As of 1998, the land tenure situation along Guyana's coast was marked by disarray and insecurity. Renewed interest in land following the economic and political liberalization of the early 1990s spawned land conflicts and exacerbated their severity. This paper, based on fieldwork conducted in 1997-8, explores aspects of this situation, drawing extensively on case-study material. Attention is drawn to the impact on land tenure dynamics of several unique aspects of Guyana's development history, particularly, the country's phased development inward from the coast. Three major tenure sectors are identified, with issues unique to each and common across all of them explored. These include challenges posed by undivided ownership, widespread violations of the law, and vagueness in terms of how rights to land are documented and physically defined through surveys. While an ambitious, wide-ranging set of initiatives embarked upon in 2000 seeks to address many of these problems, it is doubtful that they will dramatically or quickly alter the prevailing state of affairs.


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