Suriname History Timeline

Suriname History Timeline

According to businesscarriers, Suriname is a country in South America and borders Guyana, French Guiana and Brazil. Suriname was a Dutch colony until its independence in 1975. Before independence, the country was called Dutch Guiana or (in official contexts) Dutch Guiana.

The capital is Paramaribo with almost 243,000 residents. The country has a population of 289,000 residents (1997).

Suriname can be divided into two main areas; the northern coastal lowlands and the tropical rainforests and savannah to the west and south.

Suriname is divided into 10 districts: Brokopondo, Commewijne, Coronie, Marowijne, Nickerie, Para, Paramaribo, Saramacca, Sipaliwini, Wanica.

The country is home to WJ van Blommenstein Lake, one of the largest reservoirs in the world created by a river dam that provides hydropower to many of the country’s industries.

Arawak and Caribbean Indians lived on the northern edge of South America for centuries. The earliest settlements from the natives date back to the year 3000 BCE.

With 313 identified petroglyphs, Werehpai is by far the largest pre-Columbian petroglyph site known in Suriname, and perhaps the largest of all the Guians.

Dutch settlement began in the early 17th century at the mouth of several rivers between present-day Georgetown, Guyana and Cayenne, French Guiana. The Netherlands controlled and influenced Suriname for 300 years.

The population of Suriname is among the most diverse in the world and spans a wide range of ethnic, religious and linguistic groups.

The official spelling of the country’s English name was changed from ‘Suriname’ to ‘Suriname’ in January 1978, but ‘Surinam’ can still be found in English.


1498 – The Spanish navigator, governor and conquistador Alonso de Ojedo, who accompanied Columbus on his second voyage to the New World, is considered to be the first European to discover Suriname. He is known for naming Venezuela during his first two trips, and is also the first European to visit Guyana, Colombia and Lake Maracaibo.

1593 – The area officially came under Spanish rule, and named Suriname, without Spain ever establishing colonies there.

1600-1650 – Spanish, Dutch, British and French attempts to settle failed due to resistance from the natives.

1602-1616 – A number of Dutch trading posts were established along the coast.

1651 – First permanent settlement established by the British in Paramaribo by Lord Francis Willoughby.

1667 – Dutch Gyana is created after the British give up their share of the land in exchange for New Amsterdam (later called New York City ).

1682 – Coffee and sugar plantations established. African slaves were put to work on them.

1799-1802 – British rule restored.

1804-1816 – British rule restored.

1863 – Slavery abolished during a gradual process that required slaves to work on plantations for 10 transitional years on a minimum wage, which was considered partial compensation for their masters. Workers brought in from India, Java and China, to work on the plantations.

1873 – Most liberated people leave the plantations where they have worked for several generations in favor of the capital Paramaribo.

1916 – Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa) begins mining bauxite – aluminum ore – which eventually became the country’s main export.

1941 – During World War II, by agreement with the Netherlands, the United States occupied the country on November 23, to protect the bauxite mines and to support the Allied war effort.

1955 – As of December 15, the country became an autonomous part of the Netherlands.

1975 – Suriname becomes independent on November 25, with Johan Ferrier, the former governor, as its first president, with Henck Arron as prime minister. More than a third of the population emigrated to the Netherlands. They were both deposed in a military coup led by Dési Bouterse on 13 August 1980.

1982 – The December assassinations deal with the assassinations of 15 prominent young Surinamese men who had criticized the military dictatorship that ruled Suriname., which took place on 7-9. December. Thirteen of these men had been arrested in their homes at night and the other two were already in jail for a counter-coup in March. Lieutenant Colonel Dési Bouterse, took them to Fort Zeelandia (his headquarters), where they were questioned as “suspects in a trial” by him and two sergeants in a self-appointed court. After these “hearings”, they were tortured and executed. The circumstances surrounding this case have not yet been clarified. On December 10, Bouterse claimed on national television that all detainees had been shot and died “during escape attempts”.

1986 – Surinamese Liberation Army (SLA), made up mainly of refugee African slaves, starts a guerrilla war, with the aim of restoring constitutional order.

1987 – Henck Arron is elected Vice President of the country and sits in office until a new bloodless military coup, again led by Bouterse, overthrows the government in 1990. The president was Ramsewak Shankar, the country’s 4th President.

1989 – The military overthrows the civilian government, but a democratically elected government returns to power in 1991 until today.

1990 – Johan Kraag (1913-1996), becomes interim president after the military coup (24th) December 29 to September 16, 1991.

1991 – On September 16, Ronald Venetiaan is elected president. He lost the 1996 election to Jules Wijdenbosch.

1992 – Peace agreement reached with the SLA.

1996 – Jules Wijdenbosch, ally of Bouterse, becomes the country’s 7th president.

1997 – The Dutch government issues an international arrest warrant for Bouterse, claiming he smuggled two tonnes of cocaine into the Netherlands between 1989-1997. Suriname refused to extradite him.

1999 – The Dutch court rules Bouterse “in absentia” for drug smuggling.

2000 – In December, Arron is invited to the Netherlands to talk about the 25th anniversary of Suriname’s independence. On the evening of December 4, he died in his hotel room of cardiac arrest, 64 years old.

On August 12, Venetiaan will be re-elected – and again in 2005 – as president until August 12, 2010. At that time, there were protests against the previous government’s handling of the economy.

2002 – The state-owned banana company closed due to economic disadvantages composed of low market prices. This led to a restructured small company that opened 2 years later.

2004 – The UN sets up a court to examine options for resolving the long-distance maritime border between Suriname and Guyana.

2005 – President Venetiaan re-elected after months of stalemate.

2006 – Heavy flooding leaves more than 20,000 people homeless.

2007 – The UN tribunal, which rules the dispute between Gyuana and Suriname’s territories, gives both countries a share of the potentially oil-rich offshore basin.

2008 – Trial of former dictator Dési Bouterse and 24 accomplices in the 1982 December assassinations begins.

2009 – Troops called in to suppress anti-Brazilian, anti-Chinese riots in the gold mine area of ​​northeastern Albina. (read more here )

2010 – The country’s first president Johan Ferrier, died on January 4, at the age of 99, six months before his 100th birthday, from a heart defect. He was buried on 11 January in the Dutch town of Oegstgeest, where he had lived since 1980.

On 19 July, Dési Bouterse was elected President of the country with 36 out of 50 votes in Parliament. He was inducted on 12 August.

2012 – In April, the Amnesty Act was approved against President Bouterse and the 24 other defendants in court for the alleged execution of political opponents under Bouterse’s military rule in 1982. The Netherlands withdraws its ambassador and suspends some of its support money in protest.

Suriname History Timeline