Deeper into Jeopardy! XXXV: South American Capitals – $2000

Jeopardy! category: SOUTH AMERICAN CAPITALS (8-1-2015)

$2000 clue: This Guyanan capital received its name in 1781, when it was named for the British monarch then on the throne

Correct response

The gist: If it had been founded when the Dutch still held control of the country, it might have been called Willemstad or something.* Georgetown became the Guyanese capital at a time when the Kingdom of the Netherlands was rapidly losing its share of South America to British interests. The Dutch had first established settlements in what would later become Guyana in 1616, initially with the purpose of trading with the indigenous peoples. That purpose quickly changed as the global land-grab among the major European powers ratcheted up and Portuga, Spain, France, and Britain began claiming huge swaths of South America and the Caribbean. Soon thereafter, Dutch plantations became major producers of tobacco, and began importing thousands of Africans as their indigenous slaves died from the deplorable conditions. In the 1760s a slave named Cuffy led revolt of between 2500 and 3000 slaves, which was only put down with assistance from nearby British and French settlements. During the 1760s and 1770s an open British immigration policy led to many British colonists settling among the Dutch, and administration of the territory had largely passed into British hands by the time Georgetown was founded and named for King George III. Within a few years, however, it passed through both French and Dutch hands, and they did much to build the city up in its early days – although under different names. In 1812, it was retaken by the British and renamed Georgetown, this time for good, while the various districts retained their older names. It became the capital of Guyana when it gained independence from the UK in 1966, and the country remains the only one in South America with English as an official language, along with eleven others. English is still used as the language of government, education, and media, but most of the population speaks Guyanese Creole.

Georgetown sits on the Atlantic coast at the mouth of the Demerara River, making it the only other capital besides Buenos Aires in this category below 8500 metres in altitude. It is the country’s main urban and manufacturing centre, as well as the main port, shipping the country’s main exports of sugar and bauxite ore (the primary source of aluminum). The city is home to the headquarters of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), a supranational body that represents the shared interests of the nations of the Caribbean. With its easterly neighbour Suriname, Guyana is one of the CARICOM’s two full South American member states.

The Parliament Building of Guyana in Georgetown

The clue: Most Jeopardy! viewers are most likely able to name the British monarch in 1781, since George III was also the Bad Guy in the American Revolution, taking place around the same time as the city’s founding. That’s a good start, and you might guess “Georgetown” without even having heard of the city… if $2000 wasn’t on the line. Still, if you can’t name Guyana’s capital right off the bat, knowing George is a pretty good start to remembering it. This clue does a pretty good job of linking something that most contestants probably know with something a little harder.

In Jeopardy!: As you may know, “Georgetown” is also the name of a prestigious Washington, D.C. university, and it’s that aspect of the name that gets most of the attention in the J!Archive. I have to say, this installment of DOJ! has been particularly unsuccessful when it comes to good J!Archive searches, but the show must go on, I guess. Searching for “Georgetown” and “Guyana” gives just six clues. Three of them mention the Brits, while two of those and one more mention the king (the extra one doesn’t call him British, only “Hanoverian,” his royal house). One other mentions its Dutch history, and the last one asks for the capital of Guyana, or the distrcit of Washington that shares its name. A search for “Georgetown” and “capital” brings up a few more clues, following the same patterns as the others, but note that one (misspelled?) clue is actually about George Town, the capital of the Cayman Islands, which remains a British Overseas Territory today. So, it was Dutch before it was British, its named for George III, and of course, it’s the capital of Guyana – that will get you plenty far with this particular city.

*To explain that highly clever joke: the king of the Netherlands around the time that the Dutch and British were competing over Guyana was Willem V or Orange-Nassau, and “Willemstad” is my non-Dutch speaking attempt at making a Dutch equivalent to Georgetown.

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