POPULATION:
220,000

LITERACY RATE:
83%
SELF DEFENSE FORCES:
EDF
LANGUAGES:
French
ETHNIC GROUPS:
  black or mulatto 66%, white 12%, East Indian, Chinese, Amerindian 12%, other 10%
BORDERING COUNTRIES:
Brazil, Suriname
FRENCH GUIANA - There are two things you must always remember when entering French Guiana. The first, and most important, is that no matter how far from Europe it may actually be, French Guiana is as much a part of France as Paris itself. Second, much of French Guiana remains untamed wilderness. But don’t be misled. French Guiana is not some rural backwater. This overseas department is home France’s primary orbital launch facility. Its main cities have all of the sophistication and amenities one would expect to find in Europe. All of the laws of Europe are in affect and for those thinking of sneaking in illegally; the border security is just as deadly. As for the rainforests, they do not flourish due to lack of development. Their continued existence is part of one of the largest government sponsored attempts at ecological conservation; one that France vigorously defends and jealously protects.

French Guiana is bound by Suriname to the west and Brazil to the south and southeast. Its higher standard of living and rich untapped resources attracted both immigrants and illegal prospectors. The Maroni and Oyapock rivers serve as the natural boundaries with its neighbors. They also provided the main avenue into French Guiana for illegal immigration and other illicit activities. Anyone with a canoe or boat could cross the rivers with near impunity. French Guiana once held the dubious distinction of the Doorstep of France. Porous borders and lax enforcement allowed tens of thousands of illegal immigrants to stream into the department. 
French Guiana consists of two main geographical regions: a coastal strip where the majority of the people live, and dense, near-inaccessible rainforest which rises to the peaks of the Tumac-Humac mountains along the Brazilian frontier. France's penchant for conservation and its high reliance on wealthy tourists to the region has allowed the French Guyanese rainforest to remain largely untouched.  In fact the French Guianese Area of the Amazon is one of the largest preserves in South America.  Hunting, fishing and logging are very strictly controlled.  The deep jungle is home to several outposts from various biogenetic companies that are studying the rainforest. They are looking for ways to exploit the plants and animals of the rainforest as a means to create new drugs or cures for diseases. The rain forest is also a large draw for Ecotourism. Unlike visiting other countries outside of Europe, French Guiana is a department of France. Europeans can therefore travel there with relatively no hassle.

Illicit traffic across the river still occurs and remains quite profitable. The business has however become much more hazardous since the implementation of Fortress Europe. The Maroni and Oyapock rivers are French Guiana’s first line of defense in securing its borders. Most of French Guiana’s naval assets are concentrated on its brown water navy. Over a hundred riverine and support craft patrol its waterways. Patrols operate out of naval bases at Saint Laurnet du Maroni and Saint George or from one of several floating bases positioned at intervals along both rivers. These mobile platforms serve as refuling stations and observation posts. The largest are firebases bristling with weapons and boasting multiple landing platforms for aerodynes and rotorcart. They are guarded by detachments of the 9th Marine Infantry Regiment. Any vessel crossing the river is challenged. The methods of interdiction become more severe, the further one travels away from the costal strip.

Most of French Guiana’s 220,000 inhabitants reside in the costal strip. This band of civilization, under the jurisdiction of the Gendarmerie, accounts for less than 20% of the departments 89,150 sq km (34,421 Sq Mi) territory. The coastal strip has grown into a series of interconnected towns and cities.  It's beaches kept meticulously pristine (prisoners, especially captured ilegal aliens, are often sentenced to clean up crews which operate along the beaches between 3 and 6 am) to preserve the attrqaction for tourists and sport fishermen.  Shipping is of major importance, as French Guiana is heavily reliant on European imports and subsidies.  These same ports also serve as a major illegal pipeline of into Europe from various south American countries. Fraudlent european IDs and papers are a lucrative business, and are often given as incentive to those wishing toenter illegally into europe if they are willing to act as drug mules or carry other high risk contraband.

Beyond the coastal strip is an endless blanket of green that rolls south to the Tumac-Humac mountains, along the Brazilian frontier. This dense hot equatorial rainforest is the playground of the 3rd REI (Foreign Legion Regiment). Outside of specially designated reserves, set aside for eco-tourism and biogenetic research, the rainforest should be considered a free fire zone. The 3rd Rei are supported in their efforts by the Overseas Adapted Military Service (SMA) based out of Cayenne and Saint-Jean du Maroni. The country has training grounds for both EDF special forces, and the French Foreign Legion, held at sperate bases, but often coordinating war games together on Devils Island, as well as isolated outposts in the deep jungles of the interior.  Foreign Legion Recruitment is heavy handed, as unemployment and the influx of illegal aliens continues to skyrocket.


The SMA

The SMA was originally formed to create a national guard force within the overseas department, to aide in times of emergency or natural disater. Under the auspices of the Ministry of Ecology, it has become a paramilitary force tasked with the maintenance and supervision of French Guiana’s rainforests. The SMA is drawn from the local populace. It recruits heavily in villages along the rivers which wind their way into the interior of French Guiana.

The SMA oversees and staffs the eco-tourism reserves. It is also responsible for the administration and supervision of the detention center at Saint-Jean du Maroni and work the camps in the equitorial rainforest. The detention center at Saint-Jean du Maroni is the public face of a much larger penal system operating in French Guiana. Its well kempt inmates, in bright colored smocks, picking up litter on beaches or performing other “public service” tasks are a familiar site to most visitors. Saint-Jean is a paradise compared to the hell of the camps operating within the dense rainforests. The oppressive heat and nightmarish conditions recall the horrors of French Guiana’s infamous past.

Even with strict boarder security, there is still a steady flow of immigrants and criminal enterprises attempting to enter French Guiana, as well as
clandestine gold prospectors from Brazil.  Most of the border patrols in French Guiana are focused on the Maroni river, seperating the country from Suriname, this is by necessity as the threat of an outbreak of Wasting Plague which is still active in Suriname is severe enough that anyone caught trying to cross the border from Suriname is shot on sight.  This leaves them woefully unprotected from the Brazilian gold raiders, who infest the areas to the east and south.  "Gareimperos” (illegal Brazilian gold seekers) have begun prospecting mining operations in the rivers of French Guyana. Beyond the deforestation near the riverbanks (which can lead to soil errosion), the gareimperos’ use of mercury in their gold refining process. Mercury poisoning has become a serious health issue among local indigenous communities. Beyond the sever health hazards, these communities are also subjected to threats and violence from the criminal groups who run protection operations for the gareimperos.  As the violence increases, police, often aided by EDF forces, often stage brutal raids on unidentified encampments in the region, to try and eliminate the problem. The threat of death does little to deter such desperate individuals. Those that are caught inside of French Guiana are transferred to these camps. Here they are used as manual labor for repairing damage to the rainforest or in other works for the public good. Incarceration and hard labor may prove to be no better a deterrent than death, but it does provide a cheap labor pool for the SMA.

French Guyana has, in the last 20 years, transformed itself from a welfare state dependent on Paris into an economic powerhouse in South America. The Guiana Space Center remains the economic driver for much of the economy, but growth in other markets has lead to diversification. Expanded use of hydroelectric power and exploitation of French Guiana’s offshore oil and natural gas reserves have curbed the department’s dependence on imported energy and created an economic windfall. Reclamation of marginal land along the coastal strip has contributed to an increase in arable cropland while at the same time helping to reducing diseases such as malaria. Implementation of aquaculture projects in coastal waters and estuaries has helped to revitalize the fishing industry. The expansion of the roll of the SMA and the growth of eco and leisure tourism has also helped to ease chronic unemployment within the indigenous population. The economic outlook is promising, yet not everyone shares in the wealth.

French Guiana has always been an ethnically diverse. Even with the decrease in illegal immigration over a third of French Guiana's population still comes from somewhere else. Creoles, Haitians, Brazilians, Europeans, Hmong and Asians, as well as a new flood of refugees from Africa and the Middle East have made French Guiana’s population, the most ethnically diverse in South America. Local villages have become overrun with foreign immigrants. Shanty towns filled with migrant workers and displaced locals have grown up around the population centers of Cayenne, Kourou and Saint Laurent du Maroni.

Even with the growth in jobs, there is still not enough work to go around. Crime, poverty, ethnic violence and disease are rampant. Kidnappings and home invasions have become common tactics for local gangs. Tourists are generally insulated from this unpleasant side of French Guiana, although the frequency of violence against tourists has been on the rise. The growth of illicit trade and entertainment in theses districts, rather than an expansion of crime into other districts may be driving this upsurge. The government has attempted to downplay such incidents.


Compared to its neighbors Guyana and Suriname, French Guiana is well off. It has good roads, decent health care and a generous social-security system, thanks to $500 million a year in assistance from Paris. It also has jobs, but not enough to go around. French Guiana's unemployment exceeds 25%. Counting those in the country illegaly it is closer to 35%.

Beyond unemployment, there are other serious problems caused by the influx of illegal immagrants. Cases of malaria have skyrocketed. Crime has jumped dramatically in the last few years and the HIV/AIDS infection rate is among the highest in the Western Hemisphere. The illeagal mining may also pose serious health and ecological hazards.  And the threat of Wasting Plague from Suriname is an ever present nightmare.

These troubles have spawned an independance movement within French Guiana. The Mouvement de Decolonisation et d'Emancipation Social (MDES), French Guiana's independence party lay the blame for these problems at France's doorstep. They claim that Paris is not interested in developing the country, because they fear that economic independance would weaken their control of French Guiana. The movement is small (supported by about only 3-4% of the population), but vocal. They are also not above resorting to violence.

If Europe decides to join the looming and near inevitable Third South American war, French Guiana, along with the Falkland islands to the south of the continent, will be the primary staging points to EDF forces.  As it is, French Guiana is the major pipeline of European arms and equipment sold to South American forces, including several of the countries that make up the South American Alliance in opposition to the United States.  It is suspected that for these reasons, american operatives have entered the country covertly in order to gain intelligence.  American and Canadian tourists are viewed with suspicion and watched closely.

HOT SPOTS:
CAYENNE
KOUROU

(Written by Destecado)