The Guiana coast was discovered (1498) by Columbus, who did not land there. The legend of El Dorado drew Sir Walter Raleigh to the region in 1595. The Spanish had also come in search of easy wealth, but, finding none, they left the coast open to exploitation by the Dutch, English, and French. The Dutch were the first to settle, but ownership of territory changed hands many times. After the emancipation of the slaves in the 19th cent., labor shortage proved a major problem on the European-owned plantations. It was partially offset by importing South Asians and Indonesians.
See J. Gimlette, Wild Coast (2011).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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