In 1498, French Guiana was first visited by Europeans when Christopher Columbus sailed to the region and named it the "Land of pariahs."
A chronic issue affecting French Guiana is the influx of illegal immigrants and clandestine gold prospectors from Brazil and Suriname.
French Guiana has at least 5,625 species of vascular plants, of which 2.6 percent are endemic.
French Guiana, as part of France, is part of the European Union, the largest part in area outside Europe, with one of the longest EU external boundaries.
The Hmong people are also mainly Catholic owing to the influence of Catholic missionaries who helped bring them to French Guiana.
In 2004 the GDP per capita of French Guiana at real exchange rates, not at PPP, was 12,887 euros (US$16,030), which was 59.9 percent of the European Union's average GDP per capita that year.
French Guiana consists of two main regions: A coastal strip where the majority of people live, and dense, near-inaccessible rainforest, which gradually rises to the modest peaks of the Tumac-Humac mountains along the Brazilian frontier.
In 1809, an Anglo-Portuguese naval squadron took French Guiana (ousting governor Victor Hugues) and gave it to the Portuguese in Brazil.
French censuses do not record ethnicity, so estimates of the percentages of French Guiana ethnic composition vary, a problem compounded by the large numbers of legal and illegal immigrants (about 20,000).
French Guiana became an overseas department of France on March 19, 1946.
French Guiana is an overseas department of France, located on the northern coast of South America.
Like the other French departments, French Guiana is an overseas region of France, one of 26 regions of France.
The Barrage de Petit-Saut hydroelectric dam in the north of French Guiana forms an artificial lake and provides hydroelectricity.
French Guiana's main international airport is Cayenne-Rochambeau Airport, located in a southern suburb of Cayenne.
French Guiana's population of 202,000, most of whom live along the coast, is very ethnically diverse.
French Guiana's highest peak is Bellevue de l'Inini (851 m).
The rainforests of French Guiana are still largely unexploited and face relatively few threats, although timber extraction is increasing.
French Guiana is heavily dependent on France for subsidies and goods.
French Guiana has about seven active political parties, and it has traditionally been politically conservative, but the Socialist party (Parti socialiste guyanais, or PSG) has been increasingly successful in recent years.
The territory of Inini, consisting of most of the interior of French Guiana, was created in 1930 and abolished in 1946.
French Guiana's main seaport is the port of Dйgrad des Cannes, located on the estuary of the Mahury River.
Almost all French Guiana's imports and exports pass through this port.
In 1794, the British again invaded Guadeloupe, forcing the French to send a contingent of soldiers guided by black nationalist Victor Hugues, who proclaimed the abolition of slavery and had several hundred white planters massacred.