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Region Guyane


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French Guyana was originally inhabited by a number of indigenous American peoples. The coast was explored by Columbus in 1498 and from 1503 French settlers began to colonize the region. In 1604 a colony was founded named France Équinoxiale (Equinoctial France). In 1637 the settlement of Cayenne was founded.

The colony was occupied by the Dutch from 1660 until 1664 and again from 1676 until 1677 when it became a province of France. Cayenne was retaken by Jean comte Estrées on 18 December 1676. After the Treaty of Paris in 1763, when France had lost amongst others its colony of Canada, Louis XV sent settlers to French Guiana to colonise the region but with little result.

From 1794 until 1805 the province was a penal colony for counterrevolutionary convicts.

In 1801 the territory became a French colony.

In 1809 a Portuguese-British naval squadron took French Guyana for the Portuguese Empire. With the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1814 the region was handed back to the French, though a Portuguese presence remained until 1817.

Its infamous Île du Diable (Devil's Island) was the site of penal settlements from 1852 until 1951.

A border dispute with Brazil arose in the late nineteenth century over a vast area of jungle, leading to the short-lived pro-French independent state of Counani in the disputed territory and some fighting between settlers, before the dispute was resolved largely in favour of Brazil by the arbitration of the Swiss government.

On 19 March 1946, French Guyana became an overseas department (Département d´Outre-Mer) of France.

On 28 March 2003 Guyane became a Region d’Outre-Mer.






Of the two companies founded to explore the colony, the Compagnie de Rouen (1633-’45) and the Compagnie de la France équinoxiale (1663-’64) no emblems are preserved probably because both companies failed very soon. In 1664 the Compagnie des Indes Orientales tried again to colonize Cayenne but bankrupted in 1674. Its arms were:


Arms: Azure strewn with fleurs de lys Or.

Crown: A crown of  five leaves

Supporters: Two savages armed with clubs, proper.


When Jean comte Estrées had retaken Cayenne a medal commemorating his victory was struck. This showed the bust of Louis XIV (1643-1715) and a victorious Neptune with the banner of France, seated on a shell drawn by four sea horses on the reverse. Legend: Batavis Caesis Cayana Recoderata MDCLXXVI (The Dutch chased away, Cayenne retaken 1676).



After 1677 when Guyane became a province of France the emblems of the Kingdom, Republic and Empire of France were valid.

18th and 19th century coins struck for Guyane showed the royal fleurs de lys and the royal cypher.


2 sous, 1789, reverse:

Emblem of Louis XVI (1774-’92)

Three fleurs de lys royally crowned.

10 centimes 1818, reverse:

Crowned cypher of Louis XVIII (1814-’24)


Arms of Charles X (1824-’30)


10 centimes 1846, reverse:

Crowned royal cypher of Louis Philippe (1830-’48)




At the beginning of the 20th century the city of Cayenne was given an achievement for its own.

The achievement of Cayenne was designed by Émile Merwart, gouvernor of  Guyane. It was presented on a painting at the first session of the Committee of  Patronage of the Cayenne Museum by Paul Merwart, brother of the governor and painter of the Colonial Navy on 25 December 1901.

Today the painting is in the town hall of Cayenne:


Achievement of Cayenne by Paul Merwart


The achievement is :


Arms: Gules, a canoe loaded with gold, sailing on a river with three waterlilies all proper. And a chief Azure, three fleurs de lys Or, and the date 1643 Argent in chief.

Crown: A mural crown of three towers Or.

Supporters: Two giant ant eaters (Myrmyrcophaga tridactyla - myrmycophagidæ), proper.

Motto: FERT AURUM INDUSTRIA (Work generates Wealth)


In the arms

  • The red symbolizes the ground
  • The ameridian canoe symbolizes the navigation on the river Mahury and the Atlantic.
  • The gold represents the main wealth of Guyane of the time
  • The base with the waterlilies represents the river Mahury and the surrounding jungle
  • The chief symbolizes the Franch royal administration
  • The date is the date of the foundation of the city by Charles Poncet de Brétigny, lieutenant-general of king Louis XIII at the foot of Cépérou hill.
  • The giant anteaters were very numerous in Guyane at the time. They are capable to defend themselves with their claws against attacks of even a jaguar. They are symbolizing the Guayane people.


Picture: Alina Suaréz

Myrmyrcophaga tridactyla - myrmycophagidæ


Unofficially the achievement was used to represent all of Guyane.


Région Guyane



After Guyane had become an Overseas Region an emblem appeared which consisted of a cypher composed of a G (uyane), a R (egion) an O (utre) and a M (er),



This emblem was soon replaced by an other one. This consists of blue patch of paint charged in the right upper corner with a five pointed star, and another patch of green paint with a picture of a yellow canoe manned with a red man on organge waves.

In this emblem:


  • Blue symbolizes the Kourou and the developed technology.
  • The star the future of the population
  • Green symbolizes the flora and fauna
  • The canoe (pirogue) an the silhouette symbolize the Guyane people
  • The waves symbolized the rivers and the communication.


Æ See illustration in the head of this essay.


The emblem of the General Council of Guyane consists of a two stripes white and green charged with a yellow disc, the letters C (onseil) G (eneral) and the map of Guyane surrounded by a yelleow line, ending in an arrow.





The arms of the Gendarmerie of Guyane are inspired by the arms of the city of Cayenne. They are:


Arms: Tierced per fess, the first Azure, charged with 11 grenades Argent, 6 and 5; the second Gules, a canoe loaded with gold; the third Vert, three waterlilies Argent 2 and 1.


The arms are surrounded by the decorations of the french Gendarmerie, designed by the french heraldist Robert Louis and adopted 10 December 1948.




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© Hubert de Vries 2013-04-10


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