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French Guiana Geography

Situated on the northeast coast of South America, French Guiana is the smallest independent country on the continent, with a total area of 163,270 sq km (63,039 sq mi).
Comparatively, the area occupied by French Guiana is slightly larger than the state of Georgia. The nation has an extension of 662 km (411 mi) northeast to southwest, and 487 km (303 mi) southeast to northwest.

French Guiana is bordered on the north by the Atlantic Ocean, on the east by French Guiana, on the south by Brazil, and on the west by Guyana, with a total boundary length of 2,093 km (1,301 mi), of which 386 km (239 mi) is coastline. French Guiana also claims about 15,000 sq km (5,800 sq mi) of southeastern Guyana and some 5,000 sq km (1,900 sq mi) of southwestern French Guiana.

French Guiana's capital city, Cayenne, is located on the Atlantic coast.

French Guiana is composed of thick forests, unexplored mountains and swampy plains. Approximately 80% of the territory is classified as tropical rain forest. Several geologically old rivers, including the Maroni in the east and the Courantyne, flow northward to the Atlantic Ocean from the southern highlands near the Brazilian border; there, numerous rapids and waterfalls bar boat passage.

The coastal plain is flat and sometimes as much as 1.5 m (5 ft) below sea level, necessitating a system of sea defences. The soils of the coastal plain are relatively fertile. A forest belt, 48-72 km (30-45 mi) wide, lies to the south, interspersed with grassy savannas. Farther south are dense forest and higher ground.

The climate is tropical and moist. Daytime temperatures range from 28° to 32°C (82-90°F). At night the temperature drops as low as 21°C (70°F) because of the moderating influence of the northeast trade winds, which blow in from the sea all year. The annual rainfall in Cayenne is about 230 cm (90 in). May to August is the main rainy season, with a lesser rainy season from November to February.


Northern South America, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between French Guiana and Guyana

Geographic coordinates
4 00 N, 56 00 W

Map references
South America

total: 163,270 sq km
land: 161,470 sq km
water: 1,800 sq km

Area - comparative
slightly larger than Georgia

Land boundaries
total: 1,703 km
border countries: Brazil 593 km, French Guiana 510 km, Guyana 600 km

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