History of Suriname

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The history of Suriname dates from 3000 BC when Native Americans first inhabited the area. Present-day Suriname was the home to many distinct indigenous cultures. The largest tribes were the Arawaks, a nomadic coastal tribe that lived from hunting and fishing, and the Caribs. The Arawaks (Kali'na) were the first inhabitants of Suriname; later, the Caribs arrived, and conquered the Arawaks using their sailing ships.[1][2] They settled in Galibi (Kupali Yumï, meaning "tree of the forefathers") on the mouth of the Marowijne river. While the larger Arawak and Carib tribes lived off the coast and savanna, smaller groups of indigenous peoples lived in the rainforest inland, such as the Akurio, Trió, Wayarekule, Warrau, and Wayana.

Dutch colonization

The first Europeans who came to Suriname were Dutch traders who visited the area along with other parts of the South America's 'Wild Coast.' The first attempts to settle the area by Europeans was in 1630, when English settlers led by Captain Marshall attempted to found a colony.[3] They cultivated crops of tobacco, but the venture failed financially.

In 1650 Lord Willoughby, the governor of Barbados furnished out a vessel, to settle a colony in Surinam. At his own cost equipped a ship of 20 guns, and two smaller vessels with things necessary for the support of the plantation.[4] Major Anthony Rowse settled there in his name. Two years later, for the better settling of the colony, he went in person, fortified and furnished it with things requisite for defence and trade. 'Willoughbyland' consisted of around 30,000 acres (120 km2) and a fort. In 1663 most of the work on the ca. 50 plantations was done by native Indians and 3,000 African slaves.[5] There were around 1,000 whites there, joined by Brazilian Jews, attracted by religious freedom which was granted to all the settlers by the English.

The settlement was invaded by seven Dutch ships (from the Zeeland region), led by Abraham Crijnssen, on 26 February 1667. Fort Willoughby was captured the next day after a three hour fight[6] and renamed Fort Zeelandia. On 31 July 1667, the English and Dutch signed the Treaty of Breda, in which for the time being the status quo was respected: the Dutch could keep occupying Suriname and the British the formerly Dutch colony New Amsterdam (modern day New York). Willoughbyland was renamed Dutch Guyana. This arrangement was made official in the Treaty of Westminster of 1674, after the British had regained and again lost Suriname in 1667 and the Dutch regained the colony in 1668. In 1683 the Society of Suriname was set up, modelled on the ideas of Jean-Baptiste Colbert to profit from the management and defence of the Dutch Republic's colony. It had three participants, with equal shares in the society's responsibilities and profits—the city of Amsterdam, the family Van Aerssen van Sommelsdijck, and the Dutch West India Company. The family Van Aerssen only succeeded to sell their share in 1770. The Society came to an end in 1795 when this kind of trade and business was no longer seen as acceptable.

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