Located along the northern region of South America, Suriname happens to be the smallest sovereign state on the continent.  Originally a Dutch colony until independence in 1975, the country has been a relatively stable place, and boasts one of the most culturally diverse populations in the world, and definitely within the region.  Over recent times, the amount of foreign visitors in Suriname has grown at a phenomenal rate (both in terms of tourism and expats), and the country is definitely one of the preferred destinations in South America for people moving from the US or Europe.

Though Dutch is the official language of the country, it is common for most people to either speak English, and there are a slew of regional dialects that are the result of the rich cultural mixing between the native American populations with the significant West African population and the considerable amount of Hindustani immigrants that were brought into the country as contract workers in the 19th century.

The economy in Suriname is highly dependent on the tourism sector as well as the exploitation of natural resources, such as various agricultural products and particularly precious metal reserves such as gold and also the less coveted though more useful bauxite.  The amount of tourists in the country has skyrocketed in recent years, experiencing a growth rate of over 400% over the course of little more than a year (between 2005 and 2006).  The result is that Suriname is becoming increasingly cosmopolitan, and the kinds of amenities that first-worlders generally expect are becoming increasingly available.

The country is littered with nature reserves, and it is one of the countries with the highest proportion of national territory being dedicated to wildlife preservation.  The incredible biodiversity of Suriname has been a major pull for the growing tourist waves, and the commitment of the national government to protect the ecosystems has been a huge benefit for the country.

The expat community in Suriname is steadily growing, and it is one of the more popular destinations on the continent, as mentioned earlier.  It will be necessary for people thinking about making a long term move to contact the Surinamese embassy in their country of origin; in the US, the embassy info is available through the embassy’s site.  As with most countries, you will need to present copies of your criminal records history and birth certificate and health report, all with apostille affixed. Check some real estate listings in the country, most of which are located along the northern strip of the country close to the coast (as the souther stretches are mostly uninhabited and forested areas).  Also, go to AlloExpat.com to see some opinions about the country from an expat’s perspective.