Photos of 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. The Netherlands granted the colony independence in 1975. Five years later the civilian government was replaced by a military regime that soon declared Suriname 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. President BOUTERSE was reelected unopposed in 2015.

Visit the Definitions and Notes page to view a description of each topic.



Northern South America, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between French Guiana and Guyana

Geographic coordinates

4 00 N, 56 00 W

Map references

South America


total: 163,820 sq km

land: 156,000 sq km

water: 7,820 sq km

country comparison to the world: 92

Land boundaries

total: 1,907 km

border countries (3): Brazil 515 km, French Guiana 556 km, Guyana 836 km


386 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm

exclusive economic zone: 200 nm


tropical; moderated by trade winds


mostly rolling hills; narrow coastal plain with swamps


mean elevation: 246 m

lowest point: unnamed location in the coastal plain -2 m

highest point: Juliana Top 1,230 m

Natural resources

timber, hydropower, fish, kaolin, shrimp, bauxite, gold, and small amounts of nickel, copper, platinum, iron ore

Land use

agricultural land: 0.5% (2018 est.)

arable land: 0.4% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 0% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 0.1% (2018 est.)

forest: 94.6% (2018 est.)

other: 4.9% (2018 est.)

Irrigated land

570 sq km (2012)

Population distribution

population concentrated along the nothern coastal strip; the remainder of the country is sparsely populated

Geography - note

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


noun: Surinamer(s)

adjective: Surinamese

Ethnic groups

Hindustani (also known locally as "East Indians"; their ancestors emigrated from northern India in the latter part of the 19th century) 27.4%, Maroon (their African ancestors were brought to the country in the 17th and 18th centuries as slaves and escaped to the interior) 21.7%, Creole (mixed White and Black) 15.7%, Javanese 13.7%, mixed 13.4%, other 7.6%, unspecified 0.6% (2012 est.)


Dutch (official), English (widely spoken), Sranang Tongo (Surinamese, sometimes called Taki-Taki, is the native language of Creoles and much of the younger population and is lingua franca among others), Caribbean Hindustani (a dialect of Hindi), Javanese


Protestant 23.6% (includes Evangelical 11.2%, Moravian 11.2%, Reformed .7%, Lutheran .5%), Hindu 22.3%, Roman Catholic 21.6%, Muslim 13.8%, other Christian 3.2%, Winti 1.8%, Jehovah's Witness 1.2%, other 1.7%, none 7.5%, unspecified 3.2% (2012 est.)

Demographic profile

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 (Indonesian) 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.

Age structure

0-14 years: 23.38% (male 72,642/female 69,899)

15-24 years: 17.2% (male 53,427/female 51,438)

25-54 years: 44.09% (male 136,889/female 131,868)

55-64 years: 8.78% (male 26,435/female 27,066)

65 years and over: 6.55% (male 17,437/female 22,468) (2020 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 51.1

youth dependency ratio: 40.3

elderly dependency ratio: 10.8

potential support ratio: 9.3 (2020 est.)

Median age

total: 31 years

male: 30.6 years

female: 31.4 years (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 118

Birth rate

14.7 births/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 121

Death rate

6.1 deaths/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 152

Net migration rate

0.53 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 68

Population distribution

population concentrated along the nothern coastal strip; the remainder of the country is sparsely populated


urban population: 66.1% of total population (2020)

rate of urbanization: 0.9% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)

Major urban areas - population

239,000 PARAMARIBO (capital) (2018)

Sex ratio

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: 0.98 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.78 male(s)/female

total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2020 est.)

Maternal mortality rate

120 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 65

Infant mortality rate

total: 26.6 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 31.72 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 21.23 deaths/1,000 live births (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 65

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 73.57 years

male: 71.09 years

female: 76.16 years (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 146

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 98.2% of population

rural: 92% of population

total: 96.6% of population

unimproved: urban: 1.8% of population

rural: 8% of population

total: 3.4% of population (2017 est.)

Physicians density

1.21 physicians/1,000 population (2018)

Hospital bed density

3 beds/1,000 population (2017)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 98.5% of population

rural: 88.2% of population

total: 95% of population

unimproved: urban: 1.5% of population

rural: 11.8% of population

total: 5% of population (2017 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths

<200 (2019 est.)

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: very high (2020)

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever

vectorborne diseases: dengue fever and malaria


definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 94.4%

male: 96.1%

female: 92.7% (2018)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 13.4%

male: 9%

female: 21.9% (2015 est.)

country comparison to the world: 104


Country name

conventional long form: Republic of Suriname

conventional short form: Suriname

local long form: Republiek Suriname

local short form: Suriname

former: Netherlands Guiana, Dutch Guiana

etymology: name may derive from the indigenous "Surinen" people who inhabited the area at the time of European contact

Government type

presidential republic


name: Paramaribo

geographic coordinates: 5 50 N, 55 10 W

time difference: UTC-3 (2 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

etymology: the name may be the corruption of a Carib (Kalina) village or tribe named Parmirbo

Administrative divisions

10 districts (distrikten, singular - distrikt); Brokopondo, Commewijne, Coronie, Marowijne, Nickerie, Para, Paramaribo, Saramacca, Sipaliwini, Wanica


25 November 1975 (from the Netherlands)

National holiday

Independence Day, 25 November (1975)


history: previous 1975; latest ratified 30 September 1987, effective 30 October 1987

amendments: proposed by the National Assembly; passage requires at least two-thirds majority vote of the total membership; amended 1992

Legal system

civil law system influenced by Dutch civil law; note - a new criminal code was enacted in 2017

International law organization participation

accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction


citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Suriname

dual citizenship recognized: no

residency requirement for naturalization: 5 years


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President Chandrikapersad SANTOKHI (since 16 July 2020); Vice President Ronnie BRUNSWIJK (since 16 July 2020); note - the president is both chief of state and head of government

head of government: President Chandrikapersad SANTOKHI (since 16 July 2020); Vice President Ronnie BRUNSWIJK (since 16 July 2020)

cabinet: Cabinet of Ministers appointed by the president

elections/appointments: president and vice president indirectly elected by the National Assembly; president and vice president serve a 5-year term (no term limits); election last held on 13 July 2020 (next to be held in May 2025)

election results: Chandrikapersad SANTOKHI elected president unopposed; National Assembly vote - NA

Legislative branch

description: unicameral National Assembly or Nationale Assemblee (51 seats; members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by party-list proportional representation vote to serve 5-year terms)

elections: last held on 25 May 2020 (next to be held May 2025)

election results: percent of vote by party - VHP 41.1%, NDP 29.4%, ABOP 17.6%, NPS 7.8%, other 3.9%; seats by party - VHP 21, NDP 15, ABOP 9, NPS 4, other 2

Judicial branch

highest courts: High Court of Justice of Suriname (consists of the court president, vice president, and 4 judges); note - appeals beyond the High Court are referred to the Caribbean Court of Justice; human rights violations can be appealed to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights with judgments issued by the Inter-American Court on Human Rights

judge selection and term of office: court judges appointed by the national president in consultation with the National Assembly, the State Advisory Council, and the Order of Private Attorneys; judges serve for life

subordinate courts: cantonal courts

Political parties and leaders

Alternative Combination or A-Com (coalition includes ABOP, KTPI, Party for Democracy and Development)
Brotherhood and Unity in Politics or BEP [Celsius WATERBERG]
Democratic Alternative '91 or DA91 [Angelique DEL CASTILLO]
General Liberation and Development Party or ABOP [Ronnie BRUNSWIJK}
National Democratic Party or NDP [Desire Delano BOUTERSE]
National Party of Suriname or NPS [Gregory RUSLAND]
Party for Democracy and Development in Unity or DOE [Carl BREEVELD]
Party for National Unity and Solidarity or KTPI [Willy SOEMITA]
People's Alliance (Pertjaja Luhur) or PL [Paul SOMOHARDJO]
Progressive Workers' and Farmers' Union or PALU [Jim HOK]
Progressive Reform Party or VHP [Chandrikapersad SANTOKHI]
Reform and Renewal Movement or HVB
Surinamese Labor Party or SPA [Guno CASTELEN]

International organization participation


Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Niermala Sakoentala BADRISING (since 21 July 2017)

chancery: 4301 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 460, Washington, DC 20008

telephone: [1] (202) 244-7488

FAX: [1] (202) 244-5878

consulate(s) general: Miami

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Karen Lynn WILLIAMS (since 20 November 2018)

telephone: [597] 472-900

embassy: 165 Kristalstraat, Paramaribo

mailing address: US Department of State, PO Box 1821, Paramaribo

FAX: [597] 410-972

Flag description

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

National symbol(s)

royal palm, faya lobi (flower); national colors: green, white, red, yellow

National anthem

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


Economic overview

Suriname’s economy is dominated by the mining industry, with exports of oil and gold accounting for approximately 85% of exports and 27% of government revenues. This makes the economy highly vulnerable to mineral price volatility. The worldwide drop in international commodity prices and the cessation of alumina mining in Suriname significantly reduced government revenue and national income during the past few years. In November 2015, a major US aluminum company discontinued its mining activities in Suriname after 99 years of operation. Public sector revenues fell, together with exports, international reserves, employment, and private sector investment.

Economic growth declined annually from just under 5% in 2012 to -10.4% in 2016. In January 2011, the government devalued the currency by 20% and raised taxes to reduce the budget deficit. Suriname began instituting macro adjustments between September 2015 and 2016; these included another 20% currency devaluation in November 2015 and foreign currency interventions by the Central Bank until March 2016, after which time the Bank allowed the Surinamese dollar (SRD) to float. By December 2016, the SRD had lost 46% of its value against the dollar. Depreciation of the Surinamese dollar and increases in tariffs on electricity caused domestic prices in Suriname to rise 22.0% year-over-year by December 2017.

Suriname's economic prospects for the medium-term will depend on its commitment to responsible monetary and fiscal policies and on the introduction of structural reforms to liberalize markets and promote competition. The government's over-reliance on revenue from the extractive sector colors Suriname's economic outlook. Following two years of recession, the Fitch Credit Bureau reported a positive growth of 1.2% in 2017 and the World Bank predicted 2.2% growth in 2018. Inflation declined to 9%, down from 55% in 2016 , and increased gold production helped lift exports. Yet continued budget imbalances and a heavy debt and interest burden resulted in a debt-to-GDP ratio of 83% in September 2017. Purchasing power has fallen rapidly due to the devalued local currency. The government has announced its intention to pass legislation to introduce a new value-added tax in 2018. Without this and other measures to strengthen the country’s fiscal position, the government may face liquidity pressures.

Real GDP growth rate

1.9% (2017 est.)

-5.1% (2016 est.)

-2.6% (2015 est.)

country comparison to the world: 144

Credit ratings

Fitch rating: C (2020)

Moody's rating: Caa3 (2020)

Standard & Poors rating: SD (2020)

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$9.606 billion (2019 est.)

$9.581 billion (2018 est.)

$9.34 billion (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

country comparison to the world: 166

GDP (official exchange rate)

$3.419 billion (2017 est.)

Real GDP per capita

$16,525 (2019 est.)

$16,634 (2018 est.)

$16,373 (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

country comparison to the world: 104

Gross national saving

46.6% of GDP (2017 est.)

55.6% of GDP (2016 est.)

53.6% of GDP (2015 est.)

country comparison to the world: 5

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 11.6% (2017 est.)

industry: 31.1% (2017 est.)

services: 57.4% (2017 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 27.6% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 11.7% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 52.5% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: 26.5% (2017 est.)

exports of goods and services: 68.9% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -60.6% (2017 est.)

Ease of Doing Business Index scores

Overall score: 47.5 (2020)

Starting a Business score: 61.6 (2020)

Trading score: 75 (2020)

Enforcement score: 25.9 (2020)

Agricultural products

rice, sugar cane, bananas, oranges, vegetables, plantains, coconuts, poultry, cassava, eggs


gold mining, oil, lumber, food processing, fishing

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 11.2%

industry: 19.5%

services: 69.3% (2010)


revenues: 560.7 million (2017 est.)

expenditures: 827.8 million (2017 est.)

Public debt

69.3% of GDP (2017 est.)

75.8% of GDP (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 52

Fiscal year

calendar year

Current account balance

-$2 million (2017 est.)

-$169 million (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 68


$2.028 billion (2017 est.)

$1.449 billion (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 144

Exports - partners

Switzerland 39%, United Arab Emirates 31%, Belgium 10% (2019)

Exports - commodities

gold, lumber, refined petroleum, fish, cigarettes (2019)


$1.293 billion (2017 est.)

$1.203 billion (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 178

Imports - partners

United States 22%, Netherlands 14%, China 13%, Trinidad and Tobago 7%, Antigua and Barbuda 5% (2019)

Imports - commodities

refined petroleum, delivery trucks, excavation machinery, cars, construction vehicles (2019)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$424.4 million (31 December 2017 est.)

$381.1 million (31 December 2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 158

Debt - external

$1.7 billion (31 December 2017 est.)

$1.436 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 156

Exchange rates

Surinamese dollars (SRD) per US dollar -

7.53 (2017 est.)

6.229 (2016 est.)

6.229 (2015 est.)

3.4167 (2014 est.)

3.3 (2013 est.)


Electricity access

electrification - total population: 97.4% (2018)

electrification - urban areas: 99% (2018)

electrification - rural areas: 94.3% (2018)


Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 96,310

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 15.95 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 139

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 845,292

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 139.99 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 163

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: international facilities are good; state-owned fixed-line teledensity and broadband services below regional average for Latin America and Caribbean, but mobile penetration is above regional average; fixed-line effective along the coastline and poor in the interior; competition in the mobile sector (2020)

domestic: fixed-line 16 per 100 and mobile-cellular teledensity 140 telephones per 100 persons; microwave radio relay network is in place (2019)

international: country code - 597; landing point for the SG-SCS submarine cable linking South America with the Caribbean; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2019)

note: the COVID-19 outbreak is negatively impacting telecommunications production and supply chains globally; consumer spending on telecom devices and services has also slowed due to the pandemic's effect on economies worldwide; overall progress towards improvements in all facets of the telecom industry - mobile, fixed-line, broadband, submarine cable and satellite - has moderated

Broadcast media

2 state-owned TV stations; 1 state-owned radio station; multiple private radio and TV stations (2019)

Internet users

total: 292,685

percent of population: 48.95% (July 2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 166

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 73,176

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 12 (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 127


National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 4 (2020)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 20

annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 272,347 (2018)

annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 33.2 million mt-km (2018)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 6 (2019)

over 3,047 m: 1

under 914 m: 5

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 49 (2013)

914 to 1,523 m: 4 (2013)

under 914 m: 45 (2013)


50 km oil (2013)


total: 4,304 km (2003)

paved: 1,119 km (2003)

unpaved: 3,185 km (2003)

country comparison to the world: 151


1,200 km (most navigable by ships with drafts up to 7 m) (2011)

country comparison to the world: 59

Merchant marine

total: 10

by type: general cargo 5, oil tanker 3, other 2 (2020)

country comparison to the world: 156

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Paramaribo, Wageningen

Military and Security

Military and security forces

Suriname Army (National Leger, NL): Army, Navy, Air Force, Military Police (2021)

Military and security service personnel strengths

the Suriname Army is comprised of approximately 1,800 active personnel (ground, air, naval, and military police) (2020)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the Suriname Army has a limited inventory comprised of a mix of older, foreign-supplied equipment; since 2010, Suriname has received small quantities of military hardware from Colombia, France, India, and the US (2020)

Military service age and obligation

18 is the legal minimum age for voluntary military service; no conscription (2019)

Military expenditures

1.1% of GDP (2017 est.)

1.2% of GDP (2016 est.)

1.4% of GDP (2015 est.)

1.3% of GDP (2014 est.)

1.3% of GDP (2013 est.)

country comparison to the world: 123

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

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 UN 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

Trafficking in persons

current situation: Suriname is a source, transit, and destination country for women and children subjected to sex trafficking and men, women, and children subjected to 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; migrant workers in agriculture and on fishing boats and children working in informal urban sectors and gold mines are vulnerable to forced labor; traffickers from Suriname exploit victims in the Netherlands

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; in 2014, Suriname was granted a waiver from an otherwise required downgrade to Tier 3 because its government has a written plan that, if implemented, would constitute making significant efforts to bring itself into compliance with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; authorities increased the number of trafficking investigations, prosecutions, and convictions as compared to 2013, but resources were insufficient to conduct investigations in the country’s interior; more trafficking victims were identified in 2014 than in 2013, but protective services for adults and children were inadequate, with a proposed government shelter for women and child trafficking victims remaining unopened (2015)

Illicit drugs

growing transshipment point for South American drugs destined for Europe via the Netherlands and Brazil; transshipment point for arms-for-drugs dealing