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Suriname History Timeline

1400s - 1600s
  • (1498) Christopher Columbus sighted coast of Suriname
  • (1593) Spanish explorers visited area, named it Suriname
  • (1602) Dutch established settlements
  • (1651) First permanent European settlement, established by British at Paramaribo by Lord Francis Willoughby
  • (1667) British ceded their part of Suriname to The Netherlands in exchange for New Amsterdam (later called New York City)
  • (1682) Coffee and sugar plantations established . worked by African slaves
1700s - 1800s
  • (1799-1802, 1804-1816) British rule re-imposed
  • (1863) Slavery abolished; indentured labourers brought in from India, Java, China to worked on plantations
1900s
  • (1916) Aluminum Company of America (Aloca) began mining bauxite- the principal ore of aluminum- which gradually became Suriname's main export
  • (1954) Suriname given full autonomy, The Netherlands retained control over defense, foreign affairs
  • (1975) Suriname became independent with Johan Ferrier as president, Henck Arron of the Surinam National Party (NPS) as prime minister; more than a third of population emigrated to The Netherlands
  • (1980) Arron's government ousted in military coup, President Ferrier refused to recognize military regime, appointed Henk Chin-A-Sen of Nationalist Republic Party (PNR) to lead civilian administration; army replaced Ferrier with Chin-A-Sen
  • (1982) Armed forces seized power in coup led by Lietenant-Colonel Desire (Desi) Bouterse, set up Revolutionary People's Front; 15 opposition leaders charged with plotting coup aexecuted; The Netherlands, US cut off economic aid
  • (1985) Ban on political parties lifted
  • (1986) Surinamese Liberation Army (SLA), composed mostly of escaped African slaves, began guerrilla war with aim of restoring constitutional order; principal bauxite mines. refineries forced to shut down
  • (1987) 97% of electorate approved new civilian constitution
  • (1988) Rameswak Shankar, former agriculture minister, elected president
  • (1989) Bouterse rejected accord reached by President Shankar with SLA, pledged to continue fighting
  • (1990) Shankar ousted in military coup masterminded by Bouterse
  • (1991) Johan Kraag (NPS) became interim president; alliance of opposition parties- the New Front for Democracy and Development- won majority of seats in parliamentary elections; Ronald Venetiaan elected president
  • (1992) Peace accord reached with SLA

1900s

  • (1996) Jules Wijdenbosch, an ally of Bouterse, elected president
  • (1997) Dutch government issued international arrest warrant for Bouterse, claimed he h smuggled more than two tons of cocaine into The Netherlands during 1989-97; Suriname refused to extradite him
  • (1999) Dutch court convicted Bouterse in absentia for for drug smuggling
2000s
  • (2000) Ronald Venetiaan became president, replaced Wijdenbosch, after winning early elections following protests against former government's handling of economy
  • (2002) State owned banana company closed, financial woes compounded by low market prices; restructured smaller company opened in 2004
  • (2004) Suriname dollar replaced guilder; government said move aimed to restore confidence in economy; UN set up tribunal to try to resolve long running maritime border between Suriname and Guyana
  • (2005) President Venetiaan re-elected after months of deadlock
  • (2006) Flooding, caused by torrential rain, left more than 20,000 people homeless
  • (2007) UN tribunal ruled in Guyana-Suriname dispute over maritime territory, gave both a share of potentially oil-rich offshore basin
  • (2008) Trial began of former dictator Desi Bouterse, 24 others accused of involvement in 1982 killings of opponents of military regime; dispute with government over development of new bauxite mine in the west; mining giant BHP Billiton announced cease of operations in Suriname by 2010
  • (2009) Troops called in to suppress anti-Brazilian, anti-Chinese riots in gold-mining area in northeastern city of Albina

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This page was last updated on April 7, 2017.