The Flag of Guyana: History, Meaning, and Symbolism

Written by Andrew Wood
Updated: August 15, 2023
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Guyana is a country located in northern South America, bordered by Venezuela to the west, Brazil to the south and southeast, Suriname to the east, and the Atlantic Ocean to the north. It has a population of approximately 786,000 people, including Afro-Guyanese, East Indian, and indigenous Amerindian communities. Additionally, it’s the only English-speaking country in South America. It has a tropical climate and is predominantly agricultural, with rice, sugarcane, and timber being the main crops.

Guyana features gorgeous natural wonders, including the Amazon rainforest that covers about 90% of the country and the Kaieteur Falls, which is one of the largest single-drop waterfalls in the world. In fact, the name “Guyana” is an indigenous word meaning “land of waters” or “great waters.” Some of the unique fauna found there include jaguars, harpy eagles, giant anteaters, giant river otters, and the arapaima, (the world’s largest scaled freshwater fish).

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


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Origin and History of the Flag of Guyana

Guyana adopted its flag on May 26, 1966, after the country gained independence from the United Kingdom. After a design competition, the country chose the winning design by an American named Whitney Smith, who went on to become a professional vexillologist (flag specialist).

His original design had a red background, green triangle on the hoist side, and a yellow arrowhead shape. Guyana reversed the green and red colors and added a narrow black border to the triangle and a white one to the arrowhead. The flag’s nickname is “The Golden Arrowhead.”

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

© Kamara

Symbolism of the Flag of Guyana

The arrowhead shape on the flag looks to the past and the future. It is a connection with the indigenous Amerindian population but also represents the golden future of the country, based on its mineral wealth.

The colors of the flag carry the following symbolic meanings:

  • 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 pays tribute to the country’s history and people, as well as to its future strengthened by its mineral and agricultural wealth.

© ozger

Earlier Designs for the Flag of Guyana

Before independence, Guyana was a colony of Britain and was known as British Guiana. Its first flag, approved by British authorities in 1875, was a blue field with a British Union Jack Flag in the canton and the colonial seal depicting a sailing ship in the fly. The country modified the design in 1906 and again in 1919 to simplify the seal. They changed the seal yet again in 1955 and added the colony’s motto. Guyana used this flag until achieving independence in 1966. Guyana adopted a new flag as soon as it became independent. The approved design has remained unchanged ever since.

Where Is Guyana Located on a Map?

The Country of Guyana is found on the northeastern edge of South America, between Venezuela, Suriname, Brazil, and the Atlantic Ocean. Guyana’s capital city of Georgetown is a bustling seaport located on the northern border and is home to over 200,000 residents.

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Flag of Guyana
Flag of Guyana.

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About the Author

I'm a freelance writer, world traveler, and lifelong animal lover. Currently, I'm an "Emotional Support Human" to 4 dogs, 1 cat, and 2 guinea pigs. My favorite wild animal is the quokka, the most selfie-friendly animal in the world!

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