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Aerial view of Cayenne
Aerial view of Cayenne
Location of the commune (in red) within French Guiana
Location of the commune (in red) within French Guiana
Country France
Overseas region and department French Guiana
Arrondissement Cayenne
Intercommunality Centre Littoral
 • Mayor (2014-2020) Marie-Laure Phinéra-Horth
Area1 23.60 km2 (9.11 sq mi)
 • Urban (2010) 206.9 km2 (79.9 sq mi)
 • Metro (2010) 5,087 km2 (1,964 sq mi)
Population (Jan. 2012[1])2 55,198
 • Density 2,300/km2 (6,100/sq mi)
 • Urban (Jan. 2012[1][2]) 106,358
 • Urban density 510/km2 (1,300/sq mi)
 • Metro (Jan. 2012[1][3]) 121,308
 • Metro density 24/km2 (62/sq mi)
INSEE/Postal code 97302 / 97300

1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.

2 Population without double counting: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.

Cayenne (; French pronunciation: ​) is the capital of French Guiana, an overseas region and department of France located in South America. The city stands on a former island at the mouth of the Cayenne River on the Atlantic coast. The city's motto is "fert aurum industria" which means "work brings wealth".[4]

At the 2012 census, there were 121,308 inhabitants in the metropolitan area of Cayenne (as defined by INSEE),[3] 55,198 of whom lived in the city (commune) of Cayenne proper.[1]


  • Geography 1
  • History 2
  • Demography 3
  • Economy 4
  • Culture 5
  • Main sights 6
  • Transport 7
  • Climate 8
  • Administration 9
  • Cayenne in popular culture 10
  • See also 11
  • References 12
  • External links 13


Cayenne is located on the banks of the estuary of the Cayenne River on the Atlantic Ocean. The city occupies part of the Ile de Cayenne. It is located 268 km from Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni and 64 km from Kourou.[5]

Distances to some cities:


Historical Affiliations

French colonial empire 1643–1658
Dutch Empire 1658–1664
French colonial empire 1664–1676
English Empire 1667
Dutch Empire 1676
French colonial empire 1676–1809
Portuguese Empire 1809–1817
 France 1817–present

Ignored by Spanish explorers, who found the region too hot and poor to be claimed, the region was not colonized until 1604, when a French settlement was founded. However, it was soon destroyed by the Portuguese, who were determined to enforce the provisions of the Treaty of Tordesillas. French colonists returned in 1643 and founded Cayenne, but they were forced to leave once more following Amerindian attacks. In 1664, France finally succeeded at establishing a permanent settlement at Cayenne. Over the next decade the colony changed hands between the French, Dutch, and English, before being restored to France. It was captured by an Anglo-Portuguese force at the invasion of Cayenne in 1809 and administered from Brazil until 1814, when it was returned to French control. It was used as a French penal colony from 1854 to 1938.

Cayenne's coat of arms on a municipal sign.

The city's population has recently grown dramatically, owing to high levels of immigration (chiefly from the West Indies and Brazil) as well as a high birthrate.


1961 1967 1974 1982 1990 1999 2006 2011
Cayenne (commune) 18,615 24,518 30,461 38,091 41,067 50,594 58,004 57,229
Cayenne (metropolitan area) 21,505 28,257 35,812 49,118 66,803 92,059 112,876 121,308
Official figures from population censuses.[1][3]

Average population growth of the Cayenne metropolitan area:

  • 1961-1967: +1,122 people per year (+4.6% per year)
  • 1967-1974: +1,079 people per year (+3.4% per year)
  • 1974-1982: +1,799 people per year (+4.4% per year)
  • 1982-1990: +2,206 people per year (+3.9% per year)
  • 1990-1999: +2,812 people per year (+3.6% per year)
  • 1999-2006: +3,054 people per year (+3.0% per year)
  • 2006-2011: +1,686 people per year (+1.5% per year)


Cayenne is an important industrial centre for the shrimp industry. The city formerly also contained sugar refineries.


Cayenne is very ethnically diverse, with Creole, Haitian, Brazilian, European, and Hmong and other Asian communities. It is famous for its annual carnival which starts with the arrival of Vaval (the Carnival King) on the first Sunday after New Year's Day and continues with very popular all-night costume balls and Sunday afternoon parades every weekend until Mardi Gras. Carnaval dances include mazurka, biguine and piké djouk. It is the role of the Touloulou (disguised woman) to invite men to dance; the men do not have the right to refuse her. Only Touloulou have the right to dance, non-disguised women may not dance.

There is a large dance scene including both lessons and social dancing. Cafe de la Gare and Domino offer a variety of opportunities including bachata, salsa, merengue, kizomba, zouk, and forro. There are occasionally outdoor socials nears the Place de Chaînes Brisées. Capoeira is also popular and is offered in multiple styles by groups such as ENERGIA PURA.

Main sights

Cayenne centres on its main commercial street, the Avenue Général de Gaulle. At the east end of the avenue near the coast is the Place des Palmistes and the Place de Grenoble (also known as the Place Léopold Héder). Most of the official buildings are located in this area: the Hôtel de Ville (the town hall) built by Jesuits in the 1890s, the Post Office, the Préfecture, residence of French Guiana's Préfect, and the Musée Départmental Franconie. To the west of this area lies Fort Cépérou, built in the 17th century, though now mostly in ruins. To the south lie the Place du Coq and Place Victor Schoelcher (named in honour of the anti-slavery activist) and a market.

To the south of this compact region is the Village Chinois (known as Chicago), separated from the rest of Cayenne by the Canal Laussat. It has a reputation for being a dangerous area.

Other buildings in the city include Cayenne Cathedral, municipal library, the municipal museum and a museum of French Guianese Culture (Musée des Cultures Guyanaise) and a scientific research institute (IRD or Institut de recherche pour le développement, formerly Orstom). The Jardin botanique de Cayenne is the city's botanical garden.


Cayenne is served by the Cayenne – Félix Eboué Airport, which is located in the neighbouring commune of Matoury.


Under the Köppen climate classification, Cayenne has a tropical monsoon climate. Average high and low temperatures are nearly identical throughout the course of the year averaging about 30 °C (86 °F) and 23 °C (73 °F) respectively. Cayenne sees a copious amount of precipitation during the year. The city features a very lengthy wet season and a very short dry season. The dry season only covers two months of the year (September and October) while the wet season covers the remainder of the year. Precipitation is seen even during the dry season, a trait commonly seen in places featuring tropical monsoon climates. Cayenne averages roughly 3,750 millimetres (150 in) of rain each year.

Climate data for Cayenne – Félix Eboué Airport (in Matoury)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 32.5
Average high °C (°F) 29.1
Average low °C (°F) 23.3
Record low °C (°F) 17.4
Average precipitation mm (inches) 451.2
Average precipitation days 23.63 20.00 20.67 22.20 26.43 25.17 20.57 14.20 7.13 7.60 11.93 21.57 221.10
Mean monthly sunshine hours 94.3 89.9 119.0 118.1 118.8 148.6 196.5 229.8 255.2 251.1 217.3 137.5 1,976
Source: Meteo France[7][8]


Victor-Schoelcher square

Cayenne is the chief town of six cantons:

  • The first canton (North West) has 3,935 inhabitants;
  • The second canton (North East) has 5,730 inhabitants;
  • The third canton (South West) has 8,017 inhabitants;
  • The fourth canton (Centre) has 5,955 inhabitants;
  • The fifth canton (South) has 9,750 inhabitants;
  • The sixth canton (South East) has 17,207 inhabitants

Cayenne in popular culture

The French folk song Cayenne (named after the main city of French Guiana) tells the story of a pimp who shoots a well-to-do client who grossly disrespected a prostitute, and is then convicted and transferred to the infamous penitentiary.

In The Hardy Boys #12: Footprints under the Window, the Hardys' investigations take them to Cayenne.

The 1955 film We're No Angels involves three prisoners who escape from Devil's Island and settle incognito into a family store in Cayenne.

The Cayenne pepper is named after the city.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e  
  2. ^  
  3. ^ a b c  
  4. ^ "page concernant le blason de la ville sur le site page de Redris". Retrieved 13 March 2011. 
  5. ^ Distances and duration of bonds in the dugout
  6. ^ Situation Géographique Préfecture de Guyane, archived September 15, 2008 from the original
  7. ^ "Données climatiques de la station de Matoury" (in French). Meteo France. Retrieved December 9, 2014. 
  8. ^ "Climat Guyane". Meteo France. Retrieved December 9, 2014. 

External links

  • Préfecture de Guyane Official website
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