[Country map of Suriname]



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

Map references: South America

total area: 163,270 sq km
land area: 161,470 sq km
comparative area: slightly larger than Georgia

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

Coastline: 386 km

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

International disputes: claims area in French Guiana between Litani Rivier and Riviere Marouini (both headwaters of the Lawa Rivier); claims area in Guyana between New (Upper Courantyne) and Courantyne/Koetari Rivers (all headwaters of the Courantyne)

Climate: tropical; moderated by trade winds

Terrain: mostly rolling hills; narrow coastal plain with swamps

Natural resources: timber, hydropower potential, fish, shrimp, bauxite, iron ore, and small amounts of nickel, copper, platinum, gold

Land use:
arable land: NEGL%
permanent crops: 0%
meadows and pastures: 0%
forest and woodland: 97%
other: 3%

Irrigated land: 590 sq km (1989 est.)

current issues: deforestation as foreign producers obtain timber concessions
natural hazards: NA
international agreements: party to - Endangered Species, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban, Ship Pollution, Wetlands; signed, but not ratified - Biodiversity, Climate Change, Law of the Sea

Note: mostly tropical rain forest; great diversity of flora and fauna which for the most part is not threatened because of the lack of development; relatively small population most of which lives along the coast


Population: 429,544 (July 1995 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 34% (female 70,845; male 74,330)
15-64 years: 61% (female 130,153; male 133,693)
65 years and over: 5% (female 10,897; male 9,626) (July 1995 est.)

Population growth rate: 1.58% (1995 est.)

Birth rate: 24.72 births/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Death rate: 5.91 deaths/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Net migration rate: -3 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 30.2 deaths/1,000 live births (1995 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 69.76 years
male: 67.24 years
female: 72.41 years (1995 est.)

Total fertility rate: 2.73 children born/woman (1995 est.)

noun: Surinamer(s)
adjective: Surinamese

Ethnic divisions: Hindustani (also known locally as "East" Indians; their ancestors emigrated from northern India in the latter part of the 19th century) 37%, Creole (mixed European and African ancestry) 31%, Javanese 15.3%, "Bush Black" (also known as "Bush Creole" whose ancestors were brought to the country in the 17th and 18th centuries as slaves) 10.3%, Amerindian 2.6%, Chinese 1.7%, Europeans 1%, other 1.1%

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: age 15 and over can read and write (1990 est.)
total population: 95%
male: 95%
female: 95%

Labor force: NA


conventional long form: Republic of Suriname
conventional short form: Suriname
local long form: Republiek Suriname
local short form: Suriname
former: Netherlands Guiana, Dutch Guiana

Digraph: NS

Type: republic

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: NA

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state and head of government: President Ronald R. VENETIAAN (since 16 September 1991); Prime Minister Jules R. AJODHIA (since 16 September 1991); election last held 6 September 1991 (next to be held NA May 1996); results - elected by the National Assembly - Ronald VENETIAAN (NF) 80% (645 votes), Jules WIJDENBOSCH (NDP) 14% (115 votes), Hans PRADE (DA '91) 6% (49 votes)
cabinet: Cabinet of Ministers; appointed by the president from members of the National Assembly
note: Commander in Chief of the National Army maintains significant power

Legislative branch: unicameral
National Assembly (Assemblee Nationale): elections last held 25 May 1991 (next to be held NA May 1996); results - percent of vote by party NA; seats - (51 total) NF 30, NDP 10, DA '91 9, independents 2

Judicial branch: Supreme Court

Political parties and leaders: The New Front (NF), a coalition of four parties (NPS, VHP, KTPI, SPA), leader Ronald R. VENETIAAN; Progressive Reform Party (VHP), Jaggernath LACHMON; National Party of Suriname (NPS), Ronald VENETIAAN; Party of National Unity and Solidarity (KTPI), Willy SOEMITA; Suriname Labor Party (SPA), Fred DERBY; Democratic Alternative '91 (DA '91), Winston JESSURUN, a coalition of four parties (AF, HPP, Pendawa Lima, BEP) formed in January 1991; Alternative Forum (AF), Gerard BRUNINGS, Winston JESSURUN; Reformed Progressive Party (HPP), Panalal PARMESSAR; Party for Brotherhood and Unity in Politics (BEP), Caprino ALLENDY; Pendawa Lima, Marsha JAMIN; National Democratic Party (NDP), Desire BOUTERSE; Progressive Workers' and Farm Laborers' Union (PALU), Ir Iwan KROLIS, chairman;

Other political or pressure groups: Surinamese Liberation Army (SLA), Ronnie BRUNSWIJK, Johan "Castro" WALLY; Union for Liberation and Democracy, Kofi AFONGPONG; Mandela Bushnegro Liberation Movement, Leendert ADAMS; Tucayana Amazonica, Alex JUBITANA, Thomas SABAJO


Diplomatic representation in US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Willem A. UDENHOUT
chancery: Suite 108, 4301 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 244-7488, 7490 through 7492
FAX: [1] (202) 244-5878
consulate(s) general: Miami

US diplomatic representation:
chief of mission: Ambassador Roger R. GAMBLE
embassy: Dr. Sophie Redmondstraat 129, Paramaribo
mailing address: P. O. Box 1821, Paramaribo
telephone: [597] 472900, 477881, 476459
FAX: [597] 410025

Flag: 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


Overview: The economy is dominated by the bauxite industry, which accounts for 15% of GDP and about 70% of export earnings. Paramaribo has failed to initiate the economic reforms necessary to stabilize the economy or win renewed Dutch aid disbursements. The government continues to finance deficit spending with monetary emissions. As a result, high inflation, high unemployment, widespread black market activity, and hard currency shortfalls continue to mark the economy.

National product: GDP - purchasing power parity - $1.2 billion (1994 est.)

National product real growth rate: -0.8% (1994 est.)

National product per capita: $2,800 (1994 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 225% (1994 est.)

Unemployment rate: NA

revenues: $300 million
expenditures: $700 million, including capital expenditures of $70 million (1994 est.)

Exports: $443.3 million (f.o.b., 1993 est.)
commodities: alumina, aluminum, shrimp and fish, rice, bananas
partners: Norway 33%, Netherlands 26%, US 13%, Japan 6%, Brazil 6%, UK 3% (1992)

Imports: $520.5 million (f.o.b., 1993 est.)
commodities: capital equipment, petroleum, foodstuffs, cotton, consumer goods
partners: US 42%, Netherlands 22%, Trinidad and Tobago 10%, Brazil 5% (1992)

External debt: $180 million (March 1993 est.)

Industrial production: growth rate 3.5% (1992 est.); accounts for 18% of GDP

capacity: 420,000 kW
production: 1.4 billion kWh
consumption per capita: 3,123 kWh (1993)

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

Agriculture: accounts for 15% of GDP and 25% of export earnings; paddy rice planted on 85% of arable land and represents 60% of total farm output; other products - bananas, palm kernels, coconuts, plantains, peanuts, beef, chicken; shrimp and forestry products of increasing importance; self-sufficient in most foods

Illicit drugs: transshipment point for South American drugs destined for the US and Europe

Economic aid:
recipient: US commitments, including Ex-Im (FY70-83), $2.5 billion; Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1970-89), $1.5 billion

Currency: 1 Surinamese guilder, gulden, or florin (Sf.) = 100 cents

Exchange rates: Surinamese guilders, gulden, or florins (Sf.) per US$1 - 1.7850 (fixed rate); parallel rate 510 (December 1994), 109 (January 1994)

Fiscal year: calendar year


total: 166 km (single track)
standard gauge: 80 km 1.435-m gauge
narrow gauge: 86 km 1.000-m gauge

total: 8,800 km
paved: 500 km
unpaved: bauxite, gravel, crushed stone 5,400 km; improved and unimproved earth 2,900 km

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

Ports: Albina, Moengo, Nieuw Nickerie, Paramaribo, Paranam, Wageningen

Merchant marine:
total: 2 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 2,421 GRT/2,990 DWT
ships by type: cargo 1, container 1

total: 46
with paved runways over 3,047 m: 1
with paved runways under 914 m: 38
with unpaved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 7


Telephone system: 27,500 telephones; international facilities good
local: NA
intercity: microwave radio relay network
international: 2 INTELSAT (Atlantic Ocean) earth stations

broadcast stations: AM 5, FM 14, shortwave 1
radios: NA

broadcast stations: 6
televisions: NA

Defense Forces

Branches: National Army (includes small Navy and Air Force elements), Civil Police

Manpower availability: males age 15-49 116,456; males fit for military service 69,011 (1995 est.)

Defense expenditures: $NA, NA% of GDP