The Geography of Guyana comprises the physical characteristics of the country in Northern South America and part of Caribbean South America, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Suriname and Venezuela, with a land area of approximately 214,970 square kilometres. The country is situated between 1 and 9 north latitude and between 56 and 62 west longitude. With a 430-kilometre Atlantic coastline on the northeast, Guyana is bounded by Venezuela on the west, Brazil on the west and south, and Suriname on the east. The land comprises three main geographical zones: the coastal plain, the white sand belt, and the interior highlands.
The coastal plain, which occupies about 5% of the country's area, is home to more than 90% of its inhabitants. The plain ranges from five to six kilometers wide and extends from the Courantyne River in the east to the Venezuelan border in the northwest.
The coastal plain is made up largely of alluvial mud swept out to sea by the Amazon River, carried north by ocean currents, and deposited on the Guyanese shores. A rich clay of great fertility, this mud overlays the white sands and clays formed from the erosion of the interior bedrock and carried seaward by the rivers of Guyana. Because much of the coastal plain floods at high tide, efforts to dam and drain this area have gone on since the 18th century.
Guyana has no well-defined shoreline or sandy beaches. Approaching the ocean, the land gradually loses elevation until it includes many areas of marsh and swamp. Seaward from the vegetation line is a region of mud flats, shallow brown water, and sandbars. Off New Amsterdam, these mud flats extend almost twenty-five kilometers. The sandbars and shallow water are a major impediment to shipping, and incoming vessels must partially unload their cargoes offshore in order to reach the docks at Georgetown and New Amsterdam.
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