Dutch from the province of Zeeland in the Netherlands colonized Suriname in the 17th century but periods of British administration did not finally cease until 1816. The colony was mainly used for sugar, coffee and cocoa plantations where many African slaves were worked to death.
In 1863 slavery came to an end and contract workers were recruited from British India (until 1916) and Java (until 1936). Many stayed after their contract had ended.
Independence from the Netherlands was granted in 1975 and to retain their Dutch nationality many Surinamese left for the Netherlands. Five years later the civilian government was replaced by a military regime that soon declared a socialist republic characterized by a high level of government corruption and the summary executions of political opponents. It continued to rule through a succession of nominally civilian administrations until 1987, when international pressure finally forced a democratic election. In 1989, the military overthrew the civilian government again, but a democratically-elected government returned to power in 1991.
Here are the top things to do after lockdown in this little country.
- Take a Coastal Roadtrip: West of Paramaribo, a mystically beautiful road runs past salt ponds, paddy fields and the Scottish settlement of Totness.
- Talk Turtle: On Suriname’s eastern shoulder, Galibi Nature Reserve faces French Guiana across the Marowijne River. Here, hordes of sea turtles, including the giant leatherback, crowd the beaches during egg-laying season (April through August). The Galibi Nature Reserve is one of Guiana’s most famous sea turtle areas. Don’t miss Olive Ridley, leatherback, green and hawksbill turtles.
- Go Amerindian: The villages that scale the banks of the Maroni Estuary are authentic places to immerse yourself in the regional culture. Travel by dugout canoe dodging the wild crocodiles and anacondas.
- Wia Wia Nature Reserve: Wia Wia Nature Reserve is located on the Atlantic coast of Suriname near the Marowijne River. Shell and sand ridges run east to west, covered with mixed xerophytic coastal wood and forest, locally rich in cactus. Mud flats and scattered narrow beaches on the coast insulate black mangrove forests several kilometers wide. Further inland are brackish and freshwater grass swamps and permanent freshwater swamps. The area also has hydrophytic swamp wood forest. The remote Wia-Wia Nature Reserve on the Atlantic coast is heaven for birdwatchers, with beaches, mangrove swamps and mudflats to explore.
- Brownsberg Nature Park: Brownsberg Nature Park is a reserve in Suriname, south of Paramaribo, the capital city. It encompasses tropical rainforest on Brownsberg mountain by the vast Brokopondo Reservoir. Irene, Leo and other waterfalls dot the park, which also has many trails. The reserve is known for its rich birdlife, including toucans, trumpeters, woodpeckers and parrots, as well as mammals like howler monkeys, jaguars and armadillos.
- Hindi-Surinamese music: Indian music arrived with immigrants from South Asia. This originally included folk music played with dhantal, tabla, sitar, harmonium and dholak, later including tassa drums. Music was mostly Hindu songs called bhajans, as well as filmi. The tan singing style is unique to the Indian community in Suriname and Guyana. Alioko is also a very popular form of religious music that developed through different cultures and made its way to Suriname. Using drums and forms of guitars they communicate with the spirits and gods through this ( al- ee- ock – oh ) music.Recorded Indian music in Suriname began with the release of King of Suriname/The Star Melodies Of Ramdew Chaitoe by Ramdew Chaitoe, in 1958. Chaitoe became very popular, and his music, which was religious in nature, left a lasting influence on future performers. However, no one very successful arose following Chaitoe, until 1968, when Dropati released Let’s Sing and Dance, an album of religious songs that remains extremely popular.