1UpTravel


 

You are here > 1Up Travel > Countries of the World > South America > Suriname



ADVERTISEMENT

Country

 Country Facts

  Introduction

  Geography

  People

  Government

  Economy

  Communications

  Transportation

  Military

  Maps & Cities

  Transnational issues


Related

  Suriname Guide
  Suriname Maps
  Suriname Flag
  More Suriname Flags
  Suriname Geography
  Suriname Travel Warning




Featured in Beachcomber Community Guides

Travel & Tourism . Tourist Guide to the Country

Suriname Introduction




Suriname    Introduction Top of Page
Background: Independence from the Netherlands was granted in 1975. Five years later the civilian government was replaced by a military regime that soon declared a socialist republic. It continued to rule through a succession of nominally civilian administrations until 1987, when international pressure finally brought about a democratic election. In 1989, the military overthrew the civilian government, but a democratically elected government returned to power in 1991.


HISTORY

Arawak and Carib tribes lived in the region before Columbus sighted the coast in 1498. Spain officially claimed the area in 1593,but Portuguese and Spanish explorers of the time gave the area little attention. Dutch settlement began in 1616 at the mouths of several rivers between present-day Georgetown, Guyana, and Cayenne, French Guiana.

Suriname became a Dutch colony in 1667. The new colony, Dutch Guiana, did not thrive. Historians cite several reasons for this, including Holland's preoccupation with its more extensive (and profitable) East Indian territories, violent conflict between whites and native tribes, and frequent uprisings by the imported slave population, which was often treated with extraordinary cruelty. Barely, if at all, assimilated into European society, many of the slaves fled to the interior, where they maintained a West African culture and established the five major Bush Negro tribes in existence today--the Djuka, Saramaccaner, Matuwari, Paramaccaner, and Quinti.

Plantations steadily declined in importance as labor costs rose. Rice, bananas, and citrus fruits replaced the traditional crops of sugar, coffee, and cocoa. Exports of gold rose beginning in 1900. The Dutch Government gave little financial support to the colony.

Suriname's economy was transformed in the years following World War I, when an American firm (ALCOA) began exploiting bauxite deposits in East Suriname. Bauxite processing and then alumina production began in 1941. During World War II, more than 75% of U.S. bauxite imports came from Suriname.

In 1951, Suriname began to acquire a growing measure of autonomy from the Netherlands. Suriname became an autonomous part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands on December 15, 1954, and gained independence on November 25, 1975.

Most of Suriname's political parties took shape during the autonomy period and were overwhelmingly based on ethnicity. For example, the National Party of Suriname found its support among the Creoles, the Progressive Reform Party members came from the Hindustani population, and the Indonesian Peasant's Party was Javanese. Other smaller parties found support by appealing to voters on an ideological or pro-independence platform; the Partij Nationalistische Republiek (PNR) was among the most important. Its members pressed most strongly for independence and for the introduction of leftist political and economic measures. Many former PNR members would go on to play a key role following the coup of February 1980.

Independence, Revolution, and Democracy
Suriname was a working parliamentary democracy in the years immediately following independence. Henk Arron became the first Prime Minister and was re-elected in 1977. On February 25, 1980, 16 noncommissioned officers overthrew the elected government. The military-dominated government then suspended the constitution, dissolved the legislature, and formed a regime that ruled by decree. Although a civilian filled the post of president, a military man, Desi Bouterse, actually ruled the country.

Throughout 1982, pressure grew for a return to civilian rule. In response, the military ordered drastic action. Early in December 1982, military authorities arrested and killed 15 prominent opposition leaders, including journalists, lawyers, and trade union leaders.

Following the murders, the United States and the Netherlands suspended economic and military cooperation with the Bouterse regime, which increasingly began to follow an erratic but generally leftist-oriented political course. Economic decline rapidly set in after the suspension of economic aid from the Netherlands. The regime restricted the press and limited the rights of its citizens.

Continuing economic decline brought pressure for change. During the 1984-87 period, the Bouterse regime tried to end the crisis by appointing a succession of nominally civilian-led cabinets. Many figures in the government came from the traditional political parties that had been shoved aside during the coup. The military eventually agreed to free elections in 1987, a new constitution, and a civilian government.

Another pressure for change had erupted in July 1986, when a Bush Negro (aka Maroon) insurgency, led by former soldier Ronnie Brunswijk, began attacking economic targets in the country's interior. In response, the army ravaged villages and killed suspected Brunswijk supporters. Thousands of Bush Negroes fled to nearby French Guiana. In an effort to end the bloodshed, the Surinamese Government negotiated a peace treaty called the Kourou Accord, with Brunswijk in 1989. Bouterse and other military leaders blocked the accord's implementation.

On December 24, 1990, military officers forced the resignations of the civilian President and Vice President elected in 1987. Military-selected replacements were hastily approved by the National Assembly on December 29. Faced with mounting pressure from the U.S., other nations, the Organization of American States (OAS), and other international organizations, the government held new elections on May 25, 1991. The New Front (NF) Coalition, comprised of the Creole National Party of Suriname (NPS), the Hindustani Progressive Reform Party (VHP), the Javanese Indonesian Peasant's Party (KTPI), and the Surinamese Workers Party (SPA) were able to win a majority in the National Assembly. On September 6, 1991, NPS candidate Ronald Venetiaan was elected President, and the VHP's Jules Ajodhia became Vice President of the New Front Coalition government.

The Venetiaan government was able to effect a settlement to Suriname's domestic insurgency through the August 1992 Peace Accord with Bush Negro and Amerindian rebels. In April 1993, Desi Bouterse left his position as commander of the armed forces and was replaced by Arthy Gorre, a military officer committed to bringing the armed forces under civilian government control. Economic reforms instituted by the Venetiaan government eventually helped curb inflation, unify the official and unofficial exchange rates, and improve the government's economic situation by re-establishing relations with the Dutch, thereby opening the way for a major influx of Dutch financial assistance. Despite these successes, the governing coalition lost support and failed to retain control of the government in the subsequent round of national elections. The rival National Democratic Party (NDP), founded in the early 1990s by Desi Bouterse, benefited from the New Front government's loss of popularity. The NDP won more National Assembly seats (16 of 51) than any other party in the May 1996 national elections and in September 1996, joined with the KTPI, dissenters from the VHP, and several smaller parties to elect NDP vice-chairman Jules Wijdenbosch president of a NDP-led coalition government. Divisions and subsequent reshufflings of coalition members in the fall of 1997 and early 1998 weakened the coalition's mandate and slowed legislative action.

In May 1999, after mass demonstrations protesting poor economic conditions, the government was forced to call early elections. The elections in May 2000 returned Ronald Venetiaan and his coalition to the presidency. The NF ran its campaign on a platform to fix the faltering Surinamese economy. But while the Venetiaan administration has made progress in stabilizing the economy, tensions within the coalition and the impatience of the populace have impeded progress. Relations with the Dutch have been complicated by Dutch prosecution of Desi Bouterse in absentia on drug charges, and legal maneuvering by Dutch prosecutors trying to bring charges relating to the December murders. (A Dutch appellate court in 2000 found Bouterse guilty of one drug-related charge; the decision is being appealed.) A key component of the relationship is the 600 million Dutch guilders (Nf.) remaining from Nf. 2.5 billion promised for development at independence. The disposition of the funds was a matter of much discussion during recent Dutch cabinet-level visits intended to lay the groundwork to restart the flow of guilders, which the Dutch stanched in response to irresponsible spending by the Wijdenbosch administration. The parties are at odds over the control of the funds, and needed aid has not flowed to the country.

 

1UpTravel's Guide to Suriname

Geography of Suriname - Highlights the location, map references, area, land boundaries, climate, natural resources, land use, natural hazards, environment, and geography of Suriname

People of Suriname - Learn about the population, age structure, birth and death rate, sex ratio, nationality, ethnic groups, religions, languages, and literacy in Suriname

Government and Politics in Suriname - Profiles the country name, government type, administrative divisions, independence, national holiday, constitution, legal system, suffrage, executive, legislative, and judicial branches, political parties and leaders, and a flag description of Suriname.

Economy of Suriname - Study the GDP, growth rate, per capita, inflation, labor, budget, industries, exports, imports, currency, exchange rates, and economy of Suriname

Communications in Suriname - Browse statistics on telephones, mobile and cellular lines in use, radio broadcast stations, televisions, internet country code, ISP's, internet users, and facts on communications in Suriname

Transportation in Suriname - Offers statistical details on the railways, highways, waterways, ports & harbors, airports, and other facts on transportation in Suriname

Military of Suriname - Provides statistics on military branches, army, air force, navy, manpower, military service, expenditure, and facts on military in Suriname

Transnational Issues of Suriname - Explore international disputes and transnational issues of Suriname

Maps of Suriname - Discover a detailed map of Suriname

Map Database of Suriname - Browse a large collection of city, country, historical, political, thematic, and shaded relief maps of Suriname

Flags of Suriname - Uncover the flag images and description of the flag of Suriname. Includes historical flags, symbols, and related information

Weather for cities of Suriname - Browse weather forecast, hourly conditions, temperature, sunrise, sunset, and other weather related reports for the cities of Suriname


 

Acknowledgements:
U.S. Department of State
CIA World Factbook






Make 1Up Travel your HomepageSend this Page to a FriendGo to Top of PagePrint this PageAdd 1Up Travel to your Favorites


CHANNELS

Compare Country Info Hotel Directory Geography Flags World Maps Travel Warnings National Parks

DESTINATIONS

Asia Africa Caribbean Middle East North America South America Central America Oceania Pacific Europe Polar Regions

PHOTO SPECIAL

Destinations Monuments Ancient Wonders Modern Wonders Natural Wonders

UTILITIES

World Time ISD Codes Travel Links Link Exchange

 



Disclaimer: Although we've tried to make the information on this web site as accurate as possible, we accept no responsibility for any loss, injury or inconvenience sustained by any person resulting from information published on this site. We encourage you to verify any critical information with the relevant authorities before you travel.

Copyright 1Up Travel All Rights Reserved.
Go Up

Privacy Policy