The country is flat, there are canals, locks and even polders; people speak Dutch.

The houses are white with black doors and windows, there are even paved streets.

If there were not the palm trees, I could imagine to be in the Netherlands.

I am in Suriname, formerly Dutch Guyana, a rather young country that only gained its independence in 1975.

The cars are still driving on the left side, nobody really knows why.

To get here, I first had to get a visa, the only one actually for all 23 countries that I will pass. EU passport is definitely a good one to travel. To enter Suriname, I had to cross the Corentyne river, natural border between Guyana and Suriname.  A ferry passes twice a day, and is not to be missed. The river is wide, and the crossing takes 35 minutes.

Paramaribo, the capital is very beautiful, many houses of the Dutch era are well preserved, there are many hotels and casinos. And there is also a curiosity; I do not know if it's unique, but it does not grow on trees: A synagogue right next to a mosque. Between them, there is a parking that both communities share if necessary. And then, there is here also the catholic church of St. Peter and Paul, all of wood. It was a theater before becoming a church.

The population is very mixed; apparently Suriname is the country with the greatest variety of ethnic groups. This is due to the recent past of the country, occupied successively by the English and Dutch. First of course, there is a small community of Amerindians.  Then the black people, descendants from  African  slaves. After the abolition of slavery the Dutch sought from the cheap labor in other colonies and brought Indians, Javanese, and Chinese in. Then there are also the Maroons: These descendants of escaped slaves who fled into the jungle and there integrated with the indigenous population.

Finally, in the chapter of unusual heads of state, there is a certain Mr. Desi Bouterse, president elected in 2010, and this despite the charges against him concerning killings under his command in 1982. The Netherlands issued an international search warrant against him, after he had been tried and sentenced to 11 years in prison (in absentia, of course) for drug trafficking.