Originally a Dutch colony in the 17th century, by 1815 Guyana had become a British possession. The abolition of slavery led to the purchase of some villages such as Victoria and Anns Grove to name a few, as well as black settlement of urban areas and the importation of indentured servants from India to work the sugar plantations. Chinese were also imported to work on plantations but were found to be unsuitable (read Guyana History. The Colonial powers employed a system of "divide and rule" among the freed Africans and the other ethnic groups which were brought and encouraged to settle in the then colony. The policy was employed even during slavery when indigenous "Amerindians" were used to hunt runaway slaves. The result was an ethno-cultural divide, significant elements of which have persisted to this day and has led to turbulent politics, dissolution of attempts at nationalistic cultural development and the non-existence of anything resembling a "National Identity".
Independence 26 May 1966 from UK
National holiday Republic Day, 23 February 1970
Constitution 6 October 1980
Guyana achieved independence from the UK in 1966, but until the early 1990s it was ruled mostly by socialist-oriented governments. In 1992, Cheddi Jagan was elected president, in what is considered the country's first free and fair election since independence. Upon his death five years later, he was succeeded by his wife Janet, who resigned in 1999 due to poor health. Her successor, Bharrat Jagdeo, was reelected in 2001 and again in 2006. The current President is Donald Ramotar.