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Set on the mouth of the Suriname River, just 12 kilometers from the sea, Paramaribo is Suriname’s capital and main port. The city is famous for its ethnic diversity and attractive 18th and 19th century neo-Normanic style buildings, which line the Waterkant. The British arrived in 1630, but the city changed political hands often, oscillating between British and Dutch rule until 1815, when the Dutch secured ruling status until the independence of Suriname in 1975. The city’s chief exports are sugar cane, rice, cacao, coffee, rum, bauxite and tropical woods.


Paramaribo is centered near Onafhankelijksplein Square (Independence Square), which is dominated by the Presidential Palace and National Assembly. Though many of the colonial houses in the old city are in dire need of repair, Paramaribo offers a number of historic sites, which are worth a visit. Fort Zeelandia has a number of historic buildings which can be visited, along with the Suriname Museum, while the new Numismatich Museum, operated by the Central Bank, offers interesting displays of Suriname’s money.


An eclectic collection of religious buildings are also found in Paramaribo: the all-wood Roman Cahtolic St. Peter and Paul Cathedral is reputed to be the largest wooden building in the Americas, there are the Hindu temples in Koningstraat and Wanicastraat, one of the Caribbean’s largest mosques at Keizerstraat, and two synagogues.  The Palmentuin and Cultuurtuin are pleasant parks, though in need of more city funding. If all else fails and you’re not in the mood for a historic tour, seek out people carrying birds in cages: birdsong competitions are a Suriname treat and often occur in parks and plazas on Sunday and holidays.

Johan Adolf Pengel International Aiport is located 47 kilometers south of the city.

17 Nov 2006

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