Cornelis Lely was a Dutch civil engineer and statesman. He was the figure responsible for the Zuiderzee Works, which meant the enclosure of the Zuiderzee by means of the Afsluitdijk, and subsequently draining parts of it into polders. All this was the result of a combination of his technical knowledge and administrative power.
Lely was Minister of Transport and Water three times (1891-1894, 1897-1901, and 1913-1918) and exerted large influence in this function towards the implementation of his own plans. His plans were finally approved and executed after severe floodings along the Zuiderzee in 1916.
In Suriname the village Kofi-Djompo was renamed after Lely, who was Governor of Suriname from 1902-1905 and constructed a new railway from Paramaribo that ran through Lelydorp. Most of the railway has gone, but Lelydorp survived and is now the capital of the district Wanica. It lies on the road from Paramaribo to Johan Adolf Pengel Airport (formerly known as Zanderij).