Capital | Paramaribo
Population | 491,989 (July 2011 est.)
Area | 163,270 SQ KM
Official Language | Dutch
Holidays | Independence Day, 25 November (1975)
Currency | Dollar (SRD)
Time Zone | UTC -3
Best Time to Visit | Early February to late April or mid-August to early December. Sea turtles come ashore to nest March to July.
Connecting with the Culture | Reaching the top of the Voltzberg at sunrise for a breathtaking panorama. Visiting Galibi Nature Reserve, one of the world’s few nesting sites for giant leatherback turtles. Mooching around Paramaribo (Parbo) a curious hybrid city of northern Europe and tropical America. Taking a stroll through Brownsberg Nature Park tropical rainforest. Conquering Mt Kasikasima after days of canoeing, trekking, and becoming one with nature. Venturing into the interior in a small plane to survey the mindboggling expanse of the unspoiled rain forest.
Read | Tales of a Shaman’s Apprentice by Mark Plotkin, or Suriname: Politics, Economics & Society by Henk E Chin and Hans Buddingh.
Listen | to ‘the most swinging flautist’ Ronald Snijders.
Watch | the documentary Cowboys and Indians about the Guiana Shield, directed and produced by Ray Kril and Terry Roopnaraine.
Eat | salt fish, bami goring (fried noodles) or petjil (a type of green bean).
Drink | a djogo of Parbo beer; Borgoe and Black Cat are the best local rums.
In a Word | Tof (cool) in Dutch, vissa (party) in Sranang Tongo, the lingua franca
Characteristics | The interior; bauxite; the second-worst national football team in South America.
Surprises | Under the Treaty of Breda (1667), the Dutch retained Suriname and their colonies on the Guyanese coast in exchange for a tiny island now called Manhattan; Paramaribo’s Javanese neighborhood, Blauwgrond, features people cooking in their kitchens and serving dinner to customers on their patios.