Suriname is a former Dutch colony. It lies on the Northeast coast of South America. To the north lies the Atlantic Ocean, to the east is French Guiana, to the west is Guyana, and Brazil lies along the southern border.
Suriname is 163,194 sq. km. (63,037 sq. mi.); slightly larger than the state of Georgia. It is one of the few spots in the world with a tropical rainforest. Suriname is the second smallest nation on the South American continent, as well asthe least explored and least densely inhabited tropical countries in the world. Suriname is one of the most ethnically diverse countries in the Americas but has less than half a million inhabitants.
The connection between United States of America and Suriname:
- "New Amsterdam,” modern New York, was a former Dutch colony. In 1667 it was exchanged for Suriname. - Alcoa, a US company, was mining bauxite in Suriname to produce aluminum, that was used to build war equipment and airplanes.
- TheAmericans built an airport in Suriname to enable them to refuel their planes during the second world war. This airport became Suriname’s international airport.
Jan Matzeliger, the inventor of the shoe-lasting machine was born in Suriname in 1852. At the age of 18, he immigrated to the United States. Matzeliger's invention improved the process and working conditions of shoemaking. This reduced the price of shoes by 50% percent and made them affordable for ordinary citizens.
It is said that the name Suriname is based on the name of the Amerindian tribe Surinen, the original inhabitants of Suriname. This tribe was chased away by the other Amerindian tribes, the Caribs, Arawaks, and Waraus.
The Europeans first learned about Suriname and the other Guyanas by Christopher Columbus in 1498 but the Dutch settlement began in 1616. In the first half of the 18th century, agriculture flourished in Suriname. African slaves did most of the work on the plantations. The treatment of these slaves was bad, and many slaves escaped to the jungle. These runaway slaves were named Maroons or Bush Negroes.
In 1863 the Dutch ended slavery, the last European nation to do so. The slaves, however, were not free until 1873 because they were forced to sign an employment contract with the plantation owners, which bound them to work for another decade. The former slaves and their descendants sought employment in the wood and mining industry and the service sector. To continue the work on the plantations, the government was forced to send for laborers from abroad. Laborers, mostly Chinese, were importedfrom the Netherlands East Indies and India. When Gandhi ended the emigration from laborers from India in 1916, laborers were again imported from the Netherlands East Indies, now especially Java. The people from Java are known as Javanese. The imported laborers were free to return to their country after the expiration of their contract, but most of them stayed in Suriname. Suriname remained under Dutch rule until the independence in 1975.
Amerindians, Creole (African descendants and mixed races ), Hindustani, Javanese, Maroon, Chinese, Dutch immigrants (aka Boeroe which means farmer in Surinamese), Lebanese, Jewish. These are the official ethnic groups and are considered Surinameses. In the course of time, people from other countries such as Brazilians, Guyanese Haitians etc. have settled in Suriname, however, they are not considered Surinamese.
Christian 41%, Hindu 20%, Islam 13%, other 26%
Dutch is the official language, Surinamese, (Sranan Tongo) is considered to be the second language.
The other frequent spoken languages are the:
Asian languages: Sarnami Hindu, Javanese, and Chinese
Maroon languages: Aucaans, Paramacaans, Boni, Kwinti, Saramaccaans, and Matawai
Amerindian languages: determined in 3 language categories: (1) Caribs; Kalima or
Caraïbisch, Trio, and Wayana, (2) Arawaks; Lokono, (3) Waraus; Waraus
Literacy: 90 percentage. Compulsory age 6-12.
Infant mortality rate (2000)--27.1/1,000. Life expectancy (2003)--71 yrs.
Work force per (100,000): Government 35%; private sector 41%; divers companies 10%; unemployed 14%.
History of Suriname
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