Why Isn't French Guiana Independent

I was looking on a map and this looks like (area wise) the largest non independent state. (ok I don’t count Greenland). Anyone know why it is still French?

Perhaps the native took a lesson from the unhappy history of Surinam (formerly Dutch Guiana)


why isnt Hawaii?

“why isn’t Hawaii”
More importantly why isn’t Puerto Rico. I think the economics of the situations is definitely a determining factor.

While French Guiana is the largest of the French overseas departments, it’s also the least populous. Guadaloupe, Martinique, and Reunion all have several times French Guiana’s population.

The second part is that French Guiana is an independent country; it’s part of France. The four overseas departments have the same political representation as the departments in continental France, in the same sense that Alaska and Hawaii are equal to New York or Delaware.

Is it really the least populous? I thought St. Pierre et Miquelon were pretty teeny.

But that’s a different story. St. Pierre and Miquelon is a territory not a department (and you’re right, it’s the least populous of any French department or territoy).

Like Martinique, French Guiana is a favorite resort of French tourists. Alfred Dreyfus and Papilon (sp?) were early boosters for this tropic paradise.

The issue of Puerto Rican independence was brought up in the 1970s. A plebiscite was taken; the majority favored continuing as a “commonwealth” (See Return of the Straight Dope for details). A small part of the electorate favored independence; some people suggested that this was inspired by Cuba, which wanted the United States out of Puerto Rico so Castro could take over the island under the guise of a “People’s Republic.” In the Soviet-inspired satellite countries, approximately 4 to 5 percent of the total population are members of the Communist Party–something of an elitist situation.

The French will continue to keep FG for well into the future, chiefly because it is their base for launching the ARIANE rockets. They (France) are now the world’s 2nd larget launchers of satellites, and this makes a ton of money for France.
Let them have it-the climate is dreadful (its essentially one big swamp), and it has no economic value (other than the launching base).

Papa,(papillon?) you are right about it being a tourist mecca.Why,the sensation of inserting and carring a plan alone is well worth the trip. But your post reminded me of why the movie had such a dissapointing conclusion.The scientists were at the wrong place. remember the scenes wher Dreyfus was making models of th Devil’s Monument? he should have been making… huh?..oh sorry ,never mind.


The sites I looked up on the Web seem to indicate it is an AWFUL place for a tourist. They advise like someones said “it is one big swamp.”

Does anyone know if there is a sector agitaing for independence?

Indeed, the Unité Guyanaise, a Marxist group, advocates independence. Apparently they have no website. I was unable to find whether the UG is represented in the General Council or Regional Council. The Mouvement de Décolonisation et d’Emancipation, however, did win three seats in the 31 seat Regional Council in 1998. Due to the poverty present and the subsidies from France, the locals aren’t too excited about independence.

I also found mention of

les déserts de la Guianeli[/li][/quote]
which is a bit perplexing.

Like PR, the independence movement was largely quashed by actually asking the people if they wanted it. http://www.infoplease.com reports that independence supporters hover around 5% of the population.

According to an anthropologist friend of mine, French Guiana is in a very subtle way ecologically screwed. Hunter-gatherer tribes, buoyed by periodic aid by the French government, have comparatively large (actually miniscule, but they cover a lot of ground) populations. The entire interior of the country is more of less hunted out, and as long as the population remains artificially high, most hunter-gatherers are dependent on some sort of aid. One of the most popular forms of aid is shotgun shells, for more efficient hunting, which keeps the aboriginal peoples in a surreal situation where they are dependent on technology in order to preserve their non-technological way of life. Whether they know it or not, they are highly dependent on the French government.

Unlike Puerto Rico, French Guiana enjoys voting representatives in the republican assembly. That doesn’t necessarily mean that independence won’t come up again, but Algeria was a Department of France which seceded by revolution, and has since become a nice place to visit, if you want to be murdered for being a tourist. French Guianans must be familiar with that situation, as well as that of their neighbors.

Not quite like Puerto Rico. I don’t believe French Guyana ever held a referendum on the topic. And as Quebeckers know, the wording of a referendum can make a big difference. Still, 5% doesn’t bode well for the option.
Let’s compare:
Hawaii 36.5% favor independce from US in 1999 state poll.
Alaska elected a governor from Alaska Independence Party with 38.9% of vote in 1988.
Puerto Rico 4.4% favored independence in 1993 referendum.
Québec 49.4% voted for sovereignty in 1995 referendum.
Scotland 47% favor independence in 2000 poll.
East Timor 78.2% vote for independence in 1999 referendum.
Brittany 23% totally or mostly in favor of independence in 2000 poll.

Only East Timor independence has come to pass, or will come to pass once the UN relinquishes control to the locals. Of the rest, only Scotland and Québec have any real chance, and those are questionable. Watered-down sovereignty, such as that enjoyed at different levels by Puerto Rico, Micronesia, and Corsica, are often more acceptable to both the locals and the “imperial” government. But with supporters at just 5%, you’ll be lucky just to influence who gets placed on the postage stamps.

Homelands has a compilation of various independence and autonomy movements worldwide.