The Port of Georgetown is Guyana’s capital and main port. Lying at the mouth of the Demerara River as it flows into the Atlantic Ocean, the Port of Georgetown is the country’s major manufacturing and commercial center. Some call it the “Garden City of the Caribbean.”
Home to big sugar refineries, the Port of Georgetown exports rice, sugar, tropical fruits, gold and diamonds, bauxite, and a hard rubber-like material called balata. The country’s inland road network is not very well developed, so most transportation is by steamship and airplane. In 2002, about 35 thousand people lived in the city of Georgetown, while over 137 thousand lived in the metropolitan area.
The Port of Georgetown was the capital of the Dutch Demerara-Essequibo colony, located on Borselen Island in the river. Great Britain captured the Port of Georgetown in 1781 and named it after King George III. British military man Robert Kingston chose the Demerara’s mouth as the location for the British village due its central location among plantations in the area.
Yet the Port of Georgetown did not begin to develop until the French captured the colony and made it their capital in 1782, calling it La Nouvelle Ville. Establishing strong regulations to protect property from fires and floods, the French required building to have foundations of brick, kitchens set apart from the main residence, and prohibited the use of thatch. The French built the first paved road, known as Brickdam today, in the Port of Georgetown.
In 1784, the Dutch retook the Port of Georgetown and renamed it Stabroek after the President of the Dutch West India Company. The town continued to expand under Dutch rule.
In 1812, the port was renamed Georgetown, and a committee was formed to supervise the town. At one time, the Port of Georgetown’s governing body was a Board of Police to resolve disputes between the different bodies that controlled the city’s districts. Unfortunately, the Board’s members soon began to miss meetings, and the Board of Police was largely ineffective. It was soon abolished, and the Mayor and Town Council were established.
The Port of Georgetown won city status during Queen Victoria’s reign in 1842. Today, the city’s streets reflect the different powers that have controlled it over time (Dutch, French, and English). Many of the city’s districts were formed out of the plantations that used to surround the early village, and they carry the plantations’ names today.
During the 20th Century, the Port of Georgetown grew to include many surrounding villages. In 1945, The Great Fire caused serious damage to much of the city.
Today, many of the homes and public buildings in the Port of Georgetown are made of wood but built on brick pillars. After the The Great Fire, new buildings were generally made of reinforced concrete.
The modern Port of Georgetown is the biggest city in Guyana, and it is home to most of the country’s important businesses. It is one of the Caribbean’s most important cities. The headquarters of the administrative arm of the Caribbean Regional Integration Organization (CARICOM) is located in the Port of Georgetown. The country’s major seaport and international airport are also located in Georgetown.