Suriname

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Introduction to Suriname

Suriname has an extraordinary ethnic variety deriving from Dutch colonisation, the importation of African slaves and an influx of indentured labourers from India and Indonesia. Its capital is rich with Dutch colonial architecture and there's a well-ordered system of nature parks and reserves.

Caution

Though most visits to Suriname are hassle-free, visitors to Paramaribo should bear in mind that burglaries and armed robberies are a relatively common occurrence there.

Full country name: Republic of Suriname

Area: 163,270 sq km

Population: 436,500

Capital City: Paramaribo

People: 35% East Indian, 32% Afro-Surinamese, 15% Indonesian, 10% Maroons (descendants of ex-slaves who inhabit the upland forests), 2% Amerindians, 2% Chinese

Language: Dutch, English, Hindi, Javanese, Chinese,

Religion: Hindu (27%), Protestant (25%), Roman Catholic (23%), Muslim (20%)

Government: constitutional democracy

Head of State: President Ronald Venetiaan

GDP: US$1.48 billion

GDP per capita: US$3,500

Annual Growth: 2%

Inflation: 20%

Major Industries: Bauxite & aluminium, palm oil, shrimp & fish

Major Trading Partners: Norway, the Netherlands, US, France

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Traveler Facts

Visas: Virtually all visitors require a visa. There are Surninamese embassies in the Netherlands, Germany and the US. Visitors from other countries can obtain visas on arrival.

Health risks: malaria, rabies, typhoid, dengue fever, cholera

Time Zone: GMT/UTC -3

Dialling Code: 597

Electricity: 127V ,60Hz

Weights & measures: Metric



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Events

The Hindu New Year's festival, Holi Phagwah, is held in March or April, while the Muslim holiday Id ul fitr celebrates the end of fasting at Ramadan.

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Best time to Visit

Suriname's dry seasons, from early February to late April and from mid-August to early December, are the best times for a visit. From March to July, several species of sea turtles come ashore to nest at Wia Wia and Galibi reserves.



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Currency / Costs / Approx. Spending

Currency: Surinam Guilder

Meals

Budget: US$2-5

Mid-range: US$5-10

High: US$10-25

Deluxe: US$25+

Lodging

Budget: US$6-20

Mid-range: US$20-40

High: US$40-100

Deluxe: US$100+

Suriname is moderately expensive. The cheapest accommodation is very basic and costs US$6 per night, while a good room is at least US$25. A reasonable restaurant meal is at least US$5. Budget travelers can get by on around US$25 per day, while those looking for more comfort should expect to spend closer to US$50 per day.

US dollars are the most common foreign currency in Suriname, but euros and other major currencies are accepted at banks. Banks are open weekdays from 8am to 3pm. Changing money can involve time-consuming paperwork. In practice, many businesses will accept US dollars at the usual rate, and many quote their prices in dollars. Credit cards are accepted at major hotels and at travel agencies. American Express is more common than either MasterCard or Visa.

In restaurants, it is customary to tip about 10% of the bill. In general, waiters and waitresses are poorly paid, so if you can afford to eat out, you can afford to tip. Taxi drivers do not require tips, although you may round off the fare for convenience. Long-distance bus or shared taxi fares are negotiable. Purchases from handicrafts markets will be subject to bargaining and haggling on hotel prices is possible in the off-season or for long stays.

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Attractions

Paramaribo

Suriname's capital Paramaribo (often abbreviated to 'Parbo') is a curious hybrid of northern Europe and tropical America. Imposing brick buildings overlook grassy squares and wooden houses crowd narrow streets, but towering palms shade some areas and mangroves still hug the riverside.

Mosques and synagogues sit side by side, while Javanese vendors peddle satay and Dutch-speaking Creoles guzzle beer at sidewalk cafes.

Central Paramaribo's focus is the Onafhankelijksplein (Independence Square), fronting the Presidential Palace. Immediately behind the palace is the Palmentuin, an attractive park with tall palms inhabited by tropical birds. To the east is Fort Zeelandia, a 17-century riverside fortification used for the detention and torture of political prisoners after the coup of 1980. The main market is found on the riverside boulevard, Waterkrant, and ferries for Meerzog, on the other side of the river, leave from nearby.

Brownsberg Nature Park

This park comprises an area of montane tropical rainforest overlooking one of the world's largest reservoirs, the W J van Blommestein Meer, about one and a half hours from Paramaribo by car. Guided tours are available and include a short walk on the Mazaroni plateau, which gives fine views of the reservoir to the east, and a longer hike which involves a steep descent into a canyon with small but attractive waterfalls.

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Disclaimer: We've tried to make the information on this web site as accurate as possible, but it is provided 'as is' and we accept no responsibility for any loss, injury or inconvenience sustained by anyone resulting from this information. You should verify critical information like (visas, health and safety, customs, and transportation) with the relevant authorities before you travel.

Sources: CIA FactBook, World FactBooks and numerous Travel and Destinations Guides.

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