The Flag of Guyana: History, Meaning, and Symbolism

Flag of Guyana

Written by Drew Wood

Updated: October 28, 2023

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Guyana is a fascinating but often overlooked country in South America. Located on the north coast, it has influences from the Caribbean, Africa, indigenous Americans, and Europeans. A former British colony, it is the only English-speaking country on the continent. It has a population of about 786,000. Guyana has a friendly relationship with the United States and many Guyanese people have immigrated there. The climate is tropical and the economy depends heavily on agriculture. Rice, timber, and sugarcane are some of the main agricultural exports of Guyana.

Guyana is about 90% forested with a portion of the Amazonian rainforest. “Guyana” in the local languae means “land of waters.” It’s a suitable nickname for the country, as it is well-watered and has some of the most spectacular waterfalls in the world. With such a verdant habitat, Guyana hosts some of the rarest and most impressive species in the world. If you had the opportunity to hike in the jungle with a guide you might see jaguars, harpy eagles, giant anteaters, giant river otters, and large freshwater fish species like the arapaima.

Map showing Guyana

Guyana is bordered by Venezuela, Brazil, Suriname, and the Atlantic Ocean.

Origin and History of the Flag of Guyana

Guyana became independent from its colonial relationship with the United Kingdom on May 26, 1966. An American named Whitney Smith designed the flag. The colors of the flag are green yellow, red, white, and black. The triangular pattern of the yellow part of the design earned the flag the nickname “The Golden Arrowhead.”

Guyana's national flag has been nicknamed "The Golden Arrowhead."

“The Golden Arrowhead” is the nickname of Guyana’s national flag.

Symbolism of the Flag of Guyana

The arrowhead shape on the flag connects with the indigenous tribal people who used arrows in hunting. Here are the symbolic meanings of the colors:

  • Red: zeal and dynamism
  • Gold: mineral wealth
  • Green: agriculture and forests
  • Black: endurance
  • White: rivers and water
Flag of Guyana waving in the wind

The flag of Guyana celebrates the country’s people and natural resources.

Earlier Designs for the Flag of Guyana

Before independence, Britain colonized Guyana and referred to it as “British Guiana.” The first colonial flag was a blue field with a British Union Jack in the corner. It also displayed the colonial seal, which included a sailing ship to emphasize the importance of overseas trade to the life of the colony. Authorities modified this flag several times over the years. After adopting the new flag the government has made no further modifications.

Where Is Guyana Located on a Map?

The Country of Guyana is on the northeastern edge of South America next to Venezuela, Suriname, and Brazil. Georgetown, population 200,000+, is the country’s capital and largest port on the Atlantic.

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About the Author

Drew Wood is a writer at A-Z Animals focusing on mammals, geography, and world cultures. Drew has worked in research and writing for over 20 years and holds a Masters in Foreign Affairs (1992) and a Doctorate in Religion (2009). A resident of Nebraska, Drew enjoys Brazilian jiu-jitsu, movies, and being an emotional support human to four dogs.

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