Landinformation of Suriname
Despite its rich history, the fascinating culture and its pristine nature, Suriname is still a place that has not yet been discovered by the masses. Suriname is located on the Northern tip of the Amazon, which forms the lungs of our blue world. More than 80% consists of tropical rainforest, making it one of most densely forested countries. It is however not just its nature that makes Suriname such a unique destination, but it is also due to the harmonious mix of various cultures in the country.
The populated area consists of a cultural variety resulting from the mix of different ethnicities such as the various indigenous tribes (also called Indians), Maroons (descendants of the African slaves living in the interior), Creoles (also descendants of African slaves, but living in the city), Hindustani’s and Javanese (descendants from contract laborers). Also Chinese, Lebanese, Jews and Burus (descendants of Dutch farmers who came to Suriname in the mid 19th century).
Reviving, relaxing, good food, stunning nature, intense enjoyment, peacefulness, rich history, that is what Suriname is all about.
Form of government: Independent Republic since 1975
Surface: Approximately 160.000 km2, 4,5x larger than the Netherlands
Structure: 10 districts. Paramaribo, Nickerie, Coronie, Saramacca, Wanica, Commewijne, Marowijne, Brokopondo, Para en Sipaliwini
Population: Approximately 481.000 inhabitants
Population distribution: Approximately half of the population lives in Paramaribo, which means that the rest of the country has a very low population density
Airport: J.A. Pengel luchthaven (Zanderij) International flights. Zorg en Hoop airport for flights to the interior.
It is fascinating to learn more about the history of Suriname. It makes your trip all the more interesting.
Suriname was already inhabited for hundreds of years before the Europeans came here. The original inhabitants were the Indians, the Indigenous. They consisted of two large groups: the Arawaks and the Caribs.
In 1651 the first successful colonization attempt was undertaken by the Europeans. It was the English who first established an agricultural colony along the Suriname River, and who brought African slaves to the area.
In 1667, England was at war with the Netherlands and the latter conquered the colony. The English fort got a new name, Fort Zeelandia. The city around the fort also got a new name: ‘Nieuw-Middelburg’. That name was soon changed to Paramaribo.
In 1684 the Dutch made peace with the Indians. In the peace agreement the colonizers promised among other things, to no longer enslave the Indians. The number of plantations in Suriname steadily increased. Tropical products such as coffee, sugar, tobacco and cocoa were cultivated. African slaves were brought to the colony. The slavery on the plantations was one of the most dehumanizing institutions in history. The slaves were treated very badly on the plantations and their only option was to flee into the rainforest. These runaway slaves, the maroons created villages in the interior of Suriname.
In 1863 slavery was finally prohibited in Suriname. Freed plantation slaves were however required to keep working on the plantations for ten more years as paid laborers. Many former slaves moved to Paramaribo.
From 1873 laborers from India and China were shipped to Suriname to work on the plantations for a contracted period of 5 years.
In 1890 yet another ethnical group of contracted laborers came to Suriname. They were from Java (33.000) and the Dutch East Indies (34.000). In World War II the Netherlands was occupied by the Germans, but Suriname remained a free area. In Suriname the hope was born that there would be more freedom after the war.
In 1954 Suriname did indeed receive more internal autonomy, but it wouldn’t be until 1975 that the country would become truly independent. The independence of Suriname was at that time not something that was favored by everyone. That became very clear when after the independence, thousands of Surinamese packed their belongings and left for the Netherlands.
In 1980 a coup took place, after which military leader Bouterse came into power. The infamous December murders which were committed soon thereafter, are to this day an enduring trauma amongst many Surinamese.
In 1987 democracy was restored in Suriname.
Climate | Season | Time
Suriname has a typical tropical rainforest climate. Not a day goes by without sunshine. There is also rain, which can come down in short but powerful downpours. These showers often occur late in the afternoons. The great thing about these tropical showers is that everything in nature becomes fresh and glistening afterwards. There are 4 seasons:
Small rainy season: December – January, Small dry season: February – March, Big rainy season: April – mid August, Big dry season: mid August – December.
The ideal time of travel is February and March. August thru December are also good, but it can be quite hot. The average temperature in Suriname is approximately 28 degrees. In the dry seasons those can get over 30 degrees. Because Suriname is located near the Amazon region, the humidity is high at about 80%.
Suriname is 3 hrs behind GMT or 2 hrs ahead of EST. Summer time: 5 hrs earlier Winter time: 4 hrs earlier.
Health | Safety
For your travels to Suriname, there are no mandatory vaccinations. It is however advised to take precautions against Hepatitis A, DTP (Diphtheria, Tetanus and Polio), Yellow Fever and Malaria.
– Hepatitis A
– Yellow Fever
All subject to change. For more information please refer to: www.ggd.amsterdam.nl.
If you develop certain symptoms after your return (and this could be months after) such as fever, stomach problems or other symptoms you can’t quite pinpoint, visit your doctor and mention when you were in Suriname and what you did while there. If you had a lot of contact with the local population, it might be advisable to undergo testing for TB.
Avoid deserted parks (such as the Palmentuin, ‘Palm gardens’) during the night and late evenings. The same holds for poor neighborhoods or poorly lit areas. Do not wear any jewelry to places that you are unfamiliar with and where you are not accompanied by people from those neighborhoods.
Current information about the safety in Suriname can be found on www.rijksoverheid.nl/ministeries/bz (look under travel advisory for Suriname). There is also useful information on the website of the Belgian ministry of Foreign Affairs http://diplomatie.belgium.be.
Travel documents | Money
Travelers with a Dutch or a Belgian passport need a visa or a tourist card for entry into Suriname. To apply for either document you need a passport that is valid for at least six months after arriving in Suriname.
Before you leave make a copy of your passport and leave this behind with your family or friends in the Netherlands. Also take along several copies. This will simplify matters in case of loss.
– Cost: € 40,-
– Valid: 2 months, Single entry
– Needed: Passport, photo, visa application form, etc. Consult the Surinamese consulate
– When to apply: At the earliest 2 months ahead of time and at the latest one working day before departure.
– Where to apply: Consulate of Suriname in Amsterdam
– Cost: €20,- (in Europe) or 25 USD.
– Valid: Until 90 days after entry. Single entry
– Needed: Passport, return ticket (or ticket of continuing travel)
– When to apply: The Tourist card for Suriname may be obtained as soon as you have a confirmed (return) airline ticket to Suriname, which you can then show in addition to the other required documents such as your passport.
– Where to apply:
1) The Visa department of the Consulate General of the Republic of Suriname in A’dam.
2) At Schiphol at the specially designated counters.
3) Upon arrival at the Johan Adolf Pengel International Airport in Suriname.
See different types of visa: consulaat van Suriname
* Information is dependent on required visa. Given information regards KTV visa.
Information subject to change
The currency in Suriname is the Surinamese Dollar (SRD). The exchange rate variates. One euro can range from 3,50 to 4,50 SRD. The price level is quite a bit lower than in the Netherlands. In Paramaribo it is possible to pay with Euros in many hotels and larger restaurants. A roti meal is available from €7,- per person. On popular tourist locations, prices are sometimes calculated specifically with the tourists in mind.
It is best to do your finances once you arrive in Suriname, since you won’t be able to find Surinamese dollars in the Netherlands. At the airport you can exchange your Euros or get money from the ATM. In the city you can also use the ATM machine at the RBTT bank. In the interior it is difficult to exchange money nor are there any ATM machines. Credit cards are for the most part only accepted in larger/more expensive stores, restaurants and hotels. Check in advance whether they accept credit cards. Tipping is customary. The tip is usually not included in the bill. You can give a tip of anywhere between 10 to 15% of your bill.
Telephone | Internet | Electricity
There is a telephone infrastructure throughout Paramaribo which means that it is possible to make mobile calls to the Netherlands. Ask your provider what the cost of such calls is. Hotels have long distance lines, but telephoning from your hotel room is expensive. There are also international calling cards for sale, which enable you to call from every land line. The instructions are on the card. Outside of Paramaribo telephone connectivity is poor.
In the larger places it is possible to go online at internet cafés and in some hotels. Take into account however, that internet is not as fast as you are probably used to.
The main voltage is 110-127V/60Hz. You can use the chargers of your mobile phone and laptop in the regular outlets. It is however always advisable to first consult the label of your electronic equipment. In Suriname both the American Nema-connector (two flat pins) and the European outlets (two round pins) are used.
Note! There are naturally no charging locations available in the jungle to recharge your equipment. Even in jungle lodges or other facilities this is very limited. Alternative solutions are extra disposable batteries, solar batteries or chargers. Flashlights are advisable.
In Suriname there are enough possibilities to get around. Good to know: In Suriname driving is done on the left hand side.
For non-Surinamese driving with an international drivers license is mandatory. This international license must be requested, with your national drivers license, in your own country. In the Netherlands an international drivers license can be obtained at any ANWB-shop for a fee and submission of one passport photo.
You can use public transportation. This consists mainly of small busses that drive fixed routes. There are no set departure times, but the bus leaves when it is full and then continues to drive its specific route. You can purchase a bus guide which shows all bus-lines in Paramaribo and surroundings. The guide is available in stores such as VACO and Readytex.
You can also rent a car. You can do so in the various well known rental companies in Paramaribo. Ask people in your neighborhood about which are the reliable rental companies. There are often some restrictions pertaining to traveling to the interior with your rental car. In Paramaribo and surroundings you can easily get around in a regular car. Are you planning on driving beyond Zanderij and Tamaredjo, we do advise you to rent a 4WD vehicle. The roads in Suriname can be quite bad in some areas.
You can also use a taxi to take you to your destination. Inform ahead of time what the price is. Generally speaking taxis in Suriname are priced quite reasonably.
Paramaribo has four bike rental companies. The two most well known are: Fietsen in Suriname (Biking in Suriname) and Cardy’s. You can rent different types of bicycles. If your apartment or hotel is located a bit outside of the city center, then a bike is a good mode of transportation in the city.
In Suriname Dutch is the official language. It is spoken in schools, it is used in the newspapers and there are many Dutch programs on television. In the interior you will generally be able to find at least a few people who can speak some Dutch. In the city most people also understand and speak some English.
On the streets and amongst the population however, many dialects of the lingua franca Sranan Tongo are spoken. For outsiders it may sound like one language but there are definitely differences. A few basic sentences will take you a long way, and the people will certainly appreciate it if you try to speak Sranan. They are however very understanding if you choose to continue speaking Dutch.
|goedemorgen||good morning||gu morgu|
|goedenavond||good night||gu neti|
|ik heet…||I am….||mi na…|
|hoe gaat het?||how are you||fa yu tan?|
|het gaat goed||I am well||a’e go|
|bedankt||thank you||gran tangi|
|tot ziens||see you||mo syi|
|wat kost dat?||how much is that||omeni?|
|Maak je niet druk||don’t worry||No span|
Since the Surinamese population originates from many countries around the world, Surinamese cuisine is very diverse as well. It is a combination of many international cuisines amongst which Hindustani (India), Creole (Africa), Javanese (Indonesia), Chinese, Dutch, Jewish, Portuguese, and native Indian.
As a result, the Surinamese kitchen has brought forth many dishes. The various groups use and influence each other’s dishes and ingredients, creating new Surinamese dishes such as: roti, nasi goreng, bami, pom,snesi foroe, moksi meti, losi foroe. The unique Surinamese cuisine was born from this fusion of various cultures.