[Remire-Montjoly Beach Antoine Hubert / photo modified]
Deep in equatorial South America, French Guiana (also known as "Guyane") is a department of France bordering Brazil, Suriname, and the Atlantic. It's a land where old abuts new in striking incongruity. Dense rainforests shelter centuries-old indigenous villages, while rockets zoom overhead, launched from the country's lucrative Space Centre. The capital, Cayenne, is a melting pot of French, Asian, African, and Brazilian cultures, and if you visit during Carnival, between Epiphany and Ash Wednesday, you can join in the celebrations with parades every weekend.
Eco-tourism prevails in the country's largely unspoiled wilderness, which is home to an astounding diversity of wildlife. Along the coast, nature lovers can explore bird-rich marshes, where caimans lurk, and Atlantic beaches, where turtles nest in droves. Inland, vast savanna stretches to lushly cloaked mountains, and rivers slice through steamy jungle. Traveling through this pricey French outpost can be challenging (especially for those who don't speak French), as the country lacks a well-developed tourist infrastructure.
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