OFFICIAL NAME: Republic of Suriname
CAPITAL: Paramaribo
SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT: Multiparty Republic
AREA: 163,265 Sq Km (63,037 Sq Mi)
ESTIMATED 2000 POPULATION: 447,900


Direct Link to Political MapDirect Link to Physical MapLOCATION & GEOGRAPHY: Suriname is located along the northeast coast of South America. It is bound by Guyana to the west, French Guiana to the east, Brazil to the south and the Atlantic Ocean to the north. The country is divided into four distinct natural regions. (1.) The coastal belt which accounts for 16% of the land area. (2.) An intermediate plain between the coastal belt that runs to the edge of the vast rain forest region. (3.) The mountainous rain forest region which rises to the country's highest point the Wilhelmina Gebergte Massif and this region also .comprises 75% of the land area. (4.) A high savannah in the southwest. The principal rivers are the Corantyne, Nickerie, Copename, Saramacca, Suriname, Commewijne and Marauijne. Major Cities (pop. est.); Paramaribo 68,000, Nieuw Nickerie 6,100, Meerzorg 5,400, Marienburg 3,600 (1980). Land Use; forested 96%, pastures and agricultural-cultivated 0.5%, other 3.5% (1993).


CLIMATE: Suriname has a tropical climate that is characterized by high rainfall, high humidity and hot temperatures which are modified by the NE trade winds. There are four seasons, two dry seasons from August to November and February to April as well as two wet seasons from April to August and November to February, although none of the seasons are completely wet or dry. Average annual precipitation in Paramaribo is 2,200 mm (87 inches) and average temperature ranges are from 26 degrees Celsius (79 degrees Fahrenheit) to 27 degrees Celsius (81 degrees Fahrenheit) all year.


PEOPLE: Suriname has eight main ethnic groups which are as follows, Creoles who account for around 31% of the population, East Indians who account for around 37%, Indonesians for around 15%, Bush Negroes for around 10%, AmerIndians for 3%, Europeans for around 1% and Chinese for around 2% of the population.


DEMOGRAPHIC/VITAL STATISTICS: Density; 2.5 persons per sq km (6.6 persons per sq mi) (1991). Urban-Rural; 65.2% urban, 34.8% rural (1988). Sex Distribution; 49.5% male, 50.5% female (1990). Life Expectancy at Birth; 67.1 years male, 72.1 years female (1990). Age Breakdown; 34% under 15, 33% 15 to 29, 17% 30 to 44, 10% 45 to 59, 5% 60 to 74, 1% 75 and over (1991). Birth Rate; 23.2 per 1,000 (1988). Death Rate; 6.1 per 1,000 (1988). Increase Rate; 17.1 per 1,000 (1988). Infant Mortality Rate; 27.6 per 1,000 live births (1988).


RELIGIONS: Around 22% of the population are Roman Catholic while 15% are Moravian, 26% are Hindu, 19% are Muslim and the remainder follow local native tribal beliefs.


LANGUAGES: The official language is Dutch, although most of the population speak a Pidgin English known as Sranang Tongo or Taki-Taki. English is also widely spoken among the educated.


EDUCATION: Aged 25 or over and having attained: N/A. Literacy; literate population aged 15 or over 262,700 or 94.9% (1990).


MODERN HISTORY - WWII TO 1993: In 1948 universal adult suffrage was introduced and in 1950 Suriname was granted internal self-government. In 1954 Suriname became an overseas territory of the Dutch Kingdom. During the early and mid 1970's the Creoles led a movement for full independence, although the Hindustanis opposed independence and racial unrest escalated. On Nov. 25, 1975 Suriname gained full independence with Henck Arron as its Prime Minister. In Feb. 1980 a group of noncommissioned officers overthrew the government, appointed Dr Henk Chin A Sen as Prime Minister and abolished the Parliament. In Feb. 1982 Chin A Sen was dismissed and a new government established, in which both civilians and the military held power in a cabinet. In Dec. 1982 demonstrations and protests resulted in the deaths of 15 civilians by the armed forces and in Feb. 1983 a new civilian cabinet was appointed, which in turn was replaced by another in Jan. 1984. In Jan. 1985 a nominated National Assembly was established and in 1987 the military leaders permitted a referendum which resulted in the approval of a new constitution. In 1986 antigovernment rebels led by Ronny Brunswijk embarked on a guerrilla campaign against the army. In Jan. 1988 Ramsewak Shankar was elected President and Arron was reelected Prime Minister as well as Vice President. In Mar. 1990 Brunswijk was arrested after negotiations, at the invitation of Pres. Shankar, where he announced he had proof the military command was engaged in illegal cocaine trafficking. In Sept. 1990 the National Army had all but isolated the rebels led by Brunswijk and in Dec 1990 Lt.-Col. Desi Bouterse who ruled the country from 1980 to 1988 resigned as commander of the armed forces. On Dec. 24, 1990 his replacement Lt. Ivan Graanoogst led a coup that ousted Pres. Shankar and appointed Johan Kraag as interim President who re-instated Bouterse as commander. In Mar. 1991 Lt.-Col. Bouterse and rebel leader, Ronny Brunswijk agreed on a cease-fire pending peace-talks. On May 25, 1991 elections were held with the New Front for Democracy and Development (NF) winning 30 of the 51 seats followed by the Army-backed National Democratic Party which gained 12 seats. On Sept. 16, 1991 Ronald Venetiaan of the NF was inaugurated as President with Jules Adjodhia as Prime Minister. On Mar. 21, 1992 the government requested that the National Assembly remove references in the constitution that allowed the army to act in a way that contravened the functioning of a democratic constitutional state. In May 1992 Brubswijk's Surinamese Liberation Army and Thomas Sabajo's Tucayana Amazonas announced a truce against the government and in Aug. 1992 signed a draft peace treaty. The treaty included a general amnesty and integration of the rebels into the police force. On Aug. 24, 1992 the Surinamese Liberation Army disarmed following meetings with the Organization of American States. Also in 1992 Pres. Venetiaan visited US Pres. George Bush requesting possible assistance in the case of another coup attempt and the Netherlands agreed to resume aid of some 1 billion guilders over the next five years. On April 5, 1993 Siegfried Gilds, the Minister of Defense, appointed Col. Arthy Gorre as commander of the army in an attempt to restore discipline, that resulted in a mutiny and threat of a new coup. On May 12, 1993 the National Assembly ratified Col. Gorre's appointment and requested the resignation of the rebellious officers. On Aug. 8, 1993 Arti Jesserun of the Suriname National Party and Dilip Sardjoe of the Progressive Reform Party (PRP) both resigned over allegations of accepting bribes from Dutch trading companies. Also in 1993 the Netherlands suspended its financial aid to Suriname following a EU report claimed Pres. Venetiaan was responsible for the country's high inflation rate as a result of failing to restructure the economy.


CURRENCY: The official currency is the Guilder (Sf) divided into 100 Cents.


ECONOMY: Gross National Product; USD $488,000,000 (1993). Public Debt; USD $138,000,000 (1990). Imports; USD $520,500,000 (1993). Exports; USD $443,300,000 (1993). Tourism Receipts; USD $11,000,000 (1992). Balance of Trade; USD -$77,200,000 (1993). Economically Active Population; 138,000 or 33.6% of total population (1992). Unemployed; 13.4% (1992).


MAIN TRADING PARTNERS: Its main trading partners are the USA, the Netherlands, other EU countries and other European countries.

MAIN PRIMARY PRODUCTS: Bananas, Bauxite, Cattle, Citrus Fruits, Cocoa, Coconuts, Coffee, Rice, Sugar, Timber.

MAJOR INDUSTRIES: Agriculture, Alumina Refining, Aluminum, Bauxite Mining, Forestry, Timber Processing.

MAIN EXPORTS: Alumina and Aluminum, Bauxite, Rice, Timber and Timber Products.


TRANSPORT: Railroads; route length 167 km (104 mi) (1987), passenger-km N.A., cargo ton-km N/A. Roads; length 8,888 km (5,523 mi) (1987). Vehicles; cars 32,102 (1987), trucks and buses 12,137 (1987). Merchant Marine; vessels 23 (1990), deadweight tonnage 15,721 (1990). Air Transport; passenger-km 554,759,000 (344,711,000 passenger-mi) (1988), cargo ton-km 22,973,000 (15,734,000 short ton-mi) (1988).


COMMUNICATIONS: Daily Newspapers; total of 3 with a circulation of 25,000 (1992). Radio; receivers 290,256 (1993). Television; receivers 59,598 (1993). Telephones; units 46,900 (1993).


MILITARY: 1,800 (1995) total active duty personnel with 77.8% army, 13.3% navy and 8.9% air force while military expenditure accounts for 1.1% (1993) of the Gross National Product (GNP).


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