First settled by the French in 1604, French Guiana was the site of notorious penal settlements until 1951.
The European Space Agency launches its communication satellites from Kourou.
Surface Area: 91,000 square km
Population: 191,309 (July 2004 est.)
Located in: Northern South America
Capital City: Cayenne
Head of State: Jacques CHIRAC, represented by Prefect Ange MANCINI
Prime Minister: President of the General Council Joseph HO-TEN-YOU
Independent since: none (overseas department of France)
Currency: €uro (EUR); French franc (FRF)