The Republic of Suriname, normally referred to as Suriname or Surinam, is the smallest country in South America. With a total population of 563,402, this country also holds the title for the lowest number of inhabitants in South America. But don’t let its size fool you; Suriname is a nation that is full of culture and nature. There is a lot to learn about this interesting country and some facts may even surprise you, so read on to learn 11 fascinating facts about Suriname.
1. A majority of the country’s population speaks Dutch
Although Suriname is located in South America, it was colonized by the Netherlands for a long time. The inhabitants learned to speak Dutch and many of them even moved to the Netherlands when Suriname became independent in 1975. Suriname still maintains close international relations with the Netherlands and uses Dutch as its official language.
2. The Surinam toad has no teeth and no tongue
The rich rainforests of Suriname are home to an abundance of interesting flora and fauna, an interesting fact about Suriname. One of the strangest creatures found on its land is called the Surinam toad. This amphibian has a very flat shape and is disguised to resemble an old leaf or a flat rock. Each of its fingers has a small, star-shaped tip which is why it’s also called the star-fingered toad. It has very tiny eyes and a wide mouth with no teeth or tongue, so it eats by using its large mouth to swallow prey whole.
3. Cars in Suriname drive on the left side
Suriname was colonized by the British and later by the Dutch. Both of these empires drove on the left side at the time. In the continent of South America, Suriname and its neighbor Guyana are the only two countries that practice driving on the left.
4. It only has one cinema
The only cinema in the tiny country, TBL Cinemas in the Hermitage Mall is a popular attraction for locals, a fun fact about Suriname. The cinema plays the latest movies with the Dutch translation and also holds events and community activities related to movies.
5. Suriname is ethnically, culturally, and religiously diverse
People from many different ethnic backgrounds and nationalities immigrated to Suriname during the Dutch rule. Over the years, the population of Suriname has grown to include Indians, Javanese, Chinese, and many other ethnic communities. Religions and ethnic backgrounds are well-distributed throughout the country’s population. As a result, Suriname is one of the most ethnically diverse countries in the world. The inhabitants are open and tolerant about other cultures and religions; you can even see a Muslim mosque and a Jewish synagogue built next to each other.
6. 90.2% of the country is covered in forests
The Surinamese people deeply value the nature of their land. The country is covered in rainforests filled with beautiful plants and interesting animals. In order to protect and conserve the environment, the Surinamese people avoid cutting down their trees and also hold events to replant and take care of the rainforest. The country’s hard work is definitely paying off. With 90.2% of the land being dedicated to the rainforest, Suriname has the highest rate of forest cover in the world.
7. Surinamese people are very calm
An interesting fact about Suriname is that its people are known for their laid-back and peaceful demeanor. They don’t often argue, raise their voices, or act disrespectfully. Good manners and respectfulness are very important in the Surinamese culture. A common saying in the country translates to “Keep cool; don’t worry.” The people of Suriname maintain a relaxed, tolerant, and friendly atmosphere that often helps visitors feel safe and welcome in the country.
8. It is one of the poorest countries in the world
Though Suriname is rich in nature, culture, and community, many Surinamese people struggle financially. More than 70% of the country’s population is below the poverty line. This means that most of the country’s inhabitants have difficulty affording basic necessities such as shelter, food, and water. Corruption and political instability contribute negatively to the economy of Suriname. However, the country hopes to change in the coming years through help from other nations and potential government reform.
9. Wandelmars in Suriname is a walking event that celebrates different cultures
Every April, Surinamese people from all ethnic backgrounds, cultures, and religions join a 4-day walking event. Popularised by the Dutch, Wandelmars in Suriname is unique because of its focus on uniting the diverse citizens of the country. During this evident, Surinamese people dress in their respective traditional costumes and dance through the streets in the capital city of Paramaribo. This lively event is a great way for the Surinamese people to celebrate diversity and come together as a country.
10. Elementary students wear green shirts and middle school students wear blue shirts
The usual school uniform in Suriname is jeans worn with a short-sleeved button-down shirt. Green shirts, often in a plaid print, are worn by elementary students. Middle school students, meanwhile, wear a plain blue button-down. This is an easy way to distinguish what level of schooling a child is in and is also a practical way to save money on new uniforms, a fun fact about Suriname.
11. Traditional medicine is popular in Suriname
A large percentage of Surinamese people often turn to medicinal plants found around the country as a cure for illnesses such as fever, headaches, and the common cold. Self-medicating with herbal medicine is a popular choice for Surinamese people because many of them have knowledge about traditional healing methods from their cultural or religious heritage.
Suriname is a country with diverse inhabitants, large rainforests, and interesting cultural traditions. Unfortunately, the difficult economic and political situations in the country make life for many Surinamese people very challenging. But the Surinamese people’s deep love of nature and respectful demeanor are admirable traits that the rest of the world could learn from. By following the Surinamese people’s dedication to preserving and protecting the environment, we can all make the world a much better place.
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