Suriname is the smallest independent country in South America but what it lacks in size it makes up in ethnic diversity: its friendly inhabitants are composed of Dutch and British colonialists, Amerindians, Chinese, Indians and Maroons, and any combination of them. The country can be divided into two main regions - the northern lowland coastal area where most of the population lives and the dense tropical rainforest and sparsely inhabited savannah which covers the rest of the country.
The inland forest is occupied by very small communities of Amerindians and descendants of African slaves - the Maroons – who escaped into the jungle in the 17th and 18th centuries live scattered along the banks of its major rivers. The Dutch colonial centre of Paramaribo is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The city is also a melting pot of religious cultures including Jews who moved here from Jodensavanne - home of the oldest synagogue in the Americas. The wilderness interior is pretty impenetrable and is accessed by river, forest road or light aircraft. The biggest attraction of the country for visitors is its unique ethnic and social fabric.
Do I need a yellow fever vaccination for Suriname?
The Ministry of Health in Suriname advises passengers travelling to Suriname to be vaccinated against Yellow Fever. This is also valid for travellers departing from Suriname towards countries in the Caribbean region. You will be required to present your ’International Certificate of Vaccination’ booklet, which will be checked before departure. You may be denied entree to any country if you fail to present this document. You should be vaccinated at least 10 days before departure.
When's the best time to go to Suriname?
Suriname has a tropical humid climate. There are a short rainy seasons Dec-Jan and Apr-Jul. The most pleasant times to visit are the dry seasons Feb-Apr and Aug-Nov. Throughout the year the average daily temperature varies between 21 and 32°C. Suriname lies outside the hurricane zone and the most extreme weather condition is the "sibibusi" (forest broom), a torrential rain shower which passes quickly.
What's the official language in Suriname?
Dutch, English and Sranan Tongo, originally the language of the creoles.
What's the official currency in Suriname?
Suriname guilder. Currently, only one bank, the Royal Bank of Trinidad and Tobago (RBTT) has ATMs which accept foreign ATM Visa cards. You can exchange currency at banks, hotels, and official exchange houses; in no circumstances change money on the street. Only a few tourist-inclined establishments accept credit cards.
GMT -4 hours
A visit to the two other Guianas, which sit alongside Suriname on the coast: Guyana, the former British Guiana and Guyane, still a French overseas département. It’s not easy to do independently: we recommend you join our annual small group guided tour, named Coq of the Rock.
Average flight time to Paramaribo is 12 hrs. There are no direct flights from the UK to Suriname; popular routes involve a change of ‘plane in Amsterdam.
The religious festivals of all the main religions represented by the population are celebrated, Christian Christmas and Easter; Hindu Diwali; Muslim Eid al-Adha and Amerindian Mashramani.
Suriname Jazz Festival, Paramaribo; Oct.
Surifesta, Paramaribo; mid Dec-Jan. A festival of shows, street parties, parades and flower markets.