Javanese Surinamese

Javanese Surinamese people are an ethnic group of Javanese descent in Suriname. They have been present since the late 19th century, when their first members were selected as indentured laborers by the Dutch colonizers from the former Dutch East Indies.

Javanese Surinamese people
Total population
est 80,000 (2021)[1]
Regions with significant populations
Paramaribo: 23.670 (10%) · Wanica: 21.175 (18%) · Commewijne: 14.829 (47%)
Javanese · Dutch · Sranan Tongo · Indonesian
Majority :

Islam (Esp. Sunni Islam) 64.21%

Significant Minority :

Christianity 14.46%

Minority :

Kejawèn 5.59%, Hinduism 1.23%, No Religion 1.82%, Other 3.25%, Unknown 9.27%, Not Answered 0.13%
Related ethnic groups
Javanese · Javanese French Guianans


Javanese immigrants from the Dutch East Indies, picture taken between 1880 and 1900.

After the abolition of slavery, the plantations in Suriname needed a new source of labor. In 1890, the influential Netherlands Trading Society, owner of the plantation Mariënburg in Suriname, undertook a test to attract Javanese indentured workers from the Dutch East Indies. Until then, primarily Indian indentured workers from British India worked at the Surinamese plantations as field and factory workers. On 9 August, the first Javanese arrived in Paramaribo. The test was considered successful and by 1894 the colonial government took over the task of recruiting Javanese hands. They came in small groups from the Dutch East Indies to the Netherlands, and from there to Paramaribo. The transport of Javanese immigrants continued until 1914 (except 1894) in two stages through Amsterdam.

Monument commemorating 100 years (1890-1990) of Javanese presence in Suriname. Sana Budaya, Paramaribo, Suriname.

The workers came from villages in Central and East Java. Departure points were Batavia, Semarang and Tandjong Priok. The recruited workers and their families awaited their departure in a depot, where they were inspected and registered and where they signed their contract.

The immigrants were recruited to work on the plantations. The exception was a group in 1904, when 77 Javanese were recruited specifically to work at the Colonial Railways. From World War I Javanese also worked at the Suriname Bauxite Company in Moengo. Immigration continued until 13 December 1939. The outbreak of World War II ended transplantation schemes.


A total of 32,965 Javanese immigrants went to Suriname. In 1954, 8,684 Javanese returned to Indonesia, with the rest remaining in Suriname. The census of 1972 counted 57,688 Javanese in Suriname, and in 2004 there were 71,879. In addition, in 2004 more than 60,000 people of mixed descent were recorded, with an unknown number of part Javanese descent.

Religion of Javanese Surinamese[2]

  Sunni Islam (64.21%)
  Christianity (14.46%)
  Kejawen (5.59%)
  Hinduism (1.23%)
  Irreligion (1.82%)
  Unknown (9.27%)
  Not Answered (0.13%)
  Others (3.25%)


In 1953, a large group of 300 families (1,200 people), led by Salikin Hardjo, went back to Indonesia on the ship Langkuas of the Royal Rotterdam Lloyd. They intended to settle in Java or Lampung, but their request was not approved by the Indonesian government, and instead they were sent to West Sumatra. They established the village of Tongar, also referred to as Tongass in Kabupaten Pasaman, north of Padang, clearing land and building new houses. They integrated smoothly with the Minangkabau community, despite the fact that most of the Javanese were Christian. Marriages with the mainly Muslim Minangkabau were common. The current generation is said to identify more as Indonesian than Surinamese, but still maintain contacts with family and friends in Suriname and the Netherlands, sometimes traveling to those countries.

In the 1970s, 20,000-25,000 Javanese Surinamese went to the Netherlands. They settled mainly in and around cities such as Groningen, Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam and Zoetermeer. They are well integrated into Dutch society, but preserve their Javanese identity through associations and regularly organized meetings. Most still have relatives in Suriname and send remittances, and regularly visit Suriname.

Notable people

  • Karin Amatmoekrim, writer
  • Reinier Asmoredjo, painter
  • Maarten Atmodikoro, football player
  • Sigourney Bandjar, football player
  • Soeki Irodikromo, painter and ceramics artist
  • Frits Karsowidjojo, politician
  • Ranomi Kromowidjojo, swimmer
  • Soerjani Mingoen-Karijomenawi, politician
  • Willy Soemita, politician
  • Virgil Soeroredjo, badminton player
  • Paul Somohardjo, politician
  • Mitchel Wongsodikromo, badminton player
  • Sri Dewi Martomamat, Miss Suriname in Miss Supranational 2019
  • Bruce Diporedjo, football Player
  • Jeroen Lumu, football Player (Javanese-Surinamese mother)
  • Darren Sidoel, football Player
  • Edwin Soenarto
  • Neraysho Kasanwirjo


  1. "Indonesia Suriname To Enhance Economic And Socio Cultural Cooperation | Portal Kementerian Luar Negeri Republik Indonesia". Retrieved 27 February 2022.
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