Paramaribo, 25 November 2021(TDI): Today marks the 46th anniversary of the independence of Suriname. It was granted full independence from the Netherlands on November 25, 1975. The South American state, officially known as the Republic of Suriname, is a culturally Caribbean nation and is regarded as the only non-European sovereign nation with Dutch as its official language.
The history of Suriname started before its colonization by Europeans. It was inhabited by many native groups, the Arawak, the Carib, and Surinam people from whom the country took its name. The Europeans knew the whole land of the Americas through many explorers but the most significant episode was Christopher Columbus’s arrival in 1942, which encouraged the Europeans to settle in the new continent.
In 1651, the British were the first Europeans to settle in the land of Suriname. However, a Dutch fleet took over Suriname in 1667 and it was ceded in exchange for another land named New Amsterdam which is now called New York City. The state remained a Dutch colony until its independence in 1975, except the years of 1799-1802 and 1804-1815 when the British took control of the territory.
The Republic of Suriname is located in South America, mainly in the Northwest of the continent, and Paramaribo serves as the nation’s capital. It is bordered by the Atlantic ocean in the North, French Guiana in the East, Guyana in the West, and Brazil in the South. With a total area of around 163,820 square kilometers, it is the smallest sovereign state in South America. The landscape of Suriname is very diverse, where one can find rainforests, savannas, coastal swamps, and two significant mountain ranges named the Bakhuis and Van Asch Van Wijck Mountains.
The political system of Suriname is a representative presidential democracy based on the country’s 1987 constitution. The executive system of Suriname contains a cabinet of ministers led by the President. The legislative system contains a unicameral national assembly of 51 members who constitute the power to elect the President and Vice Presiden for a five-year term. Additionally, the legal system contains three cantonal courts led by a Court of Justice.
Relations with the Outside World
Suriname participates in global diplomatic missions through various regional and international organizations. It is a member of the United Nations (UN), the Organization of American States (OAS), the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), and an associate member of the Southern Common Market (Mercosur). It also constitutes membership of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR). Furthermore, many states have opened their embassies and consulates in Suriname to enhance their diplomatic relations with the state, such as China, the United States, Canada, Belgium, Spain, the United Kingdom, Brazil, and Germany.
The people of Suriname
According to the Worldometer’s elaboration of the latest United Nations data, Suriname’s current population stands at 593,954. The country has a diverse population which can be divided into four groups. The largest group is the South Asian group, and the second one is the ‘Maroons,’ who are descendants of the escaped African slaves. The third group is the ‘Creole,’ encompassing people with a high percentage of African descent, whereas, the last group comprises the ‘Javanese’ descendants from Indonesia’s Java island.
Since Suriname’s independence in 1975, the nation’s birth rate has steadily decreased. This is so because many people migrated to the Netherlands when they heard about its decolonization in 1975. The birth rate kept decreasing in the earliest of 21t century. However, today, the country welcomes immigrants from the Brazilian and Chinese populations.
Languages of Suriname
The Republic of Suriname contains a diversity of languages. Suriname’s citizens speak Dutch as the official language. Creole is normally a variation of Maroons and South Asian languages such as Javanese, Sranam, and so on. In addition, some people in the country speak Spanish and English, which helps them interact with people from the neighboring states.
Suriname is an upper-middle-income country, with the Surinamese dollar ($) as its currency. The Republic’s economy is primarily based on mining resources, which makes it economically unstable due to the mineral price volatility. The state greatly depends on oil, bauxite, gold mining, lumber, food processing, and fishing.
The flag of Suriname is designed in a horizontal red stripe with a large gold star in the center and white borders on a green background. The color white in Suriname’s flag represents justice and freedom and the golden star represents unity and hope. Moreover, the green color represents fertility, and the red color red stands for love and progress. This flag of Suriname was adopted in 1975.
National Anthem of Suriname
Opo kondreman oen opo
Rise countrymen, rise
Sranan gron e kari oen
The soil of Suriname is calling you
Wans ope tata komopo
Wherever our ancestors came from
Wi moes seti kondre boen
We should take care of our country
Stre de f’stre wi no sa frede
We are not afraid to fight
Gado de wi fesi man
God is our leader
Heri libi te na dede
Our whole life until our death
Wi sa feti gi Sranan
We will fight for Suriname