Benzdorp is a town in the Sipaliwini District of Suriname. Benzdorp is a small village in the southeast of Suriname in the district Sipaliwini and named after the English consul and bullion dealer Benz.
The village lies in the jungle of the Tapanahony resort, near the Lawa River that forms the border with French Guiana, an overseas region and further north, in the Marowijne. Near Benzdorp is the rapids of Oemankrassiabra. Downstream (to the North) lies the town of Cottica and upstream is Anapaike. To the Southeast, across the Lawa River is the French Guyanese place Maripasoula.
Southwest of the village is Fatu Switie, a mountain ridge with an altitude of 390 meters.
Around 1885, gold was found in this area between the Lawa and the Tapanahony rivers, but because there was a dispute at the way in which the border ran between the Dutch and the French colony, the case was submitted to Russian Tsar Alexander III who in May 1891 awarded the area to Suriname. In 1902, then Governor Cornelis Lely in Suriname, decided that the Lawa Railway would be built by the Government. Via the railway line gold would be transported from the Lawa area to Paramaribo. The line would be over 350 km long in total. Due to disappointing gold finds, however, only the first half of the railway from Paramaribo was laid out and later the other half was cancelled.
Around 1974 the population of this town has shrunk to about 10 inhabitants. Nowadays near Benzdorp many gold seekers including a relatively large number of garimpeiros (Brazilian gold miners) are working and living back in the village. Since the beginning of the 90's Benzdorp once again became a gold extraction area in Suriname. The garimpeiros and gowtuman (Surinamese gold miners) have drawn inland, a new village was founded, that nowadays is referred to the name Benzdorp, but only kilometers away from the original village Benz founded on the banks of the Lawa lag (that place is now "the landing"). In the contemporary Benz village an estimated 600 people, of which two thirds come from Brazil and the others especially Aukaners (Ndjuka) Maroons.
Benzdorp is originally a Aluku (or Aloekoe or Boni) village; both banks (but especially the French) of the Lawa on this height are inhabited by the Aluku Maroons for hundreds of years. Also, they are active as gold miners in this part of their habitat. The Surinamese Government has the rights to gold mining in the Benz village and surroundings, a concession is issued to Grassalco. Grassalco has contracts with the (Brazilian, Surinamese and French) gold miners who are active on the concession, which in Exchange for a monthly fee, they earn the right to win gold on the concession.
In May 2006, the village was flooded when the water of the Lawa reached far beyond the banks as a result of heavy rainfall, where also many other Surinamese villages suffered from then.
On April 3, 2008, an airplane operated by Blue Wing Airlines crashed upon landing at Lawa Antino Airport near Benzdorp in which 19 people were killed. The Lawa Antino airport is 6 miles west of Benzdorp.
On May 17, 2013, a private helicopter from French Guiana, tasked with transporting gold during an unregistred flight in the interior of Suriname, crashed near Benzdorp gold mining settlement of Boewese, in the concession of NaNa Resources. The pilot got injured with a leg fracture and was transferred for treatment to Maripasoula in French Guiana.
- http://suriname2013.com/reality/helicopter-crashed-during-unregistred-flight/[permanent dead link]