(Republic of Suriname, Republiek Suriname)
Flag of Suriname
- Location: South America
- Capital: Paramaribo
- Language: Dutch
- Population: 491,989
- Total Area: 163,821 sq km
- Currency: Surinamese Dollar (SRD)
- Curious Alcohol Fact:
- Annual Average Liquor Consumption per Capita: 6.09
- Most Popular Drink: Locally brewed beer called Parbo Bier is nationally consumed.
The Republic of Suriname is the smallest independent country in South America. The name “Suriname” probably comes from the Arawak speaking group of natives called Surinen who originally inhabited the region. It is divided into two geographic regions: the northern, lowland coastal region and the southern tropical rainforest and the savanna. The country is divided into ten districts and sixty-two resorts. The Dutch and English had a dispute over the region of Suriname in the late seventeenth century which ultimately resulted in Dutch control over the area. On February 25, 1980, Suriname’s democratic government was overthrown in a military coup and it became a socialist republic until a new constitution was adopted in 1987.
Runaway slaves formed a tribe known as the Maroons in the late seventeenth century. This group exists along with other native tribes such as Arawak, Carib, Tiriyo, and Wayana. Descendants of late nineteenth century Indian contract workers called Hindoestanen form the largest group of Surinamese. The descendants of mostly Dutch European and West Africans called Surinamese Creoles comprise the second largest majority. Javanese (descendants of Dutch East Indians and Indonesians) are another common group of people.
Roman Catholicism, Protestantism, and Hindu are the major religions of Suriname. Some Surinamese also practice Islam, and, in fact, there is the largest concentration of Muslims in this country than in any other of South, Central, or North America! Dutch is the only official language, but there are so many other language spoken that Suriname is considered one of the most multilingual countries in the world. Indo-Caribbean influence abounds, particularly in the music of this country. Kaseko is one of the most popular energetic dances (the word most likely comes from a French phrase meaning “break the body”) which incorporate complex movements and rhythms to the beat of various drums, saxophone, trumpet and trombone.
Suriname’s cuisine is as diverse as its population. Exotic foods ranging from Indian roti (flatbread) with chicken to dhal (lentil stew) can be found in this country. Exotic foods rely upon tropical fruits, fresh seafood, rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, plantains, and tayer (a tuber). Native, European, and even Chinese influences figure prominently in Surinamese dishes.
An extensive variety of tropical fruit juices are imbed throughout the country. Popular juices include orange, markoesa (passion fruit), and Guanabanana among others. A pink drink called dawet is made of coconut milk and is also quite popular. Parbo bier comes in lager or milk stout and is extremely common. Rum is national liquor used in many different kinds of drinks. Borgoe and Black Cat are the popular brands of rum.
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Special thanks to our contributors:
Rebecca Dimyan, Danbury, CT, USA.
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