the lagoons
and clear waters of the front lands. Snook (Centropomus undeci-
malis), may also be taken in such places with a fly, shrimp, or
small fish, and near the falls on the big rivers the salmon-like
Baiara (Cyonodon scombroides), runs to a weight of thirty pounds
and affords capital sport as well as a welcome addition to the
larder. Near Bartica, for instance, on the Essequibo river, the
Cartabac (Tetragonopterus sp.) which bears a strong resemblance
to a sea-bream and averages a foot in length, may be angled for
with a perch hook and a crust of bread, and Pacu (Myletes setiger)
of ten pounds weight can be beguiled with the inner kernel of the
Hatti fruit (Hevea confusa). Other fish which afford fair sport
are the Haimara (Macrodon trahira) and the little Houri (Macrodon
Coming to fish of less direct interest to the sportsman, the small
but vicious Perai (Serrasalmo spp.), is a source of considerable
danger in certain parts of the rivers, for it has been well described
as the wickedest fish that swims." It will go for anything fish,
flesh, or fowl that is biteable, and its sharp triangular teeth can
shear through any tackle softer than steel wire. The electric
eel (Gymnotus) and sting rays of more than one species occur in
many of the shallow river waters and must be guarded against
by bare-footed boathands. In the far interior, and especially
in the Rupununi river, the gigantic Arapaima (Arapaima gigas)
is still fairly abundant. Schomburgk heard of specimens from the
Rio Negro which were fifteen feet long and over 400 pounds in
weight, but it does not appear that these dimensions have ever
been confirmed. In the trenches supplied by the sea and along
the muddy foreshore the quaint Four-eyes (Anableps tetrophthalmus)
may be frequently encountered scuttling over the mud as actively
as a lizard, swept backwards and forwards with each recurring
wave, or swimming lazily along with the upper half of each
strangely modified eye in the air and the lower half in the water.
Another fishy curiosity of the front lands is the little armoured
Hassar (Hoplosternum littorale, H. thoracatum) which is common in
the trenches and may occasionally be met with in droves on the
inundated Savannah land seeking fresh fields and pastures new.
Fish as Food.-An important part of the food supply of George-
town comes from the deep-sea fishing which is carried on by
schooners in the blue water some distance from the coast, and
from local line and seine-net fishing which is pursued in the muddy
waters near the shore. The former produces Snapper (Neomaenis
aya) and Grouper (Epinephelus itaiara, E. striatus), the latter
method mostly "skinfish" such as Gilbacker (Sciadeichthys
Parkeri), Lau-lau (Piratinga reticulata), Cuirass (Arius spp.),
and others of the cat-fish type. One of these, the Tampoco
(Sciadeichthys troops) has a curious development at the base of
the skull, and is sold in the shops as the Crucifix fish." The deep-
sea fish are capital eating, and of the others the Queriman (Mugil
brasiliensis), Mullet (Mugil curema and M. incilis), Butter fish and
the Flounder (Achirus lineatus)--all scale fishes "-are the most
esteemed and the safest. The flat, sandy seashore and the brackish
trenches abound in shrimps, which are particularly good eating
and are used to make a variety of dishes. A large Prawn (Xiphope-
naeus Kroyeri), called a Scotchman from a certain redness
which may be noticed in its legs and appendages, appears occasionally
on the hawkers' trays, and crab-backs "--similar to the dressed
crab of English menus-are a staple delicacy of the colony and
indispensable at all entertainments. The crustaceans requisitioned
in such cases are the "Buck or common crabs (Ucacordata);
the "boxer," or "fiddler crab (Gelasimus spp.), a nimble little
fellow with one claw hugely developed, may be seen at any time
scurrying over the mudflats and feeding busily unmolested by the
The only other denizen of the water which calls for notice is the
Manatee (Manatus australis) which is frequently caught by the
long-shore fishermen and occasionally offered for sale-some
specimens are to be seen in the ponds of the Botanic Gardens,
Georgetown-and certain porpoises which ascend the rivers and
may be observed disporting themselves in the Essequibo River as
far up as Bartica.
Birds.-The visitor will not have been half an hour in George-
town without noticing the strident and insistent cry of the Kiskadee
(Pitangus sulphuralus) a typical example of the tyrant shrikes and
one which lives up to its name in the most thorough-going manner.
Its note is an almost perfect rendering of the French Qu'est ce qu'il
dit, and for cheekiness, intelligence and love of bullying on a large
scale, the bird can be compared only to the London sparrow. It
is a voracious feeder and its powerful pickaxe beak renders it an
object of terror to smaller birds and a caution even to the hawks
which abound on the coast-lands. Of these hawks, the commonest
in Georgetown are the Whitebreasted Chicken Hawk (Herpetotheres
cachinnans) and a large brown species of buzzard. The curious
cry of the former, resembling the screeching of a rusty gate, may
frequently be heard and always with anxiety by the henwife.
Another bird which the visitor is sure to make early acquaintance
with is the Carrion Crow-a vulture in reality, of which two
species (Coragyps faetens and Cathartes ruficollis) are common on
the coastlands and are still to be found in Georgetown although
discouraged as a nuisance by the sanitary authorities. The carrion
crow is a foul bird in every sense of the term and appears to best
advantage at a considerable distance-preferably high up in the
air, where its graceful wheeling flight and marvellous vols-plansls
are a delight to the eye and a lesson to every one who aspires to
become an aviator.
One of the most lovable birds of Georgetown is a tiny wren
(Troglodytes Clarus)-a cousin of the English wren-which is
always a welcome visitor in the houses of the colonist, particularly
of homesick Britishers; for not only is its appearance reminiscent
of the Old Country but its note is a bright little warble which at
once brings to mind the song of the English robin. Its friendliness,
too, towards "humans and their habitations is as homely and
cheerful as that of the Christmas bird. There is a Red-breast in
the colony-the American Robin (Lestes militaris) a large bird
II1111 I(1. 1
. ne weorgetown ctcRet (AuD Li-aviton.
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Town Hall, New Amsterdam.
with a scarlet "shirt front "-only he is not a robin at all but a
starling by family. There is also a real thrush (Planesticus albiventer);
yet he is nothing of a songster compared to his European relatives.
The value of small birds in keeping down insect pests is fully
recognized by the Government of British Guiana and a special
licence from the Board of Agriculture is required before any bird
may be killed. The visitor who wishes to study bird life in the
colony cannot do better than begin at the Botanic Gardens where
from years of efficient protection the birds are wonderfully tame
and fearless of observation. There he will notice the beautiful
Tanagers-the Cashew Sacki (Rhamphocoelus carbo) and the Blue
Sacki (Tanagra episcopus) ; the pretty little ground doves of which
three species are common-the savannah (Columbina talpacoti), the
common (0. grisea) and the speckled ground dove (C. passerina); the
useful Old Witch" or tick bird (Crotophaga ant) with its curious
amateur flight and liking for companionship of cattle; and the
Icterides-the Yellow Plantain bird (Icterus xanthornis), the Guiana
Blackbird (Quiscalus lugubris) and the large Black Rice bird (Cas-
sidyx oryzivora). In all some 13o species of birds have been identified
as frequenting the Botanic Gardens.
Along the east coast and up the numerous creeks, especially
the Abary, many kinds of waterfowl may be met with, and during
certain seasons good sport is to be had with duck and snipe. The
Vicissi duck (Dendrocygna discolor) is often to be seen in flocks of
thousands, and the wonderful white Cranes (Ardea cocoi) and the
Egrets (Ardea Egretta), so valuable to the milliner for their plumes,
are one of the sights of the coast-lands. Other birds which may be
noted are the Negro-cop (Mycteria americana), the Heri (Euxenura
Maguari), the Curlew (Numenius Hudsonicus), the Pika (Totanus
melanoleucus), the Flamingo (Phaenicopterus rubber) and the Long-
leg (Totanus flavipes).
The Golden plover (Charadrius dominicus) and the Muscovy
Duck (Cairina moschata), the Powis (Crax alector) and the Marudi
(Penelope marail) are common enough to afford excellent sport up
the Abary River. Of the bush birds the maams (Tinamus
and Crypturus spp.) are plump-breasted and make capital eating.
Of the rarer birds mention must be made of the great Harpy
Eagle or Bairidi (Thrasaetus harpia) specimens of which are very
occasionally brought down from the interior, and the beautiful
.snow-white Bell-bird (Chasmorynchus niveus) whose musical note
was at one time common enough in the forests, especially of the
North West, though of late years it has shown a tendency to become
rare. The jaunty little Cock of the Rock (Rupicola rupicola),
famous for his nuptial dances, may also be found if you know
where to look for him, and the ungainly-looking but remarkably
agile Toucans or Bill-birds (Rhamphastida) are a feature of the
One of the commonest and most startling experiences of bush-
life at night is the ghost-like Who are you ? of the goat-suckers
(Nyctidromus albicollis, Caprimulgus nigrescens Nyctibius grandis)
whose gaping bristly mouths find easy prey amongst the
numerous night-flying insects. But the most curious form of
bird life in British Guiana is the Hoatzin or Canje Pheasant
(Opisthocomus cristatus) common along the Abary River and
the Berbice River. The adult, which is about the size of a
pheasant and boasts a crest rather like a poor imitation of the
head ornament of the hoopoe (Upupa epops) has a curious habit
of squatting on its hunkers like a frog; so much so that it
wears its skin into a bald patch at those points. It has a slow and
clumsy flight among the Mucca-mucca and low bushes which are
its home and on the fruit of which it feeds. The young are remark-
able among birds by the possession of claws on the first finger and
thumb of the wing-hand. By means of these the chicks are able
to climb and crawl with ease and rapidity. This feature (it may be
mentioned), though primitive, does not make the Hoatzin a link
with reptiles as is so often asserted; but the peculiarities of the
bird-the unique character of its breast-bone and the possession
of eye-lashes, amongst other points-entitle it to the distinction
of a sub-order all to itself. The chicks are excellent swimmers and
divers, and when they happen to fall from the overhanging bushes
into the stream beneath, quickly scramble ashore none the worse
for their wetting.
Special mention should also be made of the humming-birds,
nearly thirty species of which are to be found in the colony. Several
kinds are to be met with in Georgetown, flitting like flying gems
before the flowers. Their charming little nests are sometimes found
in gardens. The Emerald and the Grey-throated Emerald (Agyrtria
viridissima and Agyrtria leucogaster) and sometimes the Jacobin
(Florisuga mellivora) are frequently seen by the keen observer.
Very like the humming-birds are the sugar-birds, several species of
which inhabit the towns. One is a charming creature, variegated
purplish-blue with bright scarlet legs (Dacni cayana), and another
is similar with faded yellow legs (Dacius angelica).
Of the many parrots, the "Amazon (Amazona ochrocepkala),
the best talker, has a little yellow on the head and dashes of crimson
on the "shoulders." The screecher" (A. amazonica) has a
yellow face, a blue line over the eyes and green shoulders. The
magnificent Macaws (Ara macao-scarlet and blue; A. ararauna-
blue and yellow; A. cloroplera-red and blue) make handsome
pets and can be taught to speak with expression. The Twa-twa
(Oryzoborus grassirostris), a small black bird about 5 ins. long, with
white feathers on the shoulders, is generally considered to be the
best of the song birds. It is sometimes confused with the Twa-twa
slave (0. torridus), but as the abdomen of the latter is a dark
chestnut there ought to be no difficulty in distinguishing between
them. The Blue Sacki (Tanagra episcopus) is of a beautiful pale
blue colour with darker primaries. It has no song. The two
Icterids, the yellow plantain bird" (Icterus xanthornis) and the
" troopials (I. crocanatus and I. vulgaris) are among the hand-
somest of the hawkers' specimens. They are somewhat alike,
being a bright yellow with black throats and points. The troopials
are, however, the larger, and have white bands across the wings.
I. vulgaris also has a black head and saddle. The yellow plantain
birds can often be seen wild in Georgetown, but troopials belong
to the forest region.
A final word must be reserved for the beautiful Scarlet Ibis or
Curri-curri (Eudocimus ruber) which frequents the mangrove bush
at the mouth of the rivers and creeks. At certain spots it occurs
in such numbers as to give the trees the appearance of being clothed
with red blossom.
Mammals.-Although British Guiana cannot boast the big game
of the old World, fair sport can be had amongst the larger mammals.
The Jaguar or tiger (Pantheraonca) is to be met with within
quite a reasonable distance of the civilised centres. Occasionally
the beast becomes a nuisance on the cattle farms and the back lands
of the sugar estates; then a hunt will be organised and the raider
shot. Of the other cats the Puma or American lion (Felis concolor)
the Ocelot or Labba tiger (Felis pardalis), the Long-tailed Tiger-cat
(Felis macrura) and the Hacka Tiger (Herfailurus jaguarondi)
occur, and their ferocity increases in inverse ratio to their size.
The Tapir or Maipuri (Tapirus terristris), a most ancient and
interesting ungulate, is quite common along the banks of the
quieter creeks such as the Abary, and the native Red Deer
(Mazama rufus) and the Savannah Deer (Mazama savannarum)
may be hunted in the open country and the Wood Deer or Welbisiri
(Mazama memorivaga) in the bush. Occasionally a herd of Peccary
(Dicotytes tajuca, D. peccari) may be encountered, sometimes with
embarrassing results. But it is to the scientist rather than to the
sportsman that the mammalian fauna of British Guiana chiefly
appeals. Such curious carnivores as the South American Fox
(Canis cancrivorus), the Kinkajou (Cercoleptes caudivolvulus), the
Coatimondis (Nasua rufa, N. narica), and the Crab Dog (Procyon
cancrivorus) ; the whole group of the Edentates-so well represented
by the Three-toed and the Two-toed Sloths (Bradypus cuculliger
and Choloepus didactylus), the Armadillos and the Anteaters-and
the Oppossums or Yawarris (the Yawarris are quite a nuisance
in the towns) are all of great interest. The colony is the home of
the Guinea pigs, and these range in size from the ponderous Capybara
or Water Hass (Hydrochaerus Capybara), the largest living rodent,
to the slim agouti (Dasyprocta aguti). The puffy-cheeked Labba
(Agouti paca) affords one of the best kinds of the bush meat, and
with that excellent game bird, the Maam, is always a welcome
addition to the camp larder.
Monkeys.-The monkeys are well represented. The Howling
Baboon (Alouatta seniculus)-another misnomer, for it is no true
baboon-which makes more noise for its size than any animal in
the world, may be heard near any bush camp, startling the dawn
with sounds like those of fiends in torment. The Spider-monkeys
can be seen along the forest paths swinging from tree to tree, and
the pretty little sackiwinkis and Marmosets are commonly offered
for sale as pets in the streets of Georgetown. A charming yellow-
pawed variety is a special favourite with ladies. The "organ-
grinder's monkey" (Cebus apella) of the London streets also hails
from this part of the world.
Reptiles.-It was unfortunate that writers eager for graphic
description and careless of unromantic accuracy should be so fond
of picturing the South American forests as swarming with reptiles.
According to them the trees are festooned with anacondas, poisonous
snakes litter every path, and the creeks and waterways are thick
and slab with alligators. As a matter of sober fact, snakes of any
description are very rarely encountered, and alligators, though
common enough, are seldom seen and are never obtrusive. The
"Camoodies," the constrictor snakes, though often of huge size,
are harmless to man if death to the smaller mammals. The land
camoodie" is Boa constrictor and -the "water camoodie" or
"American python is Eunectes murinus. Deaths from snake-
bite are practically unknown, as are accidents from any other form
of reptile. The commonest poisonous snake is the Labarria
(Lachesis atrox); then come the handsome Bushmaster (Lachesis
mutus) and the repulsive Rattlesnake (Crotalus terrifcus). The
group of coral snakes is an interesting one, and is well represented
in the colony.
The common alligator of the trenches is Caiman sclerops, but the
" true Caiman (Caiman Niger) occurs on the rivers, where it may
reach a length of ten or twelve feet. The edible turtle (Chelone
mydas) is occasionally caught off the coast and offered for sale in
the markets, but its appearance is sufficiently rare to constitute
something of an event.
Lizards, of course, are extremely common; the garden lizard
(Anolis spp.) can be seen everywhere, scurrying over the leaves
or jumping from branch to branch of the trees, sunning itself
on the palings or racing along the paths, altering its colour the while
through all shades of green and brown according to the character
of the surface upon which it is resting for the moment. A larger
species of a brown colour towards the head, changing rather abruptly
to a rich green in the hinder half, occurs in many places round
the town, and has been seen to prey on its smaller relative. The
pretty little bronze Wood-slave frequently attracts the observant
raaima Fish, Rp ni ivr,
" Arapaima" Fish, Rupunnni River,
Entrance to Botanic Gardens, Georgetown.
eye as its hunts- among the dead leaves. Iguanas are numerous
and are esteemed a great delicacy by the natives. They attain
a fair size-three feet, perhaps, in length-but in this respect are
rivalled by the Salempenters (Tupinambis negropunctatus), ugly
brutes with an unfortunate appetite for poultry.
Amphibia.-British Guiana is particularly rich in interesting
amphibians. The great toad or Crapaud (Bufo marinus), exactly
fitting Mark Tapley's description of him-" very spotted, very
like a particular style of old gentleman about the throat; very
bright-eyed, very cool and very slippy "-can be seen after night-
fall in numbers on the grassy sides of the Georgetown streets making
a hearty supper off the numerous insects to be found beneath
the arc-lamps, while the tiny whistling frog (Leptodactylus occellatus),
a recent introduction from Barbados, supplies the music for the
feast. Many forms of tree frogs occur, some charming in colour,
others remarkable for their size, almost all possessing some in-
teresting pecularity in their development.
Finally, mention must be made of those aberrant forms the
Coecilians, which are found in the colony-they are usually described
as giant earthworms-and still await proper scientific investigation.
Insects.-Rich as British Guiana is in the forms of life already men-
tioned,its wealth in respect to insects is simply surpassing. For the
purposes of this article the term insects may be taken in its popular
sense and be made to include all forms of Arthropoda. Many
of the spiders are wonderfully beautiful in pattern and colour,
others are as repulsive as it is possible to imagine. Common in
the houses is the loathsome Nancy spider (Heteropoda ienatorua)
often with a large, silken, disc-shaped bag of eggs beneath it.
Many householders encourage it, alleging that it helps to keep down
the cockroaches; some prefer the cockroaches-which after all
are a nuisance only in old and badly-kept houses. The Tarantula,
so-called, occurs in country districts, the huge hairy Mygale, or
bird-eating spider (Avicularia avicularia) in the bush, where
undoubtedly it preys upon small feathered folk such as the hum-
ming birds-the loveliest living things in creation and the special
glory of South America. Scorpions are seldom seen except in
the remote interior, where some fairly large forms exist. A small
sandy brown species (undetermined) occasionally crops up in town
amongst old books or papers, but it. is quite insignificant. Centi-
pedes are not unknown and although alarming enough in appearance
and reputation seem never to do any actual damage except to
inexperienced chickens, which sometimes mistake them for a new
and fascinating variety of worm and find out their mistake too late.
Some very interesting types of Arachnids live in the bush and are
brought down by collectors; but these are of scientific rather than
of'general interest. The tiny red "bete-rouge "-a larval Trom
bidium-is, however, sure to force itself on the visitors' attention.
The irritation it sets up is intense, but this can be relieved by
ammonia and prevented by the timely application of any form of
unguent such as loracic ointment"
Of insects, properly so-called, South America possesses an
immense number of a bewildering variety of forms and a riotous
exuberance of colour. A butterfly common in Georgetown,
especially near passion-flower vines, is Metamorpha dido. Its
colour scheme is simple-green and black-but the grace of its
shape, the delightful lines of its markings and the elegance of its
flight make it a real thing of beauty and one which always compels
the admiration of visitors. Another lovely creature, reminding
one of the European "swallow-tail," is the "Essequibo-moth "
(Cydimon leilus) which in the autumn of 1912 occurred in swarms
of thousands of individuals. Dozens of specimens-almost all
damaged, however-could be captured any evening round the
house-lights. When flying free, the full glory of its iridescent
black-green wings and emerald markings is displayed to wonderful
advantage, and in the collector's cabinet it is scarcely less striking.
In mere size the giant Thysania agrippina is pre-eminent; its
wings have an expanse of more than twelve inches. But it would
be hopeless to enumerate here the many insects the visitor may
encounter. The best plan for those interested is to visit the Museum
or the Biological Laboratory of the Department of Science and
Agriculture and see the wonders for themselves. A final reference
may perhaps be allowed to the remarkable migratory swarms
of butterflies which are occasionally encountered. Millions of
yellow butterflies (Callidryas eubule)-all males and all flying in
one direction-have often been recorded and the present writer
once witnessed a flight of white butterflies (Appias margarita) on
the lower left bank of the Berbice river which lasted for over
three days and could only be compared, during the whole of that
time, to a heavy snowstorm. And the extraordinary thing was
that all the insects were flying directly out to sea.
Ants.-It is impossible to enter into details regarding the ants
of the colony. They are legion in number, highly complex in their
social organisation and immensely interesting. The "Coushie "
or umbrella" ant (Atta cephalotes) is a nuisance especially on
citrus plantations, but can be kept down by vigilance and carbon
bisulphide or calomel. The huge fierce black Munuri (Dinoponera
grandis) is met with in the bush and the Yackman or Driver Ant "
pays a visit now and then to the smaller settlements and effects
a very thorough spring-cleaning. Termites (" White Ants")
are common, but not obtrusive. Their depredations consequently
have to be carefully watched for and guarded against.
BRITISH Guiana is a country full of interest to the botanist.
The greater portion of the colony is still untouched by the
hand of man and at every turn there is something to interest
the systematist and ecologist. The object of this short account is
to direct the attention of the reader generally to the vegetation as
a whole and to mention some of the commoner plants to be found
in the different localities.
It is possible to divide the colony, for the purpose of considering
the flora, into regions according to the differences of soil and its
formation, as each of these regions possesses distinct plant associa-
tions. The transition from one region to another is for the
most part gradual and is never so abrupt that distinct zones of
vegetation are defined.
The littoral portion of British Guiana is formed by a plain of
marine alluvium that rises southwards from the sea with a gentle
slope. These alluvial flats widen out in the eastern and western
parts of the colony which are largely under cultivation with sugar-
cane, rice, and other products. This marine alluvium also extends
for several miles up the shallow valleys of the larger rivers.
The Sea-Shore Fringe. The vegetation on the mud banks of the
sea-shore is similar to that of all low shores of northern South
America. The fringe of vegetation consists chiefly of courida
(Avicennia nitida) which is largely confined to the coasts. The
lateral roots of the courida grow upwards into the air out of the
swampy soil and water in which the trees grow in order to provide
the roots growing in the mud with the necessary air. At low tide
these matted mases of roots in many places resemble vigorous
dull-brown asparagus stalks. They form a natural breakwater, being
well adapted to resist the force of the sea and to prevent the muddy
shores from being washed away. Occasionally mangroves occur in
this seashore fringe, but on the muddy swamps at the mouths of
the rivers they become abundant. The black mangrove (Rhizophora
Mangle) is particularly common, and the white mangrove (Langun-
cularia racemosa) occurs frequently. In the North Western District
there are extensive forest areas of mangroves, and they line the
rivers for miles. As before mentioned, the mangrove sends out large
numbers of aerial roots which extend outwards and downwards
to form props or stilts" so that the general appearance of
mangrove bush is a confused jungle of roots extending from the
branches to the swampy mud below. The fruit of the mangrove
is worthy of investigation if that is possible, in order to see how
the radicles commence to grow while the seeds are still attached
to the branches. These "young plants swing backwards and
forwards with the breeze and when they fall stick so tightly in the
mud that they are not washed away by the tides. The bark of the
mangrove is used locally for tanning hides.
In some places on the seashore and up the rivers, the dark-
green courida and mangrove bush is seen to be interrupted by a
lower growing bush of a lighter hue. This is the impenetrable
" bunduri (Drepanocarpus lunatus), the prickly branches of which
float with the rise and fall of the river. Good examples of this plant
are to be found, amongst other places, at Enmore on the East
Coast, Demerara, at the southern end of Wakenaam Island and along
the eastern bank of the Essequibo opposite Fort Island.
Small tracts of open swampy lands also occur at places along the
coast and are usually covered with the giant swamp fern : (Achros-
ticum aurem)--a plant which is also to be seen in abundance in
low-lying places on the front pasture lands of the sugar estates
along the East Coast, together with the bullrush (Typhadomin-
gensis) and the bizzy-bizzy (Cyperus articulatus).
Along the Public Road. Of the drier portions of these pasture
lands the black-sage (Cordia Aubleii) takes charge, while the
"carrion-crow bush" (Cassia alata) with bright-green pinnate
leaves and spikes of yellow flowers, is perhaps the most striking.
The latter plant is common also along the sides of the roads in the
alluvial section of the colony and is often found in extensive clumps.
In the trenches at the sides of the roads and on the sugar estates,
are to be seen handsome white water-lilies (Nymphea ampla)
beautiful lavender water hyacinths (Eichhornia caerulea and E.
azurea) the water lettuce (Pistia stratiotes) and the Sacred Lotus
Up the Rivers. As one proceeds up the rivers, the vegetation
becomes very mixed and the number of species large. Amongst
the most conspicuous plants are the giant aroids-the mukka-
mukka (Montrichardia arborescens and M. aculeata). These are
common to all the rivers and are found in low, muddy and shallow
places. They can be recognized by their shining, arrow-head
shaped leaves and arum-like flowers and they often grow to 15 to
20 feet in height. The Konaheri or wild cacao (Packira aquatica)
and the Konaheri-balli (Pachira isignis) also attract attention
by reason of their large projecting tassel-like flowers, the former
being of a yellowish hue and the latter a dark red. Their brown
fruits which resemble cacao pods are also conspicuous. The long
sprays of red flowers of Cacoucia coccinea are common at certain
seasons of the year, and other prevalent plants that are commonly
noticed are the Trysil (Pentaclethra filamentosa)-a leguminous
tree with striking yellowish white flowers-and, in swampy places,
the Dalli or "wildnutmeg" (Myristica surinamensis) with its
4-ewzng a ureenhiart Log square.
Hauling Greenheart by Winch.
peculiar symmetrical leaf arrangement and its nutmeg-like fruit.
The beautiful Wakenaam lilac (Jacaranda ovalifolia) is often
abundant and when in flower is very attractive. This tree sheds
its leaves before flowering and the masses of pale lilac flowers
borne from the bare whitish branches render it conspicuous. As
the flowers fall the delicate young leaves, of a pale green hue,
make their appearance. The Manni (Moronobea coccinea) is common
in certain parts of the most swampy areas, particularly in the North
Western District and is readily recognized by the deep crimson
colour of its flowers. The trees along the banks are covered with
a thick drapery consisting of numerous Bignonias with their white
and mauve flowers, and Odontodenia speciosa with its pretty apricot-
coloured blooms. Where the original forest has been cut down and
secondary growth has made its appearance, the trumpet tree or
pump-wood (Cecropia peltata) and the Long John (Triplaris
surinamensis) are common. The former can be recognized by its
straight clean stem surmounted by a crown of whitish-green
peltate leaves. The latter is a large tree and at certain times of
the year the females, covered with their creamy-white flowers,
form prominent and conspicuous objects. In the North Western
District and along certain parts of the lower Essequibo river, the
rubber-producing species of Sapium also occur in abundance in
places where the original forest has been cut down for agricultural
purposes and abandoned to bush again, and when in fruit attract
large flocks of parrots
Silk Cotton and Mora.-At some distance from the river taller
trees are noticed, which tower over the remainder of the vegetation.
Of these larger trees, the silk cotton (Bombax Ceiba) is the most
conspicuous and is very common on the Courantyne side of the
colony. It is characterized by the huge spread of the whole of its
almost horizontal branches, and by the pendant seed-pods which
swing with the breeze from the several leafless branches and twigs.
When the fruit bursts, the surrounding vegetation is covered with
soft silk down similar to kapok," by means of which the seeds of
the trees are enabled, through the agency of the wind, to be
scattered far and wide. From the branches of the silk cotton often
hang great numbers of purse-like nets of the bunya or mocking
bird." Specimens of Mora (Dimorphandra Mora), numerous along
the flat clay banks of most rivers, are to be seen. They are large
trees possessing massive buttresses, and their foliage presents many
beautiful tints in its different stages of development. It is difficult
to describe the beauty of the delicate pinkish-red foliage of the new
leaves of the Mora. It must suffice to state that at first one is often
deceived by mistaking a distant mora in fresh leaf for other beautiful
trees in flower, and that the delicate shades of the mora foliage
are one of the attractions of those rivers where these trees occur
Palns.-Throughout the whole of the alluvial region palms are
abundant, and attract attention on account of their great variety
and beauty. Along the banks of the rivers and in the frequent
swamps adjoining, clumps consisting of 6 to 12 stems of a very
graceful, feathery palm with leaflets of a pale green colour are
commonly seen. This is the beautiful Manicole (Euterpe edulis)
which is widely distributed in the swamps throughout the colony
and in places constitute almost a true forest. Scattered amongst
these clumps of manicole are often seen slenderer-stemmed palms
growing singly that resemble them very closely. These are the
rehu (Euterpe stenophylla) which occur scattered among the
manicole along the banks of the rivers, where the ground is com-
paratively dry. The It6 (Aeta) (Mauritia flexuosa) is one of the
most abundant of the palms of Guiana, and is found growing in moist
ground, chiefly in the floating savannahs and on low-lying land
that is flooded in the wet season. It is occasionally seen in swampy
places along the banks of the rivers, and can be recognized by its
stout column or stem surmounted by a crown of large, dark green
"split-fan" leaves. From the young unfolded leaves of this
palm, the Indians make the tibisiri fibre for their hammocks.
Other swampy-loving palms are the truli (Manicaria saccifera)
-the leaves of which are largely used for thatching purposes-
very common in the Pomeroon and North Western Districts;
Turu (Aenocarpus baccaba) the fruit of which makes a delightful
drink. The dahlibanni (Geonmna baculifera), a small palm common
in the eastern side of the colony and along the Essequibo river (also
used for thatching) ; and the buba (Iriartia exorhiza), which grows
singly and has curious stilt-like aerial roots. The kokerit (Maxi-
milliana regia) is probably the grandest of all the British Guiana
palms. It occurs in most parts of the colony, except, perhaps,
on the immediate coastland, and is a striking plant in all stages
of its growth. When young, before the stem is developed, the
large feathery leaves rise almost straight from the ground and
later, when the stem has developed to a great height, the leaves
resemble huge curled ostrich plumes as they sway gracefully to and
fro in the wind. Other palms worthy of mention are the pimplers "
(Bactris spp.), the Awarra (Astrocaryum tucumoides), the Akuyuro
(Astrocaryum tucuma), the Paripi (Guilielma speciosa), cultivated
by the natives and the Kamawarri, a trailing palm (Desmoncus
Orchids.-In the lower reaches of the rivers, orchids are not so
conspicuous as they are higher up. As a rule the flowers are
smaller. Several species of Epidendrum, Gongora and Catasetum
are common, while the red flowered Rodriguezia secunda is to be
found in the eastern portion of the colony, and the beautiful lonopsis
puniculatus, with its panicle of numerous white and mauve flowers;
(these delicate flowers remain a long time without fading), and the
Punt Carrying Greenheart Logs.
Greenheart Timber Loaded on Trucks
Balata Tree, showing Tapping Cuts.
Balata bleeders leaving Rockstone.
pretty Oncidium iridifolium in the North Western District. Among
the epiphytes, bromeliads are frequent, and in some places the wild
pine (Bromelia spicata) and the old man's beard" (Tillandsia
usneoides) are commonly met with in large numbers.
Wallaba Forests.-The littoral alluvial plain is traversed by
lines of sand-dunes about 30-40 feet in altitude. These sands
consist of white quartz and the vegetation differs considerably from
the general vegetation of the alluvial sections. In the central and
eastern parts of the colony, these slightly elevated lands are covered
with what is known as wallaba forest." The soft wallaba"
(Epera falcata) and the "Ituri wallaba" (E. Jenmani) constitute
about 40 per cent. of the forest trees on these lands. The soft
variety is easily recognized by its large falcate-shaped fruits, which
hang pendant from twigs on long cordelike stems. Vanilla (Vanilla
planifolia) is also common in some parts, creeping up the trunks of
trees, but very little fruit appears to be set by natural means.
In the depressions between the sand-dunes occur the characteristic
swamps. In the wet season these depressions are more or less
deeply inundated and are practically impassable. The plants
found here are chiefly the swamp-loving palms, but in the drier
parts, ferns, marantas (the mukru used for making baskets in the
colony is obtained from a Maranta (Ischnosiphon obliquus), and
scme trees occur as for instance Manni and Corkwood (Pterocarpus
draco). The crab-wood (Carapa guianensis) is common, and is
exploited for its timber and for the oil its seeds produce.
The Wet Savannahs.-The continuity of the forests of the littoral
alluvium with the higher undulating forests is interrupted by the
swamp-savannah region. These savannahs occupy slightly
depressed parts of the flat alluvium and form natural reservoirs
of fresh water, which are drained by the numerous creeks and
tributaries of the main rivers. The forest vegetation bordering
these creeks extends into the swampy grass-clad savannahs, and
therefore the change of vegetation is gradual and not abrupt.
Irregular stretches of land covered with forest vegetation are dotted
about, as well as inland lakes of open water. Entering one of these
savannahs by one of the numerous creeks that drain it, the fringe
of forest along the stream shuts off from view the savannah proper,
and the characteristic features of the region are not seen until the
head of the stream is reached.
A Swamp Scene.-The vegetation along the banks of the creek
becomes thinner and lower as the swampy region is approached,
and the monkey apple (Anona palustris), with its fruit resembling
somewhat the sour-sop, and the white-cedar (Tabebuia longipes),
with its white flowers, are commonly noticed. Towards the head
of the creek the forest is reduced to a single line of diminutive,
slender-stemmed white-cedar trees, and the large terrestrial lilies
(Crinum spp.) are to be seen in bloom here and there, as also are
the curious flowers of the sub-aquatic orchid (Habernaria longicauda)
and the blue and yellow bells of species of Lisinathus. As the
head of the creek is reached an extensive level expanse opens out
covered for the most part by sedges and strong-growing grasses
with the arborescent mukka-mukka scattered throughout. Occa-
sionally it6 palms are seen near at hand, while on the horizon an
apparently unbroken grove of these beautiful palms occurs. These
savannahs present us with the it6 in all its beauty, and on some
of the forest-clad islands that are dotted about very fine examples
may be noticed, often carrying in their crown numbers of the
orchids Catasetum longifolium and Vanilla palmarum, which are to
be met with nowhere else. As the boat proceeds, an inland lake
opens out to view, or the creek widens and handsome waterlilies
(Nymphaea ampla, N. amazonica) become numerous. In the
daytime their flowers are closed, but at night or in the early morning
these open stretches of water present a picture that is, to the lover
of nature, most attractive. The numerous perfect snow-white
flowers of the waterlilies are to be seen on the surface of the smooth,
dark-coloured water and between their great flat floating leaves
appear the pretty yellow and blue flowered Utricularias and the
graceful floating shield of Cabomba aquatica.
Timber for Export. Succeeding the flat, coastal alluvium is a
broad belt of slightly elevated, undulating and hilly country. In
proceeding up the rivers as the land becomes higher the vegetation
becomes taller. In this region are to be found most of the timbers
that are regularly exported. Various kinds of kakeralli (Lecythis
and Eschweilera spp.) are common, and are remarkable for their
curious hard, fruit capsules. Mora is often plentiful and grows to a
great size, whilst in the central part of the colony fairly extensive
areas of greenheart (Nectandra Rodiei) occur. Along the banks
of the smaller rivers and creeks, particularly in the eastern part of
the colony, the balata (Mimusops sp.) is occasionally to be seen,
with its high spreading crown of dark foliage.
The Intermediate Savannahs.-Between the rivers are often to be
found slightly elevated sandy intermediate savannah lands covered
with grasses and shrubs, forming flattened watersheds : other scrub
areas locally known as muri lands from the trailing bush called
muri (Humiria sp.) that is prevalent on them, also occur.
Grasses and sedges are strongly developed and a large number of
melastomaceous plants occur, while several Solanums are common.
Small clumps of larger shrubs and trees are scattered throughout
these savannahs but there are very few trees of large girth. Clusias
are very common, and Curatella americana is noticed everywhere.
-Inland.-As one proceeds up the rivers to the higher lands the
forest presents varying features in different parts of the colony
according to the nature of the soil. The most noticeable point is
the general absence of palms. Species of Bactris and Astrocaryum
do occur in places, and fine clumps of the last mentioned, the
Sawarai (A.jauari) are to be seen in the Essequibo above Rockstone
and up the Mazaruni. Kakerallis are common and many large
moras can generally be seen. Along the Potaro numerous examples
of wallabas with their pendant, flat fruits reaching almost to the
water, form striking features, and on the banks of the Barima and
its tributaries in the North Western District, the scarlet blooms of
Brownea latifolia or rosa del monte, the "rose of the mountain,"
and the pale blue flowing spikes of Petrea volubilis attract attention.
The rivers are interrupted by falls and rapids, and representatives
of the Podostomacea are to be found growing in the strong current
on the rocks. The chief of these is Mourora fluviatilis which sticks
on the bare rocks by its base without any apparent roots. At
high water this plant is entirely submerged, but as the river falls
after the heavy wet season its bunches of pink flowers appear above
the level of the stream, while its fleshy leaves clothe the sunken
rocks where they serve as an elastic but slippery buffer for boats.
The water-guava shrub (Psidiumfluviatile) is also a feature of these
The Island Flora.-Numerous islands occur in the rivers, and on
the larger ones some fine trees are to be found. Clusias are frequent
and owing to more light being available on these islands, epiphytes,
especially orchids, are much more common than along the river
banks. In the forest itself, it is often difficult to distinguish the
various trees that occur. The attention is chiefly directed to the
numerous species of Selaginella and of filmy ferns-Hymenophyllum
-that occur. The damp atmosphere also encourages the growth
of epiphytal species of Trichomanes and Polypodium.
The savannah at the top of the Kaiteur Fall is exceedingly rich
in the variety of its vegetation. Many of the plants are very small
and the little "sun-dew (Drosera communis) literally carpets
the ground. The distinctive feature of the plateau is the giant
bromelaid (Brocchinia cordylinoides) which covers the whole region,
while another very striking plant is the tiger-plant (Billbergia
zebrina). The Brocchinia is so striking as to compel notice even
from the most unobservant traveller and is to be found in enormous
numbers. In the axils of its leaves, and only there, grows the
beautiful Ultricularia Humboldtii.
In the interior of the colony, large areas of sandstone occur, on
which are many hills and mountains. The flora of these areas have
many distinctive features though the flora of the true savannahs
of the interior are not very well known. Grasses, dwarf shrubs and
herb-like plants form the dominant vegetation but some parts are
marked by the occurrence of certain localised species. Amongst
these, the beautiful rosy-flowered Bonnetia sessilis, and the compact
Stiffia condensata and Gomphia guianensis are frequently to be
In the Rupununi district are to be found the tree Kartang
(in Brazil Pau Rainha or Queen of woods). Centrolobium Paraense,
valuable for its timber and the Brazil Nut (Bertholetia excelsa),
the fruit of which is so well known.
In Georgetown. The visitor to the colony can see some of the
more common of the indigenous plants in and around Georgetown.
But few of these, however, will thrive so near the sea, and therefore
the beautiful flora of the capital is composed mainly of introduced
palms, trees and shrubs. The largest indigenous trees in George-
town are the Silk Cotton (Bombax Ceiba), the Sand-box (Hura
crepitans), the Hog plum (Spondias lutea), the Long John (Triplaris
surinamensis), the Cannon-ball tree (Couroupita guianensis), the
Wakenaam lilac (acaranda ovalifolia) the wild cacao (Pachira
aquatica and P. insignis), Ficus leucosticta and Cedrela sp. The
indigenous palms to be found in Georgetown are the Akuyuro
(Astrocaryum tucuma) the Awarra palm (Astrocaryum tucumoides),
as well as the pimpler palms (Bactris major and B. flavispina).
The Botanic and Promenade Gardens possess many beautiful
examples of the native flora. Clumps of manicole palms are to be
seen in both gardens, especially along the upper portion of the
central avenue of the Botanic Gardens, as also are examples of
the rehu. Growing in the Nursery houses at the Botanic Gardens
are large specimens of the itR and of the truli. Fine examples of
the kokerit palm are to be found in the Botanic Gardens.
Amongst the trees the most striking is the Cannon-ball tree
(Couroupita guianensis) with its peculiar, sweet-scented flowers
and its brown cannon-ball-like fruits hanging on naked branches
up the stem. Fine examples of the crab-wood are to be seen in the
upper portion of the Central Avenue of the Botanic Gardens,
where also are to be found specimens of balata, konaheriballi,
trysil, mora, locust (Hymenca courbaril), silk cotton, and cedar
(Cedrela odorata). On each side of the main avenue drive are plants
of the konaheri and konaheriballi (the wild cacao) while all
around the first lake fine specimens of the mukka-mukka, the swamp
fern and the black mangrove are growing. Numerous plants of the
Wakenaam lilac adorn both the Botanic and Promenade Gardens,
and the rose of the mountains" can also be seen. Examples of
wallaba are noticeable and some fine trees of the Long John are
scattered in the park lands of the Botanic Gardens, while specimens,
A Locust Tree (IHymencra courbaril).
Heading out Sugar Canes to Punts.
of the Petrea volubilis and P. alba are to be found in almost every
garden in the city. In the lakes float numerous examples of water-
lilies, Utricularias and water hyacinths, with the water lettuce
(Pistia), Salvinia auriculata and Azolla carolinensis. The beautiful
Victoria regia is to be seen in many situations and attracts immediate
attention by reason of its large saucer-like leaves and its handsome
white to pinkish-white flowers. In the Nursery houses and along
the Calabash walk at the Botanic Gardens numerous fine examples
of the indigenous orchids are kept, and there are also some fine
examples of the local ferns.
For the student the Jenman Herbarium in the Botanic Gardens
is available. This contains a large number of dried specimens of
the local flora, to which additions are constantly being made.
TIMBER AND FOREST
HE forests of British Guiana cover 78,180 square miles,
or about 87-4 per cent. of the total area. They extend from
the Sea Coast to the frontiers, but are interrupted at intervals
by (a) the coastal, or wet, savannas, of 1,2oo square miles;
(b) the intermediate, or slightly elevated savannas of Demerara
and Berbice, 2,00ooo square miles; and (c) the interior savannas
along the south-western frontier, of low elevation in the Rupununi
District, and of greater elevation to the North along the Pakaraima
Range, 6,2oo square miles.
The forests presently worked for timber are in the easily-accessible
districts, which extend from the coast to the rapids and falls in
the various rivers. This covers an area of 19,ooo square miles.
Above the falls transportation to the markets is difficult or
impossible for timber, except the Essequibo River above Rockstone,
which is served by a railway to Wismar, a navigable point on the
Demerara River for ocean-going vessels. There are about
70,000 square miles of virgin forest.
These tropical forests comprise a great variety of species, and the
trees being rarely of social habit they are classed as mixed forests.'
An area in which one species predominates is known by the name
of the prevailing tree-such as, Crabwood, Mora, Greenheart,
Wallaba or Dakama forest. Swamp areas are similarly known by
the name of the prevailing species of palm. Muri, or scrub land,
named from the Muri shrub (Humiria sp.), consists of open areas
of white sand, with dumps of trees, low bushes, orchids and mosses.
The total area is 1,400 square miles.
Representatives of a particular kind of tree seen at any one time
in mixed forests are generally few in number, while certain kinds
are so scattered that single specimens only are to be found at long
intervals. This fact accounts for the difficulty experienced in
getting together from any limited area a sufficient quantity of
many valuable woods for export, or even for local use, although
the aggregate numbers of such trees scattered over a wide area
must be very large.
The forest generally reaches a height of 125 to 150 feet, and in
rare instances up to nearly 200 feet. The boles of the trees are,
as a rule, straight, gently tapering and clear of branches for lengths
of 6o to 70 feet, hence long and large logs can be had. The greater
percentage, however, are trees of medium and small girth, producing
timber which would square from 10 to 20 inches.
Wallaba, comprising three varieties, is the most abundant
timber. The Wallaba forests, on'light coloured sand soil on the
tops and slopes of hills, are composed of an average number of
169 trees of all kinds per acre, of which the two varieties, Soft and
Ituri Wallaba, comprise 34-4 and 8-4 per cent. respectively, or a
total of 42-8 per cent. of all the trees in those forests. These trees
are also found in greater or less numbers in other forest types on
hill slopes extending down to the streams. Mora, the next most
abundant, grows on clay flats bordering the rivers and larger
streams. There are large areas and very fine stands of this tree
in the North-Western District. Greenheart is found gregarious in
patches, and also scattered in mixed forests.
The Crown owns 99 per cent. of the forest area, and wood cutting
is permitted under (a) licence for a period of two years, which
may be extended, for areas up to 5,000 acres, at an annual rental of
2zd. per acre up to 2,ooo, and Id. per acre above that, with a minimum
charge of I os. iod.; or (b) lease for long period under special
terms for areas above 5,000 acres. Security has to be given against
injury to the forest and Royalty is payable on all timber cut.
The industry comprises woodcutting for Greenheart only, or for
that and other woods for timber, lumber and railway sleepers, for
wallaba shingles, vat and fence staves, posts and poles, charcoal
Logs of square-hewn timber are usually hauled to navigable water
by manual labour or oxen; a few motor tractors have been used
recently for this purpose, and on one grant winch and cable haul for
about a mile, and rail to river 3A miles, has been adopted. The
heavier woods are transported by means of punts alongside which
the logs are slung, while the lighter woods are floated down the
river in rafts. Charcoal, fuel-wood and other articles are conveyed
by carts to a navigable stream and transported by punts to the
Labourers for this industry are engaged under contract for
periods up to three or four months; those for general work at a
daily wage, and for felling and squaring at an agreed rate per cubic
foot of the timber where felled. Charcoal is prepared on sandy
areas, principally those bordering the Berbice and Demerara Rivers.
The wood is converted by burning in covered pits, but brick ovens
have also been used for this purpose.
There are 22 power-driven sawmills in the Colony and 5 wood-
working factories, and a large number of sawpits worked by manual
labour, which deal with the timber for local use and export.
Greenheart is exported generally in the form of hewn logs. For
fuelwood, which is sold by the cord or by the ton, the principal
varieties used are Wallaba and Manabadin ; but Kurida (Avicennia
nitida) and Mangrove (Rhizophora mangle), which fringe the coast-
lands and river estuaries, are also used.
Paper Pulp.-During 1923 the Imperial Institute, London,
examined a number of British Guiana timbers to determine their
value for the manufacture of paper. The results are encouraging
and good yields of pulp have been obtained from the first ten, as
will be seen in the list below :-
Vernacular and Botanical Names.
LONG JOHN ..
ITE (Aeta) PALM
Jacaranda copaia, D.Don.
Schefflera depressa, Sprague, n.sp.
Diospyros guianensis, Giirke ..
Cecropia Juranyiana, A. Richter.
LEGUMINOSAE, Diplotropis sp.?..
Diplotropis sp. ? ..
Tabebuia sp.? .
Spondias lutea L.
Triplaris surinamensis, Cham. .
Euterpe edulis, Mart
Mauritia flexuosa, Linn...
Montrichardia arborescens, Schott
LIST OF VALUABLE AND COMMONER TIMBERS.
The following is a list of the more valuable and commoner
timber trees and their uses, but over 200 different kinds of trees
are already recorded chiefly from the accessible districts.
AWASAKULI (Clusia sp.).-A deep reddish-brown wood, fine
grain and hard; sp. gray. o09 For house framing and furniture
BALATA TREE (Mimusops sp.).-A deep red-brown wood, fine
grain and very hard; sp. gr. 0-9 to Ii ; very durable. For con-
structional work, bridge piles in fresh water and many other
purposes. Trees by law cannot be felled except under a written
permit. Three varieties known.
BANIA OR EBONY (Swartzia sp.).-Heartwood, a purplish black,
sapwood yellow; fine grain and extremely hard; sp. gr. 1z2 to I'3.
For inlaying, veneering, turnery, etc.
BARAMALLI (Tabebuia sp.).-A sapwood tree, oatmeal brown
in colour, coarse grain, soft and light. Might be used for paper
B.G. MAHOGANY OR CRABWOOD (Carapa sp.).-A red-brown wood
resembling mahogany, slightly open grain, firm to soft; sp. gr. 0*5
to o07. For house building, furniture, fencing, canoes, shipbuilding,
masts and spars.
CEDAR, RED, OR KURANA (Cedrela sp.).-A light brown wood,
coarse and open grain, soft and light; sp. gr. 0.4 to 0-6. Used for
house partitions, canoes, cigar boxes and furniture.
Yield of dry pulp,
expressed on mater-
ial containing 12
per eent. tW cent
DAKAMA (Dimorphandra sp.).-A uniform reddish brown wood,
coarse grain, hard; sp. gr. i-i. A good building wood, might be
used for furniture and railway sleepers.
FoTuI (Jacaranda sp.).-A white wood, coarse grain and soft;
sp. gr. 0-4. For making matches and boxes; suitable for paper
GREENHEART (Nectandra sp.).-Three varieties; Black, White
and Brown. Old gold to greenish-brown wood with a larger or
smaller heart, according to variety, of dark brown to black colour;
extremely hard and durable; sp. gr. 0-9 to Iz2. For piles and
dock gates in salt water, shipbuilding, wharf, bridge and house
construction and fish rods. Greenheart is commercially the best
known of the Colony's woods. It is partly gregarious in habit
but is also found scattered in the mixed forests. It grows on
hilly lands in sandy clay soils, chiefly on the hill slopes. This
timber is almost entirely confined to the central portion of the
Colony; it disappears towards the eastern boundary, and only a
few small areas are known in the N.W. District. B. Guiana is the
only country which exports Greenheart.
HUBUBALLI (Loxopterygium sp.).-A handsome wood of light
brown colour with dark brown or blackish streaks, soft; sp. gr. o*6
to o*8. For furniture and boat-building.
KAKERALLI (Lecythis or Eschweilera spp.).-Several varieties.
Black. A dark brown wood, excessively hard when seasoned;
sp. gr. l.o upwards; durable, Brown, a red-brown wood; hard,
durable and exceedingly strong. For wharf and house construction,
bridge piles in fresh water, timbering and lagging in shafts and
KABUKALLI (Goupia sp.).-Two varieties. Black. A red-brown
wood, hard and durable; sp. gr. 0o8 to i*o; has an offensive
smell while being worked. For furniture, house and boat-building,
railway sleepers and paving blocks.
KARTANG (Centrolobium sp.) (in Brazil, Pau Rainha").-
Wood an orange colour with vermilion grain and light and dark
brown marking; durable. For shingles, fences, and house
construction. Found in Rupununi District.
KAUTA (Moquilea sp.).-A brown, hard and heavy wood.
KAUTA-BALLI (Licania sp.).-A dark brown wood, close, straight
grain, extremely hard; sp. gr. 1-2. Durable if not exposed to
weather. For house-framing.
LocusT OR SIMIRI (Hymenoea sp.).-Orange brown wood, close
grain, very hard; sp. gr. o.9. For furniture, mill-beds, trenails,
boat-building, piano frames. Another variety with larger pods
MORA (Dimorphandra sp.).-A dark brown wood, coarse grain,
extremely hard; sp. gr. 0.9 to 1-1; very durable and does not
splinter. For ship-building, planking wharves and bridges, house
building, railway sleepers and wood paving. There are large
areas of this timber bordering the rivers and main streams, especially
in the N.W. District of the Colony.
MORABUKEA.-A uniform reddish-brown wood, close grain and
hard; sp. gr. io to Ii. Not as durable as Mora; said to be used
for same purposes.
PURPLEHEART (Copaifera sp.).-Wood brown when freshly
cut, rapidly turns a purple colour; close grain, extremely hard;
sp. gr. 0o8 to i-o. For furniture, veneering, house-framing.
TAURONIRO (Humiria sp.)-A dark reddish-brown wood, fine
grain, extremely hard; sp. gr. o08 to 1-2 ; durable. For furniture,
wheel-spokes, house construction.
WADADURI OR MONKEY POT (Lecythis sp.).-A uniform light
reddish-brown wood, close grain, extremely hard; sp. gr. o*8 to
12z; durable, For furniture and house-building.
WAIKEY. Many varieties (Inga spp.).-Light and soft woods,
generally, which might be used for paper pulp.
WALLABA. Several varieties (Eperua spp.).-Soft and Ituri
varieties. Resinous brown woods, coarse grain, very hard; sp.
gr. o-9 to I* ; splits very easily, straight and clean; very durable.
For fuel, charcoal, shingles, fence, telephone and other posts,
fence and vat staves, house frames, railway sleepers and paving
blocks. This is the most abundant timber in the Colony.
WAMARA (Swartzia sp.).-A dark brown to black heart and yellow
sap, fine grain, extremely hard; sp. gr. iro to I- ; durable. For
inlaying, furniture and turnery.
YARURU OR PADDLE WOOD (Aspidospenna sp.).-A yellow-brown
wood, open grain, hard; sp. gr. about 0o7 to og9. For paddles and
tool handles; pliant and strong. Trees plentiful; the trunk is
very deeply fluted as if a number of laths were joined edge to edge
lengthwise, all radiating from a common centre.
Annual Utilisation.-Timber and other forest products declared
during 1923 were as follows :-Greenheart 381,311 cubic feet;
Mora 26,936 cubic feet; other hardwoods, 6,034 cubic feet;
B.G. Mahogany, 74,723 cubic feet; other soft woods, 12,466 cubic
feet; boards and scantlings, 9,980 feet; Fuelwood, 61,292 tons;
Charcoal, 4,799 tons; shingles, 3,533,600 in number; fence staves,
76,855.in number; vat staves, 16,968 feet; posts, beams and spars
34,569 feet; Greenheart and Mangrove bark, 528,251 lbs.; locust
and chicle gums, 5,450 lbs.; and balata, I,I36,162 lbs.
The average utilisation of timber during the five years 1915 to
1919 inclusive, was 726,220 cubic feet; this includes 122,677 cubic
feet exported, of which Greenheart formed 81 per cent. The total
home consumption of home grown and imported timber was 941,270
cubic feet, of which greenheart formed 49 per cent.; this includes
337,720 cubic feet of pine lumber imported from Canada and the
United States of America. For the same period the average
utilisation of the principal forest products was as follows:-
ARTICLE. UTILISATION. EXPORTS. CONSUMPTION
Shingles, .. No. 5,686,145 2,920,862 2,765,283
Fuel Wood .. tons 78,560 7,945 70,615
Charcoal .. tons 4,556 2,530 2,026
Balata .. Ibs. 1,407,272 1,407,272 Nil.
In addition, during the same period, there were imported from
Britain, U.S.A. and Canada, an average number of 41,o52 shook
and 130,593 staves and headings. Shooks," in packs, include
oak staves and headings of dismantled rum puncheons returned to
the Colony and staves and headings are of oak newly imported
for making rum puncheons. The above figures do not include
timber and forest products from alienated lands.
The average value of the annual utilisation for the same period
Timber of all kinds $313,065 (65,222), and all other forest
products, including Balata, $866,315 (180,482), or a total value of
The total sum represents a return of timber and all forest products
from the total area of Crown forests of less than 24 cents per acre,
while the value of the timber alone from the accessible Crown
forests represents a return of only 4 cents per acre.,
"Balata" is the trade name of the coagulated latex of the
balata tree; it is largely used in the manufacture of belting and
boot soles. The industry, judged from the value of the exports,
is a most important one. The gum is collected under licences
extending over areas of from 50 up to 250 square miles, for periods
of 5 to 15 years. The annual rental for a balata collecting
licence, which confers the right only to tap balata trees, is $20
(4. 3s. 4d.) with a filing fee of $8 (1. I3s. 4d.). Security is demanded
against destruction of the forests and royalty at the rate of 2c.
(Id.) per lb, is payable on the dried gum produced. At the end of
1920 there were in existence, or awaiting issue, 749 licences.
The trees are generally gregarious in habit but they are also found
scattered widely apart in the mixed forest areas; they are most
abundant in the Berbice and Rupununi districts of the Colony.
The trees cannot be felled except under a written permission and
no tree may be tapped which has a girth of less than 36 inches
at 41 feet from the ground. The tapping is done by means of a
cutlass, the incisions in the bark being not more than If inches
wide. The tapping grooves are made about io inches apart in
a feather-stitch pattern up the clear bole of the tree and around
only one-half of its girth. By means of leg-irons (" spurs ")
tapping is now done from the base to the first forking of the trunk,
a height of 50 to 70 feet above ground. Trees may not be re-bled
until the previous cuts are entirely healed, which takes from
4 to 5 years.
The latex flowing down the cuts is caught in a calabash (or gourd)
made from the fruit of the calabash tree (Crescentia cujete) and the
result of the day's tapping is removed in tins to the camp where
the latex is poured into shallow trays (" Dabrees ") which hold from
5 to 30 gallons or more. The latex dries on the surface into thin
sheets which are successively removed until the trays are exhausted.
After being drained over the dabree the sheets are hung up in
a roughly-constructed shed until dry. Labourers are paid by results
according to the weight of dry balata collected. The yield of the
trees varies considerably, the flow of latex being affected by changes
in weather and other conditions, but on first tapping an average
of from 4 to 6 lbs. per tree is obtained. On re-bleeding the same
area of bark after a period of 5 years, by experiment, the yield is
only about j that of the first tapping.
The collection of balata is done by black or coloured labourers
under Government registration, or by Aboriginal Indians. Ad-
vances of money are usually given at the time of employment
for the purchase of food, clothing and tools. In 1859 the first
sample of balata was sent from this Colony to England and in
1865 the amount exported was 2o,ooo lbs. The demand
for balata and its value has been steadily increasing in later years
and the largest export in one year reached 1,595,888 lbs. in
OTHER FOREST PRODUCTS.
Other forest products comprise gums, oils and fruit as follows :-
Gums.-Gum animi, a hard, translucent, amber-coloured gum
from the Locust tree (Hymenoea courbaril), used in making varnishes,
is collected under written permission and exported in small quantity.
Chicle gum used for making chewing gum has been recently
collected and exported from a tree of the Sapotaceae order.
Balsam of copaiba used medicinally, from a tree (Copaifera
guyanensis) found in the Upper Essequibo and Rupununi districts.
Haiawa gum, an aromatic, resinous, white gum obtained in
fair quantity from the Haiawa tree (Protium heptaphyllum) which
is plentiful in some districts. It is used locally for incense and by
the Indians for scenting their oil.
Fruit.-Tonkabeans are the dried seeds of the Kumara or Tonka-
bean tree (Dipteryx odorata). They contain cumarine and are
used for perfumery.
Sawarri nuts, one of the best edible nuts from the tree Caryocar
steam Hoist Lifting Canes at a Sugar Factory.
h 1U or
Loading the Cut Cane into Punts on a Sugar Estate.
Brazil nuts, the well-known fruit of the tree Bertholletia excelsa,
which is plentiful in the Upper Essequibo and Rupununi districts.
Monkey pot nuts, the fruit of the Wadaduri tree (Lecythis sp.),
and Vanilla, the fruit of an Orchidaceous vine.
Oils.--Crab oil (" Andiroba in Brazil) is obtained from the
fruit of the B.G. Mahogany or Crabwood tree (Carapa guianensis)
and is used medicinally and for illuminating purposes.
Kokerit oil is an edible oil obtained from either the pericarp
or kernel of the fruit of the palm (Maximiliana regia).
Other edible oils are obtained from the fruit of the following
palms, viz.:-Kuruwa (Attalea spectabilis), Akuyuro and Awarra
Medicinal substances are obtained from vines, shrubs, and
the bark and fruit of trees, e.g., Sarsaparilla, Quassia and Bibirine
from greenheart, and tanning material can be obtained from the
bark of many trees including the greenheart and mangrove
Fibres.--The epidermis stripped from the unopened leaves
of the Itd palm (Mauritia flexuosa) is used for making cordage
and hammocks by the Indians. Silk cotton, similar to Kapok,"
is the light brown silky fibre surrounding the seeds of the Kumaka
tree (Bombax sp.).
EXPORTS AND IMPORTS OF TIMBER, ETC.
During the five years 1915 to 1919, inclusive, the average exports
of timber and forest products are shown in the following table:-
Other Forest Products.
The United King-
U.S. America and
British West Indies
Holland .. ..
I Wood products,
Other Values charcoal, fuel,
Woods $ shingles, etc.
c. feet. Value $.
20,191 725 -
5,156 2,I62 -
99,660 23,073 $89,869 $101,212
During 1923 the exports of timber and forest products were:-
Lumber & Forest Value
Timber. Hewn logs Scantling Products. Quantity Dollars
cub. feet B.M. feet
Greenheart .. 150,895 111,433 Shingles, No. 1,373,750 10,331
Value .. $117,835 $ 12,320 Ch'coal, tons 2,631 46,613
Mora and hard
woods .. 1,272 2,423 Fuelw'd, tons 7,674 24,779
Value .. $ 637 165 Sleepers, No. 8,916 5,598
Soft woods, in-
cluding B.G. Tanning-
Mahogany. .. nil. 266 bark lbs. nil. nil.
Value .. nil. $ 19 Balata lbs. 1,026,368 628,509
Gums lbs. 2,588 195
Total value .. .. $130,976 Total value .. $716,025
The imports during the 1915-1919 period were dressed and un-
dressed pine lumber, which averaged 337,721 cubic feet valued at
$204,131 (41,902), and shooks, staves and headings valued at
$197,625 (L41,172). In 1915 the imports of pine lumber amounted to
42 per cent. dressed and 23 per cent. undressed from U,S. America,
and 58 and 74 per cent. respectively, from Canada; but in 1919
the figures were, respectively, 30 and 24 from the U.S.A. and
70 and 76 per cent. from Canada. The increase in imports from
Canada is due to the mutual preferential tariff under the trade
agreement between the Dominion and this Colony which was
entered into in June, 1917.
The imports during 1922 included: undressed lumber, 128,590
cubic feet; staves and headings of white oak numbering 76,229;
and o10 shooks.
Government inspection of Export Timber.-The inspection and
branding of timber for export is at present under consideration.
In the meantime a large firm of English timber merchants obtained
the consent of the local Government for the inspection of Green-
heart timber purchased by them, and to the end of 1923 over
ioo,ooo cubic feet of this timber was branded and exported, the
firm paying the cost of inspection.
Forest Reserve.-The Government have created a Forest Reserve
on the Potaro River to include Kaieteur Gorge and extending
from Arnik River down to a, point on the Potaro about 5 miles
below Amatuk Falls with a width of 5 miles on each bank of the
river. The total area of 320 square miles is to be reserved as a
National Park for the preservation of one of the most beautiful
portions of tropical lands together with its flora and fauna. This
reserve will not prevent the use of the fall as a source of power.
The cultivation of Para Rubber has been experimented with by
many of the sugar estates in different parts of the Colony and a
few small rubber estates established, and rubber grown in conjunc-
tion with cacao and coffee in several districts. Satisfactory progress
was made by Para rubber on the Berbice, Demerara, Essequibo
and Pomeroon rivers and in the North Western District. The
Government, being convinced of the suitability of very large areas
of the colony for rubber cultivation, established plantations of
rubber-producing trees at experiment stations in different districts
of the colony in order to ascertain the rate of growth, the best
cultural methods and the yields of the different trees. The results
obtained are of considerable value and should be carefully studied
by all prospective growers. The experiments so far have demon-
strated that the true Para Rubber (Hevea brasiliensis) grows
vigorously almost in every situation in which they have been tried
outside the flat coastal region.
Para Rubber grows the best on well-drained flat lands along the
banks of the rivers and also upon the lower slopes of the hills.
It is estimated that there are Io,88o,ooo acres of readily accessible
lands, of which fully 9,ooo,ooo acres are unalienated from the
Crown. Of this vast area a very large proportion is eminently
suitable for the cultivation of Para Rubber.
The forest region of British Guiana resembles closely those regions
of Brazil where the Hevea brasiliensis grows indigenously. This
forest region is a portion of the great tropical rain forest of the
South American continent, where dampness prevails and vegetation
is luxuriant. Hevea brasiliensis revels in a humid atmosphere,
and the progress that the young cultivations of Para Rubber made
in the colony was only what was to be expected when it is recognized
that the climatic and general conditions are so like those of the
natural habitat of the tree in Brazil.
Through the enquiries of Mr. (now Sir) Everard im Thurn and
the late Mr. G. S. Jenman, it was ascertained in the early eighties
that the rubber used by the Guiana Indians was obtained from
species of Sapium. It was not until 1905, however, that the
cultivation of these rubber-producing Sapiums was undertaken,
These plants grew vigorously and promised well. They grew very
well in low-lying river lands, particularly in the North Western
District. In all about 500 acres have been planted with these
trees, but the tapping experiments that have been carried out are
not encouraging, with the result that land put into rubber was
planted exclusively with the Para Rubber (Hevea brasiliensis).
The area under rubber cultivation is decreasing owing to a
serious outbreak of the South American leaf disease, which made
its appearance in 1909; this, coupled with the low prices of recent
years, has given the industry a serious setback.
Tapping of Para Rubber was commenced on two estates on the
Dcmerara river, one on the Essequibo, one in Berbice and at the
Experiment Stations at Onderneeming and Issororo. The yields
were satisfactory and the product of good quality. Some British
Guiana rubber was valued at the top price of the market in April,
19go, and at the International Rubber Exhibition held in London
in 1911, a sample of rubber from an estate on the Demerara river
was awarded the silver cup for the best sample of West Indian
plantation rubber. At Issororo Experiment Station in the North
Western District over one-fourth of the total number of Para Rubber
trees at four years of age were of sufficient size to be tapped, and
the yields were decidedly encouraging.
Ploughing a Rice Field.
i q .
A Coconut Plantation.
Indian Girl Spinning Cotton.
SUGAR, RICE AND
T HE Sugar Industry is by far the most important in the
Colony, and sugar with its by-products rum, molasses,
and molascuit, contributes a large percentage of the total
value of the exports. About 33 per cent. of the wage-earning
portion of the population are directly connected with the sugar
industry, while if those indirectly connected were under considera-
tion the percentage would be in excess of 50 per cent. of the
The Estates.-The sugar estates are situated on the flat plain of
marine alluvium along the coast, and for a short distance up the
larger rivers. There is a sufficient area of suitable land in the
colony to produce 2,ooo,ooo tons of sugar annually.
The largest area under sugar-cane cultivation on any one estate
is 7,209 acres at Plantation Diamond on the Demerara River.
The majority of the estates, however, have only from I,ooo to 2,000
acres each under cultivation.
Thirty-nine estates were in active operation during 1922 which
is only about one-half of the number that there was 20 years ago.
The area under cultivation in 1922 was 60,761 acres. Keen com-
petition, the necessity of reducing the cost of management, and
the concentration of manufacturing operations, have accounted for
the reduction in the number of estates, but have resulted in a
great improvement in the processes of extraction and manufacture.
A large area of the front lands of the estates has been abandoned
from sugar cultivation, and extensions are yearly being made
further from the coast line. A considerable area of the front lands
abandoned from sugar is being utilised for the cultivation of rice
Cane-farming is carried on by small growers on the East Coast
of Demerara, and it is estimated that about 2,000 acres are under
sugar-cane for small proprietors.
Methods of Cultivation.-A very large proportion of the sugar-
cane lands of British Guiana is below the level of high tide, and
therefore extensive sea-dams have to be maintained. The estates
are laid out in rectangles with numerous canals, drains and cross-
drains for the purpose of drainage, transport and irrigation. All
the transport of canes to the factory is carried out by water in large
iron punts, and many estates also transport their produce by
water. The drainage of the majority of the estates is maintained
by pumping the water from the trenches into the large drainage
trenches, which discharge into the sea or river at low tide through
sluice gates. A considerable number of estates, however, obtain
all the drainage required by natural outflow into the sea or rivers
through sluice gates or kokers at periods of low tide. The sugar
lands are mainly heavy clays, and therefore an elaborate system
of surface drainage is an absolute necessity. The cross drains
make it difficult under the climatic conditions prevailing to work
the land with other than hand labour.
It has been found to be necessary, up to the present, for the rows
of sugar-cane to run along the beds instead of across them when
mechanical or implemental tillage is practised. The result of this
method on the heavier types of soil is that adequate drainage
cannot be obtained. On the lighter soils of the back lands of some
of the estates, implemental tillage is being carried out, while at
Plantation Diamond-a river estate-both mechanical and imple-
mental tillage is largely and successfully practised. Nevertheless,
the greater portion of the field work of the sugar estates is done by
manual labour-the canes are planted, weeded, trashed, cut and
carried from the fields into the punts for transportation to the
factory, all by hand.
Labour.-The demand for such a large supply of labour for
continuous agricultural operations has made immigration from
India an absolute necessity for the successful operation of sugar
estates. The sugar industry is largely dependent upon an adequate
and readily available labour supply, and further advance would
have been made had a more abundant supply been available.
Three classes of sugar are manufactured. The greater bulk of
the sugar produced is "grey," dark," or vacuum pan
crystals for the American and Canadian refiners, but some estates
manufacture yellow crystals" for the United Kingdom. This
class of sugar constitutes the well-known "Demerara crystals,"
originally the product of the Bourbon variety of sugar-cane. A
little white sugar is also made.
Rum is made on most estates; a certain quantity of second
molasses is exported, and molascuit (a cattle food) is also
Capital Invested and Cost of Production.-The capital invested in
the Sugar Industry in British Guiana is roughly 4,000ooo,ooo. The
cost of production varies considerably, and at present averages
between 3 and 31 cents per Ib. for dark crystals polarising
96 degrees. The cost of making "yellow crystals" is somewhat
The cost of manufacture is roughly about I cent per lb. higher
than it was a decade ago. This is due to increases in labour,
machinery and general supplies resulting from the war, which
have not yet reverted to pre-war conditions.
Exports.-The following tables show the average annual
quantities and the values of sugar and sugar products exported
from British Guiana during the quinquennial periods from 1892-3
Sugar. Rum. Molasses. Molascuit.
Period Tons Proof Gallons Tons
1892-1896 .. zo6,257 2,003,885 100,852
1897-1901 .. 96,542 4,062,034 357,20I -
1902-1906 .. 116,859 3,555,057 333,366 6,666*
1907-1911 .. 104,961 2,939,623 176,288 8,488
1912-1916 .. 92,096 3,643,992 125,979 3,527
1917-1921 .. 96,616 3,112,252 135,962 2,282
1922 .. 90,571 422,168 76,574 1,072
1923 .. 83,167 420,996 65,997 814
Period. Sugar. Rum. Molasses. Molascuit. Total.
1892-1896 1,305,989 I35,946 24,965 1,466,900
1897-I9g0 1,066,376 189,186 11,73I 1,267,293
1902-1906 1,142,284 107,099 11,070 23,679* 1,285,100
1907-1911 1,170,399 134,690 11,447 20,300 1,344,783
1912-1916 1,571,686 333,640 5,658 13,3o6 1,924,290
1917-1921 2,736,674 442,797 8,846 13,810 3,202,127
1922 1,494,827 33,4o1 4,302 3,752 1,506,291
1923 2,132,802 40,321 3,761 2,656 2,179,540
*Exports of Molascuit first commenced in 1904-5.
Direction of Trade.-A reciprocal trade agreement exists between
Canada and British Guiana, whereby British Guiana Sugar
exported to Canada receives a preference of 50 per cent., while
Sugar exported to the United Kingdom receives at the moment
from the British Government a preference amounting to one-sixth
of thedutyou sugar, or roughly 3 I5s. per ton.