Guyana News & Current Events

Updated April 25, 2023 | Infoplease Staff

News and Current Events

Get caught up with the most important historic and current events in Guyana.

Ali Becomes First Muslim Head of State

In 2020, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) wins 33 of the 64 seats in the National Assembly, allowing it to form a government with Irfaan Ali becoming the President of Guyana. Ali becomes the first Muslim head of state in Guyana and only the second in the Americas.

The election victory came amidst rising tensions as party support followed an ethnic divide with support for the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) coming mainly from the Afro-Guyanese community while backing for the rival PPP/C came from mostly Indo-Guyanese.

Major Oilfield Discovery in Offshore Waters

In 2015, ExxonMobil announced that significant amounts of oil had been found at an off-shore site in the North Atlantic Ocean, around 193 km from the coast of Guyana. It’s estimated that the site provides access to around 11 billion barrels of oil.

It represents the 17th largest oil reserve in the world and has had an impact on the nation’s politics and international relations. Plans on how to use the prospective wealth played a significant part in the 2020 presidential elections.

The oil discoveries have also heightened the tensions with Venezuela over Guyana's Essequibo region and the potential for lucrative oil finds in the disputed offshore waters.

Opposition Wins by Narrow Margin in 2015 Elections

In the 2015 elections, the opposition party, A Partnership for National Unity-Alliance for Change, won by a narrow margin, taking 50% of the vote. President Ramotar's party, the People's Progressive Party, received 49%. Leader of the opposition, David Granger, became president, which ended the People's Progressive Party's 23-year rule.

A military officer, Granger became Commander of the Guyana Defense Force in 1979. He retired from the military in 1992, and founded a news magazine, the Guyana Review, that same year. He served as the magazine's managing editor. Afro-Guyanese, Granger has vowed to ease racial tensions in the country.

Ramotar Elected President, But His Party Fails to Win Majority

In Nov. 2011, Donald Ramotar, the General Secretary of the People's Progressive Party (PPP), was elected president. Ramotar was the PPP's unanimous choice as the party's presidential candidate. Ramotar was elected by a slim margin while his party fell one seat short of a parliamentary majority, which means two opposition parties would now hold a majority of seats in the National Assembly.

The opposition parties said that the presidential election had been tampered with. However, Guyana's electoral authority reported that the election was fair.

Flooding Devastates Guyana’s Capital

Heavy rainfall during January and February of 2005 led to flooding which affected more than a third of Guyana’s population. The majority of the disruption and damage is experienced in Grangetown with flood defenses failing to stop thousands of properties from being flooded.

Around 120,000 are affected in the capital with six deaths. It’s estimated that around 40% of the country’s population lost some or all of their possessions as a result of the devastation. The total number of fatalities across the country was 34.

In March 2001, Bharrat Jagdeo won a second term in elections that underscored Guyana's bitter racial tensions. The reelection of Jagdeo, an ethnic East Indian, caused rioting among Afro-Guyanese, who claimed widespread election fraud.

Racial Disputes, Border Disputes Hinder Progress

Guyana's potential economic development was hurt in 2000 as border disputes with both Venezuela to the west and Suriname to the east heated up. Suriname and Guyana had been unable to resolve the border dispute in an oil-rich coastal area. Venezuela's president Hugo Chavez has revived the 19th-century claim to more than half of Guyana's territory.

Test Your Geography Skills Beyond Guyana

Now that you know all about Guyana, what about testing your knowledge of some other parts of the world? Flex your globe-trotting credentials by taking the ‘What Country Are You In?’ challenge with a timer counting down as you try to figure out the location from the landmarks. 

See also Encyclopedia: Guyana.
U.S. State Dept. Country Notes: Guyana