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Suriname is the smallest independent country in South America but what it lacks in size it makes up in ethnic diversity: its friendly inhabitants are composed of Dutch and British colonialists, Amerindians, Chinese, Indians and Maroons, and any combination of them. The country can be divided into two main regions - the northern lowland coastal area where most of the population lives and the dense tropical rainforest and sparsely inhabited savannah which covers the rest of the country. 

The inland forest is occupied by very small communities of Amerindians and descendants of African slaves - the Maroons – who escaped into the jungle in the 17th and 18th centuries live scattered along the banks of its major rivers.  The Dutch colonial centre of Paramaribo is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

The city is also a melting pot of religious cultures including Jews who moved here from Jodensavanne - home of the oldest synagogue in the Americas. The wilderness interior is pretty impenetrable and is accessed by river, forest road or light aircraft. The biggest attraction of the country for visitors is its unique ethnic and social fabric. 


Our holidays to Suriname

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Iles du Salut, French Guiana

Coq of the Rock: Trailblazing the Guianas

Group tour

18 days from £4,683pp

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Our insider tips for Suriname

Chris Parrott

Chris Parrott

Visiting a Maroon community. You will travel in time to a transposed West Africa where animist traditions, matrilineal family structures and traditional sustenance agriculture define a vibrant outpost of the African diaspora. 
Tom

Tom Parrott

Discovering the delights of Paramaribo, the most beguiling of the three capitals of the Guianas. Here you will see wooden and brick Dutch-inspired architecture unlike any other in South America.

David

David Nichols

Paying a visit to the open-air museum at Nieuw Amsterdam and Marienburg, the oldest former sugar plantation in Suriname. The ruins of the factory and the century-old plantation houses still stand. There’s a well-preserved prison, armoury, church, and crumbling ramparts which protected Dutch colonialists and their valuable inland agricultural empire until the end of World War II.
Isabelle

Isabelle Mazille

Dropping in at Jodensavanne, in the 17th century the largest autonomous Jewish settlement in the western hemisphere, with a striking synagogue dating back to that era. It’s a quiet place that speaks volumes about this corner of South America's colonial past. 

What our experts say

Suriname used to be a Dutch colony – so the language is Dutch, but almost everyone speaks English too, as well as the more impenetrable SrananTongo (suriname-tongue).  The attractive city of Paramaribo is the very epitome of a melting pot: European, Asian, African, Brazilian, Chinese; Christian Jewish, Muslim (the mosque and synagogue are adjacent). They all seem to get along.

The wildlife habitat is similar to Guyana, and rainforest tourism (catering mostly to visitors flying in from Amsterdam) is beginning to develop.  I’ve been to Suriname five times, but only along the coastal, sweltering, strip. Next time I hope to get to the interior: I’d like to see Kabalebo in the west (accessible only by air); Brownsberg, being more readily accessible by road, gets a lot more visitors. 

Chris Parrott

Chris Parrott

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