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Suriname Flag

Country Profile

Capital City: Paramaribo (pop. 250 000)

Other Cities: Nieuw Nickerie, Moengo.

Local Time: UTC -3h


Location: Northern South America, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between French Guiana and Guyana.
Area: 163 194 sq. km. (63 037 sq. mi.)
Terrain: Varies from coastal swamps to savanna to hills.
Border countries: Brazil, French Guiana, Guyana

Climate: Tropical; moderated by trade winds.

Type: Constitutional democracy.
Constitution: September 30, 1987.
Independence: November 25, 1975.

Nationality: Noun--Surinamer(s). Adjective--Surinamese.
Population: 450 000.
Annual growth rate (2003): 1.3%.
Ethnic groups: Hindustani (East Indian) 37%, Creole 31%, Javanese 15%, Bush Negro 10%, Amerindians 3%, Chinese 1.7% (percentages date from 1972 census, the last in which ethnicity data was collected).
Religions: Hindu, Muslim, Roman Catholic, Dutch Reformed, Moravian, several other Christian denominations, Jewish, Baha'i.
Languages: Dutch (official), English, Sranan Tongo (Creole language), Hindustani, Javanese.
Literacy: 90%


Currency: Surinamese Guilder (SRG)

Natural resources: Timber, hydropower, fish, kaolin, shrimp, bauxite, gold, and small amounts of nickel, copper, platinum, iron ore.

Agriculture products: Paddy rice, bananas, palm kernels, coconuts, plantains, peanuts; beef, chickens; forest products; shrimp.

Industries: Bauxite and gold mining, alumina production, oil, lumbering, food processing, fishing.

Exports partners:
Norway 31.1%, USA 16%, Canada 13.2%, Belgium 10.8%, France 8.8%, Iceland 4.6% (2004)

Imports partners: USA 28.2%, Netherlands 21.1%, Trinidad and Tobago 11.4%, Japan 7.2%, China 4.3% (2004)

Internet Links

Official Sites of Suriname

Kabinet van de President van Suriname

Suriname Ministry of Transport, Communication and Tourism

Diplomatic Missions
The Suriname Consulate

Suriname Mission to the UN

Embassy of the Republic of Suriname in the U.S.

Foreign Embassies in Suriname

Population and Economic Data about Suriname

Map of Suriname

Map of South America



Background:  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 rule through
a succession of nominally civilian administrations until 1987, when
international pressure finally forced a democratic election. In 1989, the
military overthrew the civilian government, but a democratically-elected
government returned to power in 1991.

Geography Suriname

Location:  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

Area:  total: 163,270 sq km land: 161,470 sq km water: 1,800 sq km

Area - comparative:  slightly larger than Georgia

Land boundaries:  total: 1,707 km border countries: Brazil 597 km,
French Guiana 510 km, Guyana 600 km

Coastline:  386 km

Maritime claims:  exclusive economic zone: 200 NM territorial sea: 12 NM

Climate:  tropical; moderated by trade winds

Terrain:  mostly rolling hills; narrow coastal plain with swamps

Elevation extremes:   unnamed location in the coastal plain -2 m highest
point: Natural resources:  timber, hydropower, fish, kaolin, shrimp,
bauxite, gold, and small amounts of nickel, copper, platinum, iron ore

Land use:  arable land: 0% permanent crops: 0% note: there are 95,000
hectares of arable land, 7,000 hectares of permanent crops, and 15,000
hectares of permanent pastures (1998 est.)  other: 100%

Irrigated land:  490 sq km (1998 est.)

Natural hazards:  NA

Environment - current issues:  deforestation as timber is cut for export;
pollution of inland waterways by small-scale mining activities

Environment - international agreements:  party to: Biodiversity, Climate
Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Law of the Sea, Marine
Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution,
Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands signed, but not ratified: none of the
selected agreements

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 Suriname

Population:  436,494 (July 2002 est.)

Age structure:  0-14 years: 31.1% (male 69,642; female 66,262) 15-64
years: 63.1% (male 140,745; female 134,494) 65 years and over: 5.8%
(male 11,480; female 13,871) (2002 est.)

Population growth rate:  0.55% (2002 est.)

Birth rate:  19.97 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Death rate:  5.67 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Net migration rate:  -8.82 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Sex ratio:  at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.05
male(s)/female 15-64 years: 1.05 male(s)/female 65 years and over:
0.83 male(s)/female total population: 1.03 male(s)/female (2002 est.)

Infant mortality rate:  23.48 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:   74.7 years (2002 est.)  male: Total fertility
rate:  2.44 children born/woman (2002 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:  1.26% (1999 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:  3,000 (1999 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:  210 (1999 est.)

Nationality:  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) 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%

Religions:  Hindu 27.4%, Muslim 19.6%, Roman Catholic 22.8%, Protestant
25.2% (predominantly Moravian), indigenous beliefs 5%

Languages:  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),
Hindustani (a dialect of Hindi), Javanese

Literacy:  definition: age 15 and over can read and write total
population: 93% male: 95% female: 91% (1995 est.)

Government Suriname

Country name:   Republic of Suriname conventional short form:  Guiana
local long form: Republiek Suriname

Government type:  constitutional democracy

Capital:  Paramaribo

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

Independence:  25 November 1975 (from Netherlands)

National holiday:  Independence Day, 25 November (1975)

Constitution:  ratified 30 September 1987

Legal system:  based on Dutch legal system incorporating French penal

Suffrage:  18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:  chief of state: President Runaldo Ronald VENETIAAN
(since 12 August 2000); Vice President Jules Rattankoemar AJODHIA (since
12 August 2000); note - the president is both the chief of state and
head of government head of government: President Runaldo Ronald VENETIAAN
(since 12 August 2000); Vice President Jules Rattankoemar AJODHIA (since
12 August 2000); note - the president is both the chief of state and head
of government cabinet:  of the National Assembly elections: president and
vice president elected by the National Assembly or, if no presidential
or vice presidential candidate receives a constitutional majority in
the National Assembly after two votes, by the larger People's Assembly
(869 representatives from the national, local, and regional councils),
for five-year terms; election last held 6 May 2000 (next to be held NA
May 2005) election results: Runaldo Ronald VENETIAAN elected president
by the National Assembly; percent of legislative vote - Runaldo Ronald
VENETIAAN 72.5%; Rashied DOEKHIE (NDP) 19.6%; total votes cast - Runaldo
Ronald VENETIAAN (New Front) 37 votes, Rashied DOEKHIE (NDP) 10 votes
note: widespread demonstrations during the summer of 1999 led to the
call for elections a year early

Legislative branch:  unicameral National Assembly or Nationale Assemblee
(51 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year
terms) election results:  3, DA '91 2, PVF 2, PALU 1 note: widespread
demonstrations during the summer of 1999 led to the call for elections
a year early elections: Judicial branch:  Court of Justice (justices
are nominated for life)

Political parties and leaders:  Democratic Alternative '91 or DA '91 (a
coalition of the Alternative Forum or AF and Party for Brotherhood and
Unity in Politics or BEP, formed in January 1991) [S. RAMKHELAWAN];
Democratic National Platform 2000 or DNP 2000 (coalition of two
parties, Democratic Party and Democrats of the 21st Century) [Jules
WIJDENBOSCH]; Independent Progressive Democratic Alternative or OPDA
[Joginder RAMKHILAWAN]; Millennium Combination or MC (a coalition of three
parties, Democratic Alternative, Party for National Unity and Solidarity,
and National Democratic Party) [leader NA]; National Democratic Party or
NDP [Desire BOUTERSE]; Naya Kadam or NK [leader NA]; Party for Renewal
and Democracy or BVD [Tjan GOBARDHAN]; Party of National Unity and
Solidarity or KTPI [Willy SOEMITA]; Pertjaja Luhur [Paul SOMOHARDJO];
Progressive Workers' and Farm Laborers' Union or PALU [Ir Iwan KROLIS];
The New Front or NF (a coalition of four parties Suriname National Party
or NPS, Progressive Reform Party or VHP, Suriname Labor Party or SPA, and
Pertjaja Luhur) [Runaldo Ronald VENETIAAN]; The Progressive Development
Alliance (a combination of three parties, Renewed Progressive Party
or HPP, Party of the Federation of Land Workers or PVF, and Suriname
Progressive People's Party or PSV) [Harry KISOENSINGH]

Political pressure groups and leaders:  General Liberation and Development
Party or ABOP [Ronnie BRUNSWIJK]; Mandela Bushnegro Liberation Movement
[Leendert ADAMS]; Tucayana Amazonica [Alex JUBITANA, Thomas SABAJO];
Union for Liberation and Democracy [Kofi AFONGPONG]

International organization participation:  ACP, Caricom, ECLAC, FAO,

Diplomatic representation in the US:  chief of mission: Ambassador Henry
Lothar ILLES FAX: [1] (202) 244-5878
 [1] (202) 244-7488 chancery:
Diplomatic representation from the US:  chief of mission: Ambassador
Daniel A. JOHNSON embassy: Dr. Sophie Redmondstraat 129, Paramaribo
mailing address: Department of State, 3390
 [597] 472900 FAX:
Flag description:  five horizontal bands of green (top, double width),
white, red (quadruple width), white, and green (double width); there is
a large, yellow, five-pointed star centered in the red band

Economy Suriname

Economy - overview:  The economy is dominated by the bauxite
industry, which accounts for more than 15% of GDP and 70% of export
earnings. Suriname's economic prospects for the medium term will depend
on renewed commitment to responsible monetary and fiscal policies and
to the introduction of structural reforms to liberalize markets and
promote competition.  The government of Ronald VENETIAAN has begun an
austerity program, raised taxes, and attempted to control spending. The
Dutch Government has restarted the aid flow, which will allow Suriname
to access international development financing.

GDP:  purchasing power parity - $1.5 billion (2000 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:  -5.5% (2000 est.)

GDP - per capita:  purchasing power parity - $3,500 (2000 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:  agriculture: 13% industry: 22% services:
65% (1998 est.)

Population below poverty line:  NA%

Household income or consumption by percentage share:  lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%

Inflation rate (consumer prices):  59% (2000)

Labor force:  100,000

Labor force - by occupation:  agriculture NA%, industry NA%, services NA%

Unemployment rate:  20% (1997)

Budget:  revenues: $393 million expenditures: $403 million, including
capital expenditures of $34 million (1997 est.)

Industries:  bauxite and gold mining, alumina production, oil, lumbering,
food processing, fishing

Industrial production growth rate:  6.5% (1994 est.)

Electricity - production:  1.407 billion kWh (2000)

Electricity - production by source:  fossil fuel: 35.82% hydro: 64.18%
other: 0% (2000) nuclear: 0%

Electricity - consumption:  1.309 billion kWh (2000)

Electricity - exports:  0 kWh (2000)

Electricity - imports:  0 kWh (2000)

Agriculture - products:  paddy rice, bananas, palm kernels, coconuts,
plantains, peanuts; beef, chickens; forest products; shrimp

Exports:  $399 million (f.o.b., 2000)

Exports - commodities:  alumina, crude oil, lumber, shrimp and fish,
rice, bananas

Exports - partners:  US 23%, Norway 19%, Netherlands 11%, France, Japan,
UK (1999)

Imports:  $525 million (f.o.b., 1999)

Imports - commodities:  capital equipment, petroleum, foodstuffs, cotton,
consumer goods

Imports - partners:  US 35%, Netherlands 15%, Trinidad and Tobago 12%,
Japan, UK, Brazil (1999)

Debt - external:  $512 million (2000 est.)

Economic aid - recipient:  Netherlands provided $37 million for project
and program assistance, European Development Fund $4 million, Belgium
$2 million (1998)

Currency:  Surinamese guilder (SRG)

Currency code:  SRG

Exchange rates:  Surinamese guilders per US dollar - 2,178.50 (2001),
2,178.50 (2000), 987.50 (1999), 401.00 (1998), 401.00 (1997); note -
yearend rates note:  unified and became market determined; during 1998,
the exchange rate splintered into four distinct rates; in January 1999
the government floated the guilder, but subsequently fixed it when the
black-market rate plunged; the government currently allows trading within
a band of SRG 500 around the official rate

Fiscal year:  calendar year

Communications Suriname

Telephones - main lines in use:  64,000 (1997)

Telephones - mobile cellular:  4,090 (1997)

Telephone system:  general assessment: international facilities are good
domestic: microwave radio relay network international: satellite earth
stations - 2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)

Radio broadcast stations:  AM 4, FM 13, shortwave 1 (1998)

Radios:  300,000 (1997)

Television broadcast stations:  3 (plus seven repeaters) (2000)

Televisions:  63,000 (1997)

Internet country code:  .sr

Internet Service Providers (ISPs):  2 (2000)

Internet users:  11,700 (2001)

Transportation Suriname

Railways:   80 km 1.435-m gauge note:  1.000-m gauge

Highways:  total: 4,530 km paved: 1,178 km unpaved: 3,352 km (1996)

Waterways:  1,200 km note: most important means of transport; oceangoing
vessels with drafts ranging up to 7 m can navigate many of the principal

Ports and harbors:  Albina, Moengo, New Nickerie, Paramaribo, Paranam,

Merchant marine:  total: 3 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 3,432
GRT/4,525 DWT ships by type: cargo 1, container 1, petroleum tanker 1
(2002 est.)

Airports:  46 (2001)

Airports - with paved runways:  total: 5 over 3,047 m: 1 914 to 1,523 m:
1 under 914 m: 4 (2001)

Airports - with unpaved runways:  total: 41 1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 914 to
1,523 m: 5 under 914 m: 35 (2001)

Military Suriname

Military branches:  National Army (including small Navy and Air Force
elements), Civil Police

Military manpower - availability:  males age 15-49: 123,072 (2002 est.)

Military manpower - fit for military service:  males age 15-49: 72,059
(2002 est.)

Military expenditures - dollar figure:  $NA

Military expenditures - percent of GDP:  1.6% (FY97 est.)

Transnational Issues Suriname

Disputes - international:  area disputed by French Guiana between Riviere
Litani and Riviere Marouini (both headwaters of the Lawa); area disputed
by Guyana between New (Upper Courantyne) and Courantyne/Koetari [Kutari]
rivers (all headwaters of the Courantyne); territorial sea boundary with
Guyana is in dispute

Illicit drugs:  growing transshipment point for South American drugs
destined for Europe and Brazil; transshipment point for arms-for-drugs

This page was last updated on 1 January 2002

Dagblad Suriname

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De West


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The Tropical Rainforest in Suriname

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Suriname het land en de geschiedenis

Suriname History

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