View Text Low Bandwidth Version
Download Publication
South America :: Suriname
Page last updated on June 24, 2015
No Photos available for Suriname
  no photos available
  • Introduction :: SURINAME

  • First explored by the Spaniards in the 16th century and then settled by the English in the mid-17th century, Suriname became a Dutch colony in 1667. With the abolition of African slavery in 1863, workers were brought in from India and Java. Independence from the Netherlands was granted in 1975. Five years later the civilian government was replaced by a military regime that soon declared a socialist republic. It continued to exert control through a succession of nominally civilian administrations until 1987, when international pressure finally forced a democratic election. In 1990, the military overthrew the civilian leadership, but a democratically elected government - a four-party coalition - returned to power in 1991. The coalition expanded to eight parties in 2005 and ruled until August 2010, when voters returned former military leader Desire BOUTERSE and his opposition coalition to power.
  • Geography :: SURINAME

  • Northern South America, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between French Guiana and Guyana
    4 00 N, 56 00 W
    South America
    total: 163,820 sq km
    land: 156,000 sq km
    water: 7,820 sq km
    slightly larger than Georgia
    total: 1,907 km
    border countries (3): Brazil 515 km, French Guiana 556 km, Guyana 836 km
    386 km
    territorial sea: 12 nm
    exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
    tropical; moderated by trade winds
    mostly rolling hills; narrow coastal plain with swamps
    lowest point: unnamed location in the coastal plain -2 m
    highest point: Juliana Top 1,230 m
    timber, hydropower, fish, kaolin, shrimp, bauxite, gold, and small amounts of nickel, copper, platinum, iron ore
    agricultural land: 0.5%
    arable land 0.4%; permanent crops 0%; permanent pasture 0.1%
    forest: 94.6%
    other: 4.9% (2011 est.)
    511.8 sq km (2003)
    122 cu km (2011)
    total: 0.67 cu km/yr (6%/4%/90%)
    per capita: 1,396 cu m/yr (2006)
    deforestation as timber is cut for export; pollution of inland waterways by small-scale mining activities
    party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
    signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
    smallest independent country on South American continent; mostly tropical rain forest; great diversity of flora and fauna that, for the most part, is increasingly threatened by new development; relatively small population, mostly along the coast
  • People and Society :: SURINAME

  • noun: Surinamer(s)
    adjective: Surinamese
    Hindustani (also known locally as "East Indians"; their ancestors emigrated from northern India in the latter part of the 19th century) 37%, Creole (mixed white and black) 31%, Javanese 15%, "Maroons" (their African ancestors were brought to the country in the 17th and 18th centuries as slaves and escaped to the interior) 10%, Amerindian 2%, Chinese 2%, white 1%, other 2%
    Dutch (official), English (widely spoken), Sranang Tongo (Surinamese, sometimes called Taki-Taki, is native language of Creoles and much of the younger population and is lingua franca among others), Caribbean Hindustani (a dialect of Hindi), Javanese
    Hindu 27.4%, Protestant 25.2% (predominantly Moravian), Roman Catholic 22.8%, Muslim 19.6%, indigenous beliefs 5%
    Suriname is a pluralistic society consisting primarily of Creoles (persons of mixed African and European heritage), the descendants of escaped African slaves known as Maroons, and the descendants of Indian and Javanese contract workers. The country overall is in full, post-industrial demographic transition, with a low fertility rate, a moderate mortality rate, and a rising life expectancy. However, the Maroon population of the rural interior lags behind because of lower educational attainment and contraceptive use, higher malnutrition, and significantly less access to electricity, potable water, sanitation, infrastructure, and health care.
    Some 350,000 people of Surinamese descent live in the Netherlands, Suriname's former colonial ruler. In the 19th century, better-educated, largely Dutch-speaking Surinamese began emigrating to the Netherlands. World War II interrupted the outflow, but it resumed after the war when Dutch labor demands grew - emigrants included all segments of the Creole population. Suriname still is strongly influenced by the Netherlands because most Surinamese have relatives living there and it is the largest supplier of development aid. Other emigration destinations include French Guiana and the United States. Suriname's immigration rules are flexible, and the country is easy to enter illegally because rainforests obscure its borders. Since the mid-1980s, Brazilians have settled in Suriname's capital, Paramaribo, or eastern Suriname, where they mine gold. This immigration is likely to slowly re-orient Suriname toward its Latin American roots.
    573,311 (July 2014 est.)
    0-14 years: 26.2% (male 76,565/female 73,676)
    15-24 years: 17.6% (male 51,322/female 49,313)
    25-54 years: 44.1% (male 128,620/female 124,034)
    55-64 years: 6.5% (male 18,140/female 19,158)
    65 years and over: 5.7% (male 14,041/female 18,442) (2014 est.)
    population pyramid:
    total dependency ratio: 50.7%
    youth dependency ratio: 40.6%
    elderly dependency ratio: 10.1%
    potential support ratio: 9.9% (2014 est.)
    total: 28.6 years
    male: 28.3 years
    female: 29 years (2014 est.)
    1.12% (2014 est.)
    16.73 births/1,000 population (2014 est.)
    6.13 deaths/1,000 population (2014 est.)
    0.57 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2014 est.)
    urban population: 66.1% of total population (2014)
    rate of urbanization: 0.78% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
    PARAMARIBO (capital) 234,000 (2014)
    at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
    0-14 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
    15-24 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
    25-54 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
    55-64 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
    65 years and over: 0.77 male(s)/female
    total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2014 est.)
    130 deaths/100,000 live births (2013 est.)
    total: 27.07 deaths/1,000 live births
    male: 31.5 deaths/1,000 live births
    female: 22.41 deaths/1,000 live births (2014 est.)
    total population: 71.69 years
    male: 69.31 years
    female: 74.18 years (2014 est.)
    2.01 children born/woman (2014 est.)
    47.6% (2010)
    3.1 beds/1,000 population (2010)
    urban: 98.1% of population
    rural: 88.4% of population
    total: 95.2% of population
    urban: 1.9% of population
    rural: 11.6% of population
    total: 4.8% of population (2012 est.)
    urban: 88.4% of population
    rural: 61.4% of population
    total: 80.3% of population
    urban: 11.6% of population
    rural: 38.6% of population
    total: 19.7% of population (2012 est.)
    0.88% (2013 est.)
    3,200 (2013 est.)
    100 (2013 est.)
    degree of risk: very high
    food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
    vectorborne disease: dengue fever and malaria (2013)
    26.1% (2014)
    5.8% (2010)
    definition: age 15 and over can read and write
    total population: 95.6%
    male: 96.1%
    female: 95% (2015 est.)
    total number: 6,094
    percentage: 6% (2006 est.)
    total: 21.5% (2004 est.)
  • Government :: SURINAME

  • conventional long form: Republic of Suriname
    conventional short form: Suriname
    local long form: Republiek Suriname
    local short form: Suriname
    former: Netherlands Guiana, Dutch Guiana
    constitutional democracy
    name: Paramaribo
    geographic coordinates: 5 50 N, 55 10 W
    time difference: UTC-3 (2 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
    10 districts (distrikten, singular - distrikt); Brokopondo, Commewijne, Coronie, Marowijne, Nickerie, Para, Paramaribo, Saramacca, Sipaliwini, Wanica
    25 November 1975 (from the Netherlands)
    Independence Day, 25 November (1975)
    previous 1975; latest ratified 30 September 1987, effective 30 October 1987; amended 1992; note - in 2012, the president appointed a commission to revise the constitution (2012)
    civil law system influenced by Dutch civil law; note - the Commissie Nieuw Surinaamse Burgerlijk Wetboek completed drafting a new civil code in February 2009
    accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction
    18 years of age; universal
    chief of state: President Desire Delano BOUTERSE (since 12 August 2010); Vice President Robert AMEERALI (since 12 August 2010); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
    head of government: President Desire Delano BOUTERSE (since 12 August 2010); Vice President Robert AMEERALI (since 12 August 2010)
    cabinet: Cabinet of Ministers appointed by the president
    elections: president and vice president elected by the National Assembly or, if no presidential or vice presidential candidate receives a two-thirds constitutional majority in the National Assembly after two votes, by a simple majority in the larger United People's Assembly (893 representatives from the national, local, and regional councils), for five-year terms (no term limits); election last held on 19 July 2010 (next to be held in 2015)
    election results: Desire Delano BOUTERSE elected president; percent of vote - Desire Delano BOUTERSE 70.6%, Chandrikapersad SATOKHI 25.5%, other 3.9%
    description: unicameral National Assembly or Nationale Assemblee (51 seats; members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by proportional representation vote to serve 5-year terms)
    elections: last held on 25 May 2010 (next to be held in May 2015)
    election results: percent of vote by party - Mega Combination 45.1%, New Front 27.5%, A-Com 13.7%, People's Alliance 11.8%, DOE 1.9%; seats by party - Mega Combination 23, New Front 14, A-Com 7, People's Alliance 6, DOE 1
    highest resident court(s): High Court of Justice of Suriname (consists of the court president, vice president, and 4 judges); note - Suriname can appeal beyond its High Court to the Caribbean Court of Justice, with final appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (in London)
    judge selection and term of office: court judges appointed by the national president after consultation with the High Court; judges appointed for life
    subordinate courts: cantonal courts
    A-Combination (a coalition that includes the General Liberation and Development Party ABOP [Ronnie BRUNSWIJK], and SEEKA [Paul ABENA])
    Basic Party for Renewal and Democracy or PVF [Soede Chand JAIRAM]
    Democratic Union Suriname or DUS [Japhet DIEKO]
    Mega Combination Coalition (a coalition that joined with A-Combination and the PL to form a majority in Parliament in 2010 - includes the National Democratic Party or NDP [Desire Delano BOUTERSE] (largest party in the coalition), Progressive Worker and Farmer's Union or PALU [Jim HOK], Party for National Unity and Solidarity of the Highest Order or KTPI [Willy SOEMITA], DNP-2000 [Jules WIJDENBOSCH], Union of Brotherhood and Unity in Politics BEP [Caprino ALENDY], and New Suriname or NS [Nanan PANDAY])
    National Democratic Party or NDP [Desire Delano BOUTERSE]
    National Union or NU [P. VAN LEEUWAARDE]
    New Front for Democracy and Development or NF (a coalition made up of the National Party of Suriname or NPS [Runaldo VENETIAAN], United Reform Party or VHP [Ramdien SARDJOE], Democratic Alternative 1991 or DA-91 - an independent, business-oriented party [Winston JESSURUN], Surinamese Labor Party or SPA [Siegfried GILDS])
    Party for Democracy and Development in Unity or DOE [Carl BREEVELD]
    Party for the Permanent Prosperity Republic Suriname or PVRS [Chas MIJNALS]
    People's Alliance, Pertjaja Luhur's or PL [Paul SOMOHARDJO](includes D-21 [Soewarta MOESTADJA] and Pendawa Lima [Raymond SAPEON], which merged with PL in 2010)
    note: BVD and PVF participated in the election as a coalition (BVD/PVF) in the most recent elections, but separated after the election
    Association of Indigenous Village Chiefs [Ricardo PANE]
    Association of Saramaccan Authorities or Maroon [Head Captain WASE]
    Women's Parliament Forum or PVF [Iris GILLIAD]
    chief of mission: Ambassador Subhas-Chandra MUNGRA (since 28 January 2011)
    chancery: Suite 460, 4301 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
    telephone: [1] (202) 244-7488
    FAX: [1] (202) 244-5878
    consulate(s) general: Miami
    chief of mission: Ambassador Jay N. ANANIA (since 1 October 2012)
    embassy: Dr. Sophie Redmondstraat 129, Paramaribo
    mailing address: US Department of State, PO Box 1821, Paramaribo
    telephone: [597] 472-900
    FAX: [597] 410-972
    five horizontal bands of green (top, double width), white, red (quadruple width), white, and green (double width); a large, yellow, five-pointed star is centered in the red band; red stands for progress and love; green symbolizes hope and fertility; white signifies peace, justice, and freedom; the star represents the unity of all ethnic groups; from its yellow light the nation draws strength to bear sacrifices patiently while working toward a golden future
    royal palm, faya lobi (flower); national colors: green, white, red, yellow
    name: "God zij met ons Suriname!" (God Be With Our Suriname)
    lyrics/music: Cornelis Atses HOEKSTRA and Henry DE ZIEL/Johannes Corstianus DE PUY
    note: adopted 1959; originally adapted from a Sunday school song written in 1893 and contains lyrics in both Dutch and Sranang Tongo
  • Economy :: SURINAME

  • The economy is dominated by the mining industry, with exports of oil, gold, and alumina accounting for about 85% of exports and 27% of government revenues, making the economy highly vulnerable to mineral price volatility. Economic growth has declined from just under 5% in 2012 and 2013 to 4% in 2014. In January 2011, the government devalued the currency by 20% and raised taxes to reduce the budget deficit. As a result of these measures, inflation receded to less than 4% in 2014. Suriname's economic prospects for the medium term will depend on continued commitment to responsible monetary and fiscal policies and to the introduction of structural reforms to liberalize markets and promote competition. The government's reliance on revenue from extractive industries will temper Suriname's economic outlook, especially if gold prices continue their downward trend.
    $9.24 billion (2014 est.)
    $8.949 billion (2013 est.)
    $8.596 billion (2012 est.)
    note: data are in 2014 US dollars
    $5.273 billion (2014 est.)
    NA% (2014 est.)
    4.1% (2013 est.)
    4.8% (2012 est.)
    $16,700 (2014 est.)
    $16,400 (2013 est.)
    $15,900 (2012 est.)
    note: data are in 2013 US dollars
    country comparison to the world: 95
    household consumption: 55.5%
    government consumption: 11.4%
    investment in fixed capital: 12.1%
    investment in inventories: 23%
    exports of goods and services: 29.3%
    imports of goods and services: -31.3%
    (2014 est.)
    agriculture: 8.6%
    industry: 37.3%
    services: 54.1% (2014 est.)
    rice, bananas, palm kernels, coconuts, plantains, peanuts; beef, chickens; shrimp; forest products
    bauxite and gold mining, alumina production; oil, lumbering, food processing, fishing
    5% (2014 est.)
    165,600 (2007 est.)
    agriculture: 11.2%
    industry: 19.5%
    services: 69.3% (2010)
    8.9% (2014 est.)
    8.5% (2013 est.)
    70% (2002 est.)
    lowest 10%: NA%
    highest 10%: NA%
    revenues: $1.156 billion
    expenditures: $1.383 billion (2014 est.)
    21.9% of GDP (2014 est.)
    -4.3% of GDP (2014 est.)
    calendar year
    3.7% (2014 est.)
    1.9% (2013 est.)
    10% (2013)
    9% (2012)
    12.5% (31 December 2014 est.)
    12% (31 December 2013 est.)
    $1.484 million (31 December 2014 est.)
    $1.353 million (31 December 2013 est.)
    $3.282 million (31 December 2014 est.)
    $2.736 million (31 December 2013 est.)
    $2 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
    $1.669 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
    $-189 million (2014 est.)
    $-198 million (2013 est.)
    $2.515 billion (2014 est.)
    $2.395 billion (2013 est.)
    alumina, gold, crude oil, lumber, shrimp and fish, rice, bananas
    US 25.5%, Belgium 16.7%, UAE 13%, Canada 10.6%, Guyana 6.2%, France 5.4%, Barbados 4.5% (2013)
    $2.147 billion (2014 est.)
    $2.126 billion (2013 est.)
    capital equipment, petroleum, foodstuffs, cotton, consumer goods
    US 21.6%, Netherlands 13.6%, Italy 8.6%, China 8.3%, UAE 7.5%, Antigua and Barbuda 6.5%, Netherlands Antilles 4.8% (2013)
    $775.4 million (31 December 2013 est.)
    $775.4 million (31 December 2013 est.)
    $1.037 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
    $983 million (31 December 2013 est.)
    Surinamese dollars (SRD) per US dollar -
    3.3 (2014 est.)
    3.3 (2013 est.)
    3.3 (2012 est.)
    3.27 (2011 est.)
    2.75 (2010 est.)
  • Energy :: SURINAME

  • 1.6 billion kWh (2011 est.)
    1.475 billion kWh (2011 est.)
    0 kWh (2013 est.)
    0 kWh (2013 est.)
    412,000 kW (2011 est.)
    54.1% of total installed capacity (2011 est.)
    0% of total installed capacity (2011 est.)
    45.9% of total installed capacity (2011 est.)
    0% of total installed capacity (2011 est.)
    15,000 bbl/day (2013 est.)
    7,621 bbl/day (2010 est.)
    0.66 bbl/day (2010 est.)
    76.7 million bbl (1 January 2013 est.)
    7,462 bbl/day (2010 est.)
    15,050 bbl/day (2013 est.)
    1,015 bbl/day (2010 est.)
    6,454 bbl/day (2010 est.)
    0 cu m (2012 est.)
    0 cu m (2012 est.)
    0 cu m (2012 est.)
    0 cu m (2012 est.)
    0 cu m (1 January 2011 est.)
    2.268 million Mt (2012 est.)
  • Communications :: SURINAME

  • 83,000 (2012)
    977,000 (2012)
    general assessment: international facilities are good
    domestic: combined fixed-line and mobile-cellular teledensity 185 telephones per 100 persons; microwave radio relay network
    international: country code - 597; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2010)
    2 state-owned TV stations; 1 state-owned radio station; multiple private radio and TV stations (2007)
    AM 4, FM 23, shortwave 3 (2008)
    3 (plus 7 repeaters) (2000)
    188 (2012)
    163,000 (2009)
  • Transportation :: SURINAME

  • 55 (2013)
    total: 6
    over 3,047 m: 1
    under 914 m: 5 (2013)
    total: 49
    914 to 1,523 m: 4
    under 914 m:
    45 (2013)
    oil 50 km (2013)
    total: 4,304 km
    paved: 1,130 km
    unpaved: 3,174 km (2003)
    1,200 km (most navigable by ships with drafts up to 7 m) (2011)
    major seaport(s): Paramaribo, Wageningen
  • Military :: SURINAME

  • Suriname Armed Forces: Ground Forces, Naval Forces, Air Forces (2010)
    18 is the legal minimum age for voluntary military service; no conscription; personnel drawn almost exclusively from the Creole community (2012)
    males age 16-49: 134,218
    females age 16-49: 134,439 (2010 est.)
    males age 16-49: 109,445
    females age 16-49: 112,538 (2010 est.)
    male: 4,119
    female: 4,106 (2010 est.)
  • Transnational Issues :: SURINAME

  • area claimed by French Guiana between Riviere Litani and Riviere Marouini (both headwaters of the Lawa); Suriname claims a triangle of land between the New and Kutari/Koetari rivers in a historic dispute over the headwaters of the Courantyne; Guyana seeks United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea arbitration to resolve the longstanding dispute with Suriname over the axis of the territorial sea boundary in potentially oil-rich waters
    current situation: Suriname is a source and destination country for women, men, and children who are subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor; women and girls from Suriname, Guyana, Brazil, and the Dominican Republic are subjected to sex trafficking in the country, sometimes in interior mining camps; Surinamese women and girls are also sexually exploited in French Guiana; migrant workers in agriculture and on fishing boats and children working in informal urban sectors and gold mines are vulnerable to forced labor
    tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List – Suriname does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so; the government has a written plan that, if implemented, would constitute a significant effort toward meeting the minimum standards for eliminating human trafficking; in 2013, the government prosecuted an increased number of sex trafficking cases but decreased investigations and prosecutions of sex trafficking offenders; authorities failed to investigate, prosecute, or convict labor traffickers; fewer sex trafficking and no forced labor victims were identified; protective services for victims were inadequate, but plans to open a government-run shelter for women and child victims were initiated in 2014; a national strategy to combat human trafficking was also adopted in 2014 (2014)
    growing transshipment point for South American drugs destined for Europe via the Netherlands and Brazil; transshipment point for arms-for-drugs dealing