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The four longest rivers are the Essequibo at 1,010 kilometres (628 mi) long, the Courantyne River at 724 kilometres (450 mi), the Berbice at 595 kilometres (370 mi), and the Demerara at 346 kilometres (215 mi).
The Corentyne river forms the border with Suriname.
At the mouth of the Essequibo are several large islands, including the 145 km (90 mi) wide Shell Beach lies along the northwest coast, which is also a major breeding area for sea turtles (mainly leatherbacks) and other wildlife.
Jim Jones's bodyguards had earlier attacked people taking off at a small remote airstrip close to Jonestown, killing five people, including Leo Ryan, a US congressman.The American government supported Forbes Burnham during the early years of independence because Cheddi Jagan was identified as a Marxist.They provided secret financial support and political campaign advice to Burnham's People's National Congress, to the detriment of the Jagan-led People's Progressive Party, which was mostly supported by Guyanese of East Indian background.It was governed as British Guiana, with mostly a plantation-style economy until the 1950s.It gained independence in 1966, and officially became a republic within the Commonwealth of Nations in 1970.