Located on the Northern coast of South Africa, Guyana is a beautiful country that is often overshadowed by political instability and a somewhat shady past. Still the landscape is inviting and refreshingly diverse, covering everything from mountain ranges to rivers to desert savannah and dense rainforest.
The sizzling, tropical climate and distinct Caribbean atmosphere, complete with warm, welcoming locals, makes visiting there a fantastic and unforgettable journey. Still, there is an underlying threat of crime throughout the country to be aware of in order to enjoy a safe stay.
Petty Crime – The What and Where
As is the case in just about any place on the planet – where there are tourists, there are thieves. Petty crimes such as pickpocketing and purse snatching are frequently perpetrated in the busier areas of the country, particularly in the capital of Georgetown. There have also been reports of robberies that have resulted in assaults. As usual, your safest bet is not to resist if you are approached by a thief. Your valuables aren't worth your health or your life.
Areas to be especially vigilant around, particularly after dark, include the sea wall that runs from east of the Pegasus Hotel to Sheriff Street and the areas surrounding, the National Park in Georgetown, the area near St. George's cathedral, the commercial downtown area between Water and Main Streets and from Lamaha Road to Stabroek Market, including Tiger Bay. Additionally, the general area of Stabroek Market and the area behind Bourda Market occasionally see petty crimes so use caution when visiting these places.
Violent Crime – The Dangers and What to Watch For
Unfortunately, violent crimes such as armed robbery and murder continue to be a problem throughout Guyana. The country has a murder rate that is three times higher than that of the United States, a rate that increased by 20% from 2009 to 2010. It is particularly high in the interior of the country where travel in groups is advised to avoid incident.
Georgetown is particularly vulnerable to violent crime where attacks on foreigners have increased. The area is prone to heavy gang activity and subsequent violence. In 2008, 20 people were killed as a result of an armed gang war in the Georgetown suburb of Lisugnan and in the town of Bartica. There have also been several reports of random shootings that occur at Georgetown police headquarters at night. Security forces have taken action and recently shot and killed the person believed to be the leader of the gang responsible for these heinous acts; however there is still a chance that others will continue the violent activity within this and other existing gangs.
Cases of armed robberies occur somewhat frequently, particularly in areas of major business and busy shopping districts. There have also been reports of strong-arm break-ins of hotel rooms so always use caution when opening your hotel room door. Be sure to also keep all valuables protected in your room safe. Keep in mind that many of these criminals are quite brazen and have even been known to attack police officers, so use extreme caution, remain aware of your surroundings at all times and do not resist if you are being robbed. When you are travelling in a vehicle, always keep the doors securely locked and windows rolled up.
Some areas in which to use particular caution include the village of Buxton, which is located along the road that leads from Georgetown to New Amsterdam, as well as Agricola, which sits near the East Bank highway. Also, if you plan on playing golf at the public course in Lusignan, it is advised that you do so in the safety of groups and only during daylight hours. As mentioned previously, avoid dangerous areas after dark and be particularly vigilant in the internal part of the country where violence is more prevalent.
Despite having to answer to generations of political issues and civil unrest, the country of Guyana still remains one of the most beautiful on earth. Breathtaking natural terrain and a vibrant, friendly people make a visit here worthwhile, despite the threat of possible crime. As long as you are careful and know what areas to avoid and when, your trip to Guyana is sure to leave you with vivid memories to last a lifetime.