The English began the first colony in Suriname in 1630. They built plantations along the coastal plain and brought in African slaves to work them. The colony was officially ceded to the Dutch in 1667, but a long series of wars and treaties shifted it between the English, Dutch, and French during the next 150 years. Slave uprisings and Indian attacks added to the colony's difficulties. Permanent control was finally gained by the Netherlands in 1815.

Slavery was ended in 1863. After that time much of the work on plantations was done by Asian immigrants and their descendents. In 1954, Suriname was granted internal self-government. In 1973, a coalition of Creole and Javanese parties gained power and began a campaign for independence, which was achieved in 1975. In 1980, the military seized power from the elected civilian government. Though a demoncratic government was established by the 1987 constitution, the military continued to have much power and influence into the 1990's. In 1992, Bush Negroes ended a six-year guerilla war when the government agreed to provide them with new economic-development and social-welfare programs.