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Brief History

Guyana was inhabited by the Arawak and Carib tribes of Native Americans. Although Christopher Columbus sighted Guyana during his third voyage (in 1498), the Dutch were the first to establish colonies: Essequibo (1616), Berbice (1627), and Demerara (1752). The British assumed control in the late 18th century, and the Dutch formally ceded the area in 1814. In 1831 the three separate colonies became a single British colony known as British Guiana.

Since Independence in 1824, Venezuela has claimed the area of land to the west of the Essequibo river. Letters from Simon Bolivar warned the British government about the Berbice and Demerara settlers settling on land the Venezuelans claimed was theirs. In 1899 an international tribunal ruled the land belonged to Great Britain.

Guyana achieved independence from the United Kingdom on 26 May 1966 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. The American government supported Forbes Burnham during the early years of independence because Cheddi Jagan was a self-declared Marxist. They provided secret financial support and political campaign advice to Burnham’s People’s National Congress to the detriment of the Jagan-led People’s Progressive Party, mostly supported by Guyanese of Indian descent.
In 1978, Guyana received considerable international attention when 918 members, almost entirely American, (more than 300 of whom were children) of the Jim Jones-led Peoples Temple died in a mass murder/suicide in Jonestown – a settlement created by the Peoples Temple. An attack by Jim Jones’ bodyguards at a small remote airstrip close to Jonestown resulted in the murder of five people, including Leo Ryan, the only congressman ever murdered in the line of duty in US history.
In May 2008, President Bharrat Jagdeo was a signatory to The UNASUR Constitutive Treaty of the Union of South American Nations. Guyana has ratified the treaty.

Source: wikipedia.org