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Guyana achieved independence from the United Kingdom on and became a republic on 23 February 1970, remaining a member of the Commonwealth.The US State Department and the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), along with the British government, played a strong role in influencing political control in Guyana during this time.In 1899 an international tribunal ruled the land belonged to Great Britain.The British territorial claim stemmed from Dutch involvement and colonization of the area also dating to the sixteenth century, which was ceded to the British.Guyana is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the north, Brazil to the south and southwest, Suriname to the east and Venezuela to the west.
Although Christopher Columbus sighted Guyana during his third voyage (in 1498), and Sir Walter Raleigh wrote an account of its discovery in 1596, the Dutch were the first to establish colonies: Essequibo (1616), Berbice (1627), and Demerara (1752).More than 300 children were killed; the people were members of a group led by Jim Jones in Jonestown, the settlement which they had created.Jim Jones's bodyguards had earlier attacked people taking off at a small remote airstrip close to Jonestown, killing five people, including Leo Ryan, a US congressman.At the mouth of the Essequibo are several large islands, including the 145 km (90 mi) wide Shell Beach lies along the northwest coast, which is also a major breeding area for sea turtles (mainly leatherbacks) and other wildlife.The local climate is tropical and generally hot and humid, though moderated by northeast trade winds along the coast.
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The name "Guyana" is derived from Guiana, the original name for the region that formerly included Guyana (British Guiana), Suriname (Dutch Guiana), French Guiana, and parts of Colombia, Venezuela and Brazil.