Cayenne is the capital 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 "ferit aurum industria" which means "work brings wealth". At the 2009 census, there were 116,124 inhabitants in the metropolitan area of Cayenne (as defined by INSEE), 57,047 of whom lived in the city (commune) of Cayenne proper.
Cayenne is very ethnically diverse, with Creole, Haitian, Brazilian, European, and Hmong and other Asian communities. 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.
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 the Cathédrale Saint-Sauveur de Cayenne, 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 in Popular Culture
The French folk song Cayenne (named after the main city of French Guiana) 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. In The Hardy Boys #12: Footprints under the Window, the Hardys' investigations take them to Cayenne. The 1955 film We're No Angels involves two prisoners who escape from Devil's Island and settle incognito into a family store in Cayenne.