Colony of Demerara
The Demerara colony in 1759
(Note this map has East at its top.)
See here for its exact location (6° 48' N 58° 10' W).
• Ceded to the United Kingdom
|November 20 1815|
Part of a series on the
|History of Guyana|
Demerara (Dutch: Demerary) is a historical region in the Guianas on the north coast of South America which is now part of the country of Guyana. It was a Dutch colony until 1815 and a county of British Guiana from 1838 to 1966. It was located about the lower courses of the Demerara River, and its main town was Georgetown.
The name "Demerara" comes from a variant of the Arawak word "Immenary" or "Dumaruni" which means "river of the letter wood". Demerara sugar is so named because originally it came from sugar cane fields in the colony of Demerara.
In 1781, the American revolution induced the Dutch Republic to join with the Bourbon side against the British, a large fleet under Admiral Lord Rodney's command was sent to the West Indies, and after having made some seizures in the Caribbean Islands, a squadron was detached to take possession of the colonies of Essequebo and Demerara, which was accomplished without much difficulty. In 1782 the French took possession of the whole of the Dutch settlements, compelling Gov. Robert Kingston to surrender. The peace of Paris, which occurred in 1783, restored these territories to the Dutch.
The British recaptured Demerara, Essequibo, and Berbice in 1796. They returned the colony to the Dutch in 1802 under the terms of the Peace of Amiens, but re-took control of it a year later.
Large slave rebellions broke out in West Demerara in 1795 and on the East Coast of Demerara in 1823. Although these rebellions were easily and bloodily crushed, according to Winston McGowan, they may have had a long-term impact in ending slavery:
The 1823 revolt had a special significance not matched by the earlier Berbice uprising. It attracted attention in Britain inside and outside Parliament to the terrible evil slavery and the need to abolish it. This played a part, along with other humanitarian, political and economic factors, in causing the British parliament ten years later in 1833 to take the momentous decision to abolish slavery in British Guiana and elsewhere in the British Empire with effect from 1 August 1834. After serving four years of a modified form of slavery euphemistically called apprenticeship, the slaves were finally freed on 1 August 1838.— 
On 21 July 1831, Demerara-Essequibo united with Berbice as British Guiana, now Guyana. In 1838, Demerara was made one of the three counties of Guiana, the other two being Berbice and Essequibo. In 1958, the county was abolished when Guiana was subdivided into districts. Currently,[update] historical Demerara is part of (and the name is used in) the Guyanese administrative regions of Demerara-Mahaica, Essequibo Islands-West Demerara, and Upper Demerara-Berbice.