Suriname (Dutch: Republiek Suriname), officially the Republic of Suriname (traditionally spelled Surinam by the English who founded the first colony at Marshall's Creek, along the Suriname River, but lately the Dutch spelling is more widely accepted; in Sranan Tongo Sranan), is a country in northern South America.
Suriname was formerly known as Nederlands Guyana, Netherlands Guiana or Dutch Guiana. Suriname is situated between French Guiana to the east and Guyana to the west. The southern border is shared with Brazil and the northern border is the Atlantic coast. The southernmost border with French Guiana is disputed along the Marowijne river; while the once-disputed boundary with Guyana was arbitrated by the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea on September 20, 2007. The country is the smallest sovereign state in terms of area and population in South America.
Suriname is the smallest independent country in South America. Situated on the Guiana Shield, the country can be divided into two main geographic regions. The northern, lowland coastal area (roughly above the line Albina-Paranam-Wageningen) has been cultivated, and most of the population lives here. The southern part consists of tropical rainforest and sparsely inhabited savanna along the border with Brazil, covering about 80% of Suriname's land surface.
There are two main mountain ranges in Suriname: the Bakhuys Mountains and the Van Asch Van Wijck Mountains. Julianatop is the highest mountain in the country at 1,286 metres (4,219 ft) above sea level. Other mountains include Tafelberg (1,026 m; 3,366 ft), Mount Kasikasima (718 m; 2,356 ft), Goliathberg (358 m; 1,174 ft) and Voltzberg (240 m; 787 ft).
In recent years this sector has flourished. By the end of 2006, tourism had grown by 400% compared with 2005. In the last years big hotels have been built all over the country to satisfy the needs of the growing tourism sector. In December 2007 the first five star hotel- the Royal Torarica- was opened in the night district of Paramaribo on the Suriname River. This hotel has approximately 300 rooms with a Presidential suite on the top floor. Other major hotels- of four stars- in Suriname are the Krasnapolsky, Residence Inn, Torarica, Queens Hotel, Princess Hotel, Ambassador hotel and casino, Stardust hotel, Ecoressort, Hotel Ameerali and the Spanhoek Hotel. The rental of apartments, or the rent-a-house phenomenon is also popular in Suriname.
The majority of tourists visit Suriname for the outstanding biodiversity of the pristine Amazonian rainforests in the south of the country which are noted for the incredible profusion of flora and fauna. The Central Suriname Nature Reserve is the biggest and one of the most popular reserves, along with the Brownsberg Nature Park which overlooks the Brokopondo Reservoir- one of the largest man-made lakes in the world. Tonka Island in the reservoir is home to a rustic eco-tourism project run by the Saramaccaner Maroons. There are also many waterfalls throughout the country: Raleighvallen, or Raleigh Falls, is a 56,000 hectare nature reserve on the Coppename River, rich in bird life. Also are the Blanche Marie Falls on the Nickerie River and the Wonotobo Falls. Tafelberg Mountain in the centre of the country is surrounded by its own reserve- the Tafelberg Nature Reserve- around the source of the Saramacca River, as is the Voltzberg Nature Reserve further north on the Coppename River at Raleighvallen. In the interior are many Maroon and Amerindian villages- usually surrounded by their own reserves- which are open visitors.
Suriname is one of the only countries in the world where at least one of each different biome that the state possesses has been declared a wildlife reserve. Around 30% of the total land area of Suriname is protected by law as reserves.
Also amazing are some of the plantations like Laarwijk, which is situated along the Suriname River. This plantation can only be reached by boat via Domburg, in the north central Wanica District of Suriname.
Suriname's population of 438,144 (July 2005 estimate) is made up of several distinct ethnic groups. And in November 2007 the population was estimated at 494,347.
Hindoestanen form the largest major group at 37% of the population. They are descendants of nineteenth-century contract workers from India. They are from the Indian states of Bihar and Eastern Uttar Pradesh, in Northern India, along the Nepali border.
The Surinamese Creoles form the middle group 31% of the population. They are the descendants of West African slaves.
The Javanese (descendents of contract workers from the former Dutch East Indies on the island of Java, Indonesia) make up 15%.
Surinamese Maroons (descendants of escaped West African slaves) make up 10% and are divided into five main groups: Aucans, Kwinti, Matawai, Saramaccans and Paramaccans.
Amerindians form 3% of the population (some say as low as 1%), the main groups being the Akuriyo, Arawak, Carib/Kaliña, Trío and Wayana.
Chinese are mainly descendants of the earliest nineteenth-century contract workers.
Boeroes (derived from boer, the Dutch word for farmer) are descendants of Dutch nineteenth-century immigrant farmers.
Jews, both Sephardic and East European (Ashkenazi).
Brazilians have migrated to Suriname in the later years of the 20th century. In a wave, similar to the Yukon Gold Rush, they have formed a new society in the forested areas where they mine gold. Locally they are known as garimpeiros (from portuguese "garimpo", meaning open-air mine). They trade with the local Maroon and Indian populations. In the small towns they have created the currency is gold bullion. Their population size has been estimated at 40,000. There are no official records to be more certain.
Education Main article: Education in Suriname
Education in Suriname is compulsory until the age of 12, and the nation had a net primary enrollment rate of 94% in 2004. Literacy is very common, particularly among males. The main university in the country is the Anton de Kom University of Suriname.
From elementary school to high school there are 13 grades. The elementary school has six grades, middle school four grades and high school three grades. Students take a test in the end of elementary school to determine whether they will go to the MULO (secondary modern school) or a middle school of lower standards like LBGO. Students from the elementary school wear a green shirt with jeans, while middle school students wear a blue shirt with jeans.
Students going from the second grade middle school to the third grade have to choose between the business (A) or science (B) courses. This will determine what their major subjects will be. The student should have an total of 13 points for math and physics. If the student has lower points he/she will go into the business courses. The student might also fail the grade.
There is no predominant religion in the country. Christianity, both in the form of Roman Catholicism and variations of Protestantism, is dominant among Creoles and Maroons. Most of the Hindustani are Hindu, but some practice Islam or Christianity instead. Also the Javanese practice either Islam or Christianity. With 20% of the population, Suriname has the largest Muslim community by percentage in the New World.. About 2,5% of thet total Surinamese population is Ahmadiyya muslim. Despite the religious diversity, the makeup of Suriname's population is very similar to that of neighboring Guyana, with the exception of the Indonesian population (which Guyana lacks). French Guiana, which is a part of France, does not collect ethnic statistics.
The vast majority of people (about 90%) live in Paramaribo or on the coast. There is also a significant Surinamese population in the Netherlands. In 2005 there were 328,300 Surinamese people living in the Netherlands, which is about 2% of the total population of the Netherlands (compared to 438,144 in Suriname).