Cayenne (/kˈɛn/;[4] French pronunciation: ​[kajɛn]) is the capital city 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".[5]

Capital, prefecture and commune
Cayenne place des palmistes rue de Remire 2013.jpg
Cayenne Banque française commerciale place des palmistes 2013.jpg
Cayenne Anse de Montabo 2013.jpg
City center and beaches of Cayenne
Coat of arms of Cayenne
Coat of arms
Location of the commune (in red) within French Guiana
Location of the commune (in red) within French Guiana
Location of Cayenne
Coordinates: 4°56′14″N 52°19′34″W / 4.9372°N 52.3260°W / 4.9372; -52.3260Coordinates: 4°56′14″N 52°19′34″W / 4.9372°N 52.3260°W / 4.9372; -52.3260
Overseas region and departmentFrench Guiana
IntercommunalityCentre Littoral
 • Mayor (2014-2020) Marie-Laure Phinéra-Horth
23.60 km2 (9.11 sq mi)
 • Urban
206.9 km2 (79.9 sq mi)
 • Metro
5,087 km2 (1,964 sq mi)
(Jan. 2016[1])2
 • Density2,600/km2 (6,600/sq mi)
 • Urban
 (Jan. 2016[1][2])
 • Urban density570/km2 (1,500/sq mi)
 • Metro
 (Jan. 2016[1][3])
 • Metro density27/km2 (70/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.

At the 2016 census, there were 137,964 inhabitants in the metropolitan area of Cayenne (as defined by INSEE),[3] 60,580 of whom lived in the city (commune) of Cayenne proper.[1]



Cayenne is located on the banks of the estuary of the Cayenne River on the Atlantic Ocean. The city occupies part of the Cayenne Island. It is located 268 kilometres (167 mi) from Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni and 64 kilometres (40 mi) from Kourou.[6]

Distances to some cities:

2003 (left) and 2012 (right) aerial views of Cayenne. Note: the mangrove, which had invaded the coastline of Cayenne in the late 2000s, has completely disappeared as of the late 2010s.[8]


Under the Köppen climate classification, Cayenne has a tropical monsoon climate (Am). 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 copious 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.


The commune of Cayenne with its former cantons in the early 2010s. (note: the cantons were abolished in 2015)

Cayenne is a commune of the French Republic and as such it is ruled by a mayor and a municipal council. The current mayor is Marie-Laure Phinéra-Horth, a former member of the Guianese Socialist Party who is supported by various left-wing parties. Marie-Laure Phinéra-Horth has been mayor of Cayenne since 2010. She is the daughter of a former president of the General Council of French Guiana, Stéphan Phinéra-Horth, from the Guianese Socialist Party, who ruled the department of French Guiana from 1994 to 1998.

As in the rest of France, the small size of the commune of Cayenne (only 23.6 km²), which doesn't cover the entire urban area of Cayenne, has led to the creation of an intercommunal authority which groups Cayenne and 5 suburban communes: the communauté d'agglomération du Centre Littoral (5,087 km²). Marie-Laure Phinéra-Horth has been president of the communauté d'agglomération du Centre Littoral since 2014. This intercommunal structure, which levies its own taxes, is the sole authority in charge of refuse collection, water supply and sewage treatment, urban planning, and public transports over the 5,087 km² of Cayenne and its suburbs.

Until 2015, the commune of Cayenne was divided in six cantons, but these were abolished in 2015 when the department and the region of French Guiana were abolished and replaced by the French Guiana Territorial Collectivity.


Historical Affiliations

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.

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.


Historical populationEdit

1961 1967 1974 1982 1990 1999 2006 2011 2016
Cayenne (commune) 18,615 24,518 30,461 38,091 41,067 50,594 58,004 57,229 60,580
Cayenne (metropolitan area) 21,505 28,257 35,812 49,118 66,803 92,059 112,876 121,308 137,964
Cayenne (metropolitan area) % p.a. n/a 4.64% 3.44% 4.37% 3.91% 3.64% 3.04% 1.45% 2.61%
Official figures from population censuses.[12][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)
  • 2011-2016: +3,331 people per year (+2.6% per year)


The places of birth of the 121,490 residents in the Cayenne metropolitan area at the 2012 census were the following:[13]

These were the countries of birth of the immigrants living in the Cayenne metropolitan area at the 2009 census:[14]

  • born in Haiti: 12,184
  • born in Brazil: 7,627
  • born in Suriname: 2,691
  • born in Guyana: 2,537
  • born in China: 924
  • born in other countries: 3,713

Sanitary conditionsEdit

Health conditions in Cayenne and French Guiana are generally good. The principal illnesses that cause mortality are circulatory, infectious and parasitic diseases, as well as cancer. A branch of the Pasteur Institute in Paris, located in Cayenne, conducts research on tropical and endemic local diseases and is renowned throughout Latin America. Life expectancy averages about 76 years for men and 83 years for women.[15]


Cayenne is an important seaport in South America. The major port of Dégrad des Cannes, is on the estuary of the river Mahury, replacing Larivot and the Îles du Salut. Timber, rosewood essence, rum, and gold are exported in small quantities. In the mid-1960s sugarcane and pineapple were planted around the city, and a pineapple cannery and a shrimp-processing plant were later built. A seafront avenue links Cayenne with the suburbs of Chaton and Montabo, where the French Institute of Tropical America and the Pasteur Institute are located. Historic landmarks include the Church of the Holy Saviour and a prefecture on the Place d’Armes. The Félix Eboué International Airport is the only International airport serving Cayenne.[16]


The Fa Kiao Kon So Chinese community center in Cayenne.

Cayenne is ethnically very diverse, with populations of Creole, Haitian, Brazilian, European, and Hmong and other Asian origins. 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 women) 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 sightsEdit

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. There are two flights a day to Paris (Orly Airport), served by Air France and Air Caraïbes. The flight time from Cayenne to Paris is 8 hours and 10 minutes, and from Paris to Cayenne it is 8 hours and 30 minutes. There are also flights to Fort-de-France, Pointe-à-Pitre, Belém, and Fortaleza.

French Guiana's main seaport is the port of Dégrad des Cannes, located on the estuary of the Mahury River, in the commune of Remire-Montjoly, a south-eastern suburb of Cayenne. Almost all of French Guiana's imports and exports pass through the port of Dégrad des Cannes. Built in 1969, it replaced the old harbour of Cayenne which was congested and could not cope with modern traffic.

Cayenne in popular cultureEdit

Victor-Schoelcher square

The French folk song "Cayenne", 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.[citation needed]

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.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e INSEE. "Historique des populations légales". Retrieved 2019-01-12.
  2. ^ INSEE. "Base des unités urbaines". Retrieved 2017-12-31.
  3. ^ a b c INSEE. "Base des aires urbaines". Retrieved 2017-12-31.
  4. ^ Cayenne, Oxford Dictionaries
  5. ^ "page concernant le blason de la ville sur le site page de Redris". Retrieved 13 March 2011.
  6. ^ Distances and duration of bonds in the dugout
  7. ^ Situation Géographique Préfecture de Guyane, archived September 15, 2008 from the original
  8. ^ Confins. "Avancées et reculs de la mangrove à Cayenne". Retrieved 2019-01-12.
  9. ^ "Cayenne–Matoury (973)" (PDF). Fiche Climatologique: Statistiques 1981–2010 et records (in French). Meteo France. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 December 2018. Retrieved 15 December 2018.
  10. ^ "Données climatiques de la station de Matoury" (in French). Meteo France. Retrieved December 9, 2014.
  11. ^ "Climat Guyane". Meteo France. Retrieved December 9, 2014.
  12. ^ SPLAF (Site sur la Population et les Limites Administratives de la France). "Agglomérations et villes de la Guyane". Retrieved 2019-01-14.
  13. ^ "Recensement de la population de 2012 - Individus localisés au canton-ou-ville en 2012". INSEE. Retrieved 2019-02-02.
  14. ^ "Panorama de la population immigrée en Guyane" (PDF). INSEE. Retrieved 2019-02-02.
  15. ^ "French Guiana | history - geography - territorial collectivity, France". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 2016-12-08.
  16. ^ "Cayenne | French Guiana". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 2016-12-08.


External linksEdit