Our Story, By Us
< Current local time in Suriname – Paramaribo
“Diversity in every sense of the word.” There simply are no better words to describe Suriname with. This small country on the north-eastern shoulder of South America is a land of extremes and superlatives. Massive impenetrable rainforest meandered by bountiful rivers dominate, leaving less than 20 percent of the country populated; most people live in the vibrant city of Paramaribo, with its historical centre of Dutch colonial wooden houses.
That in this town a unique multi-ethnic blend of people -most of them descendants of people brought to the country when slavery and indentured servitude was the norm-, can co-exist harmoniously, speaks of an unsurpassed tolerance and ingrained friendliness.
Amerindians were the original inhabitants of Suriname. A Dutch colony from the 1700s, the first settlers came from England, The Netherlands, France and Germany among others. The colonizers brought African slaves, indentured labourers from India, Indonesia and China to Suriname to work on the plantations. Slavery was abolished in 1863. The country gained independence from the Netherlands in 1975.
The formal language is Dutch and the population consists of some 500,000 citizens. Hindustanis, descendants of the Indian labourers, form the majority. “Creoles” -descendants of African slaves- are the second largest group, followed by Javanese (whose roots lie in Indonesia), Chinese, Europeans, and the Amerindians. Unique are the Maroons, descendants of Africans who chose freedom in the hinterland above slavery and fled to the interior, where they established the “Bush Negro” (or Maroon) tribes that are still in existence today. Six unique Maroon tribes and five Amerindian tribes inhabit the Surinamese interior.