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the size of Florida with a half million

souls living with Guyana to the west,

French Guiana east and giant Brazil

south. Paramaribo, its capital, gives the

impression of a peaceful coastal town back

in the 1950s—until new cars and pickups

bring you back to the present. Road signs

are in Dutch, but driving is on the left,

just as it was in the Netherlands before

Napoleon invaded and switched it, but his

decree never reached this Dutch colony.

Paramaribo is six degrees above the

Equator. Your shadow at noon is under

your feet. The city is 23 kilometers from

the mouth of the Suriname River and

the Atlantic Ocean, and two-thirds of

the country’s population live there in

the city. The heart of this metropolis is

commended on the


’s World Heritage

List, as it “reflects the multicultural

society of Suriname.”

I went out to stroll through the

downtown, where men and women were,

it seemed, from all over, the results of so

many migrations. Asia, Africa, the Ama-

zonian interior; Indonesian and Indian;

foreign students on bicycles and Creole

women in patterned dresses. The 2012

census showed just under half the coun-

try identified as Christian, 22 percent as