Formally known as Dutch Guiana, Suriname is the smallest independent country in South America, with the vast majority of the population living along the coast due to the rugged, untamed interior. The country has the self-proclaimed title of “beating heart of the Amazon”, and it’s easy to see why. From the moment you step into the country you will see one of two things: coastal regions, and lush, thick, tropical forest. Depending on where you go, the country is relatively safe to all levels of travelers. First-timers should stick to the places like the coastal areas or the colonial capital of Paramaribo, while veteran travelers and eco-tourists with a strong back and a durable pair of hiking boots can strike out into the interior.
It is recommended to get yellow fever vaccination if you plan on doing much adventuring in Suriname. In addition, hepatitis A and tetanus-diphtheria shots are also recommended. Accommodations and transportation are going to depend on whether or not you’re staying in one of the main cities along the coast, or in one of the hubs within the Amazon. The cuisine is a combination of Chinese, East Indian, and Javanese, which is a type of Indonesian and Java mix. Due to the tropical nature of this country fruits are a common item on the menu, and Suriname boasts some of the most flavorful fruit juices in the world. English is understood almost everywhere, although Dutch is the official language.
Suriname is one of the few countries in the world which is proud of their eco-system, and they are doing everything in their power to protect it, including signing a bill in 1998 to protect their country and transform it all into an eco-reserve. The Central Suriname Nature Reserve and the Raleighvallen Nature Reserve are the two primary reserves, although there is also Brownsberg Park and the Galibi Nature Reserve. Brownsberg is perhaps the most “tourist” friendly, while the reserves themselves are more suited to backpackers and eco-travelers who enjoy spending weeks in the brush.