On the east bank of the Demerara River where it flows into the Atlantic Ocean, Georgetown is the capital of Guyana, its main port and the country’s only large city. Below sea level, Georgetown is protected by a sea wall.
The Guyanese coastline was originally marshy swampland covered in mangroves. The original inhabitants were the Warrau followed by the Caribs and Arawaks. The hostile terrain delayed the arrival of colonists. In the eighteenth century the area was reclaimed by the Dutch who built a system of drainage canals and a protective sea wall. Georgetown was founded by the British in 1781 and named after George III, although it was soon occupied by both the French and the Dutch, the latter naming it Stabroek. The town was built on a grid plan with tree lined avenues and buildings of local ‘greenheart’ wood. In 1784 the town was made the seat of government for the combined colonies of Essequibo and Demerara.
At the end of the Napoleonic Wars, the British...