A view of the Place de la Poste in the centre of Papaichton
A view of the Place de la Poste in the centre of Papaichton
Location of the commune (in red) within French Guiana
Location of the commune (in red) within French Guiana
Location of Papaichton
Coordinates: 3°48′25″N 54°08′58″W / 3.807°N 54.1495°W / 3.807; -54.1495Coordinates: 3°48′25″N 54°08′58″W / 3.807°N 54.1495°W / 3.807; -54.1495
Overseas region and departmentFrench Guiana
IntercommunalityOuest Guyanais
 • Mayor (2020–2026) Jules Deie[1]
2,628 km2 (1,015 sq mi)
 (Jan. 2019)[2]
 • Density2.2/km2 (5.7/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC−03:00
INSEE/Postal code
97362 /97316
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km2 (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.

Papaichton (unofficial spelling Papaïchton with a trema) is a commune in the overseas region and department of French Guiana. The village lies on the shores of the Lawa River.[3] Papaichton is served by the Maripasoula Airport.[4]

The village which is the seat of the commune was named Papaichton-Pompidouville in honour of the president Pompidou[5] who invited Granman Tolinga to the Élysée in 1971.[6] The commune is located on the border with Suriname.

Papaichton is home to some of the Aluku people and the seat of their granman (paramount chief).[5][6]


Around 1710, Slaves escape from the plantations in Suriname, and band together in tribes. A tribe calling itself Aluku settled in Cottica over the border in Suriname.[6] In 1760, the Ndyuka, another Maroon tribe, signed a peace treaty with the Society of Suriname allowing them autonomy.[7] Boni also desired a peace treaty, but the Society of Suriname, despite contrary advice from the Dutch government, wanted to persecute and destroy the Aluku.[8] Between 1768 and 1793, the Boni wars started in which the Ndyuka side with the Dutch colonists, and it resulted in many Alukus seeking refuge in France on the other side of the Maroni River.[9]

In 1895, the village was founded by Granman Ochi.[6][10] At the time, Boniville was the capital of Aluku tribe.[11] In 1930, the territory of Inini was founded,[12] with Papaichton as one of the administrative divisions.[6] The territory of Inini allowed for an autonomous and self sufficient tribal system for the Maroons without clear borders.[13] In 1946, French Guiana departmentalised, and the territory of Inini became an arrondissement.[14]

In 1965, Granman Tolinga moved the capital of the tribe from Boniville to Papaichton.[11] In 1968, the municipal circle of Grand-Santi-Papaichton was created, and a year later became a commune.[6] Along with the commune, came a government structure, and francisation. Most importantly, it led to the concentration in bigger villages and the near abandonment of smaller settlements.[13] In 1976 the communes separated in Apatou and Grand-Santi-Papaichton, and finally in 1993, Papaichton became an independent commune.[6]


Historical population
YearPop.±% p.a.
1967 284—    
1974 410+5.39%
1982 297−3.95%
1990 750+12.28%
1999 1,650+9.16%
2007 2,296+4.22%
2012 6,097+21.57%
2017 6,668+1.81%
Source: INSEE[15]


Papaichton can only be accessed by air, or boat via the Maroni river.[3] The unpaved path between Maripasoula and Papaichton will be turned into a proper road. Road work has commenced on 20 July 2020 and was scheduled to be completed by 2021.[16] There are plans to extent the Route Nationale from Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni to Maripasoula,[17] however the Route Nationale currently ends south of Apatou.[18]

Incident at Loka

Loka is a hamlet in the commune of Papaichton. In April 2006, 14 people of the same family, including 12 children, were found dead, believed to be the result of carbon monoxide poisoning.[19]


Abattis Cottica

The commune is dominated by the Cottica Mountain,[20] which rises to a height of 744 metres.[21] The mountain was ignored by scientists until 2005 when two naturalists started investigating the area, and discovered a remarkable biodiversity.[20] In 2014, an area of 4,813 hectares (11,890 acres) was designated as ZNIEFF, an important natural environment.[21]

The Lawa River narrows when it passes through the mountainous area around Cottica, and wild streams with waterfalls descend from the mountains through dense rainforest. The river widens to the north and splits in many streams with large river islands. The nature area around river is called Abattis Cottica [ceb].[20]


The commune is also home to several small hamlets which have a historic significance to the Aluku people. Between 1793 and 1837, the Aluku settled in Gaan Day (also: Gaa Daï; 4°01′18″N 54°19′18″W / 4.02154°N 54.32157°W / 4.02154; -54.32157).[22]

In 1860, a peace treaty was signed with the Ndyuka, and the Aluku were allowed to settle in the village of Abouna Sounga (also: Abunasunga; 4°3′34″N 54°21′38″W / 4.05944°N 54.36056°W / 4.05944; -54.36056).[22] The rapids of Abouna Sounga form the northern border of the Aluku area. The southern border is the Litani River.[23]

L'Enfant Perdu (3°51′28″N 54°13′03″W / 3.85785°N 54.21746°W / 3.85785; -54.21746) is a village on a river island across Cottica, Suriname. The Cottica mountain is located on the French side.[24]

Notable people

  • Apatou (1833–1908), guide and captain (village chief)[25]

See also


  1. ^ "Répertoire national des élus: les maires" (in French)., Plateforme ouverte des données publiques françaises. 4 May 2022.
  2. ^ "Populations légales 2019". The National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies. 29 December 2021.
  3. ^ a b "REGION DE MARIPASOULA". Study Lib Fr (in Dutch). Retrieved 1 June 2020.
  4. ^ "Maripasoula Airport". Airport Guide. Retrieved 1 June 2020.
  5. ^ a b "PAPAICHTON" (PDF). ENSEIGNANTS DE L’UNSA (in French). Retrieved 1 June 2020.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g "Parcours La Source". Parc-Amazonien-Guyane (in French). Retrieved 1 June 2020.
  7. ^ "The Ndyuka Treaty Of 1760: A Conversation with Granman Gazon". Cultural Survival (in Dutch). Retrieved 15 May 2020.
  8. ^ "Encyclopaedie van Nederlandsch West-Indië - Page 154 - Boschnegers" (PDF). Digital Library for Dutch Literature (in Dutch). 1916. Retrieved 11 May 2020.
  9. ^ Silvia de Groot (1970). "Rebellie der Zwarte Jagers. De nasleep van de Bonni-oorlogen 1788-1809". De Gids (in Dutch).
  10. ^ Marie Fleury (March 2018). "Gaan Mawina, le Marouini (haut Maroni) au cœur de l'histoire des Noirs marrons Boni/Aluku et des Amérindiens Wayana". Revue D’ethnoécologie. 13: 69. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  11. ^ a b Jean Moomou (2011). Les Bushinengue du Surinam et de la Guyane française : le modèle architectural développé, une clé de lecture de leur évolution. Études. Presses universitaires de Perpignan. pp. 191–204. ISBN 9782354122805.
  12. ^ "Création de territoire en Guyane françaises". Journal officiel de la Guyane française via Bibliothèque Nationale de France (in French). 6 June 1930. Retrieved 6 June 2020.
  13. ^ a b "The Aluku and the Communes in French Guiana". Cultural Survival. Retrieved 6 June 2020.
  14. ^ "Loi n° 46-451 du 19 mars 1946 tendant au classement comme départements français de la Guadeloupe, de la Martinique, de la Réunion et de la Guyane française". Government of the French Republic (in French). 19 March 1946. Retrieved 6 June 2020.
  15. ^ Population en historique depuis 1968, INSEE
  16. ^ "Route Maripasoula-Papaichton : 1 million d'euros par kilomètre". France Guyane (in French). Retrieved 10 August 2020.
  17. ^ "Route de l'intérieur : de rendez-vous manqués en promesses non tenues". Guyane, le Première (in French). 5 May 2018. Retrieved 6 June 2020.
  18. ^ "La route d'Apatou raccommodée". Guyane la Première (in French). Retrieved 6 June 2020.
  19. ^ (in French)
  20. ^ a b c "Abattis Cottica sur le Maroni, un site à la biodiversité et à l'histoire exceptionnelles". Une Saison en Guyane (in French). Retrieved 18 March 2021.
  21. ^ a b "Sommets Cottica" (PDF). DEAL de Guyane (in French). 2014. Retrieved 18 March 2021.
  22. ^ a b Sandro Capo Chichi (10 February 2018). "L'histoire des Boni de Guyane et du Surinam". Nofi media (in French). Retrieved 24 June 2022.
  23. ^ Guylaine Diallo-Bourguignon & Yan Giron (2001). "Etude de faisabilité d'une pisciculture vivrière à Papaïchton" (in French). Cofrepreche. p. 10. Retrieved 25 June 2022.
  24. ^ "Verslag van de Gonini Expeditie". Tijdschrift van het Aardrijkskundig Genootschap (in Dutch). 1905. p. 87. Retrieved 26 June 2022.
  25. ^ Bilby, Kenneth M. (2004). "The explorer as hero: 'Le Fidèle Apatou' in the French wilderness". New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids. 78 (Volume 78: Issue 3-4). Brill Publishers: 205. doi:10.1163/13822373-90002512. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)

External links

  • Papaichton at Annuaire-mairie (in French)
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