COUNTRY DESCRIPTION ^
French Guiana is an overseas department of France. It is a sparsely populated tropical area located on the northern coast of South America. French is the predominant language; English is not widely spoken. Tourist facilities are available, especially in the larger cities such as Cayenne and Kourou, but in some instances are not highly developed. Kourou is home to the Guiana Space Center, from which Ariane rockets are launched.
Petty street crime occurs throughout the major cities. Individuals should make sure to keep valuables out of sight, especially if left unattended in an automobile.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES ^
While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating French laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in French Guiana are strict and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.
MEDICAL FACILITIES ^
Medical care within French Guiana is limited, and hospital facilities are available only in major urban areas. Patients' rooms in hospitals are primarily open air facilities; instead of glass panes, hospital windows are fitted with wooden slats.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS ^
While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning French Guiana is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Safety of Public Transportation: Fair
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Good
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Fair
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Fair
Primary roads in French Guiana are well paved and well maintained. Emergency call boxes are available at regular intervals on the main highways. Roads in rural areas are less developed. Roads leading to more remote regions in the interior are often improved dirt roads. French Guiana has a relatively moderate to high volume of traffic and police enforce traffic safety. Night driving can be dangerous, especially in the remote interior regions or on less-developed rural roads. Public transportation in the form of taxis and vans is relatively safe.
For additional general information about road safety, including links to foreign government sites, see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at
For specific information concerning French Guiana driver's permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, contact the French National Tourist Organization offices at
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT ^
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of France's civil aviation authority as Category 1 - in compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of French air carrier operations.
For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA's Internet website at
The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact DOD at (6 18) 256-4801.
Please also refer to the separate Worldwide Caution Public Announcement.
March 4, 2004