Suriname is located on the north coast of South America
The capital city, Paramaribo, is located near the mouth of the
Suriname river. Suriname is approximately the same size as Georgia
(USA). More than 90% of the country's area is covered with pristine
Amazonian rain-forest. The population is close to 400 thousand
people, of which 37% are of East-Indian descend, 33% are of African
descend, and the rest are of Indonesian, Chinese, European, Native
American and mixed descend. Suriname's official language is Dutch;
most people also speak a local creole called "Sranan tongo." Other
languages spoken include Native American languages, Maroon languages,
Hindi , Indonesian and Chinese.
Suriname was originally part of the coastal area called Guiana. It
changed ownership between Holland and Britain many times, but
eventually ended up in the hands of the Dutch in 1667 after they
signed the treaty of Breda with the British. As a consequence of the
treaty, Holland lost possession of their North-American colony (Nieuw
Amsterdam), which is now New York City!
Like most countries in the region, Suriname was primarily a plantation
colony. Many Africans were imported as slaves, and their heritage has had a profound
influence on its culture. After slavery was abolished, in 1863,
laborers were brought over from India, Indonesia, China and Portugal
to do the work that the now freed slaves refused to do any longer!
Many of these people chose to stay, which explains the ethnic variety
of the population.
In 1975, Suriname "gained" its independence from Holland
Political and economic instability quickly took hold, and in 1980 a
military officer, Desiree Bouterse, orchestrated a coup d'e'tat. He
took control of the country with little trouble, and continued to rule
until 1992(?). A small civil war with the Maroons and economic
pressure from Holland finally forced him out of office. Today,
Suriname once again has a democratic government, but things are far
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