Guinea pigs have been around a long time. They were domesticated around 5000 BC (7000 years ago!) by tribes in the Andean Mountain area of South America. People bred them for food and for religious ceremonies (they are still used for these purposes today). They were then discovered by European traders in the 16th century and brought to Europe where they became popular pets for the upper classes and royalty. It is reported Queen Elizabeth I even had pet guinea pigs!
Another name for a guinea pig is cavy. Males are called boars and females are called sows.
Guinea pigs that are found as pets are domesticated and do not exist in the wild. The montane guinea pig is a wild guinea pig that is from the Andes in South America and is likely the ancestor of domestic guinea pigs.
Just like how there are different breeds of dogs, there are breeds of guinea pigs! The American guinea pig or short hair guinea pig is the most common. Check out this Ultimate Guinea Pig Breed List if you want to see what the different breeds are.
Guinea pigs make great pets, but they also require being among their own kind as they are very social. If you plan on getting guinea pigs, you need at least 2 of them. They also need a decent size cage. Pet stores regularly recommend cages that are way too small.
If you are thinking about getting guinea pigs, you should read this: Ultimate Guinea Pig Care