Faces of the People of Guyana
Guyana National Junior Squash Team – August 2012
Photo Credit: Guyana Times International
We are a complex species, living in a complex world of our own design. Except in small rural communities and suburban enclaves where people know each other by name, our urban centers have become too large for us to know everyone. In many cases, we don’t even know or chat with our neighbors.
In order to meet the needs of a nation’s population, policymakers rely upon a critical planning tool: the national Population and Housing Census. Such a comprehensive population count is not only costly but also a colossal operation. For about 150 developing countries, home to 80 percent of the world’s population, help comes from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
Undertaken every ten years and in compliance with the United Nations’ mandate for the 2010 Global Round of Censuses, Guyana held its Population and Housing Census on 15 September 2012. In June 2014, the Guyana Bureau of Statistics released its Preliminary Report of the nation’s 2012 Census. All population figures are not yet available; factors affecting changes since the 2002 Census have not been fully analyzed.
Guyana’s total population has declined from 751,223 people in 2002 to 747,884 people in 2012. The role of migration in this decline will become clearer with the release of data on migration.
In spite of rising sea levels and frequent flooding along the low-lying coastal region, almost 90 percent of people continue to inhabit the coastlands, just four percent of Guyana’s landmass of about 83,000 square miles. During the ten-year period, over 18,000 people left Georgetown, the nation’s capital and main port, reducing the city’s population to 191,810. The majority moved to new housing projects outside the city limits. Housing data reveal that dwelling units increased by 16,624 units, rising to a total of 221,741 units. Congrats to the new homeowners.
Are these new homes built on higher ground above the projected rise in sea levels due to climate change? I don’t think so.
Population by gender favors men: 372,547 males to 375,337 females. That’s a ratio of 99 males for every 100 females. The situation is worse in Georgetown: 56,232 males to 62,131 females (ratio 90.5). Without population distribution by age, not included in the Preliminary Report, it’s difficult to say how much this will affect young women in search of their soul mates.
As a person of mixed race, I look forward to seeing the Census results for Guyana’s ethnic distribution. Have the numbers grown for persons of mixed ethnicity? I hope so. In 2002, 18.75 percent of the population was of mixed race. In a nation of racially divisive politics, the ethnic distribution is of vital importance to voters and political parties.
When the Guyana Bureau of Statistics releases all the 2012 Census data, we will have a panoramic view of the people of Guyana. The national Population and Housing Census is much more than a critical tool for policymakers. It reveals a lot about our collective lives as a nation. We are not alone in our struggles.