Forgotten World (165): Suriname

Suriname is the smallest state in terms of area and population in South America. The country is the only Dutch-speaking region in the Western Hemisphere which is not a part of the Netherlands.
Since independence from the Netherlands in 1975, the former Dutch Guiana has endured coups and a civil war. Former military strongman Desi Bouterse dominated politics for much of the post-independence era, but the country is now under civilian rule. The country enjoys a relatively high standard of living but also faces serious political and economic challenges.
Suriname is one of the most ethnically diverse countries in the Americas. Most of its less than half a million people are descended from African slaves and Indian and Indonesian indentured servants brought over by the Dutch to work as agricultural labourers. However, there is little assimilation between the different ethnic groups, who confine their contacts to the economic sphere. Similarly, most political parties are ethnically based which acts as a serious obstacle to consensus-building.


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