In this episode of season 3 of 80 Days: an exploration podcast, we’ll be talking about the Republic of Suriname, previously known as Dutch Guiana. Located on the northern coast of South America, this roughly square shaped nation borders French Guiana to the east, Guyana to the West and Brazil to the South. Modern Suriname is both one of the smallest and most ethnically diverse countries in South America, with up to 9 recognised languages and many different ethnic groups.
At just under 165,000 square kilometers (or 64,000 square miles), Suriname is roughly the size of the US state of Washington, or Tunisia. The country’s population is around 560,000, most of whom live in the capital city of Paramaribo, near the mouth of the river Suriname. The climate here is hot and humid year-round, as the country lies just a few degrees north of the equator. As a result, its southern portion is dominated by lush, dense rainforest.
Originally established as a British colony, Suriname was eventually traded to the Dutch in 1667 for a little island in on the east coast of North America, then known as New Amsterdam. Since gaining its independence in 1975, Suriname has maintained close ties to The Netherlands, and is today the only sovereign nation outside Europe where Dutch is spoken by a majority of the population.
Above is the current flag, the location of Suriname in South America, and the terrible old flag with five stars on a white background. Ethnic/linguistic diversity also needs to be mentioned up top. In Suriname, there are no fewer than twenty languages spoken. Most Surinamese are multilingual. In terms of numbers of speakers are the main languages in Suriname, successively the Dutch language, Sranan Tongo (Surinamese Creole), Sarnami (Surinamese Hindi), Javanese, and different Maroon languages (especially Saramaccan and Ndyuka) and Carriban languages. In recent years, English is being spoken more and more by the majority of the younger populace.
Here are a few things you may want to read/watch more about:
- Of general interest: “Suriname in Pictures” by Tom Streissguth
- The strange history of Willoughbyland, modern-day Suriname (The Spectator, 2015); Review of “Willoughbyland: England’s Lost Colony (by Matthew-Parker)
- Winti is the name of the traditional religion which developed in the area, mixing African and Christian spiritual concepts
- Geschiedenis van Suriname (1861)–J. Wolbers (History [in Dutch] from Digitale Bibliotheek voor de Nederlandse Letteren)
- History of the Dutch Slave Trade (YouTube)
- “Search for the Slave Ship Leusden” (Huffington Post, 2017) – about the slave ship that was allowed sink with enslaved people still locked in the hold, most of whom drowned.
- Leprosy and Colonialism: Suriname Under Dutch Rule, 1750-1950 by Stephen Snelders – Google Books
- Out of Slavery: A Surinamese Roots History by Wim S. M. Hoogbergen – Google Books
- Black Rebellion: Five Slave Revolts by Thomas Wentworth Higginson – Gutenberg
- Suriname in World War 2; American soldiers in the country
- Photo of the wreck of German ship, the Gosslar
- An article about the Surinamese Jews who died in the Holocaust (almost a third of the Jewish population) (Times of Israel, 2016)
- “Mayday in the West” – documentary about two WW2-era plane crashes in Suriname
- Video of Princess Juliana’s 1943 visit to Suriname; Video from a later visit of now-Queen Juliana and her husband in 1955 and the pageantry put on show for the House of Orange
- Results and list of parties in 1949 elections
- SancocheTV visits Paramaribo and talks about Javanese culture there
- “Suriname in the Long Twentieth Century – Domination, Contestation, Globalisation” by Rosemarijn Hoefte
- Very nice video of celebrations upon official declaration of independence of Suriname in 1975 (Dutch news report)
- “The Trouble in Suriname” by Edward M. Dew – covers the post-independence period. Key leaders from this era include Henck Arron and Dési Bouterse
- CNN report of CIA-backed militias being trained to overthrow Bouterse (this never came to pass, as was reported by the New York Times)
- Reuters report on the jailing of Bouterse’s son’s jailing for acceting money from a group he believed to be Hezbollah
- Suriname – CIA World Factbook
- YouTuber Samantha Pollack talking about explaining her Surinamese background/identity to Dutch neighbours and friends who have never heard of this Dutch-speaking place: Video in Dutch, with subtitles available in English
Some nice Surinamese music we found:
- Kaseko Music from Suriname
- “Koroa De Na Mama Moffo” and “D’e Tap’ Ok’ O A Lua Sonde” by Folk Groups NAKS’s album “This is Suriname”
- “Suriname – Mi Lobi Yu” from the movie Sing Song, features Dutch and Sranan Tongo (English-based creole language)
- “I Love SU” by Suri AllStarzz
- “Suriname” song by Damaru
A massive thanks to all of our patrons on Patreon who are supporting season 3. If you’d like to join them and see what rewards are available for supporters, and get a peek behind the curtain check out www.patreon.com/80dayspodcast. We really appreciate the support and input!