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South America Destination Guide

Suriname

Suriname

Suriname officially Republic of Suriname formerly Dutch Guiana Country, northcentral South America. Area: 63,251 sq mi (163,820 sq km). Population : 436,000. Capital. PARAMARIBO. The population includes East Indians, Creoles, Javanese, and smaller groups of Africans, Chinese, South American Indians, and Dutch. Languages: Dutch (official), English, Sranan (a creole), Hindi. Religions: Christianity; also Hinduism and Islam. Currency: Suriname guilder.

The country has a low, narrow coastal plain, with inland savannas, a forested plateau region, and mountain ranges. Seven major rivers, including the Courantyne, Maroni, and SURINAME, cross it to empty into the Atlantic. Bauxite mining, aluminum production, and agriculture are the largest sectors of the economy. Exports include rice, bananas, sugarcane, oranges, and shrimp. Suriname is a republic with one legislative house; its head of state and government is the president. It was inhabited by various South American Indian peoples prior to European settlement. Spanish explorers claimed it in 1593, but the Dutch began to settle there in 1602, followed by the English in 165 1. It was ceded to the Dutch in 1667, and in 1682 the Dutch West India Company introduced coffee and sugarcane plantations and African slaves to cultivate them. Slavery was abolished in 1863, and indentured servants were brought from China, Java, and India to work the plantations, adding to the ethnic mix of the country. Except for brief interludes of British rule (1799-1802, 1804-15), it remained a Dutch colony. It gained internal autonomy in 1954 and independence in 1975. A military coup in 1980 ended civilian control until the electorate approved a new constitution in 1987. Military control resumed after a coup in 1990. Elections were held in 1992, and civilian democratic government returned. The economy languished throughout the 1990s and into the 21st century.

Suriname is an unusual cultural enclave whose extraordinary ethnic variety derives from indigenous cultures, British and Dutch colonization, the early importation of African slaves and, later, workers from China and then indentured laborers from India and Indonesia. Paramaribo, the capital retains some fine dutch colonical architecture, but for many greatest attraction is the country's extraordinary system of nature parks and reserves.

The nature reserves are superb (although the infrastructure is not); find a good guide to get you there (see Organized Tours, later). Standing atop the Voltzberg dome at sunrise is mind bendingly spectacular, watching giant leatherback sea turtles lay in their eggs is breathtaking, and Surinamese cooking is magnificent.On top of that, Paramaribo is a great, multicultural town.

Suriname's dry seasons, from early February to late April and from mid August to early December, are the best times for a visit, though most visitors come from July through August and prices go up slightly. From March to July, several species of sea turtles come ashore to nest at Win, Win, and Galibi Reserves.

Good maps of Suriname are available at Vaco Press, at Domincestraat 26 in Paramaribo. Bring a poncho and light clothes that dry quickly. If you are planning a trip to the interior, bring fishhooks and knives (available in Paramaribo) as trade items to exchange with Amerindians and Maroons. Maroons also like welcoming gifts of rum (Palm is the preferred brand), but don't bring rum into Amerindian villages.



Suriname Hotels

De Lely Pension - Sastrodisomoweg 41, Lelydorp Phone: +597 (0) 26289
Luxor - 22 St Jozefstraat, Nieuw Nickerie, Phone: +597 (0) 2 31365
Nickerie Pension - Voorland Waterloo 15-16, Nieuw Nickerie Phone: +597 (0) 2 31762
The Park Hotel - Slangenhoutstraat 109-111, Nieuw Nickerie Phone: +597 (0) 2 31367
Dorien Pension - Voorland Waldeck 19-21, Nieuw Nickerie Phone: +597 (0) 2 31352
Ameerali - G G Maynardstraat 32, Nieuw Nickerie Phone: +597 (0) 2 31642
Residence Inn Nickerie - R P Buarosstraat 84, Nieuw Nickerie Phone: +597 (0) 2 10950
De Vesting Hotel - Balatstraat, Nieuw Nickerie Phone: +597 (0) 2 31265
Eco Resort Inn - Cornelis Jongbawstraat 16, Paramaribo, Phone: +597 (0) 4 71500
Guesthouse Fanna - Prinsessestraat 31, Paramaribo Phone: +597 (0) 4 76789
Stardust Hotel - Paramaribo, Phone: +597 (0) 4 51544
Ambassador Hotel - Dr S. Redmondstraat 66-68, Paramaribo, Phone: +597 (0) 4 77555
De Wereld Hotel - Molenweg, Wageningen Phone: +597 (0) 2 33149

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