Flag of Suriname

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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 1990, the military overthrew the civilian government, but a democratically elected government returned to power in 1991.


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

Geographic coordinates:

4 00 N, 56 00 W


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

Land boundaries:

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

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: 0.36%
permanent crops: 0.06%
other: 99.58% (2005)

Irrigated land:

510 sq km (2003)

Environment - current issues:

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

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


439,117 (July 2006 est.)

Age structure:

0-14 years: 29% (male 65,412/female 62,069)
15-64 years: 64.7% (male 145,913/female 138,076)
65 years and over: 6.3% (male 12,223/female 15,424) (2006 est.)

Median age:

total: 26.5 years
male: 26 years
female: 26.9 years (2006 est.)

Population growth rate:

0.2% (2006 est.)

Birth rate:

18.02 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Death rate:

7.27 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Net migration rate:

-8.76 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Sex ratio:

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.79 male(s)/female
total population: 1.04 male(s)/female (2006 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

total: 23.02 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 26.89 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 18.95 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 69.01 years
male: 66.66 years
female: 71.47 years (2006 est.)

Total fertility rate:

2.32 children born/woman (2006 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

1.7% (2001 est.)

people living with HIV/AIDS:

5,200 (2001 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:

less than 500 (2003 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%, Protestant 25.2% (predominantly Moravian), Roman Catholic 22.8%, Muslim 19.6%, 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: 88%
male: 92.3%
female: 84.1% (2000 est.)

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

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; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations


18 years of age; universal

Legislative branch:

unicameral National Assembly or Nationale Assemblee (51 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held 25 May 2005 (next to be held in 2010)
election results: percent of vote by party - NF 39.73%, NDP 22.2%, VVV 13.79%, A-Com 7.21%, A-1 5.86%, other 7.42%; seats by party - NF 23, NDP 15, VVV 5, A-Com 5, A-1 3

Judicial branch:

Cantonal Courts and a Court of Justice as an appellate court (justices are nominated for life)

Economy - overview:

The economy is dominated by the mining industry, which accounts for more than a third of GDP and subjects government revenues to mineral price volatility. The short-term economic outlook depends on the government's ability to control inflation and on the development of projects in the bauxite and gold mining sectors. 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 of Ronald VENETIAAN, in his first term, implemented an austerity program, raised taxes, and attempted to control spending. Economic policies are likely to remain the same during VENETIAAN's second term. Prospects for local onshore oil production are good, as a drilling program is underway. Offshore oil drilling was given a boost in 2004 when the State Oil Company (Staatsolie) signed exploration agreements with Repsol, Mearsk, and Occidental.

GDP (purchasing power parity):

$2.081 billion (2005 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate):

$1.355 billion (2005 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:

2% (2005 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):

$4,100 (2005 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:

agriculture: 13%
industry: 22%
services: 65% (2001)

Labor force:

156,700 (2004)

Labor force - by occupation:

agriculture: 8%
industry: 14%
services: 78%

Unemployment rate:

9.5% (2004)

Population below poverty line:

70% (2002 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

9.5% (2005 est.)


revenues: $392.6 million
expenditures: $425.9 million (2004)

Agriculture - products:

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


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

Industrial production growth rate:

6.5% (1994 est.)

Electricity - production:

2.014 billion kWh (2003)

Electricity - consumption:

1.873 billion kWh (2003)

Oil - production:

12,000 bbl/day (2004 est.)

Oil - consumption:

14,000 bbl/day (2004 est.)

Oil - exports:

1,370 bbl/day (2003)

Oil - imports:

1,644 bbl/day (2003)

Oil - proved reserves:

150 million bbl (2005)


$881 million f.o.b. (2004 est.)

Exports - commodities:

alumina, crude oil, lumber, shrimp and fish, rice, bananas

Exports - partners:

Norway 29.4%, US 15.2%, Canada 12.5%, Belgium 10.2%, France 8.5%, UAE 6.2% (2004)


$750 million f.o.b. (2004 est.)

Imports - commodities:

capital equipment, petroleum, foodstuffs, cotton, consumer goods

Imports - partners:

US 26.2%, Netherlands 19.3%, Trinidad and Tobago 13.5%, Japan 6.6%, China 4.6%, Brazil 4.1% (2004)

Debt - external:

$504.3 million (2005 est.)

Economic aid - recipient:

Netherlands provided $37 million for project and program assistance, European Development Fund $4 million, Belgium $2 million (2003)

Currency (code):

Surinam dollar (SRD)

Fiscal year:

calendar year

Telephones - main lines in use:

81,300 (2004)

Telephones - mobile cellular:

212,800 (2004)

Telephone system:

general assessment: international facilities are good
domestic: microwave radio relay network
international: country code - 597; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)

Radio broadcast stations:

AM 4, FM 13, shortwave 1 (1998)

Television broadcast stations:

3 (plus seven repeaters) (2000)

Internet country code:


Internet hosts:

122 (2005)

Internet users:

30,000 (2005)


47 (2005)

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 5
over 3,047 m: 1
under 914 m: 4 (2005)

Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 42
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 5
under 914 m: 36 (2005)


oil 51 km (2004)


total: 4,492 km
paved: 1,168 km
unpaved: 3,324 km (2002)


1,200 km (most navigable by ships with drafts up to 7 m) (2005)

Merchant marine:

total: 1 ships (1000 GRT or over) 1,078 GRT/1,214 DWT
by type: cargo 1 (2005)

Ports and terminals:


Military branches:

National Army (includes small Navy and Air Force elements)

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 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) arbitration to resolve the long-standing dispute with Suriname over the axis of the territorial sea boundary in potentially oil-rich waters

Illicit drugs:

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