Welcome to Suriname!
Suriname is a small country on the northeastern coast of South America. It’s defined by vast swaths of tropical rainforest, Dutch colonial architecture and a melting-pot culture. On its Atlantic coast is the capital, Paramaribo, where palm gardens grow near Fort Zeelandia, a 17th-century trading post. Paramaribo is also home to Saint Peter and Paul Basilica, a towering wood cathedral consecrated in 1885.
History of Suriname
Native groups have inhabited Suriname for millennia. Among the larger of these historically were the Arawak and the Carib peoples. The Surinen (from whom the country’s name derives) were also some of the area’s earliest known inhabitants. By the 16th century, however, the Surinen either had been driven out by other Indian groups or had migrated to other parts of the Guianas (the region including Suriname, Guyana, and French Guiana). Europeans learned of Suriname (and other areas in the region) from Christopher Columbus, who sighted its coast in 1498. A Spanish expedition led by Amerigo Vespucci and Alonso de Ojeda sailed along the coast of Suriname in 1499, and the Spanish explorer Vicente Yáñez Pinzón visited the region in 1500. Settlements attempted by the Spanish, Dutch, British, and French during the first half of the 17th century all failed, in part because of resistance by the Indians.
Settlement and growth
The first permanent settlement of Europeans in Suriname was established by a group of British planters and their slaves in 1651. In 1667 Suriname was seized by a Dutch fleet, and that year it was ceded to the Netherlands in exchange for New Amsterdam (now New York City). (Except for the years 1799–1802 and 1804–15, when it was under British rule, Suriname remained under Dutch rule until its independence in 1975.)
Suriname developed into a flourishing plantation colony after Dutch planters, driven out of Brazil from the mid-17th century, settled in the area. Sugar was the main export, and the production of coffee, cacao, cotton, indigo, and wood gained importance during the 18th century.
Until the mid-19th century, slaves, mostly from the west coast of Africa, constituted the majority of the population. The small European population was mainly of Dutch origin but also included others from France, Germany, and Great Britain, as well as a Jewish community, which had arrived largely from Portugal, Spain, and Italy via Brazil.
In 1853 Chinese and Madeiran (people from the Madeira Islands) contract labourers were brought to Suriname to work on the plantations. Many of these workers eventually became small-scale merchants. On July 1, 1863, slavery was abolished in Suriname. The former slaves, however, were placed under government supervision for a period of 10 years in order to perform labour under contract. Contract labourers from India were recruited to replace the former slaves, and workers also came to Suriname from Java, an island of Indonesia (which, like Suriname, was under Dutch rule at the time).
Despite efforts to preserve plantation production, Suriname’s position as an agricultural supplier declined. In 1916 the Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa) began mining the country’s newly discovered reserves of bauxite, the principal ore of aluminum. Later, especially after World War II (1939–45), Dutch interest in Suriname revived, noted by the arrival of the Dutch mining company Billiton in 1939. The Netherlands began to provide development aid to Suriname in 1948, the year in which talks on Suriname’s internal political autonomy began.
People of Suriname
South Asians, descendants of contract labourers from India, are the largest ethnic group in Suriname, making up more than one-fourth of the population. The second major ethnic group, accounting for about one-fifth of the population, is the Maroons (descendants of escaped slaves of African origin). Creoles, who in Suriname are people of mainly African descent, constitute between one-tenth and one-fifth of the population. The descendants of Javanese (people from the island of Java in Indonesia) contract labourers and people of mixed ethnicity each make up almost one-seventh of the population.
Indians, descendants of the original inhabitants of Suriname, make up only a tiny fraction of the population. The coastal groups include the Carib and Arawak, while the Trio (Tiriyo), Wayana-Aparai, Warao (Warrau), Wayarekule (Akuriyo), Tucayana, and Akurio live in the interior. Minor ethnic groups in Suriname include descendants of Chinese, Lebanese, Portuguese, and Dutch immigrants; Creoles from the West Indies; and U.S. citizens. More-recent immigrants include Chinese—known in Suriname as “New Chinese” to distinguish them from the descendants of those Chinese who were brought over as labourers in the 19th century—and Brazilians who arrived in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.
Dutch is the official language of Suriname, but the extent to which members of the various ethnic groups are able to use the language differs. Most of the population learns Dutch as a second language. Additional languages include Sranan and other creole languages; English; Sarnami, which originated from Hindi and Urdu; Javanese; and a number of Maroon and South American Indian languages.
The principal religion is Christianity, brought to Suriname by European colonizers. Nearly half of the people are Christians, mainly Roman Catholics and Moravians. Hindus, nearly all of whom are South Asians, account for about one-fifth of the population. Between one-tenth and one-fifth of Surinamese are Muslim, mostly the Javanese and a small South Asian group. Judaism, present in Suriname since the early 16th century, is still practiced, while many of the Chinese are Confucians. African and Indian religions are still widely followed.
Art & Culture of Suriname
Suriname’s art forms derive from several ethnic traditions. Those of Javanese descent, for example, support a number of gamelan (Indonesian orchestra) troupes. Suriname’s Indians and Maroons developed a strong crafts industry, producing colourful textiles, baskets, and wood carvings for export.
Most Surinamese writing is in the Dutch, Sranan, and Hindi languages. Among the country’s leading writers are Albert Helman, whose published works include dozens of volumes of fiction and plays; Martinus Haridat Luchtman, who, under the pen name Shrinivasi, is the author of several books of poems; Astrid Roemer, a popular novelist; and Cynthia McLeod, who has written several historical novels that have earned a wide readership in both Suriname and the Netherlands.
Surinamese music is represented by musical groups such as Fra Fra Bigband, an orchestra from Paramaribo that blends indigenous forms of kaseko (dance music combining Western march, jazz, and calypso), kawina (a type of Creole pop music), and winti (ritual music) to form a distinctly Surinamese brand of Afro-Caribbean jazz. In recent years, Suriname-based groups also have collaborated with Western African musicians, adding talking drums and thumb pianos (lamellaphones) to their instrumentation.
Suriname is a culturally diverse society, with harmonious contact between its ethnic groups in the cultural sphere. Fine arts, such as painting and sculpture, were traditionally middle-class concerns dominated by Western cultural standards, but since independence the works of artists from different ethnic groups have received more recognition. Culinary traditions cross ethnic lines, and elements from South Asian, Javanese, Creole, Western African, and Chinese cuisine are often blended.
Nature & Eco Tourism!
Suriname has a tropical vegetation. The vegetation has great affinity with that of the neighboring Guianas and with the Amazon region. The number of plant species is about 5000. For an area of this size and without high mountains, that is pretty much. Characteristic for Suriname is the coastal forest consisting of mangrove (flood forest), with mainly the Parwa.The Surinamese interior is known for its impressive rapids, where one can enjoy the running water in peace. To protect nature, many areas have been designated as nature reserves. One of the important forms of tourism is nature tourism. In Suriname, nature tourism focuses on recreation in nature reserves. In this form of tourism, river cruise, sport fishing and bird watching in particular are well expressed, with a focus on sustainability, the protection and preservation of our heritage.
Suriname has countless varieties of natural attractions such as rain forests, woodlands, mountains, beaches, rapids and rivers, as well as the unique life forms that inhabit those environments (animals, birds, insects, and plants).
Reasons to visit these natural attractions are:
To enjoy the beauty of nature.
To escape from the pressures of urban life.
To explore different landscapes.
To experience outdoor adventures in a natural setting.
To learn more about the environment.
To participate in conserving the environment.