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Suriname country facts

Republic of Suriname South America Paramaribo 573,311 inhabitants 163,820 sq km 3.50 inhabitants/sq km Surinamese dollars (SRD) population evolution



First explored by the Spaniards in the 16th century and then settled by the English in the mid-17th century, Suriname became a Dutch colony in 1667. With the abolition of African slavery in 1863, workers were brought in from India and Java. 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 exert control through a succession of nominally civilian administrations until 1987, when international pressure finally forced a democratic election. In 1990, the military overthrew the civilian leadership, but a democratically elected government - a four-party coalition - returned to power in 1991. The coalition expanded to eight parties in 2005 and ruled until August 2010, when voters returned former military leader Desire BOUTERSE and his opposition coalition to power.



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

Geographic coordinates

4 00 N, 56 00 W

Area (sq km)

total: 163,820 sq km
land: 156,000 sq km
water: 7,820 sq km

Area - comparative (sq km)

slightly larger than Georgia

Land boundaries (km)

total: 1,703 km
border countries: Brazil 593 km, French Guiana 510 km, Guyana 600 km

Coastline (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 (m)

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: 0.04%
other: 99.6% (2011)

Irrigated land (sq km)

511.8 sq km (2003)

Total renewable water resources (cu km)

122 cu km (2011)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural) ()

total: 0.67 cu km/yr (6%/4%/90%)
per capita: 1,396 cu m/yr (2006)

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, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
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 and Society


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%

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

Religions (%)

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

Demographic profile

Suriname is a pluralistic society consisting primarily of Creoles (persons of mixed African and European heritage), the descendants of escaped African slaves known as Maroons, and the descendants of Indian and Javanese contract workers. The country overall is in full, post-industrial demographic transition, with a low fertility rate, a moderate mortality rate, and a rising life expectancy. However, the Maroon population of the rural interior lags behind because of lower educational attainment and contraceptive use, higher malnutrition, and significantly less access to electricity, potable water, sanitation, infrastructure, and health care.
Some 350,000 people of Surinamese descent live in the Netherlands, Suriname's former colonial ruler. In the 19th century, better-educated, largely Dutch-speaking Surinamese began emigrating to the Netherlands. World War II interrupted the outflow, but it resumed after the war when Dutch labor demands grew - emigrants included all segments of the Creole population. Suriname still is strongly influenced by the Netherlands because most Surinamese have relatives living there and it is the largest supplier of development aid. Other emigration destinations include French Guiana and the United States. Suriname's immigration rules are flexible, and the country is easy to enter illegally because rainforests obscure its borders. Since the mid-1980s, Brazilians have settled in Suriname's capital, Paramaribo, or eastern Suriname, where they mine gold. This immigration is likely to slowly re-orient Suriname toward its Latin American roots.


573,311 (July 2014 est.)   evolution and prospects (1950-2100)

Age structure (%)

0-14 years: 26.2% (male 76,565/female 73,676)
15-24 years: 17.6% (male 51,322/female 49,313)
25-54 years: 44.1% (male 128,620/female 124,034)
55-64 years: 6.5% (male 18,140/female 19,158)
65 years and over: 5.6% (male 14,041/female 18,442) (2014 est.)

Age structure in Suriname

Median age (years)

total: 28.6 years
male: 28.3 years
female: 29 years (2014 est.)

Population growth rate (%)

1.12% (2014 est.)

Birth rate (births/1,000 population)

16.73 births/1,000 population (2014 est.)

Death rate (deaths/1,000 population)

6.13 deaths/1,000 population (2014 est.)

Net migration rate (migrant(s)/1,000 population)

0.57 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2014 est.)

Urbanization (%)

urban population: 69.7% of total population (2011)
rate of urbanization: 1.44% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

PARAMARIBO (capital) 278,000 (2011)

Sex ratio (male(s)/female)

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.77 male(s)/female
total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2014 est.)

Maternal mortality rate (deaths/100,000 live births)

130 deaths/100,000 live births (2010)

Infant mortality rate (deaths/1,000 live births)

total: 27.07 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 31.5 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 22.41 deaths/1,000 live births (2014 est.)

Life expectancy at birth (years)

total population: 71.69 years
male: 69.31 years
female: 74.18 years (2014 est.)

Total fertility rate (children born/woman)

2.01 children born/woman (2014 est.)

Health expenditures (% of GDP)

5.3% of GDP (2011)

Physicians density (physicians/1,000 population)

0.91 physicians/1,000 population (2004)

Hospital bed density (beds/1,000 population)

3.1 beds/1,000 population (2010)

Drinking water source (% of population)

improved: urban: 98.1% of population
rural: 88.4% of population
total: 95.2% of population
unimproved: urban: 1.9% of population
rural: 11.6% of population
total: 4.8% of population (2012 est.)

Sanitation facility access (% of population)

improved: urban: 88.4% of population
rural: 61.4% of population
total: 80.3% of population
unimproved: urban: 11.6% of population
rural: 38.6% of population
total: 19.7% of population (2012 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate (%)

1.1% (2012 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS

4,000 (2012 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths

100 (2012 est.)

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: very high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne disease: dengue fever and malaria (2013)

Obesity - adult prevalence rate (%)

25.1% (2008)

Children under the age of 5 years underweight (%)

5.8% (2010)

Education expenditures (% of GDP)


Literacy (%)

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 94.7%
male: 95.4%
female: 94% (2010 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education) (years)

total: 12 years
male: 11 years
female: 13 years (2002)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24 (%)

total: 21.5% (2004)


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


name: Paramaribo
geographic coordinates: 5 50 N, 55 10 W
time difference: UTC-3 (2 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

Administrative divisions

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


25 November 1975 (from the Netherlands)

National holiday

Independence Day, 25 November (1975)


previous 1975; latest ratified 30 September 1987, effective 30 October 1987; amended 1992; note - in 2012, the president appointed a commission to revise the constitution (2012)

Legal system

civil law system influenced by Dutch civil law; note - the Commissie Nieuw Surinaamse Burgerlijk Wetboek completed drafting a new civil code in February 2009

International law organization participation

accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President Desire Delano BOUTERSE (since 12 August 2010); Vice President Robert AMEERALI (since 12 August 2010); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Desire Delano BOUTERSE (since 12 August 2010); Vice President Robert AMEERALI (since 12 August 2010)
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 19 July 2010 (next to be held in 2015)
election results: Desire Delano BOUTERSE elected president; percent of vote - Desire Delano BOUTERSE 70.6%, Chandrikapersad SATOKHI 25.5%, other 3.9%

Legislative branch

unicameral National Assembly or Nationale Assemblee (51 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held on 25 May 2010 (next to be held in May 2015)
election results: percent of vote by party - Mega Combination 45.1%, New Front 27.5%, A-Com 13.7%, People's Alliance 11.8%, DOE 1.9%; seats by party - Mega Combination 23, New Front 14, A-Com 7, People's Alliance 6, DOE 1

Judicial branch

highest court(s): High Court of Justice of Suriname (consists of the court president, vice president, and 4 judges)
note - Suriname can appeal beyond its High Court to the Caribbean Court of Justice, with final appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (in London)
judge selection and term of office: court judges appointed by the national president after consultation with the High Court; judges appointed for life
subordinate courts: cantonal courts

Political parties and leaders

A-Combination (a coalition that includes the General Liberation and Development Party ABOP [Ronnie BRUNSWIJK], and SEEKA [Paul ABENA])
Basic Party for Renewal and Democracy or BVD [Dilip SARDJOE]
Basic Party for Renewal and Democracy or PVF [Soedeschand JAIRAM]
Democratic Union Suriname or DUS [Japhet DIEKO]
Mega Combination Coalition (a coalition that joined with A-Combination and the PL to form a majority in Parliament in 2010 - includes the National Democratic Party or NDP [Desire Delano BOUTERSE] (largest party in the coalition), Progressive Worker and Farmer's Union or PALU [Jim HOK], Party for National Unity and Solidarity of the Highest Order or KTPI [Willy SOEMITA], DNP-2000 [Jules WIJDENBOSCH], Union of Brotherhood and Unity in Politics BEP [Caprino ALENDY], and New Suriname or NS [Nanan PANDAY])
National Union or NU [P. VAN LEEUWAARDE]
New Front for Democracy and Development or NF (a coalition made up of the National Party of Suriname or NPS [Runaldo VENETIAAN], United Reform Party or VHP [Ramdien SARDJOE], Democratic Alternative 1991 or DA-91 - an independent, business-oriented party [Winston JESSURUN], Surinamese Labor Party or SPA [Siegfried GILDS])
Party for Democracy and Development in Unity or DOE [Carl BREEVELD]
Party for the Permanent Prosperity Republic Suriname or PVRS
People's Alliance, Pertjaja Luhur's or PL [Paul SOMOHARDJO](includes D-21 [Soewarta MOESTADJA] and Pendawa Lima [Raymond SAPEON], which merged with PL in 2010)
note: BVD and PVF participated in the elections as a coalition (BVD/PVF) in the most recent elections, but separated after the election

Political pressure groups and leaders

Association of Indigenous Village Chiefs [Ricardo PANE]
Association of Saramaccan Authorities or Maroon [Head Captain WASE]
Women's Parliament Forum or PVF [Iris GILLIAD]

International organization participation


Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Subhas-Chandra MUNGRA (since 28 January 2011)
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 Jay N. ANANIA (since 1 October 2012)
embassy: Dr. Sophie Redmondstraat 129, Paramaribo
mailing address: US Department of State, PO Box 1821, Paramaribo
telephone: [597] 472-900
FAX: [597] 410-972

Flag description

five horizontal bands of green (top, double width), white, red (quadruple width), white, and green (double width); a large, yellow, five-pointed star is centered in the red band; red stands for progress and love; green symbolizes hope and fertility; white signifies peace, justice, and freedom; the star represents the unity of all ethnic groups; from its yellow light the nation draws strength to bear sacrifices patiently while working toward a golden future

National anthem

name: "God zij met ons Suriname!" (God Be With Our Suriname)
lyrics/music: Cornelis Atses HOEKSTRA and Henry DE ZIEL/Johannes Corstianus DE PUY
note: adopted 1959; the anthem, originally adapted from a Sunday school song written in 1893, contains lyrics in both Dutch and Sranang Tongo


Economy - overview

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. Economic growth has remained at about 4-5% per year in 2010-13, but the government's budget was strained by high inflation in 2010. In January 2011, the government devalued the currency by 20% and raised taxes to reduce the budget deficit. As a result of these measures, inflation has receded to about 4% in 2013. 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's reliance on revenue from extractive industries will temper Suriname's economic outlook, especially if gold prices continue their downward trend.

GDP (purchasing power parity)

$7.12 billion (2013 est.)
$6.801 billion (2012 est.)
$6.492 billion (2011 est.)
note: data are in 2013 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$5.009 billion (2013 est.)

GDP - real growth rate (%)

4.7% (2013 est.)
4.8% (2012 est.)
4.7% (2011 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP)

$12,900 (2013 est.)
$12,500 (2012 est.)
$12,100 (2011 est.)
note: data are in 2013 US dollars

GDP - composition, by sector of origin (%)

agriculture: 8.9%
industry: 36.6%
services: 54.5% (2013 est.)

Labor force

165,600 (2007)

Labor force - by occupation (%)

agriculture: 8%
industry: 14%
services: 78% (2004)

Unemployment rate (%)

9% (2008)
12.1% (2006)

Population below poverty line (%)

70% (2002 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share (%)

lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%


revenues: $826.6 million
expenditures: $939.7 million (2010 est.)

Taxes and other revenues (% of GDP)

16.5% of GDP (2010 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) (% of GDP)

-2.3% of GDP (2010 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices) (%)

4.2% (2013 est.)
5% (2012 est.)

Commercial bank prime lending rate (%)

12% (31 December 2013 est.)
11.73% (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of narrow money

$1.132 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
$1.075 billion (31 December 2011 est.)

Stock of broad money

$3.005 million (31 December 2013 est.)
$2.463 million (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of domestic credit

$939.4 million (31 December 2013 est.)
$1.275 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares


Agriculture - products

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 (%)

4% (2013 est.)

Current account balance

$102.5 million (2013 est.)
$241.4 million (2012 est.)


$2.512 billion (2013 est.)
$2.564 billion (2012 est.)

Exports - commodities (%)

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

Exports - partners (%)

US 25.7%, Belgium 17.4%, UAE 11.5%, Canada 10.3%, Guyana 5.8%, France 5.5%, Barbados 4.2% (2012)


$1.778 billion (2013 est.)
$1.761 billion (2012 est.)

Imports - commodities (%)

capital equipment, petroleum, foodstuffs, cotton, consumer goods

Imports - partners (%)

US 26%, Netherlands 16%, China 9.9%, UAE 8.1%, Antigua and Barbuda 6.7%, Netherlands Antilles 4.9%, Japan 4.3% (2012)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$1.008 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
$816.9 million (31 December 2011 est.)

External debt ($)

$860 million (31 December 2013 est.)
$810.8 million (31 December 2012 est.)

Exchange rates

Currency converter
Surinamese dollars (SRD) per US dollar -
3.3 (2012 est.)
3.3 (2012 est.)
2.7454 (2010 est.)
2.745 (2009)
2.745 (2008)

Fiscal year

calendar year


Electricity - production (kWh)

1.57 billion kWh (2010 est.)

Electricity - consumption (kWh)

1.423 billion kWh (2010 est.)

Electricity - exports (kWh)

0 kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - imports (kWh)

0 kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity (kW)

410,000 kW (2010 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels (% of total installed capacity)

53.9% of total installed capacity (2010 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels (% of total installed capacity)

0% of total installed capacity (2010 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants (% of total installed capacity)

46.1% of total installed capacity (2010 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources (% of total installed capacity)

0% of total installed capacity (2010 est.)

Crude oil - production (bbl/day)

15,270 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Crude oil - exports (bbl/day)

7,621 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Crude oil - imports (bbl/day)

0.66 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves (bbl)

76.8 million bbl (1 January 2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - production (bbl/day)

7,462 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption (bbl/day)

14,100 bbl/day (2011 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports (bbl/day)

1,015 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports (bbl/day)

6,454 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Natural gas - production (cu m)

0 cu m (2011 est.)

Natural gas - consumption (cu m)

0 cu m (2010 est.)

Natural gas - exports (cu m)

0 cu m (2011 est.)

Natural gas - imports (cu m)

0 cu m (2011 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves (cu m)

0 cu m (1 January 2011 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy (Mt)

2.335 million Mt (2011 est.)


Telephones - main lines in use

83,000 (2012)

Telephones - mobile cellular

977,000 (2012)

Telephone system

general assessment: international facilities are good
domestic: combined fixed-line and mobile-cellular teledensity 185 telephones per 100 persons; microwave radio relay network
international: country code - 597; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2010)

Broadcast media

2 state-owned TV stations; 1 state-owned radio station; multiple private radio and TV stations (2007)

Internet country code


Internet hosts

188 (2012)

Internet users

163,000 (2009)



55 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 6
over 3,047 m: 1
under 914 m: 5 (2013)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 49
914 to 1,523 m: 4
under 914 m: 45 (2013)

Pipelines (km)

oil 50 km (2013)

Roadways (km)

total: 4,304 km
paved: 1,130 km
unpaved: 3,174 km (2003)

Waterways (km)

1,200 km (most navigable by ships with drafts up to 7 m) (2011)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Paramaribo, Wageningen


Military branches

Suriname Armed Forces: Ground Forces, Naval Forces, Air Forces (2010)

Military service age and obligation (years of age)

18 is the legal minimum age for voluntary military service; no conscription; personnel drawn almost exclusively from the Creole community (2012)

Manpower available for military service

males age 16-49: 134,218
females age 16-49: 134,439 (2010 est.)

Manpower fit for military service

males age 16-49: 109,445
females age 16-49: 112,538 (2010 est.)

Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually

male: 4,119
female: 4,106 (2010 est.)

Transnational Issues

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 arbitration to resolve the longstanding dispute with Suriname over the axis of the territorial sea boundary in potentially oil-rich waters

Trafficking in persons

current situation: Suriname is a source, destination, and transit country for women, men, and children who are subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor; women and girls from Suriname, Guyana, Brazil, and the Dominican Republic are subjected to sex trafficking in the country, sometimes around mining camps; debt bondage and sex trafficking are reported to occur within the Chinese migrant community; migrant workers in agriculture and on fishing boats and children working in informal urban sectors and gold mines are vulnerable to forced labor
tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List - Suriname does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so; the government has prosecuted an increased number of sex trafficking cases and identified an increased number of child sex trafficking victims; accountability for trafficking offenses continues to be a problem as no offenders have been convicted and the complicity of local officials remains a concern; authorities do not have a formal system for referring victims to NGOs that provide services but reported doing so on an ad hoc basis; the government's interagency anti-trafficking working group drafted an anti-trafficking policy in 2012 (2013)

Illicit drugs

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

Largest cities of Suriname

These are the 50 largest cities of Suriname ordered based on their number of inhabitants.

# City Population
1 Paramaribo 220,306
2 Lelydorp 17,735
3 Nieuw Nickerie 13,410
4 Moengo 7,345
5 Meerzorg 6,591