The first residents of the South American country were the so-called Surinas, an Indian tribe on which the country’s name comes from. However, these had already been driven out by other Indian tribes when Christopher Columbus was probably the first European to see the Surinamese coast in 1498. Various attempts by Spaniards, Dutch, British and French to establish settlements on the Surinamese coasts in the following decades failed partly due to resistance from the Indians and partly due to the difficult living conditions.
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A change occurred when in 1667 the Dutch Suriname and British Guiana exchanged with the British for the North American settlement of New Amsterdam (now New York). With the exception of two short phases in 1799-1802 and 1804-1814, Suriname was to remain in Dutch ownership until the country gained independence in 1975. The Dutch made the country a profitable colony in a triangular trade between Europe, Africa and South America. The Indians were largely driven out. Sugar, coffee, cocoa, cotton and wood plantations produced profitable export goods. Slaves from the west coast of Africa, which made up the majority of the population until the mid-19th century, served as cheap labor. This form of trade ended when slavery in Suriname was abolished in 1863. The plantation work was now carried out by so-called contract workers, who were partly recruited from former slaves, partly from immigrant Chinese and Madeirans, and later also from Indians and Javanese. However, with the discovery and exploitation of bauxite from the 20s of the 20th century and from 1945, the importance of plantation management decreased.
Politically, conditions also changed after the Second World War and discussions began about the independence of the former colony. In 1954 Suriname received the status of an autonomous part of the Dutch mother country, in 1975 it became independent. Along with independence, all Surinamese were granted Dutch citizenship, which meant that a large number of residents (people speak of numbers that go up to half of the total population) emigrated to the Netherlands within a few years.
A period of political and ethnic conflict began, and after five years of civilian government, a military council took power in the country through a coup. Desir¨¦ Bouterse took over the leadership of the country in 1980. After five years of military rule, a national assembly drafted a new constitution in 1985, and in 1987 the former coup leader Bouterse became the official head of state. In the parliamentary elections that took place in the same year, however, he was defeated by the opposition R. Shankar, who became the new President of Suriname. A second coup by Bouterses interrupted democratic development in 1990, but in the 1991 general election, the four-party New Front Coalition (NF) under Ronald Venetiaan, which ruled until 1996, won the majority. Venetiaan became president in 1991. 1996 was YES Vijdenbosch elected by the National Democratic Party (NDP) in the presidential election. Economic difficulties led to demonstrations in 1999 and Wijdenbosch called for new elections. This won the New Front Coalition in May 2000. Ronald Venetiaan became President of the country in August 2000 and was re-elected in 2005. In July 2010 Desir¨¦ Bouterse (NDP) was re-elected President of Suriname. He has led a coalition government since August 2010. Bouterse and eleven other defendants have been on trial since 2007 for the so-called December murders (murder of 15 opposition figures in 1982). In April 2012, the parliament passed a controversial amnesty law to protect the accused from prosecution. Bouterse and eleven other defendants have been on trial since 2007 for the so-called December murders (murder of 15 opposition figures in 1982). In April 2012, the parliament passed a controversial amnesty law to protect the accused from prosecution.
According to AbbreviationFinder, Suriname has been a member of CARICOM, an association of fourteen Caribbean countries, since 1995. In 2007, in the maritime conflict with Guyana, which had been going on for decades, the International Maritime Court ruled in 2007, dividing the sea area between the two countries. In 2008, Suriname founded the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) along with the other eleven independent states of South America based on the model of the European Union.