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. The Netherlands granted the colony independence 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. President BOUTERSE was reelected unopposed in 2015.



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

Area - comparative

slightly larger than Georgia

Land boundaries

total: 1,907 km
border countries (3): Brazil 515 km, French Guiana 556 km, Guyana 836 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


mean elevation: 246 m
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

agricultural land: 0.5%
arable land 0.4%; permanent crops 0%; permanent pasture 0.1%
forest: 94.6%
other: 4.9% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land

570 sq km (2012)

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


585,824 (July 2016 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%


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


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.

Age structure

0-14 years: 25.15% (male 75,088/female 72,261)
15-24 years: 17.46% (male 52,129/female 50,141)
25-54 years: 44.36% (male 132,334/female 127,562)
55-64 years: 7.16% (male 20,564/female 21,394)
65 years and over: 5.86% (male 14,848/female 19,503) (2016 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 50.8%
youth dependency ratio: 40.4%
elderly dependency ratio: 10.4%
potential support ratio: 9.6% (2015 est.)

Median age

total: 29.5 years
male: 29.1 years
female: 29.9 years (2016 est.)

Population growth rate

1.05% (2016 est.)

Birth rate

16 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Death rate

6.1 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Net migration rate

0.6 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Population distribution

population concentrated along the nothern coastal strip; the remainder of the country is sparsely populated


urban population: 66% of total population (2015)
rate of urbanization: 0.78% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

PARAMARIBO (capital) 234,000 (2014)

Sex ratio

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: 0.96 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.76 male(s)/female
total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2016 est.)

Child labor - children ages 5-14

total number: 6,094
percentage: 6% (2006 est.)

Maternal mortality rate

155 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 25.3 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 29.5 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 20.9 deaths/1,000 live births (2016 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 72.2 years
male: 69.8 years
female: 74.8 years (2016 est.)

Total fertility rate

1.95 children born/woman (2016 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

47.6% (2010)

Health expenditures

5.7% of GDP (2014)

Hospital bed density

3.1 beds/1,000 population (2010)

Drinking water source

urban: 98.1% of population
rural: 88.4% of population
total: 94.8% of population
urban: 1.9% of population
rural: 11.6% of population
total: 5.2% of population (2015 est.)

Sanitation facility access

urban: 88.4% of population
rural: 61.4% of population
total: 79.2% of population
urban: 11.6% of population
rural: 38.6% of population
total: 20.8% of population (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate

1.08% (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS

3,800 (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths

100 (2015 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
note: active local transmission of Zika virus by Aedes species mosquitoes has been identified in this country (as of August 2016); it poses an important risk (a large number of cases possible) among US citizens if bitten by an infective mosquito; other less common ways to get Zika are through sex, via blood transfusion, or during pregnancy, in which the pregnant woman passes Zika virus to her fetus (2016)

Obesity - adult prevalence rate

26.1% (2014)

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

5.8% (2010)

Education expenditures



definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 95.6%
male: 96.1%
female: 95% (2015 est.)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 15.3%
male: 11.6%
female: 21.7% (2013 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
etymology: name may derive from the indigenous "Surinen" people who inhabited the area at the time of European contact

Government type

presidential republic


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 (2016)

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


citizenship by birth: no
citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Suriname
dual citizenship recognized: no
residency requirement for naturalization: 5 years


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President Desire Delano BOUTERSE (since 12 August 2010); Vice President Ashwin ADHIN (since 12 August 2015); note - the president is both chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Desire Delano BOUTERSE (since 12 August 2010); Vice President Ashwin ADHIN (since 12 August 2015)
cabinet: Cabinet of Ministers appointed by the president
elections/appointments: president and vice president indirectly elected by the National Assembly; president and vice president serve a 5-year term (no term limits); election last held on 25 May 2015 (next to be held on 25 May 2020)
election results: Desire Delano BOUTERSE reelected president; National Assembly vote - NA

Legislative branch

description: unicameral National Assembly or Nationale Assemblee (51 seats; members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by proportional representation vote to serve 5-year terms)
elections: last held on 25 May 2015 (next to be held in May 2020)
election results: percent of vote by party - NDP 45.5%, V7 37.2%, A-Com 10.5%, DOE 4.3%, PALU .7%, other 1.7%; seats by party - NDP 26, V7 18, A-Com 5, DOE 1, PALU 1

Judicial branch

highest resident court(s): High Court of Justice of Suriname (consists of the court president, vice president, and 4 judges); note - appeals beyond the High Court are referred 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

Alternative Combination or A-Com (a coalition that includes ABOP, KTPI, PDO)
Brotherhood and Unity in Politics or BEP [Celsius WATERBERG]
Democratic Alternative '91 or DA91 [Winston JESSURUN]
General Liberation and Development Party or ABOP [Ronnie BRUNSWIJK}
National Democratic Party or NDP [Desire Delano BOUTERSE]
National Party of Suriname or NPS [Gregory RUSLAND]
Party for Democracy and Development or PDO [Waldy NAIN]
Party for Democracy and Development in Unity or DOE [Carl BREEVELD]
Party for National Unity and Solidarity or KTPI [Willy SOEMITA]
People's Alliance, Pertjaja Luhur or PL [Paul SOMOHARDJO]
Progressive Worker and Farmer's Union or PALU [Jim HOK]
Surinamese Labor Party or SPA [Guno CASTELEN]
United Reform Party or VHP [Chandrikapersad SANTOKHI]
Victory 7 or V7 (formerly the New Front for Democracy and Development or NF) (a coalition including NPS, VHP, DA91, PL, SPA) [Chandrikapresad SANTOKHI]

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 (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Sylvana Elvira SIMSON (since 1 September 2015)
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 symbol(s)

royal palm, faya lobi (flower); national colors: green, white, red, yellow

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; originally adapted from a Sunday school song written in 1893 and contains lyrics in both Dutch and Sranang Tongo


GDP (official exchange rate)

$4.137 billion (2015 est.)

Economy - overview

The economy is dominated by the mining industry, with exports of oil, gold, and alumina accounting for about 85% of exports and 27% of government revenues, making the economy highly vulnerable to mineral price volatility.

Economic growth declined annually from just under 5% in 2012 to -7% in 2016. 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 receded to less than 4% in 20

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 rev

GDP (purchasing power parity)

$8.547 billion (2016 est.)
$9.188 billion (2015 est.)
$9.216 billion (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars

GDP - real growth rate

-7% (2016 est.)
-0.3% (2015 est.)
1.8% (2014 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP)

$15,200 (2016 est.)
$16,500 (2015 est.)
$16,500 (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars

Gross national saving

57% of GDP (2016 est.)
51% of GDP (2015 est.)
62.6% of GDP (2014 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 65.4%
government consumption: 15.2%
investment in fixed capital: 16.2%
investment in inventories: 26.5%
exports of goods and services: 43.7%
imports of goods and services: -40.5% (2016 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 6.7%
industry: 49.9%
services: 43.4% (2016 est.)

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

-2% (2016 est.)

Labor force

165,600 (2007 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 11.2%
industry: 19.5%
services: 69.3% (2010)

Unemployment rate

8.9% (2014 est.)
8.5% (2013 est.)

Population below poverty line

70% (2002 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

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


revenues: $469.9 million
expenditures: $664.3 million (2016 est.)

Taxes and other revenues

11.4% of GDP (2016 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-4.7% of GDP (2016 est.)

Fiscal year

calendar year

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

39% (2016 est.)
3% (2015 est.)

Central bank discount rate

10% (2013)
9% (2012)

Commercial bank prime lending rate

13.6% (31 December 2016 est.)
12.62% (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of narrow money

$882.2 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$1.231 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of broad money

$3.461 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$2.885 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of domestic credit

$1.653 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$2.224 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares


Current account balance

-$174 million (2016 est.)
-$808 million (2015 est.)


$1.699 billion (2016 est.)
$1.666 billion (2015 est.)

Exports - commodities

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

Exports - partners

Switzerland 21.8%, UAE 14.5%, India 13.9%, Belgium 9.7%, US 8.9%, France 8.1%, Canada 6.6% (2015)


$1.914 billion (2016 est.)
$1.973 billion (2015 est.)

Imports - commodities

capital equipment, petroleum, foodstuffs, cotton, consumer goods

Imports - partners

US 26.8%, Netherlands 14.3%, China 12.2%, Trinidad and Tobago 7.4%, Japan 4.8% (2015)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$330.2 million (31 December 2015 est.)
$625.2 million (31 December 2014 est.)

Debt - external

$1.235 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$1.15 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Exchange rates

Surinamese dollars (SRD) per US dollar -
6.172 (2016 est.)
3.4167 (2015 est.)
3.4167 (2014 est.)
3.3 (2013 est.)
3.3 (2012 est.)


Electricity - access

electrification - total population: 100% (2016)

Electricity - production

2.1 billion kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - consumption

1.9 billion kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - exports

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - imports

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity

400,000 kW (2014 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels

54.1% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants

45.9% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Crude oil - production

17,000 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Crude oil - exports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - imports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves

88.97 million bbl (1 January 2016 es)

Refined petroleum products - production

19,120 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption

17,000 bbl/day (2014 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports

12,980 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports

10,260 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Natural gas - production

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - consumption

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - exports

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - imports

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves

0 cu m (1 January 2011 es)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy

2.4 million Mt (2013 est.)


Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 85,000
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 15 (July 2015 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular

total: 991,000
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 171 (July 2015 est.)

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) (2015)

Broadcast media

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

Internet country code


Internet users

total: 248,000
percent of population: 42.8% (July 2015 est.)


National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 2
inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 5
annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 259,682
annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 29,324,319 mt-km (2015)

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

PZ (2016)


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)


oil 50 km (2013)


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


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

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

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 UN 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, transit, and destination country for women and children subjected to sex trafficking and men, women, and children subjected to forced labor; women and girls from Suriname, Guyana, Brazil, and the Dominican Republic are subjected to sex trafficking in the country, sometimes in interior mining camps; migrant workers in agriculture and on fishing boats and children working in informal urban sectors and gold mines are vulnerable to forced labor; traffickers from Suriname exploit victims in the Netherlands
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; in 2014, Suriname was granted a waiver from an otherwise required downgrade to Tier 3 because its government has a written plan that, if implemented, would constitute making significant efforts to bring itself into compliance with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; authorities increased the number of trafficking investigations, prosecutions, and convictions as compared to 2013, but resources were insufficient to conduct investigations in the country’s interior; more trafficking victims were identified in 2014 than in 2013, but protective services for adults and children were inadequate, with a proposed government shelter for women and child trafficking victims remaining unopened (2015)

Illicit drugs

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