Guyane (French Guiana) is not an independent nation; it’s an overseas department of France and therefore part of the EU. The country is a melting pot of ethnic diversity – creole and immigrants make up 80% of a population which also includes metropolitan French, Amerindians and Maroons - the descendants of escaped slaves.
Geographically, the country is a tangle of rainforest with an incredible biodiversity. The mangrove swamps of Kaw are one of Guyane’s most accessible wildlife areas.
However, Guyane is most famous for the former penal colony immortalised in the film Papillon. The abandoned penal colonies are now historical monuments in themselves, and visitors are drawn to the Îles de Salut including Devil’s Island. The main island, Île Royale, offers an evocative insight into the conditions the prisoners faced, since many of the cells can still be visited.
Guyane seldom hits the news - except when there is activity at the European Space Station at Kourou. The space station visitors' centre is open except when the next launch of the Ariane rocket is imminent.