Republic Day is celebrated in Suriname each year on 25 November and celebrates the country’s independence from the Netherlands in 1975. Even after becoming a republic, the history of Suriname has been troubled.
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The land of Suriname was originally inhabited by Amerindians until settlers searching for new lands arrived from Europe. During the 18th century, African slaves, indentured labourers were also brought to the country. Until 1815, several nations fought for control of Suriname, including France and Britain. The Netherlands were victorious in 1815. The country was previously known as Dutch Guiana.
Slavery was abolished in Suriname in 1863, but the new arrangement required slaves to work on plantations for ten years at minimal pay as compensation for the plantation owners. After 1873, many freed slaves left plantation work to move to the capital, Paramaribo. This led to a shortage of labourers in a labour-intensive economy and the government recruited indentured servants from the Dutch East Indies as well as India, China and the Middle East.
In 1954, Suriname became one of the constituent countries of the Kingdome of the Netherlands, allowing the Netherlands to retain control of defence and foreign affairs. In 1974, the National Party of Suriname began negotiating for independence which was granted on 25 November 1975.
Unlike other countries in South America, Spanish is not the primary language in Suriname. Instead, Dutch is the predominant language with over 60 percent of the country claiming it to be their native language. It is the only Dutch speaking country in South America.
Celebrations and Traditions
In celebration of becoming a republic, events are held at the Paramaribo Presidential Palace and Independence Square. The palace remains open throughout the day allowing visitors to tour the inside. There is a presidential speech and a parade that includes police, the military and citizens.
A presidential reception follows the parade and it is open to citizens as well as dignitaries. The Suriname flag is prominently displayed throughout the day.
Many people celebrate the day with foods that are native to Suriname, often inviting friends and family to join in the celebration. There are sometimes festivals that include native dance, music and stories of how the country gained their independence.
Although the country became a republic in 1975, it has continued to struggle with independence due to military regimes that control the country as well as several attempted coups to overthrow the government.