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Destinations South America Suriname

Suriname Holidays & Tours

The Republic of Suriname (formerly Dutch Guiana) is the smallest independent country in South America. Situated in the north-east of this mighty continent, it is bordered by French Guiana, Brazil and Guyana. To the north lies the Atlantic Ocean. Outside of Paramaribo - its capital city - this former Dutch colony is sparsely populated.

Much of the country is covered by vast tracts of virgin rainforest punctuated with many rivers. The rich habitat supports a massive diversity of flora and fauna. There are four main seasons – the small rainy season (December to January), the small dry season (January to March) the big rainy season (March to August) and the big dry season (August to December).

Suriname’s Dutch conquerors handed power back in 1975 but their language remains the one most commonly spoken. English and French are also widely used. During their occupation, the Dutch brought slaves from Africa and servants from India, China and Indonesia to work as agricultural labourers. Much of the population today is made up of the descendants of these people as well as from the British and Dutch colonists who made Suriname their home.

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The descendants of the African slaves are known as Maroons and Creoles. The Maroons’ ancestors were African slaves who escaped from the coastal area’s sugarcane and tobacco plantations between the mid-17th and late 18th centuries and started a new life in the forest. After nearly 500 years of fighting, the Maroons’ independence was eventually recognised with the signing of a peace treaty with the Dutch in 1760. The treaty allowed them to occupy a large part of the interior of Suriname which has been their homeland ever since. The Maroons gained their independence over 100 years before the African slave trade was finally abolished in the rest of the world in 1863. The Creoles are descended mainly from slaves who did not manage to escape from the plantations.

Left in peace and isolated from the rest of the country, the Maroons held true to their traditional West African cultural heritage. Today, small communities still follow animist beliefs and have matrilineal family structures where children take their mother’s surname. To visit a Maroon village is to step back in time and be transported to West Africa as it was in the 18th century.

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