Suriname (or Surinam), officially known as the Republic of Suriname (Dutch: Republiek Suriname, Dutch pronunciation: [ˌrepyˈblik ˌsyriˈnaːmə]), is a country in northern South America. It is bordered by French Guiana to the east, Guyana to the west, Brazil to the south and the Atlantic Ocean to the north, making it one of two countries, French Guiana the other, not to border any of the Spanish-speaking countries on the continent. Suriname was colonised by the English and the Dutch in the 17th century.
Beginning in the 16th century, French, Spanish, and English explorers visited the area. A century later, plantation colonies were established by the Dutch and English along the many rivers in the fertile Guiana plains. The earliest documented colony in Guiana was an English settlement named Marshall's Creek along the Suriname River. Disputes arose between the Dutch and the English. In 1667, the Dutch decided to keep the nascent plantation colony of Suriname conquered from the English, resulting from the Treaty of Breda. The English were left with New Amsterdam, a small trading post in North America, which later became New York City.
Suriname is the smallest independent country in South America. Situated on the Guiana Shield, it lies mostly between latitudes 1° and 6°N, and longitudes 54° and 58°W. The country can be divided into two main geographic regions. The northern, lowland coastal area (roughly above the line Albina-Paranam-Wageningen) has been cultivated, and most of the population lives here. The southern part consists of tropical rainforest and sparsely inhabited savanna along the border with Brazil, covering about 80% of Suriname's land surface.
The two main mountain ranges are the Bakhuys Mountains and the Van Asch Van Wijck Mountains. Julianatop is the highest mountain in the country at 1,286 metres (4,219 ft) above sea level. Other mountains include Tafelberg at 1,026 metres (3,366 ft), Mount Kasikasima at 718 metres (2,356 ft), Goliathberg at 358 metres (1,175 ft) and Voltzberg at 240 metres.
Suriname's democracy gained some strength after the turbulent 1990s, and its economy became more diversified and less dependent on Dutch financial assistance. Bauxite (aluminium ore) mining continues to be a strong revenue source, and the discovery and exploitation of oil and gold has added substantially to Suriname's economic independence. Agriculture, especially rice and bananas, remains a strong component of the economy, and ecotourism is providing new economic opportunities. More than 80% of Suriname's land-mass consists of unspoiled rain forest; with the establishment of the Central Suriname Nature Reserve in 1998, Suriname signalled its commitment to conservation of this precious resource. The Central Suriname Nature Reserve became a World Heritage Site in 2000.
The predominant religion in the country is Christianity, both in the form of Roman Catholicism and various denominations of Protestantism, the Moravian Church being the oldest and largest. It is particularly dominant among Creoles and Maroons. The Creoles and to a lesser degree the Maroons, both predominantly descended from enslaved Africans, converted to Christianity during the colonial period but may still retain their Afro-American religion called Winti. The Indian descended population practice Hinduism, Islam or Christianity. The Javanese practice either Islam or Christianity. Suriname's population is 19.6% Muslim.
Dutch is the sole official language, and is the language of education, government, business, and the media. Over 60% of the population speak Dutch as a mother tongue, and most of the rest speak it as a second language. In 2004 Suriname became an associate member of the Dutch Language Union. It is the only Dutch-speaking country in South America as well as the only independent nation in the Americas where Dutch is spoken, and one of the two non-Romance-speaking countries on the continent, the other being English-speaking Guyana.
Top Tourist Attractions in Suriname
View from the Voltzberg in the Central Suriname Nature Reserve
Completely wooden interior of Saint Peter and Paul Cathedral
Jules wijdenbosch bridge