Suriname is a country situated in the north of South America. It was a former colony of the Dutch and English, although it received independence from the Netherlands in 1975. At less than 64,000 Square Miles it is the smallest sovereign state in South America and with only 490,000 inhabitants, many of whom live in the capital Paramaribo. It is very sparsely populated.
The majority of the population of Suriname live in the coastal lowland areas of the country which is located in the North. The Southern part of the country is mainly tropical rainforest and Savanna, this covers around 80% of the country; however not many people live in these regions. The highest mountain in the country is Julianatop which is 1,286 metres above sea level.
Suriname has a very hot tropical climate with the temperatures varying very little during the year. There are two wet seasons; from April to August and from November to February as well as two dry season when there is very little rain fall.
Suriname is home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site called ‘Central Suriname Nature Reserve’ which is known for its unspoiled forests. There are also many other nature reserves situated in the country such as the Wia Wia NR situated along the coast. A total of 12.6% of the country is covered in national parks and lakes.
Dutch is the official language of Suriname with over 60% of the population speaking it as their mother tongue. Sranan Tongo is the local creole language of Suriname and is widely used in informal settings and used interchangeably with Dutch. There are however discussions in place to change the national language to English in order to improve links to North America.
Getting around Suriname is fairly difficult with not many transport links. The roads are also in poor condition in some areas. A distinct difference between Suriname and the rest of the Americas is that they drive on the left hand side of the road, a trait which was inherited from British Settlers. The most important method of travel in Suriname are the waterways, with ports located in the main cities such as Moengo. There are no road connections with neighbouring countries.
Due to a multicultural heritage the people of Suriname celebrate a whole variety of festivals including Chinese New Year and Christmas as well as several Hindu and Islamic Holidays.
Tourism is extremely important to the economy of Suriname with many hotels dotted throughout the country. The most popular being ‘Royal Torarica’ which is located in the night district of Paramaribo. The main reason tourists visit Suriname is to sample the outstanding views of the Amazonian rain forests located in the south of the country. A popular destination is also the Brokopondo Reservoir, one of the largest man-made lakes in the world. There are also many waterfalls located in Suriname; such as Raleighvallen located in the nature reserve on the Coppename River.
Some Landmarks to visit in Suriname include the Jules Wijdenbosch Bridge which links Paramaribo and Meerzorg. Another is the converted Theatre now known as the Cathedral of St Peter and Paul; this is over 114 years old.
There are flights to Suriname from only a few countries, the only access from Europe is from the Netherlands and the only access from the USA is via Miami.
Suriname is a relaxing getaway for those that wish to escape from the perils of the city and take a sightseeing tour through the lush rainforests and beautiful landscapes. It is well worth a visit.