The World Factbook (1990)/Suriname

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pages 295–296


See regional map IV


Total area: 163,270 km²; land area: 161,470 km²

Comparative area: slightly larger than Georgia

Land boundaries: 1,707 km total; Brazil 597 km, French Guiana 510 km, Guyana 600 km

Coastline: 386 km

Maritime claims:

Extended economic zone: 200 nm
Territorial sea: 12 nm

Disputes: claims area in French Guiana between Litani Rivier and Rivière Marouini (both headwaters of the Lawa); claims area in Guyana between New (Upper Courantyne) and Courantyne/Kutari Rivers (all headwaters of the Courantyne)

Climate: tropical; moderated by trade winds

Terrain: mostly rolling hills; narrow coastal plain with swamps

Natural resources: timber, hydropower potential, fish, shrimp, bauxite, iron ore, and modest amounts of nickel, copper, platinum, gold

Land use: NEGL% arable land; NEGL% permanent crops; NEGL% meadows and pastures; 97% forest and woodland; 3% other; includes NEGL% irrigated

Environment: mostly tropical rain forest


Population: 396,813 (July 1990), growth rate 1.4% (1990)

Birth rate: 27 births/1,000 population (1990)

Death rate: 6 deaths/1,000 population (1990)

Net migration rate: 7 migrants/1,000 population (1990)

Infant mortality rate: 40 deaths/1,000 live births (1990)

Life expectancy at birth: 66 years male, 71 years female (1990)

Total fertility rate: 2.9 children born/woman (1990)

Nationality: noun—Surinamer(s); adjective—Surinamese

Ethnic divisions: 37.0% Hindustani (East Indian), 31.0% Creole (black and mixed), 15.3% Javanese, 10.3% Bush black, 2.6% Amerindian, 1 .7% Chinese, 1 .0% Europeans, 1.1% other

Religion: 27.4% Hindu, 19.6% Muslim, 22.8% Roman Catholic, 25.2% Protestant (predominantly Moravian), about 5% indigenous beliefs

Language: Dutch (official); English widely spoken; Sranan Tongo (Surinamese, sometimes called Taki-Taki) is native language of Creoles and much of the younger population and is lingua franca among others; also Hindi Suriname Hindustani (a vari- ant of Bhoqpuri), and Javanese

Literacy: 65%

Labor force: 104,000 (1984)

Organized labor: 49,000 members of labor force


Long-form name: Republic of Suriname

Type: republic

Capital: Paramaribo

Administrative divisions: 1 districts (distrikten, singular distrikt); Brokopondo, Commewijne, Coronie, Marowijne, Nickerie, Para, Paramaribo, Saramacca, Sipaliwini, Wanica

Independence: 25 November 1975 (from Netherlands; formerly Netherlands Guiana or Dutch Guiana)

Constitution: ratified 30 September 1987

Legal system: NA

National holiday: Independence Day, 25 November (1975)

Executive branch: president, vice president and prime minister, Cabinet of Ministers, Council of State; note—commander in chief of the National Army maintains significant power

Legislative branch: unicameral National Assembly

Judicial branch: Supreme Court

Leaders: Chief of State and Head of Government—President Ramsewak SHANKAR (since 25 January 1988); Vice President and Prime Minister Henck Alfonsus Eugene ARRON (since 25 January 1988)

Political parties and leaders: 25 February Movement established by Lt. Col. Desire Bouterse in November 1983, but much of its activity taken over by New Democratic Party (NDP) in May 1987; leftists (all small groups)—Revolutionary People's Party (RVP), Michael Naarendorp; Progressive Workers and Farmers (PALU), Iwan Krolis; traditional parties—Progressive Reform Party (VHP), Jaggernath Lachmon; National Party of Suriname (NPS), Henck Arron; Indonesian Peasants Party (KTPI), Willy Soemita; the VHP, NPS, and KTPI formed a coalition known as The Front in July 1987 that overwhelmingly defeated the NDP in the November 1987 elections

Suffrage: universal at age 18

Elections: National Assembly—last held 25 November 1987 (next to be held November 1992); results—The Front 80%, others 20%; seats—(51 total) The Front 40, NDP 3, PALU 4, Pendawa Llwa 4


Diplomatic representation: Ambassador Willem A. UDENHOUT; Chancery at Suite 108, 4301 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington DC 20008; telephone (202) 244-7488 or 7490 through 7492; there is a Surinamese Consulate General in Miami; US—Ambassador Richard HOWLAND; Embassy at Dr. Sophie Redmonstraat 129, Paramaribo (mailing address is P. O. Box 1821, Paramaribo); telephone [597] 72900 or 76459

Flag: 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


Overview: The economy is dominated by the bauxite industry, which accounts for about 80% of export earnings and 40% of tax revenues. The economy has been in trouble since the Dutch ended development aid in 1982. A drop in world bauxite prices that started in the late 1970s and continued until late 1986, was followed by the outbreak of a guerrilla insurgency in the interior. The guerrillas targeted the economic infrastructure, crippling the important bauxite sector and shutting down other export industries. These problems have created both high inflation and high unemployment. A small gain in economic growth of 3.6% was registered in 1988 due to reduced guerrilla activity and improved international markets for bauxite.

GDP: $1.27 billion, per capita $3,215; real growth rate 3.6% (1988 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 50% (1988 est.)

Unemployment rate: 27% (1988)

Budget: revenues $466 million; expenditures $716 million, including capital expenditures of $123 million (1989 est.)

Exports: $425 million (f.o.b., 1988 est.); commodities—alumina, bauxite, aluminum, rice, wood and wood products, shrimp and fish, bananas; partners—Netherlands 28%, US 22%, Norway 18%, Japan 1 1%, Brazil 10%, UK 4%

Imports: $365 million (f.o.b., 1988 est.); commodities—capital equipment, petroleum, foodstuffs, cotton, consumer goods; partners—US 34%, Netherlands 20%, Trinidad and Tobago 8%, Brazil 5%, UK 3%

External debt: $65 million (1989 est.)

Industrial production: growth rate -3.1% (1986)

Electricity: 458,000 kW capacity; 2,018 million kWh produced, 5,030 kWh per capita (1989)

Industries: bauxite mining, alumina and aluminum production, lumbering, food processing, fishing

Agriculture: accounts for 11% of both GDP and labor force; paddy rice planted on 85% of arable land and represents 60% of total farm output; other products bananas, palm kernels, coconuts, plantains, peanuts, beef, chicken; shrimp and forestry products of increasing importance; self-sufficient in most foods

Aid: US commitments, including Ex-Im (FY70-83), $2.5 million; Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1970-87), $1.4 billion

Currency: Surinamese guilder, gulden, or florin (plural—guilders, gulden, or florins); 1 Surinamese guilder, gulden, or florin (Sf.) = 100 cents

Exchange rates: Surinamese guilders, gulden, or florins (Sf.) per US$1—1.7850 (fixed rate)

Fiscal year: calendar year


Railroads: 166 km total; 86 km 1.000-meter gauge, government owned, and 80 km 1.435-meter standard gauge; all single track

Highways: 8,300 km total; 500 km paved; 5,400 km bauxite gravel, crushed stone, or improved earth; 2,400 km sand or clay

Inland waterways: 1 ,200 km; most important means of transport; oceangoing vessels with drafts ranging from 4.2 m to 7 m can navigate many of the principal waterways

Ports: Paramaribo, Moengo

Merchant marine: 3 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 6,472 GRT/8,914 DWT; includes 2 cargo, 1 container

Civil air: 2 major transport aircraft

Airports: 47 total, 43 usable; 6 with permanent-surface runways; none with runways over 3,659 m; 1 with runways 2,440-3,659 m; 1 with runways 1,220-2,439 m

Telecommunications: international facilities good; domestic radio relay system; 27,500 telephones; stations—5 AM, 14 FM, 6 TV, 1 shortwave; 2 Atlantic Ocean INTELSAT earth stations

Defense Forces

Branches: National Army (including Support Battalion, Infantry Battalion, Mechanized Cavalry Unit, Military Police Brigade, Navy which is company-size, small Air Force element)

Military manpower: males 15-49, 105,328; 62,896 fit for military service

Defense expenditures: 7.2% of GDP, or $91 million (1990 est.)