Key Country Facts
The typical motto in Suriname is “no span,” meaning, “Keep cool; don’t worry.” People in Suriname are thought of as laid back and are known for their hospitality.
Suriname belonged to the Netherlands until its independence in 1975. Capital is Paramaribo and the official language is Dutch, though Amerindian languages, Creole languages, Suriname Javanese, and Sarnami Hindustani are also spoken here. The main exports are gold, aluminum oxide, refined petroleum, wood, and bananas, and many products are assembled here and shipped to the United States.
Paramaribo, Jungles, Lake Brokopondo
Suriname is unique in that around eighty percent of its land is tropical rainforest. For travelers who love rafting and sightseeing, the forested lands in Suriname provide incredible sights and activities. Arapahu Island in the Corantijn Rivers offers magnificent views, waterfalls, historic rock etchings, and relaxing trails for travelers looking for remote sightseeing.
For seeing more of the culture, the capital, Paramaribo, is considered a World Heritage Site by UNESCO for its colonial architecture. Also interesting is that some traffic lights at large intersections in Suriname are solar powered as a way of being more “green”.
About half the population of Suriname lives in Paramaribo, the capital city. Mostly nondescript economic district offering little for tourists to see. 80% of Suriname is jungle so when you go you must see it—it’s wonderful! I visited the Brokopondo area about 2 hours south of Paramaribo. I had a private guide to tour me around the lake and we went ashore to watch some local ladies making cassava bread, looked at an old gold mining site, visited a local vegetable garden, and toured the Alcoa dam which provides much of the north’s electricity.
However, the highlight of my trip to Suriname was prospecting for gold in a large cut in middle of the jungle. After asking our way around, we stumbled upon a mine owned by a local and staffed by a Brazilian crew. The owner agreed to let me work there, removing large rocks out of the catch area. The owner of the land has created an interesting ecosystem at the mine: he pays his employees in gold, they bum food and liquor from him (for gold), he rents rooms to prostitutes (for gold), and the employees pay the prostitutes (in gold). The owner of the mine ends up with all of the gold and happy employees : ^ 0.
One of the more colorful and fun facts about Suriname: it’s President Bouterse has been convicted of drug trafficking and is wanted by Dutch authorities. His son Dino is serving a 16 year prison term in the U.S for drug possession, terrorism, and money laundering.