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Population: Estimate 570,266 Visit Worldometers for more
Area: 163 821 km²
Capital City: Paramaribo

Suriname , officially known as the Republic of Suriname, is a country on the northeastern Atlantic coast of South America. It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the north, French Guiana to the east, Guyana to the west and Brazil to the south. At just under 165,000 square kilometers (64,000 square miles), it is the smallest sovereign state in South America. Suriname has a population of approximately 558,368, most of whom live on the country’s north coast, in and around the capital and largest city, Paramaribo. Suriname was long inhabited by various indigenous people before being invaded and contested by European powers from the 16th century, eventually coming under Dutch rule in the late 17th century. During the Dutch colonial period, it was primarily a plantation economy dependent on African slaves and, following the abolition of slavery, indentured servants from Asia. In 1954, Suriname became one of the constituent countries of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. On 25 November 1975, the country of Suriname left the Kingdom of the Netherlands to become an independent state, nonetheless maintaining close economic, diplomatic, and cultural ties to its former colonizer. Suriname is considered to be a culturally Caribbean country, and is a member of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). While Dutch is the official language of government, business, media, and education, Sranan, an English-based creole language, is a widely used lingua franca. Suriname is the only sovereign nation outside Europe where Dutch is spoken by a majority of the population. As a legacy of colonization, the people of Suriname are among the most diverse in the world, spanning a multitude of ethnic, religious, and linguistic groups.




Currency

Climate

Lying 2 to 5 degrees north of the equator, Suriname has a very hot and wet tropical climate, and temperatures do not vary much throughout the year. Average relative humidity is between 80% and 90%. Its average temperature ranges from 29 to 34 degrees Celsius (84 to 93 degrees Fahrenheit). Due to the high humidity, actual temperatures are distorted and may therefore feel up to 6 degrees Celsius (11 degrees Fahrenheit) hotter than the recorded temperature. The year has two wet seasons, from April to August and from November to February. It also has two dry seasons, from August to November and February to April.

 

Economy

Suriname’s democracy gained some strength after the turbulent 1990s, and its economy became more diversified and less dependent on Dutch financial assistance. Bauxite (aluminium ore) mining continues to be a strong revenue source, and the discovery and exploitation of oil and gold has added substantially to Suriname’s economic independence. Agriculture, especially rice and bananas, remains a strong component of the economy, and ecotourism is providing new economic opportunities. More than 80% of Suriname’s land-mass consists of unspoiled rain forest; with the establishment of the Central Suriname Nature Reserve in 1998, Suriname signalled its commitment to conservation of this precious resource. The Central Suriname Nature Reserve became a World Heritage Site in 2000. The economy of Suriname was dominated by the bauxite industry, which accounts for more than 15% of GDP and 70% of export earnings up to 2016. Other main export products include rice, bananas and shrimp. Suriname has recently started exploiting some of its sizeable oil and gol reserves. About a quarter of the people work in the agricultural sector. The Surinamese economy is very dependent on commerce, its main trade partners being the Netherlands, the United States, Canada, and Caribbean countries, mainly Trinidad and Tobago and the islands of the former Netherlands Antilles.

 

Foreign relations

President Dési Bouterse was convicted and sentenced in the Netherlands to 11 years of imprisonment for drug trafficking. He is the main suspect in the court case concerning the ‘December murders,’ the 1982 assassination of opponents of military rule in Fort Zeelandia, Paramaribo. These two cases still strain relations between the Netherlands and Suriname. Due to Suriname’s Dutch colonial history, Suriname had a long-standing special relationship with the Netherlands. The Dutch government has stated that it will only maintain limited contact with the president. Bouterse was elected as president of Suriname in 2010. The Netherlands in July 2014 dropped Suriname as a member of its development program. Since 1991, the United States has maintained positive relations with Suriname. The two countries work together through the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI) and the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Suriname also receives military funding from the U.S. Department of Defense. European Union relations and cooperation with Suriname are carried out both on a bilateral and a regional basis. There are ongoing EU-Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and EU-CARIFORUM dialogues. Suriname is party to the Cotonou Agreement, the partnership agreement among the members of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States and the European Union.

 

Languages

Dutch is the sole official language, and is the language of education, government, business, and the media. Over 60% of the population speaks Dutch as a mother tongue, and most of the rest of the population speaks it as a second language. In 2004 Suriname became an associate member of the Dutch Language Union. It is the only Dutch-speaking country in South America as well as the only independent nation in the Americas where Dutch is spoken by a majority of the population, and one of the two non-Romance-speaking countries in South America, the other being English-speaking Guyana.

 

Largest cities

The national capital, Paramaribo, is by far the dominant urban area, accounting for nearly half of Suriname’s population and most of its urban residents; indeed, its population is greater than the next nine largest cities combined. Most municipalities are located within the capital’s metropolitan area, or along the densely populated coastline.

 

Military

The Armed Forces of Suriname have three branches: the Army, the Air Force, and the Navy. The President of the Republic, Dési Bouterse, is the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces (Opperbevelhebber van de Strijdkrachten). The President is assisted by the Minister of Defence. Beneath the President and Minister of Defence is the Commander of the Armed Forces (Bevelhebber van de Strijdkrachten). The Military Branches and regional Military Commands report to the Commander. After the creation of the Statute of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Royal Netherlands Army was entrusted with the defence of Suriname, while the defence of the Netherlands Antilles was the responsibility of the Royal Netherlands Navy. The army set up a separate Troepenmacht in Suriname (Forces in Suriname, TRIS). Upon independence in 1975, this force was turned into the Surinaamse Krijgsmacht (SKM):, Surinamese Armed Forces. On 25 February 1980, a group of 15 non-commissioned officers and one junior SKM officer, under the leadership of sergeant major Dési Bouterse, overthrew the Government. Subsequently, the SKM was rebranded as Nationaal Leger (NL), National Army.

 

Politics

The Republic of Suriname is a parliamentary representative democratic republic, based on the Constitution of 1987. The legislative branch of government consists of a 51-member unicameral National Assembly, simultaneously and popularly elected for a five-year term. In the elections held on Tuesday, 25 May 2010, the Megacombinatie won 23 of the National Assembly seats followed by Nationale Front with 20 seats. A much smaller number, important for coalition-building, went to the “A‑combinatie” and to the Volksalliantie. The parties held negotiations to form coalitions. Elections were held on 25 May 2015, and the National Assembly again elected Desire Bouterse as President. The President of Suriname is elected for a five-year term by a two-thirds majority of the National Assembly. If at least two-thirds of the National Assembly cannot agree to vote for one presidential candidate, a People’s Assembly is formed from all National Assembly delegates and regional and municipal representatives who were elected by popular vote in the most recent national election. The president may be elected by a majority of the People’s Assembly called for the special election. As head of government, the president appoints a sixteen-minister cabinet. A vice president, is normally elected for a five-year term at the same time as the president, by a simple majority in the National Assembly or People’s Assembly. There is no constitutional provision for removal or replacement of the president, except in the case of resignation. The judiciary is headed by the High Court of Justice of Suriname (Supreme Court). This court supervises the magistrate courts. Members are appointed for life by the president in consultation with the National Assembly, the State Advisory Council, and the National Order of Private Attorneys. In April 2005, the regional Caribbean Court of Justice, based in Trinidad, was inaugurated. As the final court of appeal, it was intended to replace the London-based Privy Council.

 

Religion

Suriname’s religious makeup is heterogeneous and reflective of the country’s multicultural character. According to the 2012 census, 48.4% were Christians, among whom 26.7% were Protestants (including 11.18% Pentecostal, 11.16% Moravian, and 4.4% of various other Protestant denominations) and 21.6% were Roman Catholics. Hindus formed the second-largest religious group in Suriname, comprising 22.3% of the population, the third largest proportion of any country in the Western Hemisphere after Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago, both of which also have large proportions of Indians. Almost all practitioners of Hinduism are found among the Indo-Surinamese population. Muslims constitute 13.9% of the population, which is proportionally the largest in the Americas, and are found mostly among those of Javanese and to a lesser degree those of Indian descent. Other religious groups include Winti (1.8%), an Afro-American religion practiced mostly by those of Maroon ancestry; Javanism (0.8%), a syncretic faith found among some Javanese Surinamese; and various indigenous folk traditions that are often incorporated into one of the larger religions (usually Christianity). In the 2012 census, 7.5% of the population declared they had “no religion”, while a further 3.2% left the question unanswered.

 

Tourism

The hotel industry is important to Suriname’s economy. The rental of apartments, or the rent-a-house phenomenon, is also popular in Suriname. Most tourists visit Suriname for the biodiversity of the Amazonian rain forests in the south of the country, which are noted for their flora and fauna. The Central Suriname Nature Reserve is the biggest and one of the most popular reserves, along with the Brownsberg Nature Park which overlooks the Brokopondo Reservoir, the latter being one of the largest man-made lakes in the world. Tonka Island in the reservoir is home to a rustic eco-tourism project run by the Saramaccaner Maroons. Pangi wraps and bowls made of calabashes are the two main products manufactured for tourists. The Maroons have learned that colorful and ornate pangis are popular with tourists. Other popular decorative souvenirs are hand-carved purple-hardwood made into bowls, plates, canes, wooden boxes, and wall decors. There are also many waterfalls throughout the country. Raleighvallen, or Raleigh Falls, is a 56,000-hectare (140,000-acre) nature reserve on the Coppename River, rich in bird life. Also are the Blanche Marie Falls on the Nickerie River and the Wonotobo Falls. Tafelberg Mountain in the centre of the country is surrounded by its own reserve – the Tafelberg Nature Reserve – around the source of the Saramacca River, as is the Voltzberg Nature Reserve further north on the Coppename River at Raleighvallen. In the interior are many Maroon and Amerindian villages, many of which have their own reserves that are generally open to visitors. Suriname is one of the few countries in the world where at least one of each biome that the state possesses has been declared a wildlife reserve. Around 30% of the total land area of Suriname is protected by law as reserves. Other attractions include plantations such as Laarwijk, which is situated along the Suriname River. This plantation can be reached only by boat via Domburg, in the north central Wanica District of Suriname.

 

Transportation

Suriname, along with neighboring Guyana, is one of only two countries on the mainland South American continent that drive on the left, although many vehicles are left hand drive as well as right hand drive. One explanation for this practice is that at the time of its colonization of Suriname, the Netherlands itself used left-hand traffic, also introducing the practice in the Dutch East Indies, now Indonesia. Another is that Suriname was first colonized by the British, and for practical reasons, this was not changed when it came under Dutch administration. Although the Netherlands converted to driving to the right at the end of the 18th century, Suriname did not.

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