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Suriname’s largest city and main port is also its capital – Paramaribo. More than half of the country’s population live in this one settlement. Lying on the banks of the Surinam River, it is 9 miles away from the Atlantic Coast but has a deep enough channel to allow cargo boats to safely navigate the waters.
Paramaribo is located on the site of an Indian village which became a French settlement around 1640. A few years later it became a British colony before being handed over to the Dutch in 1667 following the signing of the Treaty of Breda. The Dutch relinquished its claim on Suriname in 1975. After so many years under Dutch rule, it is hardly surprising that Paramaribo today is full of Dutch colonial architecture and has a lengthy network of canals.
The city’s historic centre was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2002 owing to the unique fusion of Dutch architecture with local construction techniques and building materials. Some of the city’s most notable buildings include the wooden St Peter and St Paul Cathedral, The Weighing House where agricultural products were weighed prior to shipping and the 17th century Fort Zeelandia which was built to protect the Dutch West India Company on the banks of the Surinam River.
Nearby is the administrative heart of the city. Independence Square is flanked by the Presidential Palace and the Ministry of Finance. The city also boasts a large number of shops, hotels and a wide variety of restaurants as well as a Hindu temple, Jewish synagogue and a mosque.