The historical center of Paramaribo is getting a makeover after falling on hard times. The renovation is spurring local business.
Arthur Conan Doyle’s 1912 saga “The Lost World” was inspired by reports from three little-known European colonies at the top of South America. Today the independent nations of Guyana and Suriname and the French territory of Guyane are finally stepping out from the shadows.
Commentary: How is an urban development project safeguarding a World Heritage site in Suriname?; Natasha Kate Ward; Caribbean News Now
Last year when I went to Suriname for the first time ever, even the worldliest among my friends and family struggled to put the small former Dutch colony on a map. Suriname, along with Guyana to its West and French Guiana to its East, make up the “Guianas” a geographic region in north-eastern South America, considered culturally part of the Caribbean.
Suriname is a fascinating country, boasting spectacular natural and cultural attractions. While it may be the smallest country in South America, it boasts a whopping 95% forest cover — the highest in the world, and its population, a little over half a million, is considered one of the most ethnically and culturally varied in the world.
My colleagues and I were in Suriname to discuss a new development program with national authorities to support the urban rehabilitation of the historic centre of Paramaribo.
Caribbean Life News reports that the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has approved a US$20 million loan in helping Suriname launch an urban rehabilitation program with focus on Paramaribo’s old town, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2002. Nelson A. King reports:
The Washington-based financial institution said on Wednesday that the project seeks to contribute to the socio-economic revitalization of the city’s historic center “in order to attract back residents and businesses to the area; restore its cultural heritage value; reduce traffic congestion; and strengthen the institutional framework for its sustainable management.”
Paramaribo, Suriname’s capital, has 243,556 inhabitants, or 45 percent of the country’s population, the IDB said.