A republic in northern South America. Disputed by Great Britain, France and the Netherlands during the 17th-18th centuries, Suriname became a Dutch possession after 1815. In 1954, Suriname, along with the Netherlands Antilles, became an integral part of the Kingdom of The Netherlands. In 1975, it became fully independent at the initiative of the Netherlands. Some 40 percent of Suriname's population (mostly East Indians) emigrated to the Netherlands in the period immediately prior to independence. Since independence, Suriname has been plagued by political coups and economic instability.