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The World Factbook. 2008.


Flag of Suriname                                Map of Suriname
Background: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 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 New Front coalition – returned to power in 1991 and has ruled since, expanding to eight parties in 2005.
Location: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
Area:total: 163,270 sq km
land: 161,470 sq km
water: 1,800 sq km
Area—comparative:slightly larger than Georgia
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)
Irrigated land:510 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources:122 cu km (2003)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):total: 0.67 cu km/yr (4%/3%/93%)
per capita: 1,489 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards:NA
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, 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
Population:470,784 (July 2007 est.)
Age structure:0-14 years: 28% (male 67,088/female 64,949)
15-64 years: 65.7% (male 154,148/female 155,345)
65 years and over: 6.2% (male 12,726/female 16,528) (2007 est.)
Median age:total: 27.1 years
male: 26.7 years
female: 27.5 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate:1.103% (2007 est.)
Birth rate:17.31 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate:5.5 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate:-0.78 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio:at birth: 1.07 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.033 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.992 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.77 male(s)/female
total population: 0.988 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate:total: 20.11 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 23.73 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 16.25 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:total population: 73.23 years
male: 70.52 years
female: 76.12 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate:2.03 children born/woman (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS—adult prevalence rate:1.7% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS—people living with HIV/AIDS:5,200 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS—deaths:less than 500 (2003 est.)
Major infectious diseases:degree of risk: high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne disease: dengue fever, Mayaro virus, and malaria
water contact disease: leptospirosis (2008)
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)
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
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
Independence:25 November 1975 (from the Netherlands)
National holiday:Independence Day, 25 November (1975)
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 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 Runaldo Ronald VENETIAAN (since 12 August 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)
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 which 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]
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:ACP, Caricom, CSN, FAO, G-77, IADB, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFRCS, IHO (suspended), ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IPU, ISO (subscriber), ITU, ITUC, LAES, MIGA, NAM, OAS, OIC, OPANAL, OPCW, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCL, 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, 3390 Paramaribo Place, Washington, DC, 20521-3390
telephone: [597] 472-900
FAX: [597] 425-690
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—overview:The economy is dominated by the mining industry, with exports of alumina, gold, and oil accounting for about 55% of GDP, 85% of exports, and 25% of government revenues, making the economy highly vulnerable to mineral price volatility. 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. 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. These economic policies are likely to remain in effect during VENETIAAN’s third term. Prospects for local onshore oil production are good as a drilling program is underway. Offshore oil drilling was given a boost in 2004 when the State Oil Company (Staatsolie) signed exploration agreements with Repsol, Maersk, and Occidental. Bidding on these new offshore blocks was completed in July 2006.
GDP (purchasing power parity):$3.449 billion (2007 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate):$2.234 billion (2007 est.)
GDP—real growth rate:5.1% (2007 est.)
GDP—per capita (PPP):$7,800 (2007 est.)
GDP—composition by sector:agriculture: 10.8%
industry: 24.4%
services: 64.8% (2005 est.)
Labor force:156,700 (2004)
Labor force—by occupation:agriculture: 8%
industry: 14%
services: 78% (2004)
Unemployment rate:9.5% (2004)
Population below poverty line:70% (2002 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices):9.5% (2005 est.)
Budget:revenues: $392.6 million
expenditures: $425.9 million (2004)
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.)
Electricity—production:1.53 billion kWh (2005)
Electricity—consumption:1.423 billion kWh (2005)
Electricity—exports:0 kWh (2005)
Electricity—imports:0 kWh (2005)
Oil—production:9,461 bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil—consumption:12,000 bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil—exports:3,151 bbl/day (2004)
Oil—imports:6,032 bbl/day (2004)
Oil—proved reserves:111 million bbl (1 January 2006 est.)
Natural gas—production:0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas—consumption:0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas—exports:0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas—imports:0 cu m (2005)
Natural gas—proved reserves:0 cu m (1 January 2006 est.)
Exports:$1.391 billion f.o.b. (2006 est.)
Exports—commodities:alumina, gold, crude oil, lumber, shrimp and fish, rice, bananas
Exports—partners:Norway 23%, Canada 15.5%, US 12.6%, Belgium 10.1%, France 8.5%, UAE 6.9%, Iceland 4.2% (2006)
Imports:$1.297 billion f.o.b. (2006 est.)
Imports—commodities:capital equipment, petroleum, foodstuffs, cotton, consumer goods
Imports—partners:US 29.4%, Netherlands 18.9%, Trinidad and Tobago 14.9%, Japan 5.1%, China 4.9% (2006)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:$263.3 million (2006)
Debt—external:$504.3 million (2005 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares:$NA
Economic aid—recipient:$43.97 million
note: Netherlands provided $37 million for project and program assistance, European Development Fund $4 million, Belgium $2 million (2005)
Currency (code):Surinam dollar (SRD)
Exchange rates:Surinamese dollars per US dollar – NA (2007), (2006), 2.7317 (2005), 2.7336 (2004), 2.6013 (2003)
note: during 1998, the exchange rate splintered into four distinct rates; in January 1999 the government floated the guilder, but subsequently fixed it when the black-market rate plunged; in January 2004, the government replaced the guilder with the Surinamese dollar, tied to a US dollar-dominated currency basket
Fiscal year:calendar year
Telephones—main lines in use:81,500 (2006)
Telephones—mobile cellular:320,000 (2006)
Telephone system:general assessment: international facilities are good
domestic: combined fixed-line and mobile-cellular teledensity about 90 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
Internet hosts:28 (2007)
Internet users:32,000 (2005)
Airports:50 (2007)
Airports—with paved runways:total: 5
over 3,047 m: 1
under 914 m: 4 (2007)
Airports—with unpaved runways:total: 45
914 to 1,523 m: 5
under 914 m: 40 (2007)
Pipelines:oil 50 km (2007)
Roadways:total: 4,304 km
paved: 1,130 km
unpaved: 3,174 km (2003)
Waterways:1,200 km (most navigable by ships with drafts up to 7 m) (2005)
Merchant marine:total: 1 ship (1000 GRT or over) 1,078 GRT/1,214 DWT
by type: cargo 1 (2007)
Ports and terminals:Paramaribo, Wageningen
Military branches:National Army (Nationaal Leger, NL; includes Naval Wing, Air Wing) (2007)
Military service age and obligation:18 years of age (est.); no conscription
Manpower available for military service:males age 18-49: 111,582
females age 18-49: 103,769 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:males age 18-49: 77,793
females age 18-49: 72,943 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures—percent of GDP:0.6% (2006 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 (UNCLOS) arbitration to resolve the long-standing dispute with Suriname over the axis of the territorial sea boundary in potentially oil-rich waters
Illicit drugs:growing transshipment point for South American drugs destined for Europe via the Netherlands and Brazil; transshipment point for arms-for-drugs dealing