Historically, the region known as "Guiana" or "Guayana" comprised the large shield landmass north of the Amazon River and east of the Orinoco River known as the "Land of many waters". Historical Guyana is made up of three Dutch colonies: Essequibo, Demerara, and Berbice. Modern Guyana is bordered to the east by Suriname, to the south and southwest by Brazil, to the west by Venezuela, and on the north by the Atlantic Ocean.
At 215,000 km2, Guyana is the third-smallest independent state on the mainland of South America (after Uruguay and Suriname). Its population is approximately 770,000 (2002 demographic data) of which the majority are of East Indian descent (43.5%) and African descent (30.2%).
What does Essequibo is Ours Mean?
The Dutch established a trading post in 1616 25 kilometers up from the mouth of the Essequibo River in what is now Guyana. Dutch sovereignty was recognized by the Treaty of Munster in 1648. The Dutch invited British settlement and by 1760 the British were in the majority. Following a war between Britain and the Netherlands, the French Revolution, and the Napoleonic wars the colonies of Demarara and Essequibo were ceded to Britain by the London Convention in 1814. In 1833 the colony of Berbice was united with Demarara and Essequibo as Brithish Guiana.
In 1840 Robert Schombergk surveyed the area for Britain. He determined the limits of Dutch possession and the area from which all trace of Spanish influence was absent. Venezuela insisted that the Essequibo River was the natural bounday between Venezuela and Guyana. In 1899 an international tribunal awarded 94% of the territory to British Guiana, and in 1905 both Venezuela and Britain accepted the boundary. Venezuela renewed its claims in the 1960's. In 1966 Guyana became independent. The protocol of Port-of-Spain which provided a 12 year moratorium was signed by Guyana and Venezuela in 1970, but in 1981 Venezuela refused to renew the protocol. In 1990 the Guyanaese Defense Force and the Venezuelan Army signed a protocol. And that is where the dispute remains.