Suriname Travel Information

Mother Earth Travel > Country Index > Suriname > Map Economy History

Central Suriname Nature Reserve

Facts About Suriname

Background: 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 rule through a succession of nominally civilian administrations until 1987, when international pressure finally brought about a democratic election. In 1989, the military overthrew the civilian government, but a democratically elected government returned to power in 1991.
Government type: constitutional democracy
Capital: Paramaribo
Currency: 1 Surinamese guilder (SRG) = 100 cents

Geography of Suriname

Location: Northern South America, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between French Guiana and Guyana
Geographic coordinates: 4 00 N, 56 00 W
total: 163,270 sq km
land: 161,470 sq km
water: 1,800 sq km
Land boundaries:
total: 1,707 km
border countries: Brazil 597 km, French Guiana 510 km, Guyana 600 km
Coastline: 386 km
Maritime claims:
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
territorial sea: 12 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: Wilhelmina Gebergte 1,286 m
Natural resources: timber, hydropower, fish, kaolin, shrimp, bauxite, gold, and small amounts of nickel, copper, platinum, iron ore
Land use:
arable land: 0%
permanent crops: 0%
permanent pastures: 0%
forests and woodland: 96%
other: 4% (1993 est.)
Irrigated land: 600 sq km (1993 est.)
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, Endangered Species, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note: mostly tropical rain forest; great diversity of flora and fauna that, for the most part, is increasingly threatened by new development; relatively small population, most of which lives along the coast.

People of Suriname

Most Surinamers live in the narrow, northern coastal plain. The population is one of the most ethnically varied in the world. Each ethnic group preserves its own culture and many institutions, including political parties, tend to follow ethnic lines. Informal relationships vary: the upper classes of all ethnic backgrounds mix freely; outside of the elite, social relations tend to remain within ethnic groupings. All groups may be found in the schools and workplace.

Population: 438,144 (July 2005 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 32% 
15-64 years: 62% 
65 years and over: 6% 
Population growth rate: 0.65% 
Birth rate: 21.08 births/1,000 population 
Death rate: 5.69 deaths/1,000 population 
Net migration rate: -8.92 migrant(s)/1,000 population 
Infant mortality rate: 25.06 deaths/1,000 live births 
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 71.36 years
male: 68.71 years
female: 74.14 years 
Total fertility rate: 2.5 children born/woman 
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%, 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
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 93%
male: 95%
female: 91% (1995 est.)

SOURCES: The World Factbook, U.S. Department of State

Mother Earth Travel > Country Index > Suriname > Map Economy History