French Guiana (pronounced or , French: Guyane française; French pronunciation: [ɡɥijan fʁɑ̃sɛz]), officially called Guiana (French: Guyane), is an overseas department and region of France, located on the north Atlantic coast of South America in the Guyanas. It borders Brazil to the east and south, and Suriname to the west. Its 83,534 km2 (32,253 sq mi) area has a very low population density of only 3 inhabitants per km2, with half of its 244,118 inhabitants in 2013 living in the metropolitan area of Cayenne, its capital. By land area, it is the second largest region of France and the largest outermost region within the European Union.
Both the region and the department have been ruled since December 2015 by a single assembly within the framework of a new territorial collectivity, the French Guiana Territorial Collectivity (French: collectivité territoriale de Guyane). This assembly, the French Guiana Assembly (French: assemblée de Guyane), has replaced the former regional ...
council and departmental council, which were both disbanded. The French Guiana Assembly is in charge of regional and departmental government. Its president is Rodolphe Alexandre.
The area was originally inhabited by Native Americans. The first French establishment is recorded in 1503 but the French presence didn't really become durable until 1643 and the foundation of Cayenne. Guiana then became a slave colony and saw its population increase until the official abolition of slavery at the time of the French revolution. Guiana temporarily became a French department in 1797 but was gradually transformed into a penal colony with the establishment of a network of camps and penitentiaries spread over the coast where prisoners were sentenced to forced labor. During World War II, the Guianan Félix Éboué was one of the first to stand behind General de Gaulle as early as June 18, 1940. Guiana officially rallied Free France in 1943. It definitively abandoned its status as a colony and became again a French department in 1946. De Gaulle, who became president, decided to establish the Guiana Space Centre in 1965. It is now operated by the CNES, Arianespace and the European Space Agency (ESA). Several thousand Hmong refugees from Laos migrated to French Guiana in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Nowadays fully integrated in the French central state, Guiana is a part of the European Union, and its official currency is the euro. The region is the most prosperous territory in South America with the highest GDP per capita. A large part of Guiana's economy derives from the presence of the Guiana Space Centre, now the European Space Agency's primary launch site near the equator. As elsewhere in France, the official language is French, but each ethnic community has its own language, of which Guianan Creole is the most widely spoken.