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Flag of Suriname
Map of Suriname
Introduction Suriname
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
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: 163,270 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
386 km
Maritime claims:
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
territorial sea: 12 NM
tropical; moderated by trade winds
mostly rolling hills; narrow coastal plain with swamps
Elevation extremes:
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:
arable land: 0.37%
permanent crops: 0.06%
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: 99.57%
Irrigated land:
490 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards:
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
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:
total population: 71.9 years
female: 74.7 years (2002 est.)
male: 69.23 years
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:
83 (2002 est.)
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%
Hindu 27.4%, Muslim 19.6%, Roman Catholic 22.8%, Protestant 25.2% (predominantly Moravian), indigenous beliefs 5%
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
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 93%
male: 95%
female: 91% (1995 est.)
Government Suriname
Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Suriname
conventional short form: Suriname
local short form: Suriname
former: Netherlands Guiana, Dutch Guiana
local long form: Republiek Suriname
Government type:
constitutional democracy
Administrative divisions:
10 districts (distrikten, singular - distrikt); Brokopondo, Commewijne, Coronie, Marowijne, Nickerie, Para, Paramaribo, Saramacca, Sipaliwini, Wanica
25 November 1975 (from Netherlands)
National holiday:
Independence Day, 25 November (1975)
ratified 30 September 1987
Legal system:
based on Dutch legal system incorporating French penal theory
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: Cabinet of Ministers appointed by the president from among the members 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: percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - NF 33, MC 10, DNP 2000 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: last held 5 May 2000 (next to be held NA May 2005)
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:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Henry Lothar ILLES
FAX: [1] (202) 244-5878
consulate(s) general: Miami
telephone: [1] (202) 244-7488
chancery: Suite 460, 4301 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Daniel A. JOHNSON
embassy: Dr. Sophie Redmondstraat 129, Paramaribo
mailing address: Department of State, 3390 Paramaribo Place, Washington, DC, 20521-3390
telephone: [597] 472900
FAX: [597] 420800
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.
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:
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
59% (2000) (2000)
Labor force:
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture NA%, industry NA%, services NA%
Unemployment rate:
20% (1997) (1997)
revenues: $393 million
expenditures: $403 million, including capital expenditures of $34 million
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: 36%
hydro: 64%
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
$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)
$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)
Surinamese guilder (SRG)
Currency code:
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: beginning in July 1994, the central bank midpoint exchange rate was 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)
300,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
3 (plus seven repeaters) (2000)
63,000 (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
2 (2000)
Internet users:
14,500 (2002)
Transportation Suriname
total: 166 km (single-track)
standard gauge: 80 km 1.435-m gauge
note: Suriname railroads are not in operation (2001)
narrow gauge: 86 km 1.000-m gauge
total: 4,530 km
paved: 1,178 km
unpaved: 3,352 km (1996)
1,200 km
note: most important means of transport; oceangoing vessels with drafts ranging up to 7 m can navigate many of the principal waterways
Ports and harbors:
Albina, Moengo, New Nickerie, Paramaribo, Paranam, Wageningen
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.)
46 (2001)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 5
over 3,047 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 4 (2002)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 41
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 5
under 914 m: 35 (2002)
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:
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 dealing

This page was last updated on 19 March 2003