French Guiana is an overseas department (French:département d'outre-mer, or DOM) of France, located on the northern coast of South America. Like the other DOMs, French Guiana is also an overseas region of France, one of the 26 regions of France. As a part of France, French Guiana is in the European Union, and its currency is the euro.
French Guiana was originally inhabited by a number of Native American peoples. Settled by the French during the 17th-century, it was the site of penal settlements from 1852 until 1951; the 1970s saw the settlement of Hmong refugees from Laos. A movement for increased autonomy from France gained momentum in the 70's and 80's. Protests by those calling for more autonomy have become increasingly vocal; demonstrations in 1996, 1997 and 2000 all ended in violence.