SURINAME

SURINAME

Suriname is enchantingly beautiful and is characterised by its virgin rainforests, wildly churning rivers, magnificent falls and an unparalleled wealth of animal and plant life, as well as gorgeous mangrove forests, expansive savannahs and picturesque river beaches. All this – and more – is Suriname: for Suriname is not just a unique destination because of its natural beauty, but its harmonious mix of many different cultures, the unique city of Paramaribo, its wealth of treasures from its colonial past and the possibility of meeting the native population, which still lives its life in accordance with centuries-old customs and traditions, all make a tour to Suriname an unforgettable experience.

The country is divided into ten districts: Paramaribo, Nickerie, Coronie, Saramacca, Wanica, Coronie, Saramacca, Wanica, Commewijne, Marowijne, Brokopondo, Para and Sipaliwini.

Climate
  • Short rainy season: December to January
  • Short dry season: from February to April
  • Long rainy season: from May until mid-August
  • Long dry season: from mid-August until November
  • Average temperature: 30 °C
PARAMARIBO
When visiting Suriname, there is no avoiding Paramaribo. Over half the country’s population lives in its excellently preserved historical capital, with its wealth of buildings constructed in typically Surinamese style and traditional wooden houses for you to take in. The city, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is home to many museums and sights, lively shopping streets and a bustling night life. It’s impossible to get bored in the “wooden city of the Caribbean”! Go shopping in Paramaribo’s heart, in the square formed by Domineestraat, Jodenbreestraat, Maagdenstraat and Steenbakkerijstraat streets, or in one of the many malls, the most famous of which is Hermitage Mall. Or visit the Central Market or go for a leisurely stroll through the Garden of Palms.

Map of Paramaribo

Suriname Tuk Tuk Tours
‘The longest Tuk Tuk in the World’

Does Travel & Cadushi Tours and its partner Suriname Sightseeing Tours offer great Tuk Tuk tours. All tours start in Paramaribo. Click on the button ‘TUK TUK TOURS’ in the left menu for more information.

Day trips and multi-day tours
We have many activities in store for you when you come to Suriname on holiday, so that you won’t be bored for a moment. Do you love nature and have you been in Suriname for a little longer? Then you can choose one of our multi-day tours. For example, those who just want 1 day out can opt for a day trip or a Tuk-Tuk or sightseeing tour. Enough choice when it comes to activities for holiday trips in Suriname.

Lowest price guarantee
Are you looking for a cheap flight ticket to Suriname? Then look no further! Does Travel & Cadushi Tours offers the lowest price guarantee on not only airline tickets, but also hotels and car rental. So you have come to the right place for affordable holiday trips to Suriname.

Years of experience
Does Travel & Cadushi Tours was founded in 1960 and has many years of experience in the travel industry. Anyone who books a holiday trip to Suriname with us is guaranteed to be in good hands. Will we see you soon in Suriname?

$350,-

Capital Paramaribo
Population 534.000
Language Dutch and Sranan Tongo, furthermore all population groups use their own language.
Currency Surinam dollar
Visa required Tourist Card, info https://suriname.vfsevisa.com
Vaccination(s) yes
Voltage 127/230 V
Traffic Left-hand
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101 Suites

101 Suites

SURINAME
Prices on request and nowhere cheaper! 101 Suites is located right in the bustling centre of Para
More info
Boutique Hotel Peperpot

Boutique Hotel Peperpot

SURINAME
Prices on request and nowhere cheaper! Peperpot Plantation Boutique Hotel Peperpot, adjacent to
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Boutique Hotel Q-Inn

Boutique Hotel Q-Inn

SURINAME
Prices on request and nowhere cheaper! Boutique Hotel Q-Inn is luxurious hotel in the middle of d
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Courtyard by Marriott Paramaribo

Courtyard by Marriott Paramaribo

SURINAME
Prices on request and nowhere cheaper! This relatively new hotel in Paramaribo is beautifully loc
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Eco Torarica

Eco Torarica

SURINAME
Prices on request and nowhere cheaper! Eco Torarica, located on the Suriname River, was built acc
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Elegance Hotel & Casino

Elegance Hotel & Casino

SURINAME
Prices on request and nowhere cheaper! A luxury 3-star hotel, just 5 minutes walk from the center o
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Felisa Apartments

Felisa Apartments

SURINAME
Prices on request and nowhere cheaper! Felisa Apartments is an unique and homely apartment complex
More info
Greenheart Boutique Hotel

Greenheart Boutique Hotel

SURINAME
Prices on request and nowhere cheaper! Greenheart Boutique hotel is unique and charming; the ECO
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Guesthouse Albergo Alberga

Guesthouse Albergo Alberga

SURINAME
Prices on request and nowhere cheaper! Guesthouse Albergo Alberga is located in the center of Param
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Holland Lodge Paramaribo

Holland Lodge Paramaribo

SURINAME
Prices on request and nowhere cheaper! Holland Lodge Paramaribo is a small-scale and attractive h
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Hotel Babylon

Hotel Babylon

SURINAME
Prices on request and nowhere cheaper! Hotel Babylon is a modern hotel located in one of the most
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Hotel North Resort

Hotel North Resort

SURINAME
Prices on request and nowhere cheaper! Hotel North Resort is a cozy complex in Maretraite, a quie
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Jacana Amazon Wellness Resort

Jacana Amazon Wellness Resort

SURINAME
Prices on request and nowhere cheaper! Right in the residential ‘Zorg en Hoop’ in Par
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Joah Inn Apartments

Joah Inn Apartments

SURINAME
Prices on request and nowhere cheaper! Joah Inn Apartments, a beautiful apartment complex in the
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Kekemba Resort Paramaribo

Kekemba Resort Paramaribo

SURINAME
Prices on request and nowhere cheaper! Kekemba Resort Paramaribo is at the outskirts of Paramarib
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La Petite Maison

La Petite Maison

SURINAME
Prices on request and nowhere cheaper! The hotel is conveniently located in the beautiful and his
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Maisonadia Boutique Hotel

Maisonadia Boutique Hotel

SURINAME
Prices on request and nowhere cheaper! The Maisonadia Boutique Hotel is a small stylish and luxur
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Martinus Apartments

Martinus Apartments

SURINAME
Prices on request and nowhere cheaper! Martinus Apartments is situated in a quiet and safe neighb
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Oxygen Resort

Oxygen Resort

SURINAME
Prices on request and nowhere cheaper! At Oxygen Resort, we offer a homely atmosphere in a relaxe
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Queens Hotel

Queens Hotel

SURINAME
Prices on request and nowhere cheaper! This small business hotel with its warm and cozy atmospher
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Ramada Paramaribo Princess

Ramada Paramaribo Princess

SURINAME
Prices on request and nowhere cheaper! Ramada Paramaribo Princess is located in the business and
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Royal Breeze Hotel

Royal Breeze Hotel

SURINAME
Prices on request and nowhere cheaper! Located in the bustling heart of Paramaribo, it’s about 20
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Royal Torarica Hotel

Royal Torarica Hotel

SURINAME
Prices on request and nowhere cheaper! Luxury hotel rooms with every comfort This luxurious four
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Spanhoek Boutique Hotel

Spanhoek Boutique Hotel

SURINAME
Prices on request and nowhere cheaper! Spanhoek Boutique Hotel is an intimate boutique hotel loca
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The Kolibrie Apartments

The Kolibrie Apartments

SURINAME
Prices on request and nowhere cheaper! The Kolibrie Apartments is located in South-Paramaribo, just
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Torarica Resort

Torarica Resort

SURINAME
Prices on request and nowhere cheaper! Torarica Resort is the most famous hotel in Suriname. This
More info
Tran Elite Hotel Apartments

Tran Elite Hotel Apartments

SURINAME
Prices on request and nowhere cheaper! Tran Elite is a small apartment complex where personal att
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Tucan Residence

Tucan Residence

SURINAME
Prices on request and nowhere cheaper! Tucan Residence is located in Paramaribo North, just a sho
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Villa Famiri

Villa Famiri

SURINAME
Prices on request and nowhere cheaper! Villa Famiri is a small-scale, cozy and charming family ho
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Wilhelmina Hotel & Apartments

Wilhelmina Hotel & Apartments

SURINAME
Prices on request and nowhere cheaper! Wilhelmina Hotel & Apartments is a perfect place for
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Winny’s Resort

Winny’s Resort

SURINAME
Prices on request and nowhere cheaper! Comfort and service are the words that are inextricably li
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Zeelandia Suites

Zeelandia Suites

SURINAME
Prices on request and nowhere cheaper! Zeelandia Suites is a cozy, small hotel where personal ser
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Suriname Multi-Day Tour: 2 Days Cordon Savanne Trail

Suriname Multi-Day Tour: 2 Days Cordon Savanne Trail



Suriname Multi-Day Tour: 2 Days Historical/Cultural Plantation Peperpot & Fort New Amsterdam Tuk Tuk Tour

Suriname Multi-Day Tour: 2 Days Historical/Cultural Plantation Peperpot & Fort New Amsterdam Tuk Tuk Tour



Suriname Multi-Day Tour: 2 Days Nickerie & Bigi Pan

Suriname Multi-Day Tour: 2 Days Nickerie & Bigi Pan



Suriname Multi-Day Tour: 2/3 Days Brownsberg, Overbridge &  Jodensavanna

Suriname Multi-Day Tour: 2/3 Days Brownsberg, Overbridge & Jodensavanna



Suriname Multi-Day Tour: 2/3 Days Galibi

Suriname Multi-Day Tour: 2/3 Days Galibi



Suriname Multi-Day Tour: 2/3/4 Days Berg en Dal Eco & Cultural River Resort

Suriname Multi-Day Tour: 2/3/4 Days Berg en Dal Eco & Cultural River Resort



Suriname Multi-Day Tour: 2/3/4 Days Seliba River Glamping

Suriname Multi-Day Tour: 2/3/4 Days Seliba River Glamping



Suriname Multi-Day Tour: 2/3/4/5 Days Knini Paati

Suriname Multi-Day Tour: 2/3/4/5 Days Knini Paati



Suriname Multi Day Tour: 2/3/4/5 Days Plantation Frederiksdorp

Suriname Multi Day Tour: 2/3/4/5 Days Plantation Frederiksdorp



Suriname Multi-Day Tour: 3 Days Akira

Suriname Multi-Day Tour: 3 Days Akira



Suriname Multi-Day Tour: 3 Days Brownsberg and Ston Island

Suriname Multi-Day Tour: 3 Days Brownsberg and Ston Island



Suriname Multi-Day Tour: 3 Days Coesewijne Nature Reserve

Suriname Multi-Day Tour: 3 Days Coesewijne Nature Reserve



Suriname Multi-Day Tour: 3 Days Fredberg

Suriname Multi-Day Tour: 3 Days Fredberg



Suriname Multi-Day Tour: 3 Days Jaw Jaw

Suriname Multi-Day Tour: 3 Days Jaw Jaw



Suriname Multi-Day Tour: 3 Days Paradise Island

Suriname Multi-Day Tour: 3 Days Paradise Island



Suriname Multi-Day Tour: 3/4/5 Days Anaula Nature Resort

Suriname Multi-Day Tour: 3/4/5 Days Anaula Nature Resort



Suriname Multi-Day Tour: 3/4/5 Days Danpaati

Suriname Multi-Day Tour: 3/4/5 Days Danpaati



Suriname Multi-Day Tour: 3/4/5/.. days Jungle Resort Pingpe

Suriname Multi-Day Tour: 3/4/5/.. days Jungle Resort Pingpe



Suriname Multi-Day Tour: 4 Days Arapahu Island

Suriname Multi-Day Tour: 4 Days Arapahu Island



Suriname Multi-Day Tour: 4 Days Blanche Marie Waterfalls and Apoera

Suriname Multi-Day Tour: 4 Days Blanche Marie Waterfalls and Apoera



Suriname Multi-Day Tour: 4 Days Raleigh Waterfalls

Suriname Multi-Day Tour: 4 Days Raleigh Waterfalls



Suriname Multi-Day Tour: 4/5 Days Awarradam

Suriname Multi-Day Tour: 4/5 Days Awarradam



Suriname Multi-Day Tour: 4/5 Days Palumeu

Suriname Multi-Day Tour: 4/5 Days Palumeu



Suriname Multi-Day Tour: 4/5/8 Days Kabalebo

Suriname Multi-Day Tour: 4/5/8 Days Kabalebo



Suriname Multi-Day Tour: 5/8 Days Kasikasima

Suriname Multi-Day Tour: 5/8 Days Kasikasima



Suriname Multi-Day Tour: 6 Days Wonotobo Watervallen

Suriname Multi-Day Tour: 6 Days Wonotobo Watervallen



Suriname Multi-Day Tour: 8 Days Sipaliwini, Kwamalasamutu, Mamia

Suriname Multi-Day Tour: 8 Days Sipaliwini, Kwamalasamutu, Mamia



Suriname Tuk Tuk Tour: Dine Around Experience

Suriname Tuk Tuk Tour: Dine Around Experience



Suriname Tuk Tuk Tour: Nature & Dinner

Suriname Tuk Tuk Tour: Nature & Dinner



Suriname Tuk Tuk Tour: Nieuw Amsterdam

Suriname Tuk Tuk Tour: Nieuw Amsterdam



Suriname Tuk Tuk Tour: Plantation Peperpot

Suriname Tuk Tuk Tour: Plantation Peperpot



Suriname Tuk Tuk Tour: City & Shopping

Suriname Tuk Tuk Tour: City & Shopping



Suriname Tuk Tuk Tour: Beach Tour 'Caribo Beach' (White Beach)

Suriname Tuk Tuk Tour: Beach Tour ‘Caribo Beach’ (White Beach)



Suriname, One Day Tour: Berg en Dal

Suriname, One Day Tour: Berg en Dal



Suriname, One Day Tour: Brokopondo

Suriname, One Day Tour: Brokopondo



Suriname, One Day Tour: Brownsberg

Suriname, One Day Tour: Brownsberg



Suriname, One Day Tour: Cola Creek

Suriname, One Day Tour: Cola Creek



Suriname, One Day Tour: Commewijne Plantation

Suriname, One Day Tour: Commewijne Plantation



Suriname, One Day Tour: Commewijne River Cruise

Suriname, One Day Tour: Commewijne River Cruise



Suriname, One Day Tour: Spotting Dolphins at Sunset

Suriname, One Day Tour: Spotting Dolphins at Sunset



Suriname, One Day Tour: Peperpot Plantation Bicycle Trip

Suriname, One Day Tour: Peperpot Plantation Bicycle Trip



Suriname, One Day Tour: Jodensavanna

Suriname, One Day Tour: Jodensavanna



Suriname, One Day Tour: Caimans and Dolphins Spotting

Suriname, One Day Tour: Caimans and Dolphins Spotting



Suriname, One Day Tour: Children Tour

Suriname, One Day Tour: Children Tour



Suriname, One Day Tour: Overbridge

Suriname, One Day Tour: Overbridge



Suriname, One Day Tour: Paramaribo City Tour

Suriname, One Day Tour: Paramaribo City Tour



Suriname, One Day Tour: Plantation Frederiksdorp

Suriname, One Day Tour: Plantation Frederiksdorp



Suriname, One Day Tour: Santigron

Suriname, One Day Tour: Santigron



Suriname, One Day Tour: Savanne Trail (Busiwagi)

Suriname, One Day Tour: Savanne Trail (Busiwagi)



Suriname, One Day Tour: Traditional Crafts & ‘Caribo Beach’ (White Beach)

Suriname, One Day Tour: Traditional Crafts & ‘Caribo Beach’ (White Beach)



Suriname, One Day Tour: Spotting Birds

Suriname, One Day Tour: Spotting Birds



Suriname, One Day Tour: Warappa Creek

Suriname, One Day Tour: Warappa Creek



Suriname, One Day Tour: ‘Caribo Beach’ (White Beach)

Suriname, One Day Tour: ‘Caribo Beach’ (White Beach)



Suriname, Roundtrip: 15 Days Enjoy Suriname

Suriname, Roundtrip: 15 Days Enjoy Suriname



Suriname, Roundtrip: 15 Days In Touch With Suriname

Suriname, Roundtrip: 15 Days In Touch With Suriname



Suriname, Roundtrip: 20 Days The Best Of Suriname

Suriname, Roundtrip: 20 Days The Best Of Suriname



Suriname, Roundtrip: 25 Days Adventure in the deep interior of Suriname

Suriname, Roundtrip: 25 Days Adventure in the deep interior of Suriname



Suriname, Roundtrip: 29 Days Complete Suriname

Suriname, Roundtrip: 29 Days Complete Suriname



Suriname, Roundtrip: 8 Days Impressions of Suriname

Suriname, Roundtrip: 8 Days Impressions of Suriname



Suriname, Roundtrip: 9 Days Highlights of Suriname – Awarradam

Suriname, Roundtrip: 9 Days Highlights of Suriname – Awarradam



Suriname, Roundtrip: 9 Days Highlights of Suriname – Palumeu

Suriname, Roundtrip: 9 Days Highlights of Suriname – Palumeu



Unfortunately there are no cruise offers at this location at the moment.

Transfers Suriname – Paramaribo

Transfers Suriname – Paramaribo


Select your tour-type below.


Day-Trips

Multi-Day Tours

Round Trips

Tuk Tuk Tours

Popular Surinam tours

Suriname, Roundtrip: 20 Days The Best Of Suriname

Suriname, Roundtrip: 20 Days The Best Of Suriname



Suriname, Roundtrip: 15 Days In Touch With Suriname

Suriname, Roundtrip: 15 Days In Touch With Suriname



Suriname Multi-Day Tour: 2 Days Historical/Cultural Plantation Peperpot & Fort New Amsterdam Tuk Tuk Tour

Suriname Multi-Day Tour: 2 Days Historical/Cultural Plantation Peperpot & Fort New Amsterdam Tuk Tuk Tour



Suriname, Roundtrip: 8 Days Impressions of Suriname

Suriname, Roundtrip: 8 Days Impressions of Suriname



Suriname, Roundtrip: 29 Days Complete Suriname

Suriname, Roundtrip: 29 Days Complete Suriname



Group & Incentive Travel

Does Travel & Cadushi Tours specialises in the organisation of group and incentive travel. Whether it’s an incentive group, organising congresses/conferences in Suriname or you just want to visit the ountry with your family and/or friends, Does Travel & Cadushi Tours will really take care of everything for you when you get there.

For more information, please send your query by email to reservations@doescadushi.com or simply give us a call.
In the Netherlands, we will even come out to visit you without any obligation whatsoever and give a 
personal presentation.

We take care of:

  • plane tickets
  • all accommodations in Suriname
  • transfers
  • meet & greet
  • 24/7 hostess service
  • tour guide
  • site inspection
  • VIP service
  • meals
  • restaurants
  • all transport
  • audio & visual equipment
  • conference registration
  • meeting program design
  • catering
  • entertainment
  • live bands
  • and more…

The following are just a few examples of group tours that Does Travel & Cadushi Tours has organised in the past::

  • numerous Traveldoc-accredited refresher training trips for Dutch GPs,  with the absolute highlight being a group of more than 300 participants
  • course for criminal lawyers organised by the Erasmus University in Rotterdam
  • several trips for Rabobank retirees
  • Rotary Netherlands also opted for Does Travel&Cadushi Tours as a partner for its trip to Suriname
  • group trips for the Suriprofs foundation

 

DOES, DOES IT ALL

TAILOR MADE COMBINATIEREIZEN

You can, of course, also combine your trip to Suriname with another destination. What about Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, St. Maarten? St. Maarten, Trinidad and Tobago, New York, Miami, Guyana or French Guiana? We have put together tailor-made trips for you, which are completely customized to your personal wishes. Would you like a luxury hotel, a mid-range hotel or a low budget hotel or would you rather have an apartment or holiday home? Does Travel & Cadushi Tours can book accommodation for you at any of the above destinations. Does Travel & Cadushi Tours is the right partner for the transfer to and from your accommodation too. We can also organize car rental car or book other tours at the different destinations.

A combination trip involves visiting multiple destinations. How about 1 week Miami and 3 weeks Suriname? Or a combination trip with Curaçao? You first fly to Curaçao and stay there a week, you then fly from Curaçao to Paramaribo and then fly directly from Paramaribo to Amsterdam. Anything is possible, with the very best service and best rates tailored to your personal needs! Our travel consultants will be happy to give you all the information you need.

TAILOR MADE SERVICES

Does Travel & Cadushi Tours was established on July 1st 1960 in Suriname and therefore has extensive experience in the Travel & Tourism industry in the country. We can provide all Destination Management Services for you in Suriname.

Does Travel & Cadushi Tours has taken care of trips to and in Suriname for tens of thousands of guests from the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Curacao, Aruba, St Maarten and the USA. In addition, various group and incentive trips have been organized for Dutch GPs in collaboration with Traveldoc, Rabobank Nederland, Suriprofs and Rotary Nederland, among others. Does Travel & Cadushi Tours offers tailor made services that can be tweaked to suit your personal needs.

  • All airline tickets
  • VIP transfers
  • VIP treatment at the airport
  • Transfers by bus
  • Private transfers
  • All hotels in Suriname
  • All apartments in Suriname
  • All holiday homes in Suriname
  • Meet and greet
  • 24/7 hostess service
  • All day trips
  • All multi-day trips
  • All roundtrips
  • Back to your roots tours
  • Tuk Tuk Tours
  • Dine Around Experience
  • Getting married in Suriname
  • Cooking courses
  • Complete organization of congresses, conferences and training trips
  • Tailor made combinatiereizen
  • Tailor made combination travel
  • Car rental
  • All other services

TRAVEL TIPS

Tips for a good trip

Your flight ticket to Suriname
Does Travel & Cadushi Tours has been IATA (International Air Transport Association) approved since 1961. We can therefore issue flight tickets from all major airlines, which means that we can also take care of your flight ticket to Suriname. This can be done on our website www.doescadushi.sr, at www.vliegklm.com and at www.vliegslm.com.
The flights to Suriname from Amsterdam are operated exclusively by SLM and KLM.

Travel requirements for Suriname
Entry voucher
You can obtain the tourist card at https://suriname.vfsevisa.com/suriname/online/home/index. The voucher must be printed out before your arrival date in Suriname. The cost is approximately $33 per person.
Does Travel & Cadushi Tours can offer this service, provided you have booked the trip with us. Otherwise a service fee will be charged.

Passport
You must hold a passport that is valid for at least 6 months from the return date, as well as a valid return ticket.

Tropical diseases
Several tropical diseases occur in Suriname, including malaria, in certain areas of the interior and dengue (dengue fever). We recommend taking malaria pills as a precaution (depending on which areas you visit inland). In any case, you should be vaccinated for dengue.
For more information, please visit your local vaccination centre.

Travel documents
You will receive your travel documents by e-mail around 14 days before departure.
If you have your flight ticket arranged by Does Travel & Cadushi Tours, you will receive your e-ticket by e-mail immediately after booking. A special Does Travel & Cadushi Tours travel pouch and suitcase labels, which will be sent to you by post, are also part of your travel documents.

Arrival in Suriname
All Does Travel & Cadushi Tours guests will receive a copy of the Surinamewhat2do brochure on arrival in Suriname, in addition to all the necessary information. This brochure is published by Does Travel & Cadushi Tours and provides lots of useful information for your stay in Suriname, including a map of Paramaribo.

Emergencies in Suriname
Should you have to leave Suriname earlier due to an urgent matter, Does Travel & Cadushi Tours can assist with this too. Changing tickets is part of our daily business due to our IATA status.
In Suriname, we also offer a 24/7 service and our office in Suriname provides full support and cooperation.

Travel and cancellation insurance
We advise you to take out travel and cancellation insurance. This can often be done online, or we can assist you with it, if desired.

Heading inland
When heading inland, you can leave your large suitcases at most type of accommodation. We advise you to inquire about this when booking your domestic tour. It is therefore useful to take a small suitcase or travel bag with you
for use during domestic tours.

Meetings

  • Small suitcase/travel bag
  • Poncho(rain mac)
  • Good walking shoes
  • Mosquito net
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Sunglasses
  • Sun hat/cap
  • Paracetamol

Currency
The currency of Suriname is the Surinamese Dollar (SRD). Many services in Suriname are offered in EURO and USD.
Suriname is a cash society, we therefore recommend that you also take cash.

Creditcard
Suriname is a cash society; you can only pay with a credit card in certain places such as hotels.

Card payment
Card payments can only be made in Surinamese dollars.

Money exchange
It is best to exchange your money at one of the many money exchange offices in Suriname, as these office the best rates.

Voltage in Suriname
The voltage in Suriname is 110 volts. We recommend that you bring an adapter, depending on which accommodation you stay in. There are also 220-volt sockets in the larger hotels.

Language
Dutch is the official language in Suriname, and Sranan Tongo is spoken by everyone. Besides this, all population groups speak their own particular language.

DISTRICTS

‘Districts’ refer to areas within the coastal plain of Suriname outside ‘the city’ (Paramaribo). Previously, there were no roads or dirt roads, no electricity and no running water. People travelled across the rivers by pontoons, boats, or corjals, used water from cisterns, and used kokolampu (oil lamps) for lighting. Cooking was done on wood fires.

Exceptions were large modern companies with a workers’ village, like the Mariënburg sugar factory in Commewijne, which had electric lighting before Paramaribo did. And in Moengo, the bauxite town, an American factory village with a swimming pool, cattle farm, hospital, stadium, club for senior executives and model houses for workers was built from the 1930s onwards. Both places have since fallen into disrepair.

District boundaries used to correspond with the river basins. In 1977, school textbooks referenced, from west to east:

  • Nickerie (including the Courantyne River basin up to the southern border)
  • Coronie (plantation area along the coast)
  • Saramacca
  • Paramaribo city district
  • Suriname (lower Suriname River)
  • Para (Para River south of Paramaribo)
  • Brokopondo (and upper Suriname River)
  • Commewijne and
  • Marowijne (up to the southern border)

The district boundaries have changed a number of times. This has to do with population numbers and expected election results. Districts in Suriname are entitled to a number of seats in the National Assembly (parliament) and the number of votes needed to secure a parliamentary seat in a district is much lower than in Paramaribo.

The sparsely populated south of Suriname is now the Sipaliwini district, which is divided into four sections. District commissioners head the districts. District boards have local powers, but often lack financial resources. Suriname is governed from Paramaribo, where all the ministries are located. Discussions about a new international airport and a new capital have so far failed to lead to action.

Nickerie district

The capital city is Nieuw Nickerie on the Nickerie River. The town has been relocated several times due to erosion and flooding. Tourists visit Nickerie primarily en route to Guyana, or on a day trip to Bigi Pan, a shallow lake area with a wealth of fish, birds and caimans. The red ibis is becoming increasingly rare due to uncontrolled hunting. Poachers receive steep fines, but are rarely caught.

In the 1960s, polders were created around the model village of Wageningen for large-scale machine farming. Rice is planted for national consumption and export. There are also banana plantations. Most bananas are exported. There are many different kinds. ‘Bakba’ (bacoven) can be eaten freshly picked, while bananas should be boiled or fried.

Hindustanis are the largest population group in Nickerie, followed by the Javanese. There are still small farms, which are not very profitable. Most families prefer a job with a fixed income. People are therefore moving away to Nieuw Nickerie and Paramaribo. The government is doing its best to maintain basic facilities such as secondary education and a hospital in the district.

Coronie district

The main town is Totness. Coronie lies on a sand ridge (a beach ridge), sandwiched between the ocean and vast swamps. English and Scottish plantation owners established coconut plantations in the 19th century. The work was done by slaves. Javanese also settled in Coronie in the 20th century Before there was a road from Coronie to Paramaribo and Nickerie, people travelled across the rivers and sea by boat. It was difficult to dock in Coronie as the coast is very muddy.

Plantation names along the East-West link include Burnside, Friendship, Mary’s Hope, Totness. The plantations are run down, there are coconut palms but no new trees are planted. Erosion and salinisation are a major problem. A dike has been built to keep the sea water out, but freshwater from the marshes on the south side is also causing problems.

The East-West link is an international main road connecting Suriname to Guyana in the west and French Guiana in the east. In Coronie, colourful wooden houses line the road, which are increasingly falling into disrepair as residents move away. A number of 19th century Roman Catholic and Evangelical Brethren churches are maintained with difficulty. Coronie has traditionally been the area where ‘deep’ Sranantongo is spoken and where Creole (Afro-Surinamese) culture is kept alive. Well-known poets Sombra and Michael Slory are Coronians and many well-known Creole politicians have roots in Coronie.

Saramacca District

The main town is Groningen, south of the bridge over the Saramacca River. Along the waterfront, there is a square with government buildings and monuments commemorating the settlement of different populations.

Farmers immigrated from the Netherlands from 1845 to 1857 to engage in smallholder farming in the Groningen area. The end of slavery was in sight and it was thought there would be too little labour for agriculture. However, the Dutch farmers were opposed by plantation owners; it was unthinkable that whites would do the same work as slaves. Immigration also failed because most ‘boeroes’ died of tropical diseases within a few years. The survivors were eventually given land closer to Paramaribo where they set up successful agricultural and cattle farms. Familiar names include Van Ravenswaay, Van Dijk, Gummels, Tammenga and Loor. Historian André Loor presented TV programmes about the history of Suriname for many years and has written a wonderful book on the history of Suriname. The ‘boeroes’ formed a closed group that married among themselves for generations; the last 30 years have seen more mixed marriages with other ethnic groups.

Another important population group in Saramacca are the indigenous people (Indians), who live scattered along the Saramacca River. Their houses are clustered together, and the meeting hall sometimes still has a roof of palm leaves.

After the abolition of slavery (1863), work on the plantations and small farms was done by Hindustani and Javanese contract workers. The plantation area extended from the mouth of the Saramacca River to beyond Hamburg. Part of the right bank of the Saramacca river is no longer inhabited and is now covered with second-growth forest.

Bombay and Calcutta are well-known Hindustani settlements. Under the name K.R. Singh, politician and former minister Stanley Raghoebarsing published the book ‘From the clay of Saramacca’, in which he gives an evocative description of the daily life of his ancestors and family from the 1920s in Saramacca and later in Paramaribo.

There are no plantations in Saramacca today; Javanese smallholders grow peanuts, vegetables and fruit in the sandy soil. There are tourist resorts and more and more country houses along the Saramacca River.

Staatsolie is the most important company in Saramacca. Oil was drilled by chance in the 1980s and with tremendous perseverance, oil production was started. The driving force was Eddy Jharap, who was a director of the company for many years. There is now an oil refinery in Paramaribo and offshore oil drilling takes place in collaboration with multinationals. Oil production took off earlier in Guyana, giving the country a huge economic boost. Oil has in fact been found in Suriname, but large-scale production has not yet started.

There are two bridges over the Saramacca River: the bridge at Groningen along the East-West link, and the bridge between Uitkijk and Hamburg. Further upstream is the Maroon village of Santigron and even further upstream, behind numerous bends and rapids of the Saramacca river, there are villages founded by runaway slaves (New Jakobskondre, Pusugrunu).

Gold mining has been taking place since the late 19th century and thousands of people with excavators and dredging mills have been searching for gold, both in the jungle and in the river, since the 1980s. From the air, you can see a patchwork of abandoned ‘pools’ where prospectors have been working. Their camps can be recognised by huts made of black and blue agricultural plastic and the roads are passable only by ATVs (quads). The source areas of the Saramacca River are at the foot of Tafelberg in the Central Suriname Nature Reserve.

Wanica district

This is a densely populated area between Saramacca and Paramaribo where agriculture and cattle farming takes place and many businesses are located. It is situated along Kwattaweg and Garnizoenspad, part of the East-West link.

Paramaribo district

The city of Paramaribo has expanded from the historical centre over the past century. The names of several neighbourhoods hark back to the plantations that were once there. A few examples: Leonsberg, Clevia, Blauwgrond, Ma Retraite, Tourtonne, Nieuw Charlesburg, Kwatta, Zorg en Hoop, Dijkveld. Working class houses were built from the 1960s to the 1980s and these can still be seen today in Flora, as well as middle class houses in Ma Retraite.

Bruynzeel’s prefab wooden houses, which were even exported, were well-known There are often Bruynzeel houses for teachers near schools. Most district and inland government buildings were supplied by Bruynzeel in the 1960s and 1970s. The houses stand on wooden stilts (high plinth blocks). There is space for a storage shed, open garage and for drying laundry under the house. Low plinth blocks (stonfutu: stone feet) were used for working class houses.

Today, cement blocks and concrete are used for construction. This is not comfortable in a tropical climate, and residents are more or less forced to acquire air conditioning.
‘Klein Belém’ (Prinsessestraat, Anamoestraat) is in Paramaribo North. This is home to the Brazilians who form the mainstay of the Brazilian gold prospectors in the interior. There are Brazilian supermarkets that sell water pumps, tools and supplies for gold mining. Hotels, restaurants and casinos advertise in Portuguese via neon adverts. Shops and houses are rented from owners living in the Netherlands.

South of the Saramacca Canal (Nieuw Weergevondenweg and Kwarasan), there are cluttered neighbourhoods with middle class houses, working class houses, and houses made of demolition material. Not all places have a water supply or electric lighting and many people live below subsistence level. Still, many are well-dressed and there are sometimes big cars parked in front of the homes. Many men ‘hustle’ in Paramaribo or work in the gold fields for months on end and come home for a week now and then.

Flights to the interior of Suriname depart from Zorg en Hoop airport. There are daily international flights to Guyana. Tickets are expensive because small planes can carry limited passengers and cargo. Inland air traffic is important because the rivers are difficult to navigate due to alternating water levels and rapids, and because there are hardly any roads in the interior.

Near Paramaribo is the bridge over the Suriname River, built in 2000 and part of the East-West link; the road to Guyana and French Guiana.

Para District

Along Indira Gandhiweg (or Pad of Wanica) in Lelydorp, there are popular warungs (Indonesian eateries) that serve tasty baka bana, dawet, saoto soup, nasi, or noodles.

Onverwacht is the main town in Para. District administration, police and schools are located here. There is a rusty locomotive as a memento of the 173 km railway from Paramaribo to the gold fields between the Suriname River and the Marowijne. With the construction of the dam at Afobaka and the creation of the reservoir at Brokopondo, part of the railway line became submerged and no trains ran after 1985.

The SURALCO and Billiton bauxite mines supplied the raw material for aluminium in the Para and Marowijne districts for many years. Craters and ponds, as well as the abandoned aluminium smelter and port at Paranam, are still visible in the landscape. Production ceased when the bauxite was mined out. The bauxite and aluminium industry was Suriname’s main source of foreign exchange (US$) earnings from 1920 to 1990.

Zanderij International Airport (Johan Adolf Pengel International Airport), which was built by Americans in World War II, is about 40 km south of Paramaribo. When the Netherlands was at war from 1940 to 1945, American soldiers came to Suriname to protect the port of Paramaribo and aluminium production.

There are leisure resorts in Republiek and Bersaba, on the Para River, at Colakreek and Carolina Creek in Para. Artificial beaches have been constructed at White Beach and Overbridge on the Suriname River Families from Paramaribo visit the leisure resorts in Para on weekends and holidays. They barbecue, relax in hammocks, and play cards and volleyball. You can relax under centuries-old mahogany trees in Domburg along the Suriname River and enjoy what the market and warungs have to offer.

There are endless mud banks along the coast of Suriname; the sandbanks (Braamspunt and Matapica) at the mouth of the Suriname River are inaccessible by road and are increasingly being eroded and excavated.

Commewijne District

Commewijne is located across from Paramaribo. Since the construction of the bridge over the Suriname River (2000), many houses have been built by commuters from Paramaribo. Commewijne was an important plantation region from the 17th century onwards. Peperpot Plantation and nature reserve give you an impression of a coffee and cocoa plantation. The 19th century wooden director and overseer’s house, drying sheds and kampong can be visited.

Nieuw Amsterdam is located at the confluence of the Suriname River and Commewijne rivers. The district commissariat and a police post are located here. There is also a fishing port. The 18th century Fort Nieuw Amsterdam is an open-air museum and there is a nice walk along the outer dike of the star-shaped fort, which was built to protect the plantations in Commewijne from attacks by pirates and enemies approaching from the sea.

There is a road from New Amsterdam to Mariënburg and Alkmaar. Plantation houses and white wooden churches of the Moravian Congregation can be seen along the way.

Mariënburg was a model company from 1882. Sugar cane from the wider area was brought here by rail and processed into cane sugar and rum in a factory. The famous Marienburg rum and Borgoe now come from Paramaribo. The ruins of the factory and director’s houses can be seen on a square with gigantic trees. There are monuments commemorating Javanese immigration and the victims of a sugar plantation workers’ uprising (1902) during which the plantation director was killed. The company was active until the 1960s and eventually went bankrupt. Wooden workers’ houses and barracks can still be seen along the access roads.

Boats to Frederiksdorp and Johanna Margaretha depart from the jetty on the Commewijne river near Mariënburg. Frederiksdorp was a police post next to a coffee plantation and is now a tourist resort with historic and modern buildings. There are tours to Matapica during the sea turtle laying season. There are also cycle tours along the right bank of the Commewijne river where several plantations are parceled out and fishery and farming take place. Shrimp and fish are salted and dried at Rust en Werk and there is an aquaculture company that supplies shrimp.

The East-West connection to Tamanredjo, a Javanese village where tourists from French Guiana can acquaint themselves with the warungs, runs through Commewijne. The bridge over the Commewijne river is at Stolkertsijver. There was intense fighting along this road during the Internal War (1986 – 1991) and abandoned houses with bullet holes in the walls can still be seen here and there.

Marowijne district

Marowijne district borders Commewijne. The main town is Moengo, on the Cottica River. Bauxite was mined in the area and transported across the river to the smelter in Paranam. An American factory village with a swimming pool, cattle farm, hospital, stadium, a club for senior executives, and model houses for workers was built in the bauxite town from the 1930s. The town has since fallen into disrepair. Internationally renowned Surinamese artist Marcel Pinas regularly brings artists to Moengo to collaborate with locals on modern art.

Off the main road, there is a side road to Langatabiki on the Marowine River and the gold fields near Merian, where multinational Newmont has its operations.

A metal tower along the East-West link commemorates victims of Moiwana Maroon village who were shot dead by the National Army during the internal war for allegedly hiding guerrillas of the Jungle Command. The victims were mostly women and children. They are symbolised in Marcel Pinas’ artwork by metal blocks, which are higher or lower depending on the person’s age. The monument features the Afaka script, a secret writing of the Maroons, which can also be seen in other artworks by Marcel Pinas.

Albina is the departure point for the ferry to French Guiana. Passports are stamped and visas are checked here. Those crossing by corjal do not usually pass through customs and are allowed into French Guiana only for a short visit to Saint Laurent. Those travelling on to Cayenne will be turned back at a police station en route. From Albina, prospectors set off upstream to the gold fields on the Marowijne River with provisions and barrels of fuel.

Piakas (seaworthy boats) also go from Albina to the indigenous village of Galibi (Christiaankondre and Langamankondre). Tour operators transport tourists from Paramaribo to Albina by bus and then to Galibia by piaka, equipped with life jackets. The water can be quite turbulent at high tide. Galibi is a popular destination for sighting sea turtles on the beaches during the laying season (January to July). There is a sandy beach and walks through the native village are organised.

Brokopondo district

The main town is Brownsweg, where the district administration is located. Brownsweg originated in the 1960s when residents of Maroon villages who had to be evacuated for construction of the reservoir moved here. The straight rows of small wooden houses on low plinths and with zinc roofs are still there. The village is not on the river and today most of the men work in the (illegal) gold mines. As it happens, Brownsweg borders both the Brownsberg Nature Reserve and multinational IAMGOLD’s concession. Illegal gold miners operate in the wider area, both with metal detectors (pio-pio) and excavators and huge tractors.

Brownsberg is a well-known tourist destination. It is cool and humid on the mountain plateau, and the rainforest is home to many birds, monkeys and other animal species. The huge jungle giants and dense vegetation of lianas, bromeliads and orchids are spectacular. Unfortunately, gold prospectors have felled parts of the jungle, increasing erosion, making creek water turbid, and driving wildlife away with electric lighting and noise from generators and water pumps. Tour operators organise day trips and multi-day trips to Brownsberg, sometimes combined with stays on Overbridge or Ston Island.

A road goes from Brownsweg to Afobaka along the foot of the dam. Water from the Suriname River and Sarakreek basin could no longer flow to the sea following construction of this 40-metre high dam to generate hydropower. The water level behind the dam rose gradually and the reservoir grew bigger and bigger. Villages were evacuated and there are still logs and pointy stumps in the lake. From Afobaka, next to the dam, pontoons and corjals with cargo and prospectors leave for the gold fields around the reservoir, which is as big as the entire province of Utrecht in the Netherlands. The reservoir is widely fished by anglers on weekends.

The dam was transferred to the state of Suriname after the departure of ALCOA, SURALCO’s parent company. The dam was built in the early 1960s to generate electricity using hydropower for SURALCO and later for Paramaribo too. Much of the electricity for the urban area is still produced with hydropower from the dam. Part goes to IAMGOLD, a multinational that mines gold southwest of the dam and in Saramacca. They are open mines where huge tractors and excavators are used.

From Brownsweg, a road leads southeast to Atjoni, on the Suriname River. There, corjals depart upstream to the inland villages and resorts. There is no public transport, the tourist resort you are visiting provides transport from Paramaribo, and all meals are provided on site. There are few shops in the inland villages, so everything needed is brought in from Paramaribo. Some resorts can be reached by light aircraft and then by corjal.

Well-known tourist resorts along the Suriname River include Isadou, Gunsi, Anaula, Danpaati and Kumalu. Awarradam lies on the Gran Rio. The resorts are situated in the vicinity of Maroon villages founded by ‘runaways’ (slaves who had fled the plantations during the period of slavery) in the 17th and 18th centuries. You can learn about their way of life, music and dance on the tours There is hiking in the surrounding jungle.

Sipaliwini district

The laterite road to Apoera on the Courantyne River starts behind Zanderij. Forest access roads were built in the 1960s. They are important for transporting wooden blocks (logs). Side roads southwards lead to timber concessions and gold fields. The laterite roads are often impassable because they are damaged during the rainy season and by heavy transport.

At the bridge over the Coppename River, you often have to pay villagers from Witagron to put planks on the bridge before your vehicle can cross it. The Raleighvallen resort in the Central Suriname Nature Reserve is a few hours’ boat ride upstream from Witagron. Tourists usually fly there from Paramaribo. The combined bus and boat trip takes a full day.

Sipaliwini is Suriname’s largest and most sparsely inhabited district, accessible almost exclusively by river and plane. There are no roads from the coastal plain to southern Suriname. The Courantyne river forms the border with Guyana. The territory on the southern border between the headwaters of two rivers is disputed. There is also disputed territory on the eastern border with French Guiana. There are only border crossings with customs at Southdrain, south of Nickerie, and at Albina.

Maroons and natives regard the river as a road, where they have family on both banks. They are not concerned with national borders. The Surinamese government tries to provide as many people as possible with proof of identity during election time so that they can exercise their right to vote as citizens.

The presence of the army, police, education and healthcare is limited to strategic locations. Nieuw Nickerie, Apoera and Kwamalasamoetoe in the west, and Albina, Langatabiki, Stoelman Island and Dritabiki in the east. Witagron on the Coppename River, Nieuw Jakobkondre on the Saramacca river.

The southern border is a winding line across the watershed between Brazil and Suriname. Brazil’s rivers flow south to the Amazon. Suriname’s rivers flow in a northerly direction to the Atlantic Ocean.

The contrast between the Surinamese and French banks of the Marowijne River is enormous. There are roads from north to south, and government agencies are clearly visible on the French side Yet the French are also plagued by illegal prospectors. The interior of French Guiana is a nature reserve where logging is only allowed under strict conditions. Gold mining is subject to strict regulations.

Suriname’s interior has had a network of telecomms transmission masts in recent years, so mobile phones have largely taken over the role of radio communication. There is no coverage in sparsely populated areas.

Multi-day trips are offered to Sipaliwini from Paramaribo. There are resorts in Kabalebo, Arapahu (Courantayne river), Raleighvallen (Central Suriname Nature Reserve), Awarradam (Gran Rio) and Palumeu. There is no mass tourism as the transport of passengers and all supplies is carried out by light aircraft from Zorg en Hoop airport in Paramaribo.

THE PEOPLE OF SURINAME

Surinamese people come from different parts of the world. Native Americans (Indians) were the first inhabitants of the Americas. In the 17th century, European settlers bought timber and forest products from the natives. Later, they wanted to establish sugar plantations to export sugar to Europe. This required many workers, who were brought in from Africa. These were people who had been enslaved; the slaves were sold as commodities. In Suriname, they worked on plantations along rivers surrounded by swamps and jungle. It was not difficult for slaves to run away, but it was very hard for them to survive in the jungle. Gradually, the runaways formed larger groups, establishing villages, hunting and farming. Occasionally, they returned to the plantations to loot women, tools and weapons. Sometimes they also committed murders.

Plantation owners and the colonial administration then waged war on the runaways. All plantations had to pay taxes and provide men, who combed the forests, burned down villages and destroyed the land of the runaways. The descendants of runaway slaves used to be called ‘bosnegers’ but today they are referred to as maroons.

After the abolition of slavery in 1863, other workers were needed for the sugar and coffee plantations. Suriname was a Dutch colony, bordering Berbice (Guyana), which was in British hands. There, they recruited contract workers from densely populated India, an English colony. With England’s permission, contract workers came to Suriname from India from 1873 onwards; there, they are called Hindustanis. After a conflict between Britain and the Netherlands, contract labour from India was stopped. Contract workers were then sourced from the island of Java in the Dutch East Indies, which was a colony of the Netherlands until 1948. This is how the Javanese came to Suriname.

All these ethnic groups live together peacefully in Suriname and have preserved their own culture (language, religion, music, traditional dress and cuisine). In daily life, at school and at work, there is contact between different ethnic groups and everyone wears western clothes. At home, they speak their own language and live according to their traditions. Of course, there are also many people with ancestors from two or more ethnic groups and they decide which one they identify with, or consider themselves global citizens.

Indigenous

Stone axes and arrowheads have been found in the far south of Suriname from hunters and gatherers who inhabited that area thousands of years before our era. From 3000 BC, indigenous people living along the Corantine and Marataka rivers practised agriculture and made pottery. Today, there are several Caribbean and Arowak peoples in Suriname, both in the densely populated coastal plain and in the hard-to-reach interior. In the 17th century, natives died en masse from diseases brought by Europeans to which they had no resistance (flu and tuberculosis, among others). The natives did not want to be forced into slave labour and moved further inland.

In indigenous villages, there is a system of traditional authority. The village chief (the captain) distributes work and land. The Surinamese government rarely considers this way of life and the rights of indigenous peoples, which are enshrined in international treaties. Surinamese and foreign companies are thus granted concessions for logging, sand excavation and gold mining near indigenous villages and hunting grounds. Environmental pollution and water contamination are the result. Government services such as the civil affairs bureau, police, hospitals and schools are absent in many indigenous villages. The Roman Catholic and Pentecostal churches have taken over some government functions.

The Jewish community was important in the 17th and 18th centuries. They had expertise and invested in sugar plantations. They were Sephardic Jews from Spain and Portugal. In the 19th century, Ashkenazi Jews from Eastern Europe also came to Suriname. The Jewish community is now so small that services in a synagogue are rarely feasible. Many Surinamese Jews converted to Christianity, emigrated, or became victims of the persecution of Jews in Europe during World War II.
Afro-surinamese in Paramaribo and the coastal plain were baptised en masse after the abolition of slavery and were able to receive education and learn a profession. Men went to work inland as balata bleeders (rubber tappers) or in gold mining.

Little changed for the Maroons, however. They had freed themselves from slavery earlier and continued to live far from the coastal plain. A system of traditional authority, consisting of granmans, captains and basjas, governs the villages. Denominations sent missionaries and missionaries then built churches, schools and hospitals. During the internal war (1986 – 1991), many Maroons moved to French Guiana and Paramaribo.

Hindustanis, as contract workers, had the right to return to India after the end of their contract, or stay in Suriname, where they were given land by the government to settle as small farmers. Abandoned plantations were parcelled out in Saramacca and Commewijne. Hindus thus had the opportunity to make a living and send their children to school and later choose a different profession.

Javanese could also obtain land and settle in Suriname after their contract expired. Domburg, Lelydorp and Tamanredjo are home to many Javanese. The Javanese language is spoken less and less, but Javanese cuisine and culture remain popular.

Europeans are either recent immigrants, often pensioners, or descendants of a group of Dutch farmers who came to Suriname around 1850. These ‘boeroes’ now often own companies that provide services to multinationals.

There are two Chinese communities in Suriname; the first group arrived around 1850 and traditionally they have small shops on street corners. They are integrated into the Surinamese population and are now active in all kinds of professions.

Since the People’s Republic of China allowed emigration, a new group of Chinese have been coming to Suriname as employees of Chinese companies, or at the invitation of a family member. They then owe a debt to the person who brought them to Suriname and must repay it through years of labour. These new Chinese work in supermarkets, or in logging and gold mining in the interior.

Brazilians are active in Paramaribo in commerce, hotels and restaurants and inland in gold mining. They work on concessions which they rent from Surinamese, to whom a percentage of the revenue is paid. Brazilians invest in machinery, and bear the cost of staff, transport, infrastructure and food.

Haitians mostly work in agriculture and sell vegetables. Haitian women walk the streets of Paramaribo with baskets on their heads and a shopping bag with wheels, selling vegetables door-to-door.

The Lebanese have been in the international textile trade since the 19th century. There is also a small Lebanese community in Suriname, which owns a number of clothing shops in downtown Paramaribo. One of the well-known businesses is Readytex, a clothing and fabric shop that also sells souvenirs. Today, they also have an art gallery in a historic building on Steenbakkerijstraat.

Colombians and Cubans are employed in Paramaribo as well as in the gold fields. The petroleum industry is increasingly attracting engineers from Peru and Ecuador, these are mostly expatriates with short contracts.

Large communities with Surinamese roots are found in the Netherlands, the Antilles, Miami and New York. Surinamese can be encountered anywhere in the world, they are used to dealing with different cultures and learn foreign languages quickly. That makes sense too, because Suriname is essentially the world in miniature!

RELIGIONS IN SURINAME

In a country with many ethnic groups, there are also many religions. Hindu temples, mosques and churches are everywhere, from very large establishments to shrines in the corner of a yard.

The first owners of sugar plantations in Suriname were Jews. They built a synagogue on Jewish Savannah in the 17th century, the remains of which can still be seen. There are 2 synagogues in Paramaribo, one leased to a computer shop and the other in use as a synagogue. The picture of the Neve Shalom synagogue next to the mosque of the Ahmadiya movement on Keizerstraat is very well-known. The synagogue has a small museum and bathhouse and can be visited by appointment.

European settlers brought the Protestant religion to the country. The oldest churches, however, were lost during city fires. The Centrumkerk on Kerkplein is Dutch Reformed and the Maarten Lutherkerk on Waterkant is Lutheran. In colonial times, they were visited exclusively by Europeans. Both churches have beautiful church organs.

The Evangelical Brethren Church (EBG), also known as Herrnhutters, or Moravian Brethren, originated in Germany in the 18th century and has been active in Suriname since 1735. They wanted to preach the Christian faith to enslaved people, and were opposed by plantation owners. According to the Bible, God considers all people to be equal but in Suriname this was not the case.

The Grote Stadskerk on Steenbakkerijstraat is the main church of the EBG. German missionaries learnt ‘black English’ (sranantongo) and this vernacular was soon used for preaching and singing. The EBG still has many Afro-surinamese believers. The Rust en Vredekerk and the Noorder Stadskerk are also EBG churches. As soon as it was possible, churches were established in the plantation area in Commewijne and Coronie. These wooden churches are usually painted white and have small steeples.

On the basis of the EBG, the Kersten company was founded in 1768; it was a leading department store for centuries. The Kersten Holding includes 21 Surinamese companies with activities such as car and machinery trading, cement and concrete production, hotel operation and the Berg en Dal resort.

Along the upper reaches of the Suriname River and Saramacca River, Evangelical Brother congregations were founded in maroon villages. The situation was difficult, as not all villages granted permission. Where there was a church, however, there was also a school and, in strategic places, a hospital. Missionaries carried out the work and the costs were borne by the churches and by the Missionary Society in Zeist, Netherlands. Today, the Surinamese government subsidises special schools and there are also public schools. The churches and the government do not have enough money to keep everything running, which can be seen in the school buildings and teachers’ houses.

The Roman Catholic Church could only start its activities in Suriname in the 19th century, focusing on the coastal plain and indigenous people (Indians). The Paramaribo diocese falls under the archdiocese in Trinidad and the Surinamese bishop participates in the Caribbean Bishops’ Conference, which in turn answers to the Pope in Rome. The Congregation of the Redemptorists is active in Suriname.

The yellow and grey-painted Saint Peter and Paul Cathedral, with its two towers on Henck Arronstraat, is the largest wooden church in Suriname. The interior is unpainted cedar. The church is leaning and has been painstakingly restored. It has had basilica status since 2014. Concerts are occasionally held there and Peerke Donders is buried at this location.

The RC diocese owns buildings housing the Music School, an office unit, and the Bishop’s House. The area behind the cathedral up to Mahonylaan is also Catholic territory. It houses a stadium, Sint Vincentius Hospital, activity centre Ons Erf, Holy Epiphany Church and other church buildings. Next to ‘s Lands Hospitaal, there are another convent and the Fatima Oord nursing home. In short, a large number of monuments maintained to the best of their ability.

Peerke Donders was a missionary from Tilburg. From 1842 to 1856, he was chaplain in Paramaribo. He was critical of slavery and harsh corporal punishment and distributed food and clothing to the poor. From 1856-1882 and 1885-1887, he worked at the Batavia leper colony on the Coppename River. At that time, there was no cure for leprosy, and lepers were excluded from society. Peerke Donders comforted and cared for the sick and cleaned their huts. He was beatified by the Pope in Rome in 1982 and regular pilgrimages are organised to Batavia.

Pentecostals and Jehovah’s Witnesses have adherents from different population groups. These churches attract believers from other Christian congregations. Brazilian Pentecostal churches are also active among gold seekers and their families in Suriname.

Hindu contract workers from India brought their religion to Suriname, namely the traditional Sanathan Dharm and later Arya Dewaker emerged. In traditional temples and shrines, you will see statues of many colourful gods. In Paramaribo, there is a well-known temple on Koningstraat, and there are pilgrimage sites of the Sanathan Dharm under the Wijdenboschbrug in Commewijne and at Weg naar Zee, where large statues stand in the open air. There are smaller Hindu temples all over the coastal plain, in Nickerie on the Zeedijk. At the moorings of fishing boats, offerings are made and flags are hung. You can also see small shrines in the corners of gardens.

Followers of Arya Dewaker emphasise following the Vedas, the holy scriptures. They regard the gods of the Sanathan Dharm as mythological figures, or heroes of the past and do not worship them. The main temple of the Arya Dewaker is on Wanicastraat (Johan Adolf Pengelstraat). Murals show sacred writings and the founder of the movement. A school and an orphanage are located next to the temple. About 80% of Surinamese Hindus are followers of Sanathan Dharm and 20% of Arya Dewaker.

In Suriname, there are Muslims from India and from Indonesia. Indian Muslims are a small group among the descendants of contract workers from India.

The first Javanese contract workers were western worshippers, they directed their prayers towards the west because they were used to doing so in Indonesia. Later, it was discovered that Mecca is east of Suriname, and the group of east worshippers was formed. The main mosque of the Amadiya Muslims is on Keizerstraat, next to the synagogue. A well-known mosque of the Suriname Muslim Association is located on Kankantriestraat. In the coastal plain and in Moengo, there are mosques of various sizes, for different groups.

Muslims in Indonesia are much stricter than in Suriname, where Muslims are freer and more liberal. This is reflected in the western dress of most Javanese women, who dress traditionally only during Ramadan and at the mosque. Many Surinamese Javanese attend Christian education and are practising Muslims at home. There are also adherents of Javanism, which is older than the Islamic tradition.

The indigenous people of Suriname have a nature-based religion. All animals, the jungle, mountains, rivers and waterfalls are holy. The piyaiman is a medicine man and a counsellor and also makes contact with the ancestors. Even in Christian villages, the piyaimans are still active. Indigenous stories and myths were collected by missionaries in the past, and may be difficult for Westerners to understand. Christian missionaries encouraged indigenous people in South Suriname to stop travelling around vast areas and settle in villages, which made it easier to build churches and schools.

The Afro-surinamese brought cultural practices from Africa, which were then mixed with Jewish and Christian elements in Suriname. In the coastal plain, there is the winti tradition, in which spirits of ancestors and nature are important. When descendants of Afro-surinamese people in the Netherlands have psychological problems, they often seek help in Suriname. This may consist of several days of isolation with a bonuman and a course of herbal baths. Ingredients are for sale at the Vreedzaam market and at Kulturu Winkri in Paramaribo, and a bonuman searches for herbs and supplies in the forest himself. Oso-dresi are also made to improve mental and physical fitness. These were widely used by all populations, especially during the corona pandemic.

Inland, there are ‘pagan’ and ‘Christian’ maroon villages. In the ‘pagan’ villages, there are several places where contact is made with the ancestors. These are small enclosed areas that usually feature a wooden cross encased in checked cloth (panyi). At its base are antique jugs and bottles, brought from the plantations by ‘runaways’. Offerings are usually alhohol, sweet drinks and food.

After a villager dies, elaborate ceremonies take place and when a granman (chief) dies, these rituals can last for months.

The Chinese in Suriname are often Christians. There are also Confucianists and Buddhists. Traditions such as Feng Shui, massage and acupuncture have a spiritual background. The Chinese go to the Chinese cemetery once a year to clean the graves of ancestors and offer food. Little is known about their folk religion.

The Surinamese always say: ala kerki bun: all churches are good!

NATIONAL HOLIDAYS IN SURINAME

In Suriname, holidays are celebrated at home, in churches, mosques, temples and in public. In Paramaribo, this is usually on the Waterkant, on Independence Square (Onafhankelijkheidsplein) and in the Palm Gardens (Palmentuin). Some public holidays have no fixed date as they are set with the lunar calendar.

1 January: New Year’s Day
A free day to enjoy a lie-in.

January: Chinese New Year
Activities and receptions at Chinese associations. The Lion Dance is performed on the street or at an event.

26 January: Commemoration Kodjo, Mentor and Present
Kodjo, Mentor and Present set fire to the wooden city of Paramaribo in 1832. They were burnt alive as a result and are now seen as resistance fighters against colonial rule. At the bus square on Heiligenweg, there is a monument where wreaths are laid, followed by a prodowaka (parade in party attire) to the Kwakoe statue, which symbolises the abolition of slavery with broken chains.

25 February: Commemoration of the coup in Suriname on 25 February 1980
The police station on Waterkant, corner of Watermolenstraat, was set on fire. A rally will be held late at night on 24 February at the revolution monument now standing there.

February or March: Holi-Phagwa
A bank holiday. On the evening of the full moon, holika burning takes place at a number of Hindu temples. According to tradition, a pyre is lit by the pandit as a symbol of clearing away the bad and the victory of the good. It is also the end of the year and of winter. After the holika burning, there will be performances by chautal music groups, recitation and dance, both classical Indian and Bollywood style. Indian clothing is shown off. Vegetarian snacks, non-alcoholic drinks and vegetarian meals are offered to attendees.
Phagwa: the next morning phagwa is celebrated at home. Playing with coloured powder and perfume eradicates the differences between young and old, rich and poor; everyone is equal with phagwa. Later in the day, you visit family or celebrate phagwa at the Palm Garden, where all ethnic groups and tourists join in and sprinkle each other with colouring. Acquaintances congratulate each other on the new year. A special attraction is the Makhan Chor battle between groups of men who build a human tower to empty a pot of colouring as quickly as possible, hanging at a height of 5 to 7 metres. This symbolises the pot of butter, which was hung very high because young Krishna used to snack from it all the time.

Good Friday and Easter
Christian holidays when church services commemorate the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Walking march
the week after Easter, the four-day evening walk, known as the walking march, is held in Paramaribo. Participants include individual runners, cultural associations, political parties, companies, hospitals and government agencies. The walking groups’ clothes are sponsored and they study dance steps. Brass bands, indigenous and Afrosuriname musical groups provide music and rhythm. The walking march resembles a carnival and a different route is walked every day.

1 May: Labour Day
A day off in Suriname. Political parties organise rallies and parties.

Bodo(Id-Ul-Fitre or Sugar Festival)
This is the conclusion of the Islamic month of fasting, Ramadan. At Independence Square in Paramaribo and in mosques across the country, Muslims gather after dawn for a thanksgiving service. Everyone wears traditional clothing, the women wearing white veils that are removed during prayers. It is a beautiful spectacle. Sermons and speeches are in Javanese, Arabic and Dutch. Afterwards, sweet snacks and ice lollies will be offered to attendees. Muslims who have fasted congratulate each other and quarrels are settled.

Id-Ul-Adha (the Islamic Feast of Slaughter)
The commemoration of Ibrahim (Abraham) wanting to sacrifice his son to God, but the sacrifice was refused and a sheep was offered instead. On this day, sheep, goats, or cows are slaughtered, and the meat is distributed to the person sacrificing the animal, friends, relatives and neighbours. The poor line up at mosques and get a share too.

5 June: Commemoration of Hindu Immigration (1873 : 1916)
At the statue of Baba and Mai next to the President’s office, speeches are held and the statues are decorated with mala (garlands of flowers).

1 July: Keti Koti (Freedom Day)
On 1 July 1863, slavery was abolished in Suriname. Freed slaves had to continue working on the plantations for another 10 years, however, and were not free to do as they chose until 1873. Special church services in Christian churches are sometimes followed by prodo waka (parade in party attire). The statue of Kwakoe at the intersection Dr. Sophie Redmondstraat and Zwartenhovenbrugstraat is decorated with panyi (hip and shoulder cloths) and politicians make speeches and lay wreaths. Along the Waterkant and in the Palm Garden, people will walk in African and maroon attire. Performances by cultural music and dance groups.

9 August: Indigenous Peoples Day
This day was established by the United Nations and has been a public bank holiday in Suriname since 2007. Indigenous people come to the Palm Garden in Paramaribo to present their traditional song and dance in party attire and with sambura drums. Jewellery made from beads and seeds, native shoulder cloths and pepre watra, soup made from cassava water with fish or bus’meti (game meat), served with cassava bread, is offered for sale. This is a unique opportunity to taste peprewatra; as it is not on restaurant menus. And if you can tolerate the ant test without complaining, you are showing that you are not afraid of pain.

9 August: Day of Javanese Immigration (1890 : 1939)
The day is celebrated at cultural centre Sana Budaya in Paramaribo and at Javanese monuments in other places. There are football matches, performances by dance groups, djaran kepang (dancers who act like horses, monkeys, snakes or tigers in a trance), and sales of Javanese food and clothes.

10 October: Day of the Maroons
Commemoration of the peace made in 1760 between runaway slaves who had founded a free state in the interior of Suriname and colonial authorities. Wreaths are laid at the monument made by artist Marcel Pinas, on the corner of Wanicastraat (Johan Adolf Pengelstraat) and Gravenstraat (Henck Arronstraat), and a prodo waka (parade in party attire) of maroons and musical groups will march to Independence Square. There will be celebrations all day.

20 October: Day of Chinese Immigration (since 1853)
In 2008, a monument by artist Paul Woei was unveiled in New Amsterdam by President Venetiaan. Wreaths are laid there and Chinese associations organise activities.

Divali (the Hindu festival of lights)
A celebration over five days around the darkest night of the year (new moon in October or November). Houses are deep-cleaned and fasting takes place. Small earthenware oil lamps(slides) are placed in each room and corners of the yard and a vegetarian meal is prepared. On Independence Square in Paramaribo, a giant dia, a huge oil lamp, burns for five days. After the authorities, anyone may offer oil. Hanoeman, with his golden mace and a swan, along with Sri Rama and Sita arrive through the air. There are musical groups, recitals and plays depicting the victory of good over evil

November 25 (Srefidensi)
The date Suriname gained independence from the Netherlands in 1975. It is celebrated with a military parade, the president gives a reception at the palace and the rest of the day is party time.

December 25 and 26: Christmas
In the week before Christmas, concerts will be organised on Independence Square and on the pavement of the Suriname Bank and TELESUR. A large Christmas tree stands in Independence Square and businesses clean facades and hang festive lights.

December 31, New Year’s Eve
At noon, the shops in the centre of Paramaribo close the year with pagaras (firework displays with a loud bang at the end). Previously they were hung from a flagpole or lampposts, but in recent years they have been laid on the asphalt of Domineestraat, Kerkplein and Keizerstraat. Sound-trucks with popular Surinamese music groups, often also from the Netherlands, drive around. From mid-December onwards, countless private parties are organised and nobody thinks about working. Mofo-yari (end of the year) is considered a dangerous period when you need to be extra careful as evil spirits roam around. At Independence Square, you can take a wasi with switi watra on New Year’s Eve to start the new year off right. Others do this at home with their families, just before midnight.

When in Suriname, you can take part in events and national holidays. Surinamese will invite you to join them!

SURINAMESE CUISINE

Surinamese cuisine features dishes from different parts of the world, adapted to the Surinamese environment and products. In Suriname, there is a wide variety of fruit and vegetables that cannot be found in the Netherlands because they cannot be kept for long, or are sometimes available at high prices in tokos (Indonesian shops).

Special dishes, which are not found on restaurant menus, are prepared at home for religious or family celebrations. Peprewatra, a soup of the Surinamese natives, is prepared with the squeezed and boiled juice of bitter cassava and can be filled with pepper, fish or bus’meti (bushmeat), meat from game sourced in the jungle. The soup is eaten from a gourd or bowl with cassava bread, using your fingers. On Indigenous Peoples Day, celebrated on 9 August, you can find peprewatra at the stalls in the Palm Garden. It’s a unique opportunity! Kasiri is cassava beer which is prepared in discarded corials (dug-out canoes) at indigenous festivals in the villages and drunk in huge quantities!

In colonial times and until 1950, there were no refrigerators and freezers. Fish and meat were salted and dried, vegetables were pickled in salt or fermented, and when there was an abundance of fruit in season, it was made into syrup, chutney or pickles. Salt meat, sauerkraut, brown beans and bakkeljauw (salt fish) are still widely eaten in Suriname. These dishes are popular on the bank holiday Keti Koti (1 July), which commemorates the abolition of slavery in 1863. Gron-nyan (earth fruits) such as cassava, sweet potato and napi and boiled or fried banana are also popular.

Eating dishes from colonial times commemorates the ancestors who worked on the plantations during the slave era. They were given a ration of salt fish, salt meat and dry beans; they also planted their own bananas and groundnuts, hunted and fished. Well-known dishes include her’ heri, gron nyan with salt fish and a boiled egg, and BB with R (brown beans with rice). The brown beans are prepared with salt meat, chicken and adyuma pepper. Peanut soup is also a traditional creole dish. Ginger beer is made for family celebrations. These specialities do appear on the menu at Surinamese restaurants. Other creole dishes include pea soup with lots of chicken, salt pork, pork feet, pepper, and sauerkraut. Moksi alesi is rice with different kinds of pesi (dried beans), salt meat and chicken. In Suriname, the bones are not removed from meat and fish, so be careful when eating! Children used to be brought up with porridge made of banana flour or corn flour (maize flour) and fresh milk.

Simple javanese restaurants are called warungs. In Paramaribo, you will find them in Blauwgrond and also along Indira Gandhiweg near Lelydorp. Javanese dishes used to be served on paloeloe and banana leaves. Popular treats include Javanese fried rice and noodles, telo with trie (fried cassava with small peppered salty fish), and petjil (various blanched vegetables, such as dagu leaf, cabbage and bean sprouts) with peanut sauce. Saoto soup is chicken broth with lemongrass, Javanese spices, pieces of chicken, vegetables, bean sprouts and a boiled egg. Saoto is served with white rice, pepper and soy sauce; these are added to the soup to taste.
Satay with soy sauce or peanut sambal is sold in all warungs.
The Javanese Sunday market in Paramaribo North sells these dishes and small snacks, which are prepared with maize flour, cassava flour and sticky rice. Important ingredients in Javanese cuisine include trassie (shrimp paste), different kinds of freshly made sambal, soy sauce, fresh pepper and spice mixtures that are created, mashed and fried by the cook. Indonesian restaurants serve ‘rijsttafel’ (rice table), which is not on the menu at warungs.
Cassava chips, banana chips and coated peanuts are made by small companies and can be bought in supermarkets.
A well-known Javanese drink is dawet, a sweet pink-coloured drink made of lemongrass, coconut milk, syrup and corn starch balls.
In Javanese cuisine, food is spicy and sweet and salty.

Roti shops sell roti, a flat pancake with potato (roti alubharie) or ground chickpeas (roti dalbharie). The standard roti is stuffed with chopped chicken in massala, long beans and boiled potato. At weekends, duck or mutton may be used. Massala is an Indian curry mix that can be bought in different varieties on the upper floor of the Central Market.
Hindu stalls in the market also sell supplies for Hindu festivals, incense, dyas (pottery oil lamps) and statues of gods. Vegetarian food is eaten on Hindu holidays. At the Holi festival, Holika (a witch) is symbolically burnt on a pyre on the temple grounds, and after a cultural show with dance, poetry and music, a vegetarian meal is ready for all attendees. This consists of roti, dal (a dish made of yellow split peas), rice, long beans, pumpkin, potato, and chutney. Nowadays, it is no longer served on lotus leaves, but is still eaten with the hands. The next day is the Phagwa festival, families visit each other and shower each other with perfume and colouring. This festival is also celebrated in the Palm Garden by all Surinamese together.
Samosas (triangular deep-fried vegetarian patties) are Hindu snacks often sold in schools. Bara looks like a doughnut, but is not sweet. The deep-fried dough is mixed with tiny pieces of vegetables. Spicy chutney, made of potato, manja long birambi, pomme citere, etc., is sandwiched between 2 baras. Home-made chutneys are available in supermarkets.

Dishes believed to have been brought to Suriname by Portuguese Jews are pom and pasty. Pom is an oven dish prepared with grated pomtayer, a huge moist and fibrous tuber, sold ready-to-use in the freezer in the Netherlands. The filling consists of chicken, salt meat or, for vegetarians, tofu, and a sour element. The flavour is sweet and sour and the quality of pomtayer is very important. Pasty is an oven dish made of puff pastry filled with peas, carrots, pieces of chicken and hard-boiled egg. They are time-consuming dishes that cannot be prepared quickly in a restaurant. They are available on holidays and to order.

Chicken and fish are widely eaten in Suriname. For religious reasons, Hindus do not eat beef and Muslims do not eat pork. At parties, therefore, chicken is usually prepared. In Javanese and Chinese cuisine, all types of meat are used, usually marinated (pickled) with soy sauce, garlic, pepper and spices.

There are also various types of Chinese restaurants. Simple restaurants offer Chinese nasi, noodles or chow mein with chicken or moksi meti (different kinds of meat, such as chicken and pork) or rice chicken with stewed vegetables and a few more dishes. These are takeaways, serving food on Formica tables under the light from fluorescent tubes. Big Chinese restaurants have dozens of dishes on the menu and you eat at tables with tablecloths and often a rotating tray on which the different dishes are displayed.

Brazilian restaurants can be found in Paramaribo North, known as little Belém, where Brazilians live and where gold prospectors occasionally holiday for a week. Brazilian supermarkets sell everything you need for searching for gold in the forest, from machinery and tools to hammocks and Brazilian foodstuffs.

SPECIAL COOKING COURSES

During your stay in Suriname, Does Travel & Cadushi Tours offer various cooking courses:

  • All dishes from the creole kitchen
  • All dishes from the hindu cuisine
  • Aall dishes from Javanese cuisine
  • All dishes from the Chinese cuisine

All information on the cooking courses can be provided on request.

Drankjes

You can also learn to prepare various drinks such as ginger bee, tamarind syrup and
dawet.

FRUITS AND VEGETABLES IN SURINAME

Various fruits such as manja (mango), pineapple, watermelon, awarra, zuurzak, sapotille, star apple, markoesa (passion fruit), citrus and fransman birambi (carambola or star fruit) are only available in season and are hard to get hold of for the rest of the year. Buy fresh fruit at the market or at roadside stalls. Supermarkets sell imported fruit such as grapes and ‘ice apples’, as well as products from the Surinamese cottage industry, such as juices, pickles, chutney, peanut butter, banana and cassava chips.

From the 19th century onwards, in Coronie, there were extensive coconut plantations producing coconut oil. The coconut palms, however, are now old and production is minimal. Surinamese coconut oil is fragrant, unlike coconut oil sold elsewhere. Water nuts are unripe coconuts, their juice can be drunk and the soft flesh eaten. The pulp of dry nuts is grated and used to prepare bojo (cassava and coconut cake), among other things.

Palm oil is made from the fruit of the obé palm and is orange in colour. Palm oil plantations around Moengo have been out of production since the interior war. Along the waterfront in Paramaribo, an obé palm stands by the stone steps; these are not native to Suriname.

Manja (mango) comes in varieties, such as golek, cayenne, aromanis, robin, titei. Manjas are sold green or tree-ripe. Green manja is made into chutney and tree-ripe fruits need to be further ripened. Mana trees grow tall and bear a lot of fruit.

Pineapple is originally a South American fruit. There are two types for sale in Suriname, long and round. A wild pineapple with small inedible fruits grows on rocky islets in rapids. There are pineapple fields near the indigenous villages of Powakka and Redi Doti. Edible pineapples grow on the rocky plateau of Ananasberg (Pineapple Mountain) near Dyumu. Rope can be made from the leaves of pineapple, agave and various species of bromeliads.

Cashew fruits (juicy red or yellow pears with the cashew nut hanging underneath) are occasionally on sale at the market. Cashew trees grow on sandy soil, and are planted near indigenous villages; the nuts are not harvested in Suriname.

Watermelon is native to Africa and grows well on sandy soil. A slice of cold watermelon is a welcome refreshment in the dry season.

Sapotille and star apple are fruits from Central America that are not widely planted. The white sticky sap of the sapotille tree (chicle) was chewed by the Mayans in Mexico and was brought from Mexico to the Americas. That’s where the chewing gum industry came from.

Papaya is found throughout South America. Once old allotments are cleared and sunlight reaches the soil, papaya trees will grow. Green papaya is eaten as a vegetable or made into sauerkraut or similar. Ripe papaya does not keep well and, like many other fruits, is usually sold ‘tree-ripe’ and needs to be further ripened at home.

Advocate (avocado) comes from Central America and is planted in Suriname. The best fruits go to French Guiana. Brazilian avocado is large and round, with a green skin.

Mopé is a small yellow fragrant fruit from which juice is made. West Indian cherry (known as acerola in Brazil) and markoesa (passion fruit, maracuja) are also available as juice.

Different types of bananas and bacoven are native to East Asia and are staple foods in Suriname. Plantains have pointed ends and are boiled or fried. Plantain fried in a batter (baka bana) is eaten with peanut sambal as a snack. Grit’bana is a soup made of cooked green bananas, cassava, chicken and salt meat. Her’heri is a traditional dish which involves boiled green and ripe banana, cassava and sweet potato chips, bakkeljauw (fried salt fish) or trie (fried dried prawns) and a hard-boiled egg. It is often eaten around 1 July, the date commemorating the abolition of slavery.

Bacoven are eaten out of the hand. Apple bacoven are available all year round. Pikin’mis’ finga (little girl fingers) are small sweet bananas. Ingi bakba have a reddish-brown skin and the flesh is sweet and dark yellow. Bananas sold in the Netherlands are also available. In Suriname, people speak of a ‘bunch’ or a ‘hand’ of bananas.

The Curaçao or Surinamese ‘apple‘ is a small triangular sweet and sour fruit that can be pink, red or white and is native to Indonesia, as are rambutan, an oval yellow or red spiny fruit, and pommerak, a red pear with fragrant white flesh. Pomme de cythère is a green fruit with a prickly seed and yellow flesh, from which juice and chutney are made.

Coffee, cocoa and sugar cane were grown on plantations in colonial times and exported. There are still coffee and cacao trees in the nature park at plantation Peperpot. Plantation Katwijk in Commewijne is the last coffee plantation still running.

Since the 1960s, rice has been the main agricultural product for domestic food supply and exports. Rice is planted near Wageningen and Nickerie, where polders were created for machine rice farming in the 1960s. The crop is bought up by traders who have the rice husked, packed and sold and also, effectively, set the price.

In the 1950s to 1970s, there were citrus plantations in Commewijne at Alliance which exported oranges to the Netherlands. Mandarins, grapefruits, lemons and sour oranges are also available. The grapefruit is the largest citrus fruit, used in cocktails and salads. The white inner peel and membranes are bitter so you need to remove them. New in Suriname are Brazilian limes (limes) without pips, for juice and caipirinha.

South American palm fruits are podosiri, kumbu and maripa. The trees grow in swamps, along rivers, on allotments, and in the rainforest. The fruits are harvested locally in season and processed as quickly as possible into juice (kumbu and podosiri or açaí) or oil (from maripa seeds).

Masoesa is a small black fruit of a plant native to the ginger family. The fatty flesh is orange with small black seeds and is used to make masoesa alesi or edible oil.

Swit Bontji (sweet beans) are long pods with seeds that sit in a sweet pulp. These provide sweets for the children, as well as knippa , small round green fruits sold in bunches along the street. The giant knippa tree grows all over Central and South America.

FLORA SURINAME

Suriname’s natural landscapes

Mangroves grow along the coast and in the estuaries. The trees stand with stilted roots in the water and are subject to tidal ebb and flow. Many shorebirds nest in mangrove trees as they are home to plenty of shrimps, crabs and small fish.

The sand ridges north of Paramaribo and in Coronie were largely excavated for building materials and shell sand to pave roads. This process, however, removed the natural protection from floods. Paramaribo’s oldest streets are built on sand ridges. Sandy soil is suitable for planting vegetables, peanut and fruit trees. In the coastal plain, there is also young and old sea clay, which shrinks and cracks when dry and becomes heavy and slippery when it rains. Sugar cane and rice grow well in clay soil.

The white-sand savannah belt that runs from east to west throughout Suriname begins at Zanderij (JAP international airport). In prehistoric times, there were sea beaches. It is blisteringly hot during the day and cools off at night. Rainwater quickly drains away into the ground. The natural vegetation consists of prickly shrubs and low trees. Cotton, peanut, cashew, cassava and sweet potato thrive in the savannah. Along the creeks, there are taller trees, including walaba. The water of the Cola Creek and Carolina Creek is clear but dark brown due to fallen and decomposed leaves. The water is beneficial for skin diseases.

Laterite is a red stony top layer that is excavated during bauxite mining; it is used to pave roads. When you drive along a laterite road, red clouds of dust blow up, penetrating everything. The road from Zanderij to Apura is a laterite road.

South of the savannah belt, Suriname’s rainforest begins. Along the major rivers, there are villages and logging and agriculture. ‘Allotments’ are open areas of forest, where the trees are cut down and burnt. Stumps and tree trunks are left behind otherwise the soil would wash away in heavy rain. These plots are planted for several years until the soil is no longer fertile. Major crops include cassava, sweet potato, maize, and sometimes some ‘sopropo’ or ‘antroewa’. This type of land is found in a wide area around the villages. Abandoned ‘allotments’ quickly regrow, and are referred to as secondary forests.

In the rainforest, people hunt and collect forest products such as lianas for binding material, palm fruits for preparing oil or juice (maripa, awarra, kumbu), palm leaves for roofing, and kwasi bita wood and tree bark for medicinal purposes.

Inland people (Maroons and Indians) are allowed to catch all fish and hunt animal species for their own use, but not for sale. In the dry season, however, there are plenty of parrots and monkeys for sale along the streets in Paramaribo. Songbirds are now caught in Brazil because they are no longer found in the wild in Suriname.

The rainforest is punctuated by savannahs and barren granite mountains (inselbergs), such as Voltzberg, Ananasberg and Kasi Kasima. Cacti, prickly shrubs and bromeliads grow on the bare rocks. There are vast savannahs in the far south of Suriname.

The Central Suriname Nature Reserve consists largely of rainforest. Raleigh Falls hosts tourists who want to climb Voltzberg or relax in the rapids of the Coppename River. Other tourist resorts in the rainforest include Danpaati, Fredberg, Awarradam, Palumeu and Kabalebo.

Surinamese and imported flora

Mahogany trees have been planted in Paramaribo, including along Henck Arronstraat, Wagenwegstraat and Nassylaan. These trees provide beautiful wood and are native to the West Indies. They were planted in streets with wooden houses to prevent fire from spreading from one side of the street to the other.

King palms that grow up to 25 metres tall can be found in the palm garden. This is not a native species, but can naturalise in Suriname; it can be seen in the former leper colony of Batavia and on plantations where king palms were once planted.

The kankantrie (wild cotton tree) is found on sand ridges in Paramaribo and along rivers in the interior. It is a tall tree with plank roots, a smooth grey trunk and huge foliage. There are two along Kwattaweg, near the Jewish cemetery beyond Van Idsingastraat. The kankantrie is the king of the rainforest and is rarely cut down because it is said to be a home of forest spirits. Sacrifices must be made and permission sought in order to carry out the necessary work safely.

The flamboyant tree with bright red flowers and long brown pods comes from the Caribbean and grows on sandy soil in Paramaribo, around Fort Zeelandia and on Burenstraat.

The coconut palm grows by the sea, on the beach embankments in Coronie and Galibi. Low-growing coconut palms are planted along dirt roads. Surinamese palm fruits include awarra, maripa, podosiri and kumbu. Awarra and maripa are sold in the market in season and podosiri is made into juice. In Brazil, podosiri is known as açaí and dozens of products are made from it.

Plants and trees from tropical countries grow well in Suriname, but you won’t find them growing naturally in the rainforest. Many garden plants are native to tropical Asia, Africa and America, such as bougainvillea, cayenna (hibiscus), croton, oleander, franchepane, buckwheat, passion flower, agave and hybrid orchids with large brightly coloured flowers.

Indigenous flowers include the palouloe and many species of heliconia, including the hanging ‘pagara’ (firework garland). Climbing and foliage plants sold in garden centres in Europe are often descendants of species from the shady and humid rainforest. Surinamese orchids grow high in the treetops but the flowers are not as large and brightly coloured as Asian orchids.

Commercially important timber species are scattered throughout the jungle, and are cut along roads and rivers. There are rules for forestry; clearing a plot and processing everything into logs and raw materials for plywood is prohibited. Only logs of appropriate thickness and characteristics should be felled, with as little damage to the surrounding forest as possible. Inland people are allowed to cut wood for their own use (building houses, corials) and for sale. With the construction of roads in the hinterland, illegal logging is increasing.

Environmental organisations point to the economic potential of Non-Timber Products (forest products that are not wood) such as forest fruits, nuts and lianas. Indigenous people and Maroons make carrying baskets, traps, matapi (cassava press) and household items for their own use from lianas, palm leaves, warimbo (a type of reed) and gourds. In Guyana, furniture is made from lianas from the rainforest.

At the Vreedzaam market (the hall to the left of the Central Market in Paramaribo), you can find herbs, tree bark, lianas and leaves for sale. These are used to prepare ‘oso dresi’ (medicine) and herbal baths. The wooden kwasi bita cups, whose contents are drunk as medicine, have become quite well-known. At this market, you will also find bottles of Surinamese ‘viagra’ and love potions.

FAUNA SURINAME

Suriname is a tropical country where you spend most of your time outdoors. Dogs roam the streets; some of them have owners but scavenge their own food. Cuddling dogs is not wise because they are not used to it and can have pests. Cats are less popular. Chinese shopkeepers and restaurants use them to control mice and rats.

Indoors, there are ‘kamra wentjes‘, tiny geckos that eat mosquitoes and sometimes fight their own little wars on the wall! They are useful animals, but if you are not careful, they will drink from your coffee cup and eat from your plate. Cockroaches are dirtier, beating them to death with a fly swat is the best cure!

Songbirds (rowti, pikolet and twa twa) often go for walks in a cage with their owners. On Sunday morning from 6 to 8 am, there are games at Independence Square in Paramaribo. Owners stand at a distance and the cages are hung from sticks. Don’t get too close or the birds will be disturbed! Songbirds are popular in Suriname. A well-trained bird is worth a lot of money and bets are made. Songbirding has made its way to the Bijlmer in the Netherlands.

Surinamese do not like to sit on the grass or in the sand because you could sit on an anthill or suffer from sika. These are insects that bore into your feet and lay eggs there that cause itching. If you don’t remove them with a pin in time, a larva and later an insect will grow under your skin.

Those who are new to Suriname get big red bumps from mosquitoes and other insects, but if you stay longer, you are less bothered by them. In Commewijne, Coronie and Nickerie, there are sometimes clouds of mosquitoes, especially in the early evening. Then, it is better to stay inside for a few hours with screens over the windows, or burn coconut husks and sit in the smoke. Coating yourself in ‘Tropical Bush’ helps. There are fewer mosquitoes in the rainforest than in the coastal plain! The risk of malaria is highest in areas where prospectors are active.

Countless stories are told about Anansi the spider in the Caribbean, Guyana and Suriname. He is small and weak, but manipulates the strong and powerful animals of the forest to achieve his goal: gather as much food as possible for Anansi himself, and if anything remains, for his wife Ma Akoeba and their countless children. The stories served as entertainment and an opportunity to criticise in a veiled way.

The large black forest spider (tarantula) is harmless. In the interior, they are not killed but captured and released somewhere else. Another large forest spider weaves its web in a burrow in the ground. It is poisonous, but not active during the day.

Maria Sybilla Merian was a German woman who had noticed in her youth how caterpillars pupate and turn into butterflies. From 1699 to 1701, she was in Suriname to study butterflies. She collected caterpillars, the leaves they ate, and butterflies. These were recorded in watercolours and, after returning to the Netherlands, a world-famous book of coloured engravings was published in 1705.

In Paramaribo, you can visit the Zoo to see Surinamese animals such as different species of monkeys, birds, caimans, an otter, sloth, anteater, pakira (forest pig), tapir, tortoises and snakes. The zoo receives no subsidies and in times of crisis, there are fewer animals due to lack of money. In the rainforest, it is difficult to spot animals, so it is nice if you know what they look like and what sounds they make. The Zoo is home to unusual tree species such as the cannonball tree and flowering shrubs such as kusuwe and cottonwood. There is also a petting zoo with a playground.

The Zoo is located in the Culture Garden, a former agricultural testing station, now a wooded spot for jogging. On Laetitia Vriesdelaan, there is a plant market on Sunday morning.

Where there are flowering plants and trees with ripe fruit, you will see birds, sometimes iguanas and, towards evening, bats. At night, possums (awari), mice or rats may roam around.

Birdwatchers love coming to Suriname to spot and photograph birds. Gardens in Paramaribo, the Culture Garden, Weg naar Zee, Nieuw Amsterdam, Peperpot and Bigi Pan are favourites. At most inland resorts, you will be able to go bird and other wildlife spotting with a guide. Specialised guides know the Surinamese, English and Latin names.

There are about 800 species of birds in Suriname. In the coastal plain, species include the great kiskadee, hummingbirds, owls, parakeets, green parrots, white herons (sabaku) and birds of prey. Along the coast you will see waders, gulls, red ibis, herons, vultures and ducks. Along the inland rivers live herons, kingfishers, parakeets, red-green and blue-yellow macaws (ravens) and toucans. In the rainforest, they include the trumpeter bird (kami kami), hokko (powisi), toucans and woodpeckers. The gonini (harpy eagle) is Suriname’s largest bird of prey and is capable of grabbing monkeys and sloths from the treetops and taking them to its nest. The red rock rooster lives near barren granite mountains deep in the rainforest. In the mating season, the males perform a special dance.

There are dozens of species of snakes in Suriname, some of which are highly venomous. If you want to photograph a snake, always keep your distance as snakes can jump up and forward within a second, or drop out of a tree. Never step over a snake, but walk around it in a wide arc. A bite from a non-poisonous snake can be very painful and cause infection.

Large constrictor snakes, such as the aboma (anaconda) live in canals in the coastal plain and rivers inland. Young abomas hunt along the water or in low bushes. As they grow larger, they catch larger prey. Adult abomas wait underwater until a prey animal comes to the shore; they then grab it, strangle and devour it.

The boa constrictor is called carpet snake in Suriname. The Maroons and Indians revere this snake and do not kill them. Six-metre-long constrictor snakes can strangle and devour capybara, pingoes and pakira, deer and young tapirs. Young carpet snakes live in inhabited areas where there are mice, rats, awari, chickens and birds.

Tree boas grow up to 2 metres long and hunt at night. They can hang from a branch and grab and devour prey, starting at the head. They catch tree frogs, lizards and birds. Other species of boas live on the ground.

Ring snakes (reditere) can be mildly poisonous. They have stink glands and can be aggressive. They raise the front part of their body and slap the ground with their tail as a warning. Swipi (whip tail snakes) can grow up to 240 cm long. There are many species and some are mistaken for venomous snakes.

The true popokaisneki (green tree lance snake) grows up to 120 cm long and has an orange-red tail tip, which the snake moves to attract frogs, lizards and birds. This snake is highly venomous.

The owrukuku or labaria (Bothrops atrox) is a venomous snake up to 200 cm long, found throughout Suriname and spotted light and dark brown. A small dose of poison can be lethal.

Rattlesnakes have a broad triangular head and with the tail they make a warning rattling sound. The sakasneki (up to 180 cm) is Suriname’s most venomous snake. One of the two species has beige and dark brown diamond-shaped figures on its back.

The bushmaster (makasneki, kapasisneki) can grow up to 375 cm long and sometimes lives in the burrow of an armadillo (kapasi). It is the largest venomous snake in South America.

Coral snakes (krarasneki) have two or three coloured rings around the body. They live in savannah forests, swamps and paddy fields. A small amount of poison is lethal. There are species with yellow/black/white rings and others with black/white/red rings.

Tu-ede-sneki (two-headed snakes) are legless lizards whose heads and tails look the same. They live under leaves and eat insects. They are harmless.

Near water and in swamps you will find the sapakara, a giant lizard. They are black with yellow bands and resemble a mini caiman, but have longer legs and a pointed head. Juveniles are dark-coloured. On a narrow path, they will run in front of you on their hind legs. They look like little men. Sapakara eat insects, small animals, eggs, chickens, ducks, fruits and plants. They are harmless to humans, but when cornered, they can become aggressive, biting, and flapping their tails.

Crocodiles (caimans) do not grow very large in Suriname. They live in freshwater across the country. In the rainy season, when residential areas are flooded, you may encounter young caimans and water turtles in your backyard! The tail of the caiman (‘water chicken’) is a favourite barbecue snack, as is the iguana (‘tree chicken’).

Capybara (water hog or kapuwa), are large rodents with rough-haired brown fur and webbed feet. Sometimes they are kept in gardens. The capybara eats grass and aquatic plants.

At the confluence of the Suriname River and the Commewijne River, schools of dolphins can be seen. Dolphin tours depart from Leonsberg jetty, which can be booked through tour operators. When the fishermen empty their nets, dolphins come close. Sometimes they jump above water and come to the boats.

From January to July, three species of sea turtles lay their eggs on Surinamese beaches. There are guided walks from Frederiksdorp and Galibi, on the beach at night to see the sea turtles. They are protected animals and should not be disturbed. Picking up eggs is prohibited. If people walk the beaches with flashlights, the sea turtles do not come ashore.

The aitkanti (leatherback turtle) has grey skin with long ridges on its upper surface. It is the largest reptile on earth (2.5 m long) and lives in tropical and cold seas. The forelimbs are strong flippers; they can swim 45 to 65 km a day. The females come to the beach to lay and bury eggs. After 3 months, the eggs hatch due to the heat from the sun. The little turtles run to sea but are tasty morsels for vultures, crabs and fish.

The krapé (soup turtle) grows up to 100 cm long and weighs up to 160 kg. Soup turtles were caught off the coast of Suriname to provide food for the forced labourers in the bagno (prison) of St Laurent in French Guiana. They lay eggs in 80 different countries and are protected in many places.

The warana (olive ridley) grows up to 70 cm long and eats fish, oysters, jellyfish, crabs and plants. All sea turtles need to regularly raise their heads above the water to breathe. If they get caught in fishing nets, they drown. Fishing nets must be fitted with a TED (turtle excluder device), an outlet for sea turtles. But not all fishermen comply and some use long trawls along the beaches.

Fresh and dried shrimp, fish from sea, swamp (marsh) and freshwater are available in Suriname. Shark, (sarki), ray (spari), kandra tiki, smooth fish (catfish, like kupila), kwikwi (armoured fish), walapa, anjoemara, ban ban, kandra tiki and many other species are eaten. Fish is sold fresh, salted or smoked (‘hot fish’). Bakkeljauw (salt fish) is imported from Canada. In bad weather, there is little fish at the market.

Ppireng (piranha), stingrays and electric eels live in river water and at rapids. Jumping into the water without knowing the location is dangerous, due to strong currents and risks that a tourist cannot assess. Swimming in natural water cannot be compared to swimming in a pool! At Caribo Beach and Overbridge on the Suriname River, there are beaches with a net in the water to keep out pirengs.

Brownsberg is a popular destination for spotting monkeys and other forest animals. Infrared cameras were used to take night photos of giant anteaters, sloths, jaguars (‘tigers’), armadillos (kapasi) and many other animals. You are most likely to see them in the morning at sunrise and late afternoon. But gold prospectors are active in the nature reserve and the noise of generators, water pumps, chainsaws and diggers scares away the animals. Where there is hunting, the animals hide as soon as people come near. The ‘busi skowtu‘ (forest police) is a bird that warns others when intruders are approaching. Its song is also used as a ringtone on mobile phones.

Forest walks are taken from inland resorts, but the chances of seeing a jaguar (‘tiger’), a deer or a kapasi (armadillo) are slim, as many animals are active at night and hide during the day. From a viewpoint, or a korjaal on the river, you can observe birds such as parakeets, macaws (called ‘ravens’ in Suriname) sabaku (herons) and kingfishers. After sunrise, you can look out for monkeys in the treetops along the river. The animals roam the forest, searching for food in a vast area.

Sloths (loiri) can hang motionless from a tree branch for hours. Their camouflage colour makes them difficult to see. There are two species in Suriname and they live in both rainforest and secondary forest. They clamp down on a branch with their strong claws. There is a nature park in Saramacca which takes care of sloths when they are injured and then releases them into uninhabited territory when they are better.

There are eight species of monkeys in Suriname. Groups of squirrel monkeys (monki monki) and red-handed tamarins (saguwenke) live in the coastal plain, including the Pepperpot nature park. Red howler monkeys (babun) can be heard roaring early in the morning in Saramacca and in the interior. Capuchin monkeys (keskesi) are medium-sized and brown or grey. They can hang from a branch by their tails and make a lot of noise in the forest. Black spider monkeys (kwatta) can be recognised from afar by their long arms and legs and black fur. Grey capuchin monkeys (bergi keskesi) are shy and live far from civilisation. White-headed lemurs (wanaku) live high in the trees in the rainforest, they have a white head and a thick black tail. With their strong teeth, they can crack the hardest fruits. To avoid competing with each other, different species of monkeys have different diets and do not all live in the same territory.

The jaguar (tiger, tigri) is found in the rainforest, and also roams the coastal plain. When there are sea turtles on the beaches, the jaguar loves a bite of turtle meat! A dog, sheep or calf is also easy prey. When too many cattle are bitten to death, farmers put poison out or shoot the protected animals. In the interior, jaguars are shot and sold to Chinese people, who chop up the animals, cook them and send them in freezers to China, where they are made into traditional medicines.

Tree frogs, toads and many species of beetles and bugs can be found in gardens and in the wild. The number of species is limited in the coastal plain because many chemical agents are used to combat weeds and harmful insects. In pristine nature, there are many more species of amphibians and insects. The rainforest is home to several species of poisonous frogs and toads, which can sometimes be seen in large numbers. Two notable varieties include a black poisonous frog with green or yellow stripes and a black one with yellow circles. Another species is only seen when it jumps up as it looks like a brown-spotted tree leaf. The blue okopipi is found only in the extreme south of Suriname.

If you look and listen carefully, you can observe tropical animals all over Suriname! Animals are not toys, though; leave them alone, treat them with respect and stay at a distance. The rainforest is the kingdom of animals and we humans are casual passers-by!

THE ECONOMY OF SURINAME

From the 17th to the late 19th century, there were cotton, sugar, coffee and cocoa plantations in Suriname. Logging was also practised. After the abolition of slavery in 1863, former slaves had to continue working on the plantations for another 10 years. When they became free in 1873, the men went to work as carpenters, clerks or dockers. Inland, they worked in forestry, timber transport, as rubber tappers (balata bleeders) or in gold mining. In the late 19th century, American entrepreneurs invested in dredge mills and steam engines for gold mining. In Benzdorp (Marowijne) and Brokolonko (Saramacca), there are still rusty machines from that era, and since the 1980s, gold mining once again became the main economic activity in Suriname.

The women were freed from slavery in 1873 remained on the coastal plain and worked as market vendors, laundresses, servants, dressmakers or cooks, or sold pickled fruit, biscuits and other food items from home. Work on the plantations was done by contract workers; immigrants from India and later from Indonesia. The sugar plantations of Mariënburg (Commewijne) and Waterloo (Nickerie) continued to exist until the 1970s.

Agriculture provided produce for the local market, as well as export products such as rice, bananas and citrus fruits. In the 1960s, the village of Wageningen was founded as the centre of the vast polders for planting and processing rice with machines. Rice is a staple food in Suriname and it is important for the country to be self-sufficient.

Small farmers keep a few cows, plant some vegetables or bananas and consider it a side income in addition to a job in public service. Most farmers are unskilled and do not invest, making it difficult to guarantee quality. Large-scale livestock farming is not very profitable in Suriname as both young animals and fodder are imported. There are some big chicken farms, competing with dumping prices on American chicken.

The fishing industry supplies seabob shrimp for export and many types of fish for the local market. Most of the fishermen are Venezuelans or Guyanese, who are obliged to bring the catch to Suriname, but much of it disappears elsewhere. There are some companies that process fish and shrimp into frozen products. SAIL (Suriname American Industries) is a state-owned company for packaging and selling fish and shrimp that was founded in 1984.

Forestry and timber industries provide export products and timber for the local construction industry. In 1947, Bruynzeel Wood Company started producing plywood. In the 1950s, they supplied sawn and planed timber and chipboard. In Suriname, Bruynzeel homes are a household name. They were construction kits. The larger models are built on high pillars. Below the house is a storage shed and an open space for a garage, laundry etc. and on the upper floor, you have the living room, kitchen, bathroom and bedrooms. There is a staircase to the balcony at the front and a staircase to the kitchen at the rear. Teachers’ houses in Paramaribo and the coastal plain were mostly Bruynzeel houses. These kits were also exported to the Caribbean. In Paramaribo, there are hundreds or perhaps thousands of Bruynzeel houses. Maintenance of wooden houses is expensive these days and the construction industry has switched to cement and concrete. Bruynzeel is known in the Netherlands as a manufacturer of parquet floors, kitchens, filing cabinets and coloured pencils. The company is split into several subsidiaries.

In recent years, a lot of spar has been exported, mainly to China. Most sawmills in Suriname are outdated, so wood is not used to its full potential. Monitoring of timber transportation and exports is lacking, depriving the government of revenue.

Mining

From 1916, bauxite was mined in the Moengo area. It was transported via the Cottica and Commewijne rivers. Bauxite was processed into alumina and aluminium. In World War II, Suriname was of strategic importance because America needed huge amounts of aluminium to build aircraft. In 1950, Suriname supplied 25% of the world’s bauxite production.

In the Brokopondo agreement (1958), the Surinamese government granted the American multinational ALCOA a concession to mine and process bauxite for 75 years. The agreement also included the construction of a dam at Afobaka (1961 – 1964). The reservoir provided hydroelectric power for the aluminium smelter at Paranam (1965) and to Paramaribo. Electricity price agreements were reached. SURALCO was the Surinamese branch of ALCOA. Another mining company was Billiton, which mined bauxite between Lelydorp and Zanderij and supplied it to the smelter at Paranam. There is also a port where ocean-going vessels can dock.

The bauxite industry was Suriname’s main source of income until the 1990s. By then, the area around Moengo and Paranam had been mined out. At this point, building a reservoir and setting up a new mining complex in the Bakhuis Mountains in eastern Suriname was no longer profitable, as there was plenty of aluminium being supplied to the world market from other countries.

In 2015, the smelter at Paranam closed and in 2018, the Surinamese government and Alcoa signed an agreement on the return of the dam and environmental remediation of mined-out areas. Today, the dam is managed by Suriname (N.V. Staatsolie) and supplies electricity to Canadian gold company IAMGOLD and Paramaribo.

State Oil

In 1965, oil was discovered by chance in Calcutta (Saramacca). In late 1980, Staatsolie was established with the aim of extracting oil on its own in a small independent republic. Eddy Jharap, geologist, employed by the Geological Mining Service since 1970, became the first director (1980-2005) of N.V. Staatsolie. Its motto was “confidence in our own abilities”. With a lot of trial and error, Staatsolie was expanded. In 1992, a pipeline was constructed from Saramacca to Tout Lui Faut, on the Suriname River, where an oil refinery was built in 1995. It was commissioned in 1997 and expanded in 2014. In 2013, Staatsolie took over Chevron and Texaco’s operations in Suriname and the service stations are now called Gow2. In 2015, Staatsolie acquired 25% of the shares in the Merian gold mine from multinational Newmont. Since Suralco’s departure in 2020, Staatsolie has been managing the hydroelectric plant and dam at Afobaka. Large oil discoveries were made by international companies in 2020 in Surinamese offshore concessions. However, exploitation has not yet taken off. Guyana has begun extracting this oil, which has led to unprecedented economic growth.

Gold

In 2003, multinational IAMGOLD’s Rosebel gold mine, 85 km south of Paramaribo, opened and production started in 2004. The shares were 95% owned by foreign shareholders and 5% by the state of Suriname. Gradually, the mine became less profitable as harder and harder rock had to be processed. In IAMGOLD’s concession area, thousands of illegal prospectors are active, which has led to armed conflicts and destruction of heavy equipment belonging to the multinational company. In October 2022, IAMGOLD sold its shares to China’s Zijin Mining Group.

The multinational NEWMONT is mining gold in the Merian area between Moengo and Langatabbetje. 75% of the shares are foreign-owned and 25% belong to Staatsolie N.V. Construction of the mine started in 2014 and production began in 2016. It is open-pit mining where ore is excavated, pulverised in crushers and after adding water and cyanide, the gold is released and processed on site into ingots of raw gold.

State-owned enterprises

Suriname has a number of state-owned enterprises in strategic sectors of the economy. The Energy Companies Suriname (EBS) works closely with Staatsolie for power procurement and generation. The EBS plant is located on Saramaccastraat in Paramaribo. The company supplies electricity to 185,000 households and businesses and is responsible for street lighting. In 1972, the Surinamese government acquired a majority stake in the colonial company OGEM, and in 1982 EBS was nationalised, with the parent company receiving compensation. Gas company OGANE is part of EBS and in charge of purchasing and distributing LPG and filling and supplying gas cylinders (propane gas) for domestic use and oxygen to hospitals and industry.

In villages in the interior of Suriname, small-scale electricity projects have been set up with generators or solar panels. Electricity and gas are not available everywhere and are much more expensive than on the coastal plain. Along much of the East-West Link, there has been electricity and street lighting since 2000.

From ‘s Lands Telefoon en Telegraafdienst (LTT), TELESUR, the state-owned company for telephony and now Internet and mobile telephony, emerged in 1981. Fixed telephony is limited to the coastal plain. TELESUR was a monopoly until 2007, but since then the market has opened up. The Caribbean company Digicel has achieved success by building numerous transmission masts inland, where prospectors are active. TELESUR is limited to residential areas in the coastal plain, along the Suriname River and the Marowijne.

Government communication media include STVS (Suriname Television Foundation, 1964) and ATV (Algemene Televisie Verzorging), Radio Boskopu and SRS (Stichting Radio-omroep Suriname) and most recently the Communication Service Suriname (CDS). Meanwhile, radio and TV provision has been liberalised and there are numerous radio and TV channels, which derive their income from advertisements. Newspapers are becoming more active with digital coverage.

SURPOST is Suriname’s ailing postal company. There are a number of commercial parcel services, which send large and small boxes to collection points in the Netherlands.

SWM (Surinaamse Waterleiding Maatschappij) received a licence to build water pipes in Paramaribo in 1932. In Republiek (33 km south of Paramaribo), groundwater is pumped from the savannah, filtered, and transported through a pipe system to Paramaribo. The water tower at Poelepantje is a landmark visible when driving into Paramaribo from the south. In 1938, use of well water and rainwater was banned. Meanwhile, SWM also supplies drinking water in Nickerie, Coronie, Groningen, Moengo and Albina.

The use of rainwater, collected in durotanks (large plastic rain barrels) remains a dire necessity for many families. In Commewijne, the population has increased since the bridge over the Suriname River was built in 2000, but the drinking water supply capacity is insufficient. Inland, creek and river water is used as drinking water, for bathing, washing clothes and dishes, and fishing. The quality of the river water is rapidly deteriorating due to mercury pollution in upstream areas where prospectors are active. An alternative is rainwater or water in plastic bottles. There are some companies that bottle Surinamese drinking water. Many plastic bottles are not recycled but end up in the environment and eventually in the ocean.

SLM (Surinam Airline) or Surinam Airways
To avoid being at the mercy of KLM, it is important that Suriname has its own airline and that several airlines offer international flights.

SLM was established on 01/01/1955 as a domestic airline. Operation Grasshopper took place in 1958. Inland, seven airstrips were constructed with the aim of surveying mineral resources across the country. Since 1962, SLM has been a state-owned company. The first scheduled services to Curaçao were operated in 1964 and the first transatlantic flights to the Netherlands in November 1975, not coincidentally because Suriname has been an independent republic since 25 November 1975. On 7 June 1989, an SLM plane crashed near Zanderij, killing 176 people. After this low point in the company’s history, it continued to struggle with leased aircraft and high debts, forcing flight cancellations in summer 2022. Subsidiaries of SLM include a catering company, ground services, tour operator METS and two Residence Inn hotels.

There are two airports in Suriname; Zorg en Hoop is located in Paramaribo. Here flights depart to the interior of the country and small planes fly to Guyana. In the interior of Suriname, there are airstrips, mostly grass runways, which are sometimes closed in bad weather. At the International Johan Adolf Pengel Airport, (Zanderij) 40 km south of Paramaribo, international flights depart to Trinidad, Curaçao, Belém (Brazil), Colombia, Panama, the Netherlands, and the US. A number of scheduled services are operated jointly with foreign airlines. Surinamese passengers prefer SLM because of its Surinamese menu and friendly staff. Passengers like to applaud the pilot after a soft landing!

Banks and international trade

Few international banks are active in Suriname. There is a Chinese commercial bank and the Republic Bank of Trinidad. The Surinamese banks are Hakrinbank, Finabank, and Surinaamsche Bank. The Central Bank of Suriname, the ‘mama bangi’ (mother bank) supervises commercial banks. Trade in US dollars and euros takes place partly through currency exchanges. The government set rates for years, which have since been liberalised. There is always a high demand for currency from importers supplying supermarkets and tech companies. The main companies earning currency and paying taxes to the government are N.V. Staatsolie and multinationals in the mining sector. Since SURALCO’s departure from Suriname, there has been a structural shortage of currency, which will diminish when offshore oil production gets off to a good start.

Suriname is the 17th richest country in the world in terms of mineral resources and natural areas, but this potential is not yet being fully exploited. The country eagerly awaits the exploitation of offshore oil fields and has started preparing for it.

THE HISTORIC CENTRE OF PARAMARIBO

The historic centre of Paramaribo was inventoried in 1999 and had about 200 monuments. These were photographed and described on the Paramaribo Monument Map. Unfortunately, some monuments have since been destroyed by fire or have collapsed due to overdue maintenance. The owners themselves are responsible for maintaining and preserving the traditional architectural style. The Built Heritage Foundation has restored some properties and found suitable uses for them. The wooden St. Peter and Paul Cathedral has been restored with support from the Vatican.

Most monuments in the city centre can be recognised by a foundation and elevated pavement of red bricks. This offers protection against flooding. Paramaribo is situated along the Suriname River, with ebbs and flows due to its proximity to the ocean. In fact, so much rain can fall in a few hours that the drainage system cannot handle it and the city is flooded, both in the centre and the suburbs.

The floor beams of the wooden building rest on a brick foundation. The front door is usually in the centre of the facade, and the windows with wooden shutters are positioned symmetrically. The oldest houses have steep roofs. In the 17th and 18th centuries, there were roof tiles made of walaba wood (shingles). This was prohibited after two major city fires in 1821 and 1832, and people used slate roof tiles, which were imported from Europe. Today, almost all roofs are covered with corrugated iron sheets.

In the 19th century, galleries and balconies were built on the façade. This created a covered pavement at ground level, which was pleasant, because the streets were hot and sandy or muddy. The balconies rested on wooden posts (pillars) with a brick base. Important buildings were given imposing columns, for example, the synagogue on Keizerstraat, the Ministry of Finance on Independence Square, and the Ministry of Natural Resources on Mirandastraat.

An entire building was constructed of brick only as an exception; it was far more expensive than wood. Famous stone buildings include Fort Zeelandia, a former military fort, now a museum. Around 1800, ‘Ston Oso’ was built on the corner of Dr. Sophie Redmondstraat and Zwartenhovenbrugstraat. The government owns this ruin. Taxes were levied on imports and exports in the Weigh House (built after the fire of 1821). A huge scale can be seen there and it is now a café and restaurant. The Centrumkerk on Kerkplein and the Martin Luther Church are also stone buildings.

The Ministry of Finance, which is built of stone with a wooden tower, stands in Independence Square. The Presidential Palace has a ground floor of stone and a wooden upper floor. On the ground floor, there is a beautiful gallery with round arches and at the back, a high semi-circular pavement where the president makes speeches to the public in the palace garden on holidays. No one lives in the palace and it is only used for official occasions.

The St. Peter and Paul Cathedral, the Grote Stadskerk of the Moravian Church and several neighbourhood churches are wooden buildings that require continuous maintenance.

To see Paramaribo’s historic city centre, walk from the Weigh House to Fort Zeelandia, across Independence Square, through Lim A Po Street, across Kerkplein, through Wagenwegstraat, Heerenstraat, Klipstenenstraat and Gravenstraat (Henck Arronstraat) back to Independence Square. Here and there are fences behind which work is slowly but surely underway to restore historic buildings!

China rebuilt the parliament building on the corner of Henck Arronstraat and Grote Combeweg, which burned down in 1998. The facade is inspired by the original buildings and a modern office building has been erected behind it. The Kantongerecht courthouse on Grote Combeweg was built by the Netherlands in modern architectural style, which was somewhat adapted to its surroundings. Unfortunately, parts of the Garden of Palms and the grounds of Fort Zeelandia are used as car parks.

Scattered in Paramaribo, Commewijne (Peperpot and Frederiksdorp), Coronie and Nickerie, examples of Surinamese architectural style, especially churches, homes of district commissioners and plantation houses, can still be seen along old roads.

CULTURAL HERITAGE AND MARKETS

Cultural Heritage

All ethnic groups in Suriname have a cultural heritage. Its survival depends on the value people place on it themselves. The Ministry of Culture produces films and reports, interviews cultural experts, holds exhibitions and organises events.

Various cultural associations are active. Hindustani culture is promoted by Hindu temples, mosques and the Lala Rookh and Mata Gauri organisations; NAKS provides courses in Afro-Surinamese music and dance and has active music and dance groups; Sana Budaya promotes Javanese culture through dance classes and creative courses, and there are many more initiatives, including those of churches and embassies.

Examples of the cultural heritage of different populations in terms of music, traditional recipes, dress, birth ceremonies, marriage and death include:

  • Music:
    chowtal (Hindustani)
    kaseko, trumpet choir and EBG choirs (Afro-Surinamers)
    apintie and other drums (Maroons)
    sambura (natives)
    gamelan (Javanese)
  • Traditional recipes: roti, moksi aleysi, pepre watra, dawet
  • Traditional medicine knowledge: all populations have specialists in herbal medicine and the treatment of mental problems
  • Dress:
    Indian costumes at a Hindu wedding
    the anyisa and kotomisi of the Afro-Surinamese
    the pangi of the Maroons
    the native shoulder cloth, beaded jewellery and feather headdress
    the costumes of Javanese djaran kepang dancers
  • Traditions at birth: o.a. begraven van de navelstreng, sieraden en ogri ai kralen ter bescherming
  • Marriage: the traditional Hindu and Muslim wedding ceremonies
  • Death:
    cremation at Weg naar Zee
    dancing with the coffin, aiti dey, pur’blaka
    the indigenous mourning period and its conclusion
    the farewell and burial rituals of the Maroons
  • Celebrations:
    Chinese New Year with the dragon dance
    Phagwa
    a walking march
    the Day of the Natives
    the Javanese slametan feast
    the trumpet choir at ‘bigi yari’
    ‘prodo waka’ on the day of the Maroons
    fireworks relay in Paramaribo on 31 December at noon

All these traditions exist simultaneously and side by side in Suriname, and people from different cultural backgrounds can attend as family, friends, colleagues, neighbours and tourists. In Suriname, we like to go all out when celebrating parties, the more the merrier!

Markets

Food for the body and soul, as well as cultural heritage supplies, can be bought at markets in Suriname.

The Vreedzaam Markt (the hall to the left of the Central Market on the waterfront in Paramaribo) sells ingredients for Afro-Surinamese and Maroon oso-dresi (medicines) and herbal baths. Don’t touch anything and always ask if you can take photos, both of the displays and people!

Vendors at the Central Market sell Indian spices (including massala), small oil lamps made of earthenware (diya), and everything needed for Hindu ceremonies, clothing and jewellery on the upper floor.

Traditional Javanese meals and snacks are on sale at the Saoenah Sunday market in Paramaribo North.

Chinese snacks are steamed and deep-fried on the spot at the Chinese Sunday market on Grote Combeweg. You will find fresh Chinese vegetables not sold at other markets.

Tourtonnelaan hosts a Sunday market where vegetables, fish, live crabs, snacks and many second-hand clothes are on sale.

Popular markets include the Kwatta Market, the Nickerie market at Brasaplein, and the Sunday market at Indira Gandhiweg.

SURINAME AND THE UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE CONVENTION

UNESCO is the United Nations’ department for cultural and natural heritage around the world. People used to talk about the seven wonders of the world, but there are many more now and those can be found in Suriname too!

The Central Suriname Nature Reserve has been on the Unesco World Heritage list since 2000 and Paramaribo’s historic wooden downtown since 2002. An application was submitted for Joden Savanne and Cassipora Cemetery in 1998 and is to be decided upon in 2023. Recognition by UNESCO entails the obligation to keep the heritage site in good condition and to regulate its use. It is appealing to tourists, but tourism should not detract from the heritage. For example, a pier for cruise ships cannot be built on the Waterkant in Paramaribo because it would detract from the appearance of the 19th century wooden buildings.

Paramaribo

Today, Paramaribo has a population of about 240,000. The centre originated in the 17th and 18th centuries, built in Dutch and European architectural styles with 19th century influences from the southern United States. Paramaribo’s historic centre is located between the Central Market – Suriname River – Fort Zeelandia – Sommelsdijkse Kreek (Wakapasi) and Viottekreek. The oldest streets lie on sand ridges (beach ridges) with natural drainage. Fort Zeelandia had been in Dutch hands since 1667 and was gradually built up with cliff stone (hard limestone) excavated on site and bricks brought from Europe as ballast for the ships. You can see little shells in the cliff stone in the outer walls of the fort. The wooden buildings around the fort are 19th century officers’ dwellings. The “Devil” stone building is a former prison and the large 1790 building was an army warehouse.

The Presidential Palace was built from 1730 onwards. The ground floor is stone and the upper floor wood. Fort Zeelandia and the Presidential Palace are the oldest surviving colonial buildings. There were major city fires in 1821 and 1832, in which much of the centre of Paramaribo was lost. There are occasional fires in the historic city centre to this day.

So most of the wooden buildings we know are 19th century buildings from 1842, like the Ministry of Finance (the building with the columns and turret in Independence Square). The Reformed Church on Kerkplein and the Martin Luther Church opposite the Central Market were built in the 1830s – 1840s and both have classical pipe organs. The St Peter and Paul Cathedral was built in 1885 and is one of the largest wooden churches in the world.

Paramaribo’s historic city centre has been preserved because most of the colonial wooden buildings were in government use for many years. The street layout is intact and there are no modern high-rises in the heritage area. UNESCO believes Independence Square has deteriorated with the construction of elevated pavements and the flag platform. The natural drainage from the square to the river was disrupted as a result.

Museaums in Suriname

Fort Zeelandia is home to the Surinaams Museum. The collection depicts the history of Suriname through the ages.

The Central Bank of Suriname’s Numismatic (coin) Museum is in Lim A Poststraat.

The Koto Museum is in Prinsessestraat; a restored wooden house hosts an exhibition of Afro-Surinamese kotomisie costumes and the anyisa (headscarf folded into shape). These costumes are only worn on important holidays, such as 1 July (abolition of slavery), 25 November (Independence Day), and important birthdays (bigi yari).

Groups can visit Het Surinaams Rumhuis and Lala Rookh Museum by appointment.

There is much to see in relation to plantation life during the era of slavery at Peperpot, Frederiksdorp and Bakkie in Commewijne.

The village of Pikin Slee on the Suriname River is home to the Saamaka Marron Museum.

Occasional art events are organised in Moengo by internationally renowned artist Marcel Pinas.

The Central Suriname Nature Reserve

The Central Suriname Nature Reserve (UNESCO World Heritage site since 2000) consists of three nature reserves (Raleighvallen, Eilerts de Haan Mountains and Tafelberg) that were joined together in 1998 to form 1.6 million hectares of primary tropical rainforest in central Suriname. Here lie the sources of the Coppename, Lucie river, Saramacca and Gran Rio. Lowland and hill country are between 25 and 1230 metres in altitude, with a huge biodiversity of plants and animals. To name a few: the jaguar (called tiger, tigri in Suriname), giant armadillo, giant otter, tapir, sloth, 8 species of monkey, hundreds of species of birds, including the gonini (Harpy Eagle), Cock-of-the-Rock, several species of parrots and parakeets. Many species of insects, snakes, reptiles and amphibians have not yet been studied by western scientists.
Granite ‘inselbergs’ like the Voltzberg rise up to 360 metres above the surrounding jungle.

The Central Suriname Nature Reserve is a virtually uninhabited area where there is no hunting. Native heritage, such as petroglyphs (drawings carved into rocks) and grinding marks can be found along the rivers in places where stone axes were sharpened. Much of this indigenous heritage is overgrown by the jungle and sometimes becomes visible in the dry season when the water is low.

There are also vast savannas and swamps. Each ecosystem has distinctive plants and animals. There is no intensive forestry or gold mining in the reserve yet thanks to the rivers being difficult to navigate, although the government is granting more and more concessions and illegal logging and gold mining are moving further and further south. LBB (‘s Lands Bosbeheer) and STINASU (Stichting Natuurbehoud Suriname) are responsible for management and control of the nature reserve.

The Bakhuis Mountains have huge deposits of bauxite, which have so far been explored but not put into production. A reservoir in western Suriname that is shown on many international maps was planned but never built.

Jodensavanne and Cassipora cemetery

Jodensavanne and Cassipora cemetery have been nominated for the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1998. At the 45th meeting of UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee, the decision was finally made: Jodensavanne and the Cassipora cemetery have become UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Joden Savanne was a self-governing Jewish settlement from 1680 to 1850. There are remains of a synagogue, a Jewish and a Creole cemetery in Joden Savanne. There is a freshwater spring nearby. Various indigenous (Indian) villages in the vicinity are involved in the management of the area. There are day trips from Paramaribo and Overbridge to Joden Savanne.

Joden Savanne was the main town of the sugar plantations along the Suriname River. The owners were Sephardic Jews who had had permission from the English to establish plantations and exercise self-government (religion, justice, civil militia, education) since 1650. African slaves worked on the plantations. Joden Savanne continued to exist after Suriname passed to Dutch hands in 1667.

Cassipora cemetery, 2 km south of Joden Savanne, contains 216 tombstones. The oldest tombstone is dated 1660. The first wooden synagogue there was destroyed by fire in 1671.

Beracha Ve Salom (Blessing and Peace) synagogue was consecrated on Joden Savanne in 1685. Cynthia McLeod’s popular novel “How expensive was the sugar” is set around the centenary in 1785 and subsequent years when Joden Savanne was known as Jerusalem by the river.

The Joden Savanne cemetery contains 462 headstones, which are listed in the book “Remnant Stones” (2009). There was a separate cemetery for non-Jewish residents. Joden Savanne was destroyed by fire in 1832. Joden Savanne was on the edge of the plantation area and suffered greatly from attacks by Maroons, Africans who had fled slavery and established villages and boarding grounds in the hinterland.

Many names of family groups (lo) of Saraccan Maroons refer to the surnames of owners of the plantations they had fled. For example, Matjau (Machado); Kasitu (Castilho); Kadosu (Cardoso); Nassi (Nassy); Biitu (Brito).

Manumission (freedom obtained or bought) existed throughout the entire period that slavery existed. Free Afro-Surinamese were often given names derived from Jewish surnames, such as Rahan (Nahar); Randamie (Miranda); Cotin (Cotinho); Ravales (Alvares); Neus (Nunes); Lapar (de la Parra). Both the Jewish and derived names still occur in Suriname.

MUSIC IN SURINAME

Surinamese music is as diverse as the Surinamese population and there are clear musical links between the Netherlands and Suriname. Live music is heard in Suriname at parties, parades, national holidays, at the walking march, in churches, temples and mosques, and occasionally there are major concerts by Surinamese and foreign artists. Classical music is performed in music schools and churches.

Johannes Helstone was a 19th century Surinamese composer of classical music. He is commemorated with a monument in front of the Reformed Church at Kerkplein in Paramaribo. A bust of Eddy Snijders, the father of flutist and jazz musician Ronald Snijders, stands in Fort Zeelandia, opposite the museum entrance. Eddy Snijders played piccolo and was a composer and conductor of the military band.

In the Netherlands, black musicians were popular in nightclubs and cafés after 1930. Even in the Second World War, they managed to keep performing. Kid Dynamite (1911-1963) was a tenor saxophonist in clubs and with jazz orchestras. Max Woiski Sr. (1911-1981), orchestra leader in Amsterdam, performed in cafés and left for Mallorca in the late 1960s, where he ran a nightclub. One of his hits was BB with R. Max Woiski Jr. tended to prefer the Latin and jazz direction. Rice with long beans and You are not yet happy with a beautiful woman were popular in the 1960s. Lex Vervuurt (1910-1991) was a jazz musician, composer, and orchestra conductor. He worked for the World Broadcasting Corporation, among others, and composed the Friendship Waltz in honour of the Statute of the Netherlands Antilles in 1955.

Lieve Hugo (1934-1975) died just before Suriname’s independence. Well-known songs include Blaka Rosoe, Srefidensi, Dorina, Mi seni a boi and Mira. From his band Happy Boys, the kawina band Trafassi was formed.

Max Nijman (1941-2016), ‘soulman number one’, sang ballads, kaseko, Latin and reggae in sranantongo. In 1986, he left for the Netherlands. Emotional songs include Katibo, Adyossi and Ai Sranan. At the time, there were many Surinamese musicians in the Netherlands, such as Oscar Harris and the jazz group Fra Fra Sound, who performed at the North Sea Jazz Festival. Other Surinamese bands included Exmo Stars, Ghabiang Boys and Master Blaster. The party band Sabaku made Wasmasjien (1985) and Strijkplank popular with Dutch audiences.

In recent years, Damaru with Tuintje in mijn hart and Kenny B. with Paris have become popular in the Netherlands. In Suriname, people like their music more in sranantongo and aucan, such as Yu Faya, Neks ne tai, Paramaribo. Damaru returned to Suriname after a stay in the Netherlands and is in demand at dance parties. In the Netherlands, there is currently a large number of rappers with Surinamese roots following American examples.

Each Surinamese ethnic group has unique music. Traditional indigenous (Indian) music can be recognised by the sambura, a large drum that makes a heavy and dull sound. Previously, a sambura group consisted only of men; today, however, women also play the instrument. The maraca, made from a gourd, was used by the pyjai-man to make spiritual contact with ancestors. Sambura Maestro is a traditional indigenous music group.

Around Lelydorp, Santigron and Pikin Poika, there are kaseko bands of natives and Afrosurinamese, who sing lyrics in sranantongo, the arowak or Caribbean language. Music from the indigenous people of southern Suriname is rarely heard in Paramaribo.

Afro-surinamese people in the coastal plain of Suriname have numerous musical styles, from gospel and church choirs (Harmonie, Maranatha) to kawina, kaseko, zouk, reggae, rap, spoken word and covers of international songs with lyrics in sranantongo. All-round music groups have a wide repertoire from Bollywood to Brazilian pop music, with lyrics in different languages.

The song Faluma became a hit across the Caribbean. Sisa Agi (1962-2020) was an aleke singer, a member of the kawina group Ai Sa Si after 1994. Thanks to the internet, a music group from Suriname can reach audiences around the world, with sranantongo, aucan or saramaccan being no limitation. The Maroons (‘bosnegers’) have a number of music and dance styles that are gaining traction thanks to the internet and social media, such as aleke, awasa and loketo.

A well-known instrument is the Apintie (talking drum), from which Radio Apintie takes its name. Percussion and drums are important in the winti religion and traditional kawina music. Drums are treated with respect, and consecrated with libations. When drums were banned in colonial times, a wooden bench (kwakwa bangi) was used as a musical instrument instead.

Church songs can also reach the charts, e.g. Jerusalem – Nanga palm a de go by Trafassi. This song is sung when a coffin is brought to the grave by dancing dragiman. At a bigi-yari (celebration of a crown anniversary), the music group starts with church songs and slowly switches to kawina and kaseko. Drums and horns (trumpet and tuba) are always present on these occasions.

Kaseko is dance music with Caribbean influences and Western instruments, such as drums, conga, trumpet, trombone, saxophone, electric guitar, bass guitar, sometimes supplemented by the traditional skratji-dron.

The association NAKS (Na Arbeid Komt Sport) in Paramaribo promotes Afro-surinamese culture by providing music and dance lessons. A percussion orchestra called Alakondre dron, in which the different ethnic groups of Suriname wear their traditional clothing and play instruments, often performs at events. It is also known is NAKS Kaseko Loco.

The military chapel can be heard at official ceremonies and on national holidays. Their repertoire includes marching music and the national anthem; they accompany folk Christmas singing and then switch effortlessly to kaseko or international pop music. Surinamese marching music stems from German traditions, and were arranged in a swing style by Eddy Snijders and others.

Hindustanis in Suriname perform chautal music at the Holi-Phagwa festival. A group of men and boys (and more recently girls) sit opposite each other on the floor with small, ear-splitting cymbals and drums, singing party songs. At weddings, there is a baithak gana orchestra with portable harmonium, various drums and a metal rasp. Kries Ramkhelawan is a musician, composer, play director and teaches Indian music. The Embassy of India also provides music, dance and language courses in Suriname.

Modern music and dance from romantic Bollywood films are popular. There are also Hindustani music groups playing American hard rock and country music.

Javanese music, sung in the Javanese language, has a limited audience. During djaran kepang, where dancers go into a trance and act like horses, monkeys, snakes and tigers, gamelan music is played, as well as during wajang performances. This music is associated with religious festivals celebrated in cultural associations. The embassy of Indonesia promotes Surinamese-Javanese culture by providing scholarships, and by bringing Indonesian musicians and artists to Suriname. Young people in Suriname have almost no command of the Javanese language, which is why nowadays wajang performances are given in sranantongo! Astaria Combo was a well-known pop-jawa group in the 1970s to 1990s.

The Suripop festival has taken place every few years since 1982. Composers, singers and musicians are encouraged to present new work, preferably in sranantongo and other Surinamese languages.

Chinese, Lebanese, Haitian and Brazilian music can be heard at cultural associations and on national holidays. The walking march (evening four-day march) in Paramaribo gives these associations the opportunity to showcase their music and dance on the streets. Big companies and politicians sponsor the clothes and the brass bands.

LIVING IN SURINAME

Do you want to live in Suriname for a short or longer period? Good preparation is important to avoid disappointment. The Surinamese and Dutch like to holiday or spend their winters in Suriname, enjoying the best of both worlds. You can rent a flat or holiday home in Suriname without worrying about maintenance. To buy or have a house built, you not only need money, but also a lot of time, patience and reliable professionals.

You can book a flat, hotel or holiday home through a website or an estate agent. If you have relatives in Suriname, you can ask them to drive around the neighbourhood to get an idea about the area and safety. At larger resorts and gated communities, there is usually surveillance. Also check whether the neighbourhood suffers from flooding during the rainy season.

For stays of up to 90 days, you can apply for a tourist visa. For longer stays, you should apply for an MKV (Machtiging tot Kort Verblijf or Short Stay Permit) at the Surinamese consulate in Amsterdam 3 months before departure. This cannot be requested from Suriname. If you have Surinamese nationality or are of Surinamese origin, flexible rules apply. If you want to live permanently in Suriname, you need a residence permit and possibly a work permit. Request information on required documents from the Immigration Department in Suriname at www.vz.juspol.sr.

Re-migrants can receive subsidies to return to Suriname, with the obligation to be naturalised as Surinamese, thus losing their Dutch nationality.

Above all, keep your bank account in the Netherlands; it is very difficult to open a bank account in Suriname. Paying with a foreign debit or credit card is not common. You can withdraw cash at some banks, and get Surinamese dollars at the bank rate. International bank charges for remittances are high.

You need your Digi D to contact the Dutch government. In Suriname, you can apply for a Digi D at the Dutch embassy. Before departure, your Dutch passport and driving licence must be valid for at least 6 months. You will also need an international driving licence in Suriname, and you must apply for a driving licence within 3 weeks.

If you do not yet receive a state pension in the Netherlands, you will pay tax for accruing state pension rights. For every year you live abroad, the state pension you receive in the future will be reduced by 2%. You can avoid this by continuing to pay state pension contributions. If you already receive a state pension, you should know that you will pay up to 38% tax on it in Suriname. A person on a Dutch social assistance benefits must apply for permission to stay abroad, and this permission can be refused.

Suriname’s postal company SURPOST functions poorly; sending mail out is usually fine but mail has not been delivered in Suriname for years. Therefore, it is important to conduct your business via the internet as much as possible.

Your nationality is important when buying a house or plot of land. If the title on the land is “ground rent”, it can only be sold to someone with Surinamese nationality, or to a Surinamese foundation or company. For this reason, real estate is often placed in a foundation. Safe buying and selling can only be realised through a broker and notary. Many property scams are carried out by people who promise to ‘arrange’ everything for you.

An international move is costly. You can no longer send sea-mail parcels and shipping containers are costly and can take months. The safest way to ship contents is through a recognised international moving company that handles all the necessary documents for transport and customs clearance. You will spend 10,000 euros in the blink of an eye. It might be better to take nothing and buy what you need on the spot.

In Suriname, 110V electricity connection is standard; 220V connections are expensive and there are long waiting times. Bringing household appliances is therefore not convenient.
Internet at home is requested through TELESUR or Digicel.
Mobile subscriptions can be taken out directly on site.

Living in Suriname? First consider your options, then find information and organise things; then it will work!

BACK TO YOUR ROOTS (Diaspora package)

Before Surinam’s independence on 25 November 1975, and afterwards as well, hundreds of thousands of Surinamese moved to the Netherlands. Over 75% of the trips to the Netherlands before November 25, 1975 were provided by Does Travel & Cadushi Tours (then Does Travel Service). Everyone had his or her own reasons for leaving Suriname at that time. Nearly 400,000 countrymen now live in the Netherlands, many of whom were also born in the Netherlands. The Surinamese in the Netherlands and those in Suriname are inextricably linked. This is reflected in the many daily money transfers from the Netherlands to Suriname, usually through Western Union or MoneyGram. In addition, every week thousands of boxes / packages are sent to Suriname, mostly with food and household items. But also trade goods, medical equipment and so on.

The strong ties with the Netherlands are also expressed in the almost daily flights between the Netherlands and Suriname. Whether it’s for a birthday, a birth, a funeral, another important event or just to enjoy a holiday in their country of birth; the planes are almost all filled with fellow countrymen from the Netherlands and Suriname. On an annual basis, they account for as much as 85 to 90% of the market.

MAJOR TOURIST TARGET

An important group among these travellers is fellow countrymen born in the Netherlands. The so-called ‘second generation’, whose parents or one of them were born in Suriname. These children develop links to the Surinamese culture and especially the food from birth. They usually have friends in the Netherlands with a Surinamese background, but many do not know Suriname and are naturally very curious about their roots. This type of traveller would enjoy a discovery trip to Suriname and would prefer to stay in a hotel or apartment rather than with their uncle, aunt or grandmother. For this group, Does Travel & Cadushi Tours offers:

EXCLUSIVE AND UNIQUE TOURS

During this tour, within one week, we will provide a great overview of Suriname, historically, culturally and socially. There are several special tours where we introduce you to the people and their history; we also run our exclusive vegetable-fruit and fish tours.
These unique tours have been specially created and developed for the Back to your roots tours. The programme is completed within 1 week so you have plenty of time to yourself. The full programme and price are available on request.

SPECIAL BUSINESS TRIPS – ALL UNDER ONE ROOF

Suriname is made up of over 90% forests and is also rich in resources. In the past, bauxite was the main focus of the economy. Today, it is mainly the gold, oil and gas sectors that are flourishing. At the moment, quite a few businessmen and expats are making their way to Suriname. For them, it is important that everything is well organized. Not only the tickets but also the stay in Suriname needs to be organized flawlessly, so that top performances can be realised and time need not be wasted on peripheral issues. Does Travel & Cadushi Tours will offer leisure trips to Suriname as well as special business trips through its dedicated business department, starting this year. You can use the following services if you wish:

  • Special business and comfort class airfares
  • VIP service upon arrival at the airport
  • VIP transport from the airport to your hotel, including drink and newspaper in your VIP car
  • Meet and greet at your hotel plus information brochure (Suriname What 2do)
  • Hotel reservations of all well known business hotels in Suriname and also special accommodation for longer stays
  • Private taxi transport during your stay in Suriname
  • Private hostess service during your stay in Suriname
  • Making any business appointments with companies and agencies in Suriname
  • Dine Around Experience
  • Optional car rental
  • Any day and domestic tours

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24/7 HOSTESS SERVICE

When you arrive at the airport in Suriname, you will be taken by bus or private car to your accommodation or resort in Paramaribo. When you arrive at your accommodation or holiday home, you will find an envelope with useful information about the opening hours of our offices and the emergency number of our hostess service. You will also receive the brochure Suriname What 2do with information about Suriname and a map of Paramaribo.

Guests staying at a hotel will be visited by our hostess the next day. They will inform you about important matters before and during your stay.

During your stay in Suriname you can always visit one of the offices of Does Travel & Cadushi Tours. This is located in the centre of Paramaribo at the Burenstraat 4 or in the middle of the entertainment centre at the van Sommelsdijckstraat 1 (opposite Torarica Group of Hotels). You can also call one of our offices. We will always try to help you.

If there are any major problems, one of our tour guides will visit you. For emergencies you can call the emergency number 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

With our comprehensive team in Suriname we will try to make your trip as pleasant as possible and any complaints will be dealt with immediately.

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TRAVELLING SAFE AND SOUND

With over 60 years of experience, Does Travel & Cadushi Tours will take you on a safe and secure trip. Does Travel & Cadushi is affiliated with many international and local branch organizations. You travel with the following guarantees:

  • IATA (International Air Transport Association) recognized since 1961
  • USTOA member (United States Tour Operators Association) USA
  • 1 DMC World member (Destination Management Company World)
  • World of DMC’s member (World of Destination Management Companies)
  • ASTA member (American Society of Travel Advisors) USA
  • ETOA member (European Tourism Association) Europe
  • The International Ecotourism Society member USA
  • Adventure Travel Trade Association member USA
  • SHATA member (Suriname Hotel and Tourism Association)
  • VSB member (Association of Surinamese Businesses)

IATA RECOGNIZED SINCE 1961

Does Travel & Cadushi Tours has been recognized by IATA (International Air Transport Association) since 1961. You can book airline tickets worldwide with Does Travel & Cadushi Tours from all airlines that are members of the IATA. You can book flight tickets by email, telephone or online via our booking engine or reservation form. Does Travel & Cadushi Tours can also help you to change your flight ticket in case of an interruption or extension of your trip in Suriname.


EASY 2 PAY

Does Travel & Cadushi Tours offers the following payment options:

  • Via 3 different banks in Suriname
  • Via iDEAL in the Netherlands/li>
  • Via the bank in the Netherlands
  • Via PayPal worldwide
  • Worldwide via MASTERCARD
  • Worldwide via VISA
  • Cash at one of our offices in Suriname


DMC info

DESTINATION MANAGEMENT COMPANY

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ALL DESTINATION MANAGEMENT SERVICES

REPRESENTATION

✔ Hotels in Suriname
✔ Private and group transfer
✔ Meet and greet
✔ 24/7 Hostess service
✔ Excursions and jungle tours

GROUP AND INCENTIVE TRAVEL

✔ Conference venues and meetings
✔ Special interest groups
✔ Sport events and travel
✔ Logistics and all ground handling
✔ Aircraft charters
✔ Farewel meeting

ALL SERVICES

✔ Site inspection
✔ Dinner and restaurant options
✔ Gala dinner & event design
✔ Transportation
✔ Audio & visual equipment
✔ Live streaming
✔ Conference registration
✔ Meeting program design
✔ Catering
✔ Cocktail receptions
✔ Entertainment
✔ Live bands, singers & DJs
✔ Payments and contracting