SURINAME



 

Also known as: Beating Heart of the Amazon
Motto: Justita, Pietas, Fides (Justice, Peace and Prosperity)

History Originally, Amerindians inhabited the country up to the 15th century. First explored by the Spaniards in the 16th century, settlers eventually came from England, The Netherlands and Germany among others.  Struggle for possession by the French, British and Dutch ended when Suriname became a Dutch colony in 1667. Slavery was abolished in 1863 and workers were brought in from India and Java. The country gained independence in 1975, and in February 1980 a military coup brought commander Desi Bouterse into power.  In 1987 national elections were held and democracy was restored.  In October 1997 an attempt to overthrow the government was foiled and a democratically elected government, a four party - New Front coalition - gained power and has retained power ever since. In 2005, the coalition expanded to eight parties.

Geography  
Location: On the northern coast of South America, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on the North, Guyana to the West, French Guiana to the East and Brazil to the South.
Geographic coordinates: 4 00 N, 56 00 W
Area: total: 163,820 sq km
country comparison to the world: 98
land: 156,000 sq km
water: 7,820 sq km
Land boundaries: total: 1,703 km
border countries: Brazil 593 km, French Guiana 510 km, Guyana 600 km
Coastline: 386 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Climate: tropical; moderated by trade winds
Terrain: 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)
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

People  
 Population: 481,267 (July 2009 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 27.1% (male 66,603/female 64,035)
15-64 years: 66.6% (male 159,525/female 160,871)
65 years and over: 6.3% (male 13,004/female 17,229) (2009 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.103% (2009 est.)
Birth rate: 16.8 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)
Death rate: 5.51 deaths/1,000 population (July 2009 est.)
Net migration rate: -0.26 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2009 est.)
Urbanization:  urban population: 75% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 1% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.07 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.76 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2009 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%, Protestant 25.2% (predominantly Moravian), Roman Catholic 22.8%, Muslim 19.6%, 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), Caribbean Hindustani (a dialect of Hindi), Javanese
Literacy:
 
definition:age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 89.6%
male: 92%
female: 87.2% (2004 census)

Government  
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
Capital: name: Paramaribo
geographic coordinates: 5 50 N, 55 10 W
Administrative divisions: 10 districts (distrikten, singular - distrikt); Brokopondo, Commewijne, Coronie, Marowijne, Nickerie, Para, Paramaribo, Saramacca, Sipaliwini, Wanica
Independence: 25 November 1975 (from the Netherlands)
National holidays: New Year's Day (01 January); Phagwah; Ash Wednesday; Good Friday; Easter Monday; Id-Ul-Fitr; Labour Day (01 May); Emancipation Day (01 July); Diwali; Independence Day (25 November); Christmas Day (25 December); Boxing Day (26 December)
Constitution: ratified 30 September 1987; effective 30 October 1987
Legal system: based on Dutch legal system incorporating French penal theory; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: President H.E. Drs Runaldo Ronald VENETIAAN (since 12 August 2000); Vice President Ramdien SARDJOE (since 3 August 2005); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government

head of government: President H.E. Drs Runaldo Ronald VENETIAAN (since 12 August 2000); Born 18 June 1936, H.E. Drs Runaldo R. Venetiaan received his Doctoral Degree (Mathematics and Physics) from the University of Leiden, Netherlands. After a prestigious career in education which included Minister of Education 1973-80 and again 1988-91, he was elected to the Presidency in 1991-96 and again in 2000.

Vice President Ram SARDJOE (since 3 August 2005)

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 25 May 2005 (next to be held in 2010)

election results: Runaldo Ronald VENETIAAN reelected president; percent of vote - Runaldo Ronald VENETIAAN 62.9%, Rabin PARMESSAR 35.4%, other 1.7%; note - after two votes in the parliament failed to secure a two-thirds majority for a candidate, the vote then went to a special session of the United People's Assembly on 3 August 2005

Legislative branch: unicameral National Assembly or Nationale Assemblee (51 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held on 25 May 2005 (next to be held in 2010)
election results: percent of vote by party - NF 39.7%, NDP 22.2%, VVV 13.8%, A-Com 7.2%, A-1 5.9%, other 11.2%; 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); member of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ)
Political parties and leaders: Alternative-1 or A-1 (a coalition of Amazone Party of Suriname or APS [Kenneth VAN GENDEREN], Democrats of the 21st Century or D-21 [Soewarto MOESTADJA], Nieuw Suriname or NS [Radjen Nanan PANDAY], Political Wing of the FAL or PVF [Jiwan SITAL], Trefpunt 2000 or T-2000 [Arti JESSURUN]); General Interior Development Party or ABOP [Ronnie BRUNSWIJK]; National Democratic Party or NDP [Desire BOUTERSE]; New Front for Democracy and Development or NF (a coalition that includes A-Combination or A-Com, Democratic Alternative 1991 or DA-91, an independent, business-oriented party [Winston JESSURUN], National Party Suriname or NPS [Ronald VENETIAAN], United Reform Party or VHP [Ramdien SARDJOE], Pertjaja Luhur or PL [Salam Paul SOMOHARDJO], Surinamese Labor Party or SPA [Siegfried GILDS]); Party for Democracy and Development in Unity or DOE [Marten SCHALKWIJK]; People's Alliance for Progress or VVV (a coalition of Democratic National Platform 2000 or DNP-2000 [Jules WIJDENBOSCH], Grassroots Party for Renewal and Democracy or BVD [Tjan GOBARDHAN], Party for National Unity and Solidarity of the Highest Order or KTPI [Willy SOEMITA], Party for Progression, Justice, and Perseverance or PPRS [Renee KAIMAN], Pendawalima or PL [Raymond SAPOEN]); Progressive Laborers and Farmers Union or PALU [Jim HOK]; Progressive Political Party or PPP [Surinder MUNGRA]; Seeka [Paul ABENA]; Union of Progressive Surinamers or UPS [Sheoradj PANDAY]
International organization participation: ACP, Caricom, FAO, G-77, IADB, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt, ICRM, IDB, IFAD, IFRCS, IHO (suspended), ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IPU, ISO (subscriber), ITU, ITUC, LAES, MIGA, NAM, OAS, OIC, OPANAL, OPCW, PCA, UN, UNASUR, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCL, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Jacques Ruben Constantijn KROSS
chancery: Suite 460, 4301 Connecticut Avenue NW, 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 Lisa Bobbie SCHREIBER HUGHES
embassy: Dr. Sophie Redmondstraat 129, Paramaribo
mailing address: US Department of State, PO Box 1821, Paramaribo
telephone: [597] 472-900
FAX: [597] 410-025
Date of CARICOM Membership: 4 July 1995
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  
Economic Summary:

The economy is dominated by the mining industry, with exports of alumina, gold, and oil accounting for about 85% of exports and 25% of government revenues, making the economy highly vulnerable to mineral price volatility. Prospects for local onshore oil production are good, and a drilling program is underway. Offshore oil drilling was given a boost in 2004 when the State Oil Company (Staatsolie) signed exploration agreements with several Western oil companies. Bidding on these new offshore blocks was completed in July 2006. 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, though investment in these projects may slow with the tightening of global credit markets. Suriname has received aid for these projects from Netherlands, Belgium, and the European Development Fund. 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. In 2000, the government of Ronald VENETIAAN, returned to office and inherited an economy with inflation of over 100% and a growing fiscal deficit. He quickly implemented an austerity program, raised taxes, attempted to control spending, and tamed inflation. The VENETIAAN administration also has created a stabilization fund to insulate future revenue from commodity shocks. These economic policies are likely to remain in effect during VENETIAAN's third term.

GDP (purchasing power parity): $4.254 billion (2008 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate): $2.984 billion (2008 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 6% (2008 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP): $8,900 (2008 est.)
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 10.8%
industry: 24.4%
services: 64.8% (2005 est.)
Labor force: 165,600 (2007)
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: 8%
industry: 14%
services: 78% (2004)
Unemployment rate: 9.5% (2004)
Budget: revenues: $392.6 million
expenditures: $425.9 million (2004)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 6.4% (2007 est.)
Agriculture - products: paddy rice, bananas, palm kernels, coconuts, plantains, peanuts; beef, chickens; shrimp; forest products
Industries: bauxite and gold mining, alumina production; oil, lumbering, food processing, fishing
Industrial production growth rate: 6.5% (1994 est.)
Exports: $1.391 billion (2006 est.)
Exports - commodities: alumina, gold, crude oil, lumber, shrimp and fish, rice, bananas
Exports - partners: Canada 36.1%, Belgium 12.5%, Norway 12.4%, UAE 8.8%, US 7.7% (2008)
Imports: $1.297 billion (2006 est.)
Imports - commodities: capital equipment, petroleum, foodstuffs, cotton, consumer goods
Imports - partners:  US 30.8%, Netherlands 15.3%, Trinidad and Tobago 14%, China 7.6%, Japan 6.4% (2008)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $263.3 million (2006)
Business Hours: Commercial:  7:30-16:30hrs Monday to Friday
7:30-12:30 Saturday

Government:   7:00-15:00 Monday to Thursday; 7:00-14:30 Friday
Exchange rates: Surinamese dollars (SRD) per US dollar - 2.745 (2007). note: in January 2004, the government replaced the guilder with the Surinamese dollar, tied to a US dollar-dominated currency basket

Communications  
Telephones Main lines in use: 81,500 (2008)
 Telephones - mobile cellular: 416,000 (2008)
Telephone system: general assessment: international facilities are good
domestic: combined fixed-line and mobile-cellular teledensity exceed 100 telephones per 100 persons; 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 7 repeaters) (2000)
Internet country code: .sr
Internet hosts: 33 (2008)
Internet users: 44,000 (2007)

Transportation  
Airports: 50 (2009) Main airports: Johan Adolph Pengel International;  Zanderij
Airports - with paved runways: total: 5
over 3,047 m: 1
under 914 m: 4 (2009)
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 45
914 to 1,523 m: 5
under 914 m: 40 (2009)
Pipelines: oil 50 km (2008)
Roadways: total: 4,304 km
country comparison to the world: 155
paved: 1,130 km
unpaved: 3,174 km (2003)
Waterways: 1,200 km (most navigable by ships with drafts up to 7 m) (2008)
Merchant marine: total: 1
by type: cargo 1 (2008)
Ports and terminals: Paramaribo, Wageningen

Military  
  National Army (Nationaal Leger, NL; includes Naval Wing, Air Wing) (2007)
  Main Source of Information: the Central Intelligence Agency World Factbook

Items of Interest  
National Anthem: God zij met ons Suriname
Hij verheft ons heerlijk Land
Hoe wij hier ook samen kwamen
Aan zijn grond zijn wij verpand
Werkend houden we in gedachten
Recht en Waarheid maken vrij
Al wat goed is te Betrachten
Dat geeft aan ons land waardij.

Opo kondre man Un opo
Sranan gron e kari un
Wans' ope tata komopo
Wi mus' seti kondre bun
Stre def' stre Wi no sa frede
Gado de wi fesiman
Heri libi te na dede
Wi sa feti gi Sranan

Highest National Award: Drager van het Groot Lint in de Ere; Orde van de Palm
Favourite local cuisine: Local specialties include dishes from India (roti), Indonesian cuisine such as rijsttafel (rice and meat and vegetable side dishes), Creole dishes including pom (ground tayer roots and chicken) and Chinese cuisine.