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This article originally appeared in the Central & South America Guide. It has been extracted from its original format. To read the full guide, visit the digital edition.

This is the smallest independent country in South America, yet its neo-tropical natural resources come on a grand scale—the world’s largest nature reserve at four million acres—and a cultural melting pot embracing Dutch, Portuguese, Chinese Indonesian, Amerindians and Bushnegro peoples. Among the leading attractions is the capital ofParamaribo whose historic center is distinguished by white wooden buildings and bustling produce markets; it’s on the official list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Visitors are rewarded with nature reserves (a.k.a. national parks) such as Brownsberg, three hours from the capital; Central Suriname Nature Reserve, rich in bird and mammal species and accessed by air, bus, and dugout canoe; and Galibi Nature Reserve, protecting four endangered sea turtle species and reached by boat (nesting seasons vary—for instance the giant leatherbacks lay their eggs between February and April). From Paramaribo, tours travel the coast road (ferry crossing at the border) to visit the Kourou Space Center and Devil’s Island in French Guiana. (

What’s New in Suriname

✘ Top honors in accommodations in Paramaribo go to the Royal Torarica Hotel, located within walking distance of Independence Square; amenities include a pool and casino. (

✘ With more than 35 percent of its population of the Hindu faith, expect that Holi, a 3-day Festival of Color, is a spectacle not to miss: in 2013, the festivities start up in Paramaribo on March 27.

Up next: Uruguay