Suriname (ex Dutch Guiana), is a sovereign state on the northeastern Atlantic coast of South America. It is bordered by French Guiana to the east, Guyana to the west and Brazil to the south. This least visited country is the smallest in South America. Suriname has a population of approximately 500.000 most of whom live on the country’s north coast, in and around the capital and largest city, Paramaribo.
Previously inhabited by indigenous tribes, Suriname was contested by Europeans and become under Dutch rule in the late 17th century. In 1975, the country of Suriname became an independent state, nonetheless maintaining close economic, diplomatic, and cultural ties to its former colonizer. Its indigenous peoples have been increasingly active in claiming land rights and working to preserve their traditional lands and habitats.
Suriname is considered to be a culturally Caribbean country. While Dutch is the official language, an English-based creole language, is widely spoken. Suriname is the only territory outside Europe where Dutch is spoken by a majority of the population.
The people of Suriname are among the most diverse in the world, spanning a multitude of ethnic, religious, and linguistic groups. The largest ethnic group are Indians, who form 27% of the population. They are descendants of 19th-century contract workers from India. The next largest groups are dark skinned and African origin, whose ancestors are mostly runaway slaves that fled to the interior. Javanese make up 14 percent of the population, and like Indians, descend largely from workers contracted from the island of Java in the former Dutch East Indies (modern Indonesia). Other sizeable groups include the Chinese, originating from 19th-century contract workers. There are numbers of Lebanese, Jews and Brazilians, many of them laborers mining for gold. A small but influential number of Europeans remain in the country, comprising about 1 percent of the population. They are descended mostly from Dutch 19th-century immigrant farmers, known as “Boeroes”.
The historic inner city of capital Paramaribo has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2002. Walking around the wooden house neighborhoods of the historic center, feels like you’re back in a 19th century tropical version of the Netherlands.
Nieuw Nickerie is the third largest city in Suriname that lies on the mouth of the Nickerie river on the Atlantic coast, opposite the mouth of the Courantyne river and the Guyanese border, with a ferry connecting the two countries.