First settled by the French in 1604, French Guiana was the site of notorious penal prisons known as "le Bagne" which functioned from the mid 19th century until 1951. The most famous of which is Devil's Island. Henri Charrière wrote his tale "Papillon" about an escape from here. The European Space Agency also launches its communication satellites from Kourou. French Guyana is the only portion of mainland South America still governed by an overseas nation.
Almost entirely covered in rainforests, with numerous creeks and small rivers. The territory is almost entirely separated from its neighbours by two rivers: the Oyapok to the east and the Maroni to the west. There are three small islands, the Iles du Salut, off the coast of Kourou. Low-lying coastal plains rising to hills and small mountains, mostly an unsettled wilderness. It also consists of hill plateaus and the Tumuc-humac mountains.