How Does French Guiana Make Money? Understanding Its Economical Sources

Have you ever heard of French Guiana? This small French territory located in South America might not ring a bell for many, but did you know that it’s one of the wealthiest regions in the continent? That’s right, despite its size, French Guiana boasts a thriving economy that has been largely sustained by its exceptional natural resources and strategic location.

So, how does French Guiana make money, exactly? First and foremost, it’s worth mentioning that this region is blessed with an abundance of natural resources. Gold, timber, and fish are just a few examples of the commodities that are extracted from the Amazonian forests and shores of French Guiana, generating a significant income for the country. Additionally, agriculture plays a crucial role in the economy, with products such as bananas, cassava, and cocoa being exported to other countries.

But it’s not just natural resources that make French Guiana a prosperous region. The country has also made significant investments in high-tech industries, such as space exploration. The Guiana Space Centre, in particular, has become a major player in the European space industry, hosting launches for various European nations and injecting millions of dollars into the local economy. With so many different sources of revenue, it’s clear that French Guiana has a lot to offer – and it’s definitely a place worth keeping an eye on.

Industries in French Guiana

Despite being a small and relatively unknown region, French Guiana is home to a variety of industries that contribute to its economic growth. Here are some of the main industries:

  • Mining: French Guiana has significant reserves of gold, and mining companies from around the world have invested in the region to extract this precious metal. The industry has grown rapidly in recent years, and has created many jobs in the process.
  • Agriculture: French Guiana’s tropical climate and fertile soil make it an ideal location for agriculture. The region produces a range of crops, including bananas, cocoa, and coffee. In recent years, the government has invested in modernizing and expanding the agricultural sector to increase its output and competitiveness in the global market.
  • Tourism: French Guiana’s unique culture and natural attractions, such as the Amazon rainforest and the Guiana Space Centre, make it an attractive destination for tourists. The government has been actively promoting tourism, and has made efforts to improve infrastructure and services to support the industry.
  • Fishing: French Guiana’s coastal waters are rich in fish and other marine life, providing an important source of income for many locals. The industry is heavily regulated to protect the environment and ensure sustainable fishing practices.

Overall, these industries contribute to French Guiana’s economy and provide opportunities for local businesses and individuals. The government is committed to promoting economic growth and diversifying the economy to reduce its dependence on any one sector.

Here is a table that shows some key statistics for each of these industries:

Industry Contribution to GDP Employment
Mining 23% 5,000
Agriculture 8% 12,000
Tourism 5% 3,000
Fishing 3% 2,000

While these industries are important to French Guiana’s economy, the region faces challenges such as high unemployment rates and limited infrastructure. Nevertheless, the government and private sector are working to address these issues and continue to develop and diversify the region’s economy.

French Guiana’s economy

French Guiana is a department of France located on the northern coast of South America. Its economy is largely dependent on the French government, which provides funding for its infrastructure, public services, and social programs. However, the region also has a small but growing private sector and a rich mining industry that has attracted foreign investment.

Sources of income

  • French government funding: As a department of France, French Guiana receives funding from the French government to support its public services, infrastructure, and social programs. This includes investments in education, healthcare, transportation, and other essential services.
  • Mining industry: French Guiana has a significant mining industry that includes gold, bauxite, and other minerals. The region has attracted foreign mining companies, which have invested in mining operations and exploration projects. Gold mining alone accounts for about 90% of the region’s exports.
  • Tourism: French Guiana has a rich cultural heritage and biodiversity, including the Guiana Amazonian Park and the Kourou Space Center. These attractions have contributed to the growth of the region’s tourism industry, which provides employment opportunities and revenue for local businesses.


Despite the potential sources of income, French Guiana faces several challenges that impact its economic growth and development.

  • Dependence on the French government: French Guiana is heavily reliant on funding from the French government, which can lead to budget constraints that limit the region’s ability to invest in its infrastructure and economic development.
  • Poverty and income inequality: French Guiana has one of the highest poverty rates in France and significant income inequality, which can hamper economic growth and social mobility.
  • Environmental concerns: The mining industry in French Guiana has raised concerns about environmental degradation and deforestation that could impact local communities and biodiversity. The region must balance the economic benefits of mining with environmental protection and sustainable development.

Mining industry in French Guiana

The mining industry is a significant contributor to French Guiana’s economy, accounting for about 25% of its GDP and generating employment opportunities for thousands of people. The region has several mining projects, including gold mining, bauxite mining, and other mineral extraction activities.

Mineral Company Location
Gold Nordgold Montagne d’Or
Bauxite Compagnie des Bauxites de Guyane Kourou
Other minerals IAMGOLD, Columbus Gold Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni

The mining industry in French Guiana is not without controversy, as it has raised concerns about environmental degradation, social impacts on local communities, and labor standards. However, mining companies in French Guiana are subject to strict regulations and environmental controls to ensure sustainable development.

Agriculture in French Guiana

Agriculture is one of the major economic activities of French Guiana. The fertile soil and tropical climate make agriculture an ideal industry for the region. Farmers in French Guiana mostly grow cash crops, which include fruit, vegetables, and oilseed crops. In this article, we will explore the various aspects of agriculture in French Guiana.

Major crops grown in French Guiana

  • Bananas: Banana is the most important crop grown in French Guiana, accounting for a significant portion of the region’s agricultural output.
  • Sugar Cane: Sugar cane is grown in the coastal areas of French Guiana, and is processed into sugar at local mills.
  • Rice: Rice paddies are found throughout the region, and the rice produced is sold both locally and exported to other markets.

Agriculture and the environment

Agriculture in French Guiana has a significant impact on the environment. The region’s rainforests are being cleared for agricultural land, which is causing habitat destruction and loss of biodiversity.

Soil erosion caused by farming practices is also a major environmental concern. Clearing land for farming and overuse of fertilizers and pesticides can lead to the depletion of soil nutrients, making it harder for crops to grow in the long run.

Farming methods in French Guiana

Farmers in French Guiana use both traditional and modern methods of farming. They use traditional methods such as slash-and-burn agriculture and agroforestry, where they grow crops in between rows of trees, which provides shade and shelter for the crops.

Modern farming methods include the use of machinery such as tractors and combines. However, the rugged terrain of French Guiana means that many farms have to rely on manual labor to cultivate crops.


Agriculture is a vital part of the economy of French Guiana. The region’s fertile soil and tropical climate provide ideal conditions for growing a variety of crops. However, there are also environmental concerns associated with farming in the region, particularly in relation to habitat destruction and soil erosion.

Crop Production (tonnes)
Bananas 60,000
Sugar Cane 30,000
Rice 18,000

The future of agriculture in French Guiana will depend on how well farmers can balance economic development with environmental sustainability. The government and local communities have a key role to play in ensuring that farming practices are sustainable and do not cause long-term damage to the region’s environment.

Fishing industry in French Guiana

The fishing industry in French Guiana plays a crucial role in contributing to the region’s economy. With an extensive coastline of over 350 kilometers, the fishing industry in French Guiana provides a significant source of employment and revenue for the region’s population.

The fishing industry is an essential sector in the region, catering to both domestic and international markets. In terms of domestic consumption, fishing is an essential source of protein for the Guianese population. There is also a high demand for fish and seafood products from the international market, particularly from the United States, Suriname, Brazil, and the European Union.

  • Artisanal fishing: French Guiana’s coastal waters provide a rich source of fish and seafood to support the local artisanal fishing industry. The artisanal fishers practice various methods such as gillnetting, longlines, and beach seines, depending on the target species and location. The most significant portion of the artisanal fishing industry is small-scale operations carried out by local fishermen who use traditional fishing methods and small boats.
  • Industrial fishing: The industrial fishing sector in French Guiana mainly targets shrimp, tuna, and other high-value fish species. These fishing activities require higher levels of investment and technology, and industrial fishing vessels usually operate in deeper waters offshore.
  • Aquaculture: French Guiana also has a developing aquaculture industry. It includes farming of shrimp, tilapia, and freshwater prawns. This industry is relatively new compared to other sectors of the fishing industry in French Guiana, but it shows great potential for future development.

Challenges facing the fishing industry in French Guiana

Despite the significant economic contribution of the fishing industry in French Guiana, it is facing several challenges that need to be addressed to ensure its sustainability and continued growth. These include:

  • Illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing: IUU fishing is a significant threat to fish stocks and the sustainability of the fishing industry. The French government has implemented measures to combat IUU fishing, including stricter regulations, surveillance, and enforcement.
  • Overfishing: Overfishing is another threat to the fishing industry. It can lead to a decline in fish stocks, which affects the livelihoods of local fishers and the entire industry. The government has implemented measures to monitor and manage fish stocks to achieve sustainable fishing practices.
  • Pollution and climate change: Pollution and climate change can negatively impact fish habitats and their survival. These factors can affect the quantity and quality of fish caught, which directly impacts the fishing industry’s revenue. The French government is implementing measures to reduce pollution and combat climate change to protect the region’s natural resources and promote sustainable development.

Value of the fishing industry in French Guiana

The fishing industry in French Guiana generates significant revenue for the region’s economy. In 2019, the value of the fishing industry was estimated at over €100 million euros. The industry provides jobs for over 2,500 people, and it is a crucial source of income for many households.

Species Value
Shrimp €55 million euros
Other fish and seafood €46 million euros

French Guiana’s fishing industry is a vital economic sector that contributes to the region’s development and sustainability. The government, fishing communities, and other stakeholders need to work together to address the challenges facing the industry and promote sustainable fishing practices that can benefit both the economy and the environment.

Mining in French Guiana

Mining is one of the key economic drivers in French Guiana. The region is rich in precious metals like gold and has deposits of other minerals like bauxite and copper. Here are some facts about mining in French Guiana:

  • The first gold discoveries in French Guiana can be traced back to the 19th century. However, industrial gold mining only began in the 20th century.
  • Gold mining is mostly carried out in the Amazonian forest, which makes up around 90% of the region.
  • The two biggest gold mines in French Guiana are the Camp Caiman and the Yaou mine. The former has been in operation since 1995 and is owned by Hannam Gold, while the latter is managed by Russian-owned Nordgold.

Despite the lucrative nature of gold mining, it has also been a source of controversy in French Guiana. Environmentalists argue that mining activities cause deforestation and harm the habitat of indigenous communities.

Moreover, the gold extraction process involves the use of chemicals like cyanide, which can harm water resources. There have been reports of contamination of water bodies near mining sites.

Mineral Estimated Reserves Major mining companies
Gold Lower than 10 million ounces Hannam Gold, Nordgold, Columbus Gold, Montagne d’Or
Bauxite Unknown Compagnie de Bauxite de Guyane
Copper Unknown Compagnie Minière du Prince

Despite the controversies, mining remains an important source of employment and revenue for French Guiana. The government has implemented measures to mitigate the environmental impact of mining, including stricter regulations on the use of chemicals and monitoring of mining sites.

Exporting goods from French Guiana

French Guiana is a department and region of France located in South America. With a population of just over 290,000 people, French Guiana has a unique economy that is heavily reliant on exports.

So, what are some of the goods that French Guiana exports? Let’s take a closer look:

  • Gold: French Guiana is home to several large gold mines, and the precious metal accounts for a significant portion of the country’s export earnings.
  • Timber: The country’s rainforests are a valuable source of timber, which is exported to countries around the world.
  • Fish: French Guiana’s location on the Atlantic coast makes it an important player in the global fish market. The country exports a variety of fish, including red snapper, tuna, and shrimp.

In addition to these primary exports, French Guiana also exports rum, bananas, and a variety of other fruits and vegetables.

So, what is the economic impact of these exports? According to data from the World Bank, exports account for approximately 60% of French Guiana’s GDP. This means that the country’s economic well-being is heavily dependent on its ability to trade with other nations.

Top Export Destinations of French Guiana Percentage of Total Exports
Spain 23.4%
France 22.6%
China 17.8%
United States 11.9%
Netherlands 6.2%

As you can see from the table above, Spanish and French markets make up a significant portion of French Guiana’s exports, but the country also has strong ties with China and the United States.

Overall, French Guiana’s economy relies heavily on exporting natural resources and agricultural products. With ongoing efforts to diversify its economy, the country is looking to expand its presence in other markets and sectors.

Tourism in French Guiana

Famous for its diverse range of flora and fauna, French Guiana is a tourist destination unlike any other. The region is famous for its Amazonian forests, rivers, abundant wildlife, and pristine beaches, which make it a paradise for adventurous travelers. French Guiana has a lot to offer in terms of natural beauty and culture, which makes it an ideal place for ecotourism.

  • The Guiana Amazonian Park: One of the most popular tourist attractions in French Guiana is the Guiana Amazonian Park, which covers over 33,000 sq km and is home to a wide range of plant and animal species. It is a great place for nature lovers to explore the diverse flora and fauna of South America.
  • Devil’s Island: Another popular tourist spot in French Guiana is the infamous Devil’s Island, which was once a French penal colony. The Island’s history, combined with its picturesque setting and clear waters, makes it a popular destination for tourists. Visitors can explore the island’s ruins, which date back to the 19th century, and learn about its interesting history.
  • The Space Centre: The Guiana Space Centre is the largest spaceport in the European Union and the second largest in the world. It is operated by the French government and is used to launch satellites into space. Visitors can take a guided tour of the facility and see some of the launch sites, rockets, and other space-related equipment.

French Guiana’s tourism industry has experienced rapid growth in recent years, with more and more people traveling to the region to explore its natural beauty and unique culture. The industry generates a significant amount of revenue for the region, making it an important contributor to the local economy.

The table below shows the number of tourists and the amount of money generated by the tourism industry in French Guiana over the last few years.

Year Number of Tourists Revenue (in millions)
2015 31,000 17.8
2016 36,000 20.2
2017 43,000 23.5
2018 47,000 26.9

As the table shows, the number of tourists visiting French Guiana has increased significantly over the years. Local businesses have benefitted from this growth, with many offering services to tourists such as food and accommodation.

FAQs: How Does French Guiana Make Money?

1. What is the main industry in French Guiana?

The main industry in French Guiana is gold mining, followed by fishing and forestry. French Guiana is home to several gold mines that produce high-quality gold, making it the most significant source of income for the country.

2. Does French Guiana have any tourism industry?

Yes, French Guiana has a growing tourism industry, attracting visitors with its unique Amazonian rainforest and biodiversity. The country is also home to the Guiana Space Center, Europe’s main spaceport, which attracts scientists and visitors from around the world.

3. What other industries contribute to French Guiana’s economy?

Other important industries in French Guiana include agriculture, construction, and manufacturing. The country’s agricultural products include bananas, sugarcane, and cassava, while its manufacturing sector primarily produces items such as rum, cigars, and textiles.

4. Does French Guiana trade with other countries?

Yes, French Guiana relies heavily on imports for goods such as food, fuel, and machinery. However, the country also exports gold, timber, and seafood to other countries, contributing to its economy.

5. Does French Guiana receive financial aid from the French Government?

Yes, French Guiana is a part of France, and as a result, it receives funding from the French government to help boost its economy. This aid helps to support infrastructure development and other economic initiatives.

6. Can foreign investors invest in French Guiana?

Yes, foreign investors are welcome to invest in French Guiana. The country has several economic development projects, including initiatives to increase tourism and improve its infrastructure, making it an attractive destination for investors.

Closing Thoughts

Thank you for taking the time to learn about how French Guiana makes money. As a region with a growing tourism industry, unique natural resources, and significant gold reserves, French Guiana is poised for continued economic growth and development. We hope you found this article informative and invite you to visit again later for more insights on international economies.