Suriname's quiet, unassuming capital of Paramaribo is one of South America and the Caribbean's true hidden gems. A vibrant city with an interesting Dutch heritage, modern-day Paramaribo is a proudly multicultural setting. Its 250,000-strong population comprises citizens of Indian, African, Javanese, Chinese and Dutch descent, with cathedrals, synagogues, temples and mosques existing side by side in harmony.
The great attraction of Parbo, as it's affectionately known, is its historic inner city, an area home to a wealth of quaint wooden Dutch-colonial buildings. Along with these wonderfully photogenic structures, visitors to Paramaribo can admire austere Dutch forts (such as Fort Zeelandia) and the St Peter and Paul Cathedral, one of the tallest wooden buildings in the western hemisphere. The lovely Waterkant (waterfront) area of the city is the perfect place to grab a fresh cocktail and watch the sun sink over the Suriname River.
In many ways, a visit to Paramaribo's Central Market is the easiest way to experience the wonderful multiculturalism of this fascinating city. The Central Market, which sprawls along the pretty Waterkant area, is a busy, frenetic place, with three distinct sections all boasting their own unique sights, smells and sounds. For foreign visitors, the most culturally interesting section of the market is the Maroon area, with its bones and feathers, exotic animals and assortment of traditional medicines and tonics for sale. The Asian and Indian section of the market sells cheap goods and clothing, and a heady selection of spicy snacks and beverages. One could also buy fresh table fare at the clamorous outdoor fish market, where fishermen unload their boats in the centre of the action and seafood can be picked up at a bargain.
Paramaribo is exotic and diverse, a true sparkling diamond in the gorgeous silver sands of the Caribbean. Visitors will revel in a blend of the old and the new, with a mix of Dutch and indigenous heritage. Its treasured historic inner city shines bright while its bustling market won't disappoint.