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A Short History of Suriname

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Suriname is said to be first inhabited in year 3,000 BC during the arrival of the first Indians in the country. The name Suriname may have come from a Taino group, an Arawak-speaking tribe called Surinen, which was first spelled Surinam by the first settlers at the Marshal’s Creek along what is now known as the Suriname River. It was in the 16th century when the country was discovered by French, Spanish and English explorer and in 17th century when the Dutch and English established plantation colonies along many rivers of the country, and the Dutch brought in African slaves to cultivate coffee, cocoa, sugar cane, and cotton farms. The Netherlands abolished slavery in 1863 but it was only 10 years later that the slaves were released following mandatory work in plantations that gave them minimal pay. In 1954, the Dutch placed the country under a system of limited government, that is, the Netherlands would remain in control of the defense and foreign affairs. The year 1975 was unforgettable for Suriname when it was granted its independence by the Dutch but only for the democratic government to be sidelined by a military coup in 1980 and the torture and killing in 1982 of many citizens suspected of plotting against the government. This resulted in chaos in the country up to early 1990s.  

In 2000, public discontent over a rising inflation rate forced elections of government officials. The New Front for Democracy, led by Ronald Venetiaan, after forming an alliance with A-Combination, a party representing the descendants of former slaves, won the elections, only to suffer heavy losses in the 2005 elections, although it remained as the largest party having the most number of elected members of the National Assembly. 

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