Suriname

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SURINAME

LOCATION, SIZE, AND EXTENT
TOPOGRAPHY
CLIMATE
FLORA AND FAUNA
ENVIRONMENT
POPULATION
MIGRATION
ETHNIC GROUPS
LANGUAGES
RELIGIONS
TRANSPORTATION
HISTORY
GOVERNMENT
POLITICAL PARTIES
LOCAL GOVERNMENT
JUDICIAL SYSTEM
ARMED FORCES
INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION
ECONOMY
INCOME
LABOR
AGRICULTURE
ANIMAL HUSBANDRY
FISHING
FORESTRY
MINING
ENERGY AND POWER
INDUSTRY
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
DOMESTIC TRADE
FOREIGN TRADE
BALANCE OF PAYMENTS
BANKING AND SECURITIES
INSURANCE
PUBLIC FINANCE
TAXATION
CUSTOMS AND DUTIES
FOREIGN INVESTMENT
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
HEALTH
HOUSING
EDUCATION
LIBRARIES AND MUSEUMS
MEDIA
ORGANIZATIONS
TOURISM, TRAVEL, AND RECREATION
FAMOUS SURINAMESE
DEPENDENCIES
BIBLIOGRAPHY

Republic of Suriname
Republiek Suriname

CAPITAL: Paramaribo

FLAG: A yellow star is at the center of five stripes: a broad red band in the middle, two white bands, and a green stripe at the top and bottom.

ANTHEM: The Surinaams Volkslied (National Anthem) begins "God zij met ons Suriname" ("God be with our Suriname").

MONETARY UNIT: The Suriname guilder (sf) is a paper currency of 100 cents. There are coins of 1, 5, 10, and 25 cents, and notes of 5, 10, 25, 100, and 500 guilders. sf1 = $0.00037 (or $1 = sf2700) as of 2005.

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: The metric system is used.

HOLIDAYS: New Year's Day, 1 January; Revolution Day, 25 February; Labor Day, 1 May; National Union Day, 1 July; Independence Day, 25 November; Christmas, 25 December; Boxing Day, 26 December. Movable religious holidays include Holi Phagwah, Good Friday, Easter Monday, and 'Id al-Fitr.

TIME: 8:30 am = noon GMT.

LOCATION, SIZE, AND EXTENT

Situated on the northeast coast of South America, Suriname is the smallest independent country on the continent, with a total area of 163,270 sq km (63,039 sq mi). Comparatively, the area occupied by Suriname is slightly larger than the state of Georgia. The nation has an extension of 662 km (411 mi) nesw and 487 km (303 mi) senw. Suriname is bordered on the n by the Atlantic Ocean, on the e by French Guiana, on the s by Brazil, and on the w by Guyana, with a total boundary length of 2,093 km (1,301 mi), of which 386 km (239 mi) is coastline. Suriname also claims about 15,000 sq km (5,800 sq mi) of southeastern Guyana and some 5,000 sq km (1,900 sq mi) of southwestern French Guiana.

Suriname's capital city, Paramaribo, is located on the Atlantic coast.

TOPOGRAPHY

Suriname is composed of thick forests, unexplored mountains, and swampy plains. Several geologically old rivers, including the Maroni in the east and the Courantyne, flow northward to the Atlantic Ocean from the southern highlands near the Brazilian border; there, numerous rapids and waterfalls bar boat passage.

The coastal plain is flat and sometimes as much as 1.5 m (5 ft) below sea level, necessitating a system of sea defenses. The soils of the coastal plain are relatively fertile. A forest belt, 4872 km (3045 mi) wide, lies to the south, interspersed with grassy savannas. Farther south are dense forest and higher ground.

CLIMATE

The climate is tropical and moist. Daytime temperatures range from 2832°c (8290°f). At night the temperature drops as low as 21°c (70°f) because of the moderating influence of the north-east trade winds, which blow in from the sea all year. The annual rainfall in Paramaribo is about 230 cm (90 in). May to August is the main rainy season, with a lesser rainy season from November to February.

FLORA AND FAUNA

Dominated by rain forest, Suriname contains many flowers but is most famous for water lilies and orchids. Tropical shrubs include hibiscus, bougainvillea, and oleander. There are at least 180 species of mammals. Among the reptiles are the tortoise, iguana, caiman, and numerous snakes. Tropical birds abound, especially the white egret.

ENVIRONMENT

In general, Suriname's environment and wildlife are protected from the destructive influences that threaten the majority of the world's nations. However, deforestation is becoming a concern, as foreign interests obtain timber concessions from the government. Pollutants from the country's mining industry affect the purity of the water. Salinization of the water supply is becoming a problem for the coastal areas.

Suriname's eight nature reserves are managed by the Foundation for Nature Preservation, founded in 1969. The Suriname Wildlife Rangers Club, consisting mainly of students 1520 years old, assists in various nature preservation activities. National responsibility for environmental matters is vested in the Ministry of Health and Environment and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Energy. In the late 1990s, the Central Suriname Wilderness Nature reservation was created to set aside about 10% of the total land area as protected land; this site became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000.

Due to the preservation of Suriname's tropical rain forest, the nation's wildlife flourishes. Even so, according to a 2006 report issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), threatened species included 12 types of mammals, 6 types of reptiles, 2 species of amphibians, 12 species of fish, and 27 species of plants. Threatened species in Suriname included the brazil nut tree, red cedar, the tundra peregrine falcon, five species of turtle (South American river, green sea, hawksbill, olive ridley, and leatherback), the Caribbean manatee, and the spectacled caiman.

POPULATION

The population of Suriname in 2005 was estimated by the United Nations (UN) at 447,000, which placed it at number 164 in population among the 193 nations of the world. In 2005, approximately 6% of the population was over 65 years of age, with another 29% of the population under 15 years of age. There were 100 males for every 100 females in the country. According to the UN, the annual population rate of change for 200510 was expected to be 1.4%, a rate the government viewed as satisfactory. The government incorporates population planning into its comprehensive development policies. The projected population for the year 2025 was 480,000. The population density was 3 per sq km (7 per sq mi).

The UN estimated that 74% of the population lived in urban areas in 2005, and that urban areas were growing at an annual rate of 1.32%. The capital city, Paramaribo, had a population of 253,000 in that year.

MIGRATION

About 90,000 Surinamese resided in the Netherlands by the mid-1970s, and the number had reached some 200,000 by 1985. Emigration was about 12,000 per year in the early 1970s, but it accelerated as the date of independence approached and again after the coup of February 1980. An estimated 8,000 Surinamese fled to neighboring French Guiana by 1987, seeking refuge from a guerrilla conflict raging in the northeast. Democracy was restored in 1987, and a repatriation movement began in 1988. In 1991, the refugees still living in French Guiana took part in that year's elections. Repatriation was completed with the return of most refugees by the end of 1993. In 2004 there were 100 refugees and no asylum seekers. In 2005, the net migration rate was an estimated -8.78 migrants per 1,000 population. The government views both the immigration and emigration levels as too high. Worker remittances were $12.9 million in 2002.

ETHNIC GROUPS

Suriname has one of the most cosmopolitan populations in the world. The largest ethnic group is the Hindustani (also known locally as "East Indians"), whose ancestors emigrated from northern India in the latter part of the 19th century, with 37% of the total population. Ranking a close second is the Creole community (mixed white and black), with 31%. The Javanese constitute about 15%. "Maroons," whose African ancestors were brought to the country in the 17th and 18th centuries as slaves but escaped to the interior lands, make up 10%. Amerindians, Suriname's original inhabitants, form 2% of the population and include the Arawak, Carib, and Warrau groups along the riverbanks and coastal plains, and Trios, Akurios, and Wyanas along the upper reaches of the rivers. Chinese account for 2% of the populace; whites for 1%; and other groups for the remaining 2%.

LANGUAGES

The official language is Dutch, but English is widely spoken, and the local people use a lingua franca known as Sranang-Tongo or Takki-Takki, a mixture of Dutch, African, and other languages. Hindustani (a dialect of Hindi), Javanese, and several Chinese, Amerindian, and African languages and dialects are also spoken.

RELIGIONS

Religious freedom is guaranteed by the constitution, and there is no state or dominant religion. According to government statistics, 40% of the population is Christian. Approximately 18% are Roman Catholic, 15% are Moravian, and 7% are of other denominations, including Lutheran, Dutch Reformed, Methodist, Baptist, and the Evangelical churches. Hinduism is practiced by about 27% of the inhabitants and Islam by about 22%. Indigenous tribal religionists make up around 8% of the populace. About 3% claim no religious affiliation at all. There are about 150 Jews in the country and a small number of Baha'is and Buddhists.

Political parties are often dominated by a particular ethnic and religious affiliation. For instance, members of the Creole National Party of Suriname are primarily Moravian and members of the Javanese Pertjaja Party are primarily Muslim. Certain Christian, Muslim, and Hindu holidays are celebrated as national holidays. The constitution provides for religious freedom.

TRANSPORTATION

Suriname, as of 2003, had 1,200 km (746 mi) of navigable waterways, most of which can handle vessels with a draft of up to 7 m. A ferry service across the Corantijn River to Guyana began operating in 1990. As of 2005, the country had only one merchant ship of 1,000 GRT or more, a cargo vessel, totaling 1,078 GRT. There are 166 km (103 mi) of single-track railway, 86 km (53 mi) government owned and the rest industrial. Paramaribo can be reached from any town or village on the coastal plain by good all-weather roads. In 1999, the first of two new bridges connecting the country from East to West along the coast was opened. As of 2002, there were 4,492 km (2,794 mi) of roadways, of which 1,168 km (726 mi) were paved. State-owned and private companies operate regular bus services, both local and long distance. In 2003, there were 65,400 passenger cars and 27,000 commercial vehicles. Total number of airports stood at an estimated 46 in 2004, only 5 of which had paved runways as of 2005. Zanderij International Airport near Paramaribo can handle jet aircraft, and there are small airstrips throughout the interior. The government-owned Suriname Airways offers regularly scheduled service to the Netherlands and Curaçao. In 2001 (the latest year for which data was available) it carried 202,900 passengers.

Military operations involving the Jungle Commando and the national army badly damaged Albina and the road connecting Moengo to the eastern border. Overall lack of proper maintenance on roads, canals, and port facilities has resulted in a degraded infrastructure and higher local transportation costs.

HISTORY

Spaniards came to Suriname in the 16th century in search of gold, but did not stay when they found none. The first large-scale colonization took place under Lord Francis Willoughby, the English governor of Barbados, who sent an expedition to Suriname in 1650 under Anthony Rowse. In 1660, the British crown granted Willoughby official rights, and it became a flourishing agricultural colony. Settlers included English colonists, African slaves, and Jewish immigrants from the Netherlands, Italy, and Brazil. In the Peace of Breda between England and the United Netherlands in 1667, Suriname became a Dutch colony.

The English held Suriname again between 1799 and 1802 and from 1804 to 1816, when the Dutch resumed control over the colony under the Treaty of Paris. With the final abolition of slavery in 1863, workers were imported from India, Java, and China. In 1954, a new Dutch statute provided for full autonomy for Suriname, except in foreign affairs and defense. A commission was set up on 5 January 1972 to prepare alternatives to the existing legal framework. In May 1974, the terms for Suriname's independence were agreed on, and Suriname became an independent country on 25 November 1975.

For five years, Suriname was a parliamentary republic under Prime Minister Henk Arron. On 25 February 1980, the government was overthrown in a military coup led by Désiré Bouterse. Parliament was dissolved and the constitution suspended, and in 1981 the new government declared itself a Socialist republic. Relations with the United States became strained as the Bouterse government moved closer to Cuba. In December 1982, as a result of the government's execution of 15 political opponents, the Netherlands and the United States suspended all aid to Suriname.

The military and Bouterse continued to rule through a succession of nominally civilian governments. Still, pressure mounted for a return to genuine civilian rule. A separate challenge to the government came from a guerrilla movement under the leadership of Ronny Brunswijk. The Surinamese Liberation Army (SLA), also known as the Maroon or Bush Negro insurgency, began operating in the northeast in July 1986. It struck various economic targets, including the Suriname Aluminum Company. The government responded with repression, killing civilians suspected of supporting the insurgency.

The military allowed for elections on 25 November 1987. An anti-Bouterse coalition, the Front for Democracy, won 80% of the vote and 40 of the 51 seats in the newly constituted National Assembly, but a new appointive State Council, rather than the elective National Assembly, was given law-making authority. The new president, Ramsewak Shankar, remained in office from 25 January 1988 until 24 December 1990, when the military once again took over. International pressure mounted, and the military soon relented, allowing for elections on 25 May 1991. Again, an antimilitary coalition, called the New Front (NF), swept the election. The leader of the coalition, Ronald Venetiaan, was chosen president on 6 September 1991. Bouterse was forced to resign his post as army commander in 1992, but he retained his political influence by becoming president of the National Democratic Party (NDP).

Although Venetiaan managed to remain in office throughout his five-year term, severe economic difficulties leading to increased poverty for the majority of Suriname's citizens caused his popular support to decline. In the May 1996 elections, NDP candidate Jules Wijdenbosch was elected president, effectively returning Bouterseas NDP presidentto power. Nevertheless, these elections marked the first time in independent Suriname's history that power passed peacefully from one democratically elected government to another.

Wijdenbosch did not prove to be a popular president. His close association with Bouterse hurt him, both at home and abroad, as did the failure of his administration to improve Suriname's faltering economy, which continued to struggle with high inflation and unemployment, a major budget deficit, and the virtual collapse of its currency. A plan to privatize the oil and banana industries met with widespread protests culminating in a five-day general strike in the first part of June 1999. By the end of that month, popular discontent with the government had become so strong that Wijdenbosch called for early elections (which took months to arrange but still took place earlier than the normally scheduled date in 2001). In the meantime, Bouterse, sought by human rights groups for abuses during his time in power, was tried in absentia in the Netherlands for cocaine trafficking and convicted in July 1999.

The opposition New Front coalition, supported by former president Venetiaan, swept the May 2000 elections, winning 32 of the 51 contested parliamentary seats, just short of the two-thirds majority needed to select a new president. The Democratic National Platform 2000 of President Wijdenbosch sustained a staggering loss, winning only three seats, while Millennium Combination, a separate party formed by Bouterse, won 10 seats.

General elections were held in May 2005, and the New Front coalition won 23 seats to the NDP's 15. The People's Alliance for Progress coalition (VVV) won 5 seats, the A-Combinatie coalition won 5, and the Alternative-1 coalition (A-1) took 3 seats in the National Assembly. The NDP contested the results of the election. Venetiaan was reelected president in August after months of political deadlock; the regional People's National Assembly had to choose the president. The next elections were scheduled for May 2010.

In June 2004, the UN set up a tribunal to try to resolve the longstanding maritime border dispute between Guyana and Suriname. In 2000, Suriname gunboats evicted an oil exploration rig from the area; Guyana had approved the exploration in the oil-rich disputed region.

GOVERNMENT

Between 1954 and 1975, Suriname was administered by a governor appointed by and representing the Dutch crown, with a cabinet appointed by the governor and an elected parliament (Staten van Suriname). Under the constitution adopted on 21 November 1975 by parliament, Suriname is a republic. However, that constitution, which provided for a unicameral, 39-member parliament directly elected for a four-year term by universal suffrage, was suspended on 15 August 1980 and parliament was dissolved. Bouterse then ruled through a series of appointed governments, whose members represented the military, industry, trade unions, business, and political parties. In September 1987, a popular referendum approved a new constitution, which is still in effect.

The constitution provides for a unicameral 51-member National Assembly directly elected for a five-year term. The executive branch consists of the president, vice president, and prime minister, all selected by the legislature. There is also a cabinet and an appointed Council of State. The judicial system is ineffective and in need of reform.

POLITICAL PARTIES

Suriname's political parties tend to represent particular ethnic groups. The National Party of Suriname (NPS), led by President Ronald Venetiaan, draws support from the Creole population. The Progressive Reform Party (VHP) is East Indian and the Party of National Unity and Solidarity, formerly the Indonesian Peasant's Party (KTPI) is more tied in name to its constituency. All three parties allied in the coalition National Front for Democracy in 1987 to defeat Bouterse's National Democratic Party (NDP). In 1991, these three parties and the Suriname Labor Party (SPA) formed the New Front (NF) and won a solid victory, gaining 30 of 51 Assembly seats, while Bouterse's NDP took 10 seats. Another coalition formed during the 1991 elections was called Democratic Alternative '91. It included four nonethnic parties representing a variety of white-collar concerns. They took 9 of the remaining 11 seats in the Assembly, with the other 2 going to minor parties.

After four years as an opposition party, following the 1996 elections, the New Front regained its parliamentary majority in early elections called for May 2000, winning a total of 32 seats (Suriname National Party, 14; Progressive Reform Party, 9; the Javan Pertjajah Luhur party, 7; Suriname Labor Party, 2) to 10 for Bouterse's Millennium Combination and only 3 for President Wijdenbosch's Democratic National Platform 2000.

The New Front coalition suffered a significant setback in the May 2005 elections, due to widespread dissatisfaction with the state of the economy and a public perception that the NF had done little for the country. The NF won 23 seats to the NDP's 15. The People's Alliance for Progress coalition (VVV) won 5 seats, the A-Combinatie coalition won 5, and the Alternative-1 coalition (A-1) took 3 seats in the National Assembly. The NDP contested the results of the election. Ronald Venetiaan was reelected president in August 2005 after months of political deadlock; the regional People's National Assembly had to choose the president.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

The republic is divided into 10 districts, which include the urban district of Paramaribo. Administration is centralized and there are no recognized municipalities.

JUDICIAL SYSTEM

The Constitution provides the right to a fair public trial before a single judge, the right to counsel, and the right to appeal. There is a Supreme Court (Court of Justice) whose members are nominated for life, and there are three Cantonal Courts. In 2003, Caribbean leaders met in Kingston, Jamaica, to ratify a treaty to establish the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ). Eight nationsBarbados, Belize, Dominica, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobagoofficially approved the CCJ, although 14 nations were planning to use the court for appeals. The court was officially inaugurated in April 2005, in Portof-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. As of 2005, however, the court's jurisdiction was limited to the CARICOM states of Barbados and Guyana. The CCJ heard its first case in August 2005.

Military personnel fall under military jurisdiction and are generally not subject to civilian criminal law. Military courts follow the same procedural rules as do the civil courts with military trials held before a judge and two military personnel.

The 1987 constitution calls for the establishment of an independent constitutional court. However, as of 2005, this body had not yet been established by the government.

ARMED FORCES

The Suriname National Army consists of army, air force, and naval components, with the strength of 1,840 in 2005 (Army 1,400, Navy 240, and Air Force 160). The Army included one infantry battalion, one mechanized cavalry squadron, and one military police battalion. The Navy mans 3 patrol craft, while the Air Force's major units include 7 combat capable aircraft, 4 transports, and 3 utility helicopters. The defense budget was $7.7 million in 2005.

INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION

Suriname was admitted to the United Nations on 4 December 1975; it is part of ECLAC and several nonregional specialized agencies, such as the FAO, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, the World Bank, and the WHO. Suriname is also a member of the ACP Group, CARICOM, G-77, the South American Community of Nations (CSN), the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), the Islamic Development Bank, the Association of Caribbean States (ACS), the Inter-American Development Bank, the Latin American Economic System (LAES), the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), OAS, and the WTO.

Suriname is part of the Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (OPANAL) and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. The nation is also a member of the Nonaligned Movement. In environmental cooperation, Surinam is part of the Amazonian Pact, the Convention on Biological Diversity, Ramsar, CITES, the London Convention, the Montréal Protocol, MARPOL, the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, and the UN Conventions on the Law of the Sea, Climate Change, and Desertification.

ECONOMY

The bauxite and alumina industries traditionally set the pace for Suriname's economy, accounting for about 15% of GDP and 70% of exports. Two companies, Suriname Aluminum Co. (Suralco), a wholly-owned Alcoa subsidiary, and Billiton, owned by Royal Dutch/Shell, account for about one-third of government revenue and employ nearly 4,000 workers. In 2002, Alcoa and BHP Billiton signed a letter of intent as the basis for new joint ventures between the companies, in which Alcoa will assume 55% of all bauxite mining in West Suriname. The government and the companies are looking into cost-effective ways to develop new mines, as the major mining sites at Moengo and Lelydorp are maturing. Other proven reserves exist in the country and are projected to last until 2045. The opening of the Gross Rosbel gold mine is expected to boost exports and GDP growth.

Although agriculture is the chief means of subsistence and second-largest employer after the government; plantation agriculture is the weakest sector of the economy, with the notable exception of rice growing. Suriname is self-sufficient in rice, and exports large amounts; however, Suriname is a net food importer. Imports account for more than 80% of consumption. Agricultural products accounted for only 13% of GDP in 2001, with rice, bananas, palm kernels, coconuts, plantains, and peanuts as the principal crops.

In February 1987, guerrilla destruction of electricity pylons to the bauxite mines closed the industry while repairs were made. The collapse of world prices for bauxite in 1987 was another severe blow for the economy. Despite high expectations, the civilian government inaugurated in early 1988 proved unable to address the country's considerable economic problems and was overthrown by the military on 24 December 1990. A year later, civilian government, under the leadership of President Ronald Venetiaan, came back to power. Next to bauxite, foreign aid is the mainstay of the country's economy. Suriname was once a colony of the Netherlands, and thus the Dutch government continues to provide economic aid. When Suriname's economic and political problems escalated, the Netherlands suspended aid between 1982 and 1991, and in 1997. Aid was resumed, from both the Netherlands and the United States, once reforms were initiated.

The new government inherited a formidable array of economic problems. In 1992, real GDP fell by 5% and average inflation accelerated to 44%, compared to 26% in 1991. Foreign exchange reserves had reached a record low, unemployment was high, and the climate for foreign investment was bad. The government implemented a structural adjustment program (SAP), which included the legalization of the parallel foreign exchange market, reduced government spending, privatization of key sectors of the economy, and revision of the country's investment code. By 1994, the inflation rate had reached over 400%, but thereafter the SAP kicked in and reduced inflation to less than 1% in 1996. In 1997, relations with the Netherlands soured when Suriname ended the SAP and replaced it with an ambiguous National Reconstruction Plan, and the government failed to implement necessary austerity measures. Inflation reached almost 21% in 1999, and growth had slowed to 2%. By 2005, the GDP real growth rate was estimated at 4%. The inflation rate in 2004 stood at 9%.

INCOME

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports that in 2005 Suriname's gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at $2.1 billion. The CIA defines GDP as the value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a given year and computed on the basis of purchasing power parity (PPP) rather than value as measured on the basis of the rate of exchange based on current dollars. The per capita GDP was estimated at $4,700. The annual growth rate of GDP was estimated at 4%. The average inflation rate in 2005 was 9.5%. It was estimated that agriculture accounted for 13% of GDP, industry 22%, and services 65%.

According to the World Bank, in 2003 remittances from citizens working abroad totaled $21 million or about $48 per capita and accounted for approximately 2.1% of GDP.

It was estimated that in 2002 about 70% of the population had incomes below the poverty line.

LABOR

In 2003, Suriname's workforce numbered 104,000. As of 1996 (the latest year for which data was available), about 70% were engaged in services, 8.3% in manufacturing, 17% in commerce, 5.9% in agriculture, and 7.8% in transport and communications. In 2000 the unemployment rate was 17%.

Suriname has numerous small unions, representing individual workplaces or enterprises, organized into six union federations. Among them are the General Confederation of Trade Unions, sometimes called the Moederbond (Mother Union); the Progressive Workers Organization, whose members are predominantly from the commercial and banking sectors; the Centrale 47, which includes bauxite and sugar unions; and the Central Organization for Civil Service Employees. Nearly 60% of the workforce is organized and about one-half are covered by collective bargaining agreements. Workers, with the exception of civil servants, are freely allowed to strike and do so often. Antiunion discrimination is illegal.

The minimum working age is 14 but this is not sufficiently enforced and many children work, especially in the informal sector. There is no set minimum wage. The lowest wage for civil servants was $100 per month in 2002. The standard workweek is 45 hours and time worked in excess of that requires overtime pay.

AGRICULTURE

The chief crops are rice, sugar, plantains and bananas, citrus fruits, coffee, coconuts, and palm oil, in addition to staple food crops. With the exception of rice, the main export crop, plantation agriculture has suffered the consequences of absentee ownership. Rice production was 95,000 tons in 2004. Sugar production dropped so substantially in the 1980s that imports were required to meet local demand. Under union pressure, the government in early 1987 agreed to a national sugar plan to improve machinery and housing, and to create employment. Production of sugarcane in 2004 was 120,000 tons; of bananas, 43,000 tons; of plantains, 11,800 tons; of oranges, 13,000 tons; and of coconuts, 9,000 tons.

Since its creation in 1945, the Commission for the Application of Mechanized Techniques to Agriculture in Suriname has worked to reactivate several old plantations and bring new land under cultivation. The successful control of diseases and pests, introduction of water storage and irrigation schemes, and the development of new quick-growing varieties of rice have also increased total agricultural production.

ANIMAL HUSBANDRY

Livestock numbers are relatively small, since breeding is done primarily by small farmers who own only a few animals each. The government has tried to reduce the import of eggs, dairy products, and meat by undertaking projects to cross Dutch and local breeds of cattle and poultry. Estimated livestock numbers in 2005 included 137,000 head of cattle, 24,500 hogs, 7,100 goats, 7,700 sheep, and 3.8 million chickens.

FISHING

Fishing has become increasingly important, both on inland waterways and at sea. The chief commercial catch is shrimp, which is exported. In 2003, the freshwater catch was 250 tons, and marine landings amounted to 28,107 tons. Shrimp production totaled 1,650 tons that year. The Fisheries Service, founded in 1947, has worked to develop the fishing industry. Exports of fish and fish products in 2003 amounted to nearly $4.6 million. Japan is the largest market for Surinamese shrimp.

FORESTRY

Approximately 90.5% of Suriname is covered by tropical rain forest, but existing forest resources have scarcely been touched. Initial exploitation has been confined to the more accessible strips along the riverbanks. The Suriname Forestry Service, under an FAO technical assistance program, has undertaken to survey and open up the forests for commercial use. Roundwood production was about 207,000 cu m (7.3 million cu ft) in 2004. In August 1992, a peace agreement between the central government and insurgent groups from the interior (where timber is found) was signed. Since the fighting ended, logging has increased. The trade deficit in forest products was $2 million for 2004.

MINING

Suriname was one of the world's largest producers of bauxite, and alumina. The bauxite industry in 2003, accounted for at least 15% of Suriname's gross domestic product (GDP) of an estimated $2.5 billion and around 70% of foreign exchange earnings in that year. Mineral production by Suriname is centered on alumina, bauxite, gold, and oil. In 2003, 4.215 million metric tons (gross weight) of bauxite was mined, up from 4.002 million metric tons in 2002. Suriname's bauxite industry has suffered in recent years from a weak market, foreign competition, and the effects of the guerrilla war, but mines with higher-grade bauxite were replacing older depleted mines. The alumina industry, however, was threatened by the deterioration of the international alumina market. Suriname's privately owned multinational companies mined the bauxite and processed alumina and aluminum. The Suriname Aluminum Company (SURALCO) has estimated bauxite reserves at 575 million tons.

Official gold mine output has been put at 300 kg annually, from 1999 through 2003. Gold has been mined in south and east Suriname since the second half of the 19th century. In addition, the government estimated as much as 30,000 kg of unrecorded production in alluvial deposits, much of it by people from Brazil. Most of the nearly 40,000 Brazilians living in Suriname arrived during the past several years in search of gold. More than 15,000 people (Suriname's population was estimated at 435,449 in 2003) were employed in the gold industry. The government expressed concern about the damage to the environment caused by illegal miners' use of mercury. Gold was produced by numerous small operators and sold to the government. Gold concessions were negotiated with N.V. Grassalco, the state-owned gold company. The Gross Rosebel gold property, south of Paramaribo, was the most advanced gold development. In 2003, Suriname also produced hydraulic cement, common clays, gravel, common sand, and crushed and broken stone. Suriname also had resources of chromium, clay, copper, diamond, iron ore, manganese, nickel, platinum, and tin.

ENERGY AND POWER

Suriname, with only limited reserves of oil and no proven reserves of natural gas or coal is heavily reliant upon imports to meet its hydrocarbon needs.

Suriname in 2004 had proven oil reserves of only 99 million barrels, and no proven reserves of natural gas or coal. In that year, the production and consumption of oil was estimated to average 12,000 barrels per day and 14,000 barrels per day, respectively. Although imports in 2003 averaged 1,644 barrels per day, the country did manage to see oil exports of 1,370 barrels per day. There were no imports or demand for natural gas in 2004.

Suriname's electric power generating capacity in 2002 totaled 0.389 million kW, of which 0.200 million kW of capacity was dedicated to conventional thermal plants. Hydropower capacity accounted for 0.189 million kW. Electric power output in 2002 amounted to 1.984 billion kWh, of which 1.500 million kWh came from hydroelectric sources and 0.484 billion kWh came from fossil fuel-burning plants. Demand for electricity in 2002 totaled 1.845 billion kWh.

INDUSTRY

The major industries are bauxite and gold mining, alumina and aluminum production, lumber, and food processing. Industry accounted for 22% of GDP in 2001.

The bauxite industry, which accounts for about 15% of GDP and 70% of export revenue, has developed into a complex of factories, workshops, power stations, laboratories, hospitals, recreational facilities, residential areas, and sports grounds. Depressed world prices for bauxite and alumina in the recent past have reduced the industry's development. In 2005, Suriname Aluminum (Suralco), a wholly-owned Alcoa subsidiary, announced it had completed the 250,000-metric-ton-per-year expansion of its alumina refinery in Paranam. The facility now has a capacity of 2.2 million metric tons per year of alumina. Suralco and an affiliate of BHP Billiton own 55% and 45%, respectively, of the Paranam facility.

The long-term future of the mining industry depends on the companies' ability to keep production costs low and competitive, the availability of financing to exploit new reserves, and on the consolidation of peace in the country's interior. Because mineral rights are still vested in the state, exploration rights are granted by the government. The Canadian company Golden Star started mining for gold in Suriname in 1992. Proven and probable oil reserves in Suriname are estimated at 166 billion barrels. The State Oil Company of Suriname, or Staatsolie, produced 12,000 barrels per day in 2005. Staatsolie is actively seeking international joint venture partners. Suriname has one oil refinery.

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Research centers and scientific societies in Suriname include the Center for Agricultural Research in Suriname (founded in 1965), Geological Mining Service (founded in 1943), and the Agricultural Experiment Station of the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry, and Fisheries (founded in 1903), all in Paramaribo. The University of Suriname, founded in 1968 at Paramaribo, has faculties of medicine and technology.

DOMESTIC TRADE

There are a few supermarkets and department stores, but most urban trade is conducted in small shops. Most trade in rural areas is conducted in open markets. A few American fast-food franchises have opened in the country in recent years. Price controls are applied to a number of goods. Credit cards are not widely accepted.

The ITIFAS trade fair, held in October, serves as an annual showcase for Surinamese products. Suri-Flora, held every April, is a major exhibition for horticulture and agriculture.

Business hours are Monday through Friday, 7:30 am to 4:30 pm and from 7:30 am to 12:30 pm on Saturdays. Banks are open weekdays from 7:30 am to 2 or 3 pm.

FOREIGN TRADE

In 2005, exports of alumina accounted for more than 70% of export earnings. Other exports include gold, rice, shrimp, wood products, and bananas. On the black market, Suriname is a large exporter of cocaine, especially to the Netherlands.

The US is Suriname's most important trading partner, although Norway is Suriname's largest export market. In 2004, Suriname's

Country Exports Imports Balance
World 514.0 526.5 -12.5
Norway 116.9 116.9
United States 103.5 139.9 -36.4
Netherlands 72.4 120.5 -48.1
France-Monaco 47.6 2.9 44.7
Canada 40.4 9.0 31.4
United Kingdom 30.5 5.2 25.3
Japan 21.0 41.0 -20.0
Trinidad and Tobago 18.4 90.4 -72.0
Guyana 10.6 9.0 1.6
Areas nes 7.4 0.1 7.3
() data not available or not significant.

primary export partners were: Norway (29.4%), the United States (15.2%), Canada (12.5%), Belgium (10.3%), France (8.4%), and the United Arab Emirates (6.2%). That year, Suriname's principal import partners were: the United States (26.2%), the Netherlands (19.3%), Trinidad and Tobago (13.5%), Japan (6.6%), China (4.6%), and Brazil (4.2%).

BALANCE OF PAYMENTS

Suriname runs a persistent deficit on current accounts, which has generally been offset by development aid, mainly from the Netherlands, Belgium, and the EU. Remittances from some 200,000 Surinamese expatriates in the Netherlands are not apparent in the balance of payments because they are usually exchanged in the parallel market. In 1989, lower profitability in the bauxite sector led to a decline in remittances which was not offset by investment

Current Account -159.0
   Balance on goods 29.8
     Imports -458.0
     Exports 487.8
   Balance on services -135.6
   Balance on income -48.5
   Current transfers -4.7
Capital Account 9.0
Financial Account -36.5
   Direct investment abroad
   Direct investment in Suriname -76.1
   Portfolio investment assets
   Portfolio investment liabilities
   Financial derivatives
   Other investment assets 46.9
   Other investment liabilities 46.9
Net Errors and Omissions 193.7
Reserves and Related Items -7.2
() data not available or not significant.

inflows, resulting in the first capital account surplus in many years. Foreign exchange reserves grew by 110%; from $10 million in 1989 to $21 million in 1990. Unfortunately, these reserves were squandered by the interim government during its nine-month rule and had fallen close to zero by July 1993. Suriname had a surplus of $66 million by 1996, but this figure declined to $25 million in 1997 and a deficit in 1998 due to a lack of development aid. Alumina accounts for 70% of export earnings. Suriname's external debt stood at $321 million in 2002. Brazil and China are the largest debt holders. In 2004, the value of Suriname's exports was estimated at $881 million, and imports were valued at $750 million.

BANKING AND SECURITIES

Since 1 April 1957, the Central Bank of Suriname has acted as the bank of issue. Other banks include the ABN-Amro (Dutch), De Surinaamsche Bank (majority-owned by the ABN-Amro), and Hakrinbank.

In 1998, the exchange rate separated into multiple rates, leading to a 40% currency devaluation in January 1999. According to the government, cocaine sold by Surinamese shippers was confiscated by Dutch authorities, causing a currency flow problem. The International Monetary Fund reports that in 2001, currency and demand depositsan aggregate commonly known as M1were equal to $181.1 million. In that same year, M2an aggregate equal to M1 plus savings deposits, small time deposits, and money market mutual fundswas $263.5 million.

INSURANCE

Both Dutch and foreign insurance companies operate in Suriname.

PUBLIC FINANCE

For years the Suriname budget operated with a deficit. Government revenues increased somewhat following the introduction of a new bauxite levy in 1974. During the 1980s, however, the military regime in power increased government intervention and participation in the economy, causing public employment and budget deficits to soar. The return to civilian government in 1991 enticed the Dutch government to resume its development aid program, which amounted to $200 million by 1996. Reforms enacted included the reduction of deficit spending, the renunciation of monetary creation as a means of financing deficits, and the deregulation of trade and business licensing systems. The Netherlands halted development aid in 1997, but resumed it again 1998. As of 2005, the Netherlands' government agreed to continue providing aid to Suriname.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) estimated that in 2003 Suriname's central government took in revenues of approximately $400 million and had expenditures of $440 million. Revenues minus expenditures totaled approximately -$40 million. Total external debt was $321 million.

TAXATION

Direct taxes provide only a small portion of governmental revenues and payments have been in arrears for years. By far the greatest tax sources are the bauxite-related industries. Companies are taxed on the sum of all net profits. The standard corporate income tax rate is 36%. Capital gains are taxed at the corporate rate, while dividends are subject to a withholding tax of 25%. There is no tax on interest or royalty income. All the operating costs of a company are tax deductible, at set rates for certain equipment. The main indirect tax is Suriname's value-added tax (VAT). As of 1 December 2002, the basic rate for goods was raised from 8% to 10%, and the basic rate for services, from 7% to 8%. Staple foods are exempt from VAT.

CUSTOMS AND DUTIES

Suriname became a full member of CARICOM in 1995, and as of 2005, its tariffs were in accordance with the CARICOM Common External Tariff duties. Imported goods are subject to a turnover tax of 10%, with an 8% rate for services. Pharmaceutical products used to treat infectious diseases are admitted duty and tax free. Other pharmaceutical products are subject to a tax of 15%. Luxury goods such as weapons and ammunition, dishwashers, and motorcycles are subject to a 25% luxury tax. Cigarettes and tobacco are subject to an excise tax of 100%. Spirits are taxed at 45%, while beer and other alcoholic beverages are subject to a tax of 30% and 10%, respectively. Excise taxes are based upon the CIF (cost, insurance, freight) value plus the duty, excluding the turnover tax. There are no free trade zones.

FOREIGN INVESTMENT

By 2006, Suriname had updated its investment code, and slow progress was being made on eliminating disincentives to foreign investment. Bureaucratic delays are rife, however. Economic and business relations with the United States are very important to this nation. US firms operating in Suriname include Suralco, the bauxite company, Exxon, Texaco, IBM, and the insurance firm, Alico. In addition, Suriname is highly dependent on relations with the Dutch government.

Foreign investment during the 1990s included gold mining by the Canadian company Golden Star, and Japanese shrimp farming by the company Sujafi.

In terms of its success in attracting foreign direct investment (FDI), Suriname was at the bottom of the list of 140 countries surveyed by UNCTAD for 198890 and 19982000. During the five years from 1997 to 2001, reverse divestment exceeded the inflow of new FDI every year except 1998, when net FDI inflow amounted to $9.1 million. Divestment was -$9.2 million in 1997, and reached -$61.5 million in 1999 and -$148 million in 2000. In 2001, net divestment of FDI in Suriname was -$66.9 million. The investment climate improved over the 200304 period.

As of 2006, the government was planning to privatize the state-owned banana company, and to liberalize the telecommunications sector. The top corporate tax rate is 36%.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

In wholesale, retail, and foreign trade, the government has been highly interventionist. Quota restrictions or outright bans on many imported items considered nonessential or in competition with local products have been announced. The government forced price rollbacks on domestic items and imposed price controls on essential imports, resulting in some shortages.

Although the government has been Socialist in principle since 1981, it refrained from nationalizing key industries, although it did increase its participation in them. The Action Program announced by the government in 1982 called for the encouragement of small-scale industry, establishment of industrial parks, development of rural electrification and water supply projects, liberalization of land distribution, and worker participation in management of government enterprises.

In 1975, the Netherlands promised Suriname $110 million annually in grants and loans, for a period of 1015 years. This aid program and $1.5 million in aid authorized by the United States in September 1982 were suspended following the killings of prominent Surinamese in December 1982. In 1983, Brazil and Suriname reached agreement on a trade and aid package, reportedly underwritten by the United States. By 1986, Suriname had signed trade agreements with several countries, among them the Netherlands.

As of 1994, Suriname was undergoing a comprehensive structural adjustment program (SAP). This program, recommended by the EC (now EU), was designed to establish the conditions for sustained growth of output and employment with relative stability of prices, a viable balance of payments, and protection of the low-income population. However, only minimal progress toward restructuring was initially accomplished. Enacting the full SAP in its proper sequence was hoped to improve the prospects for the Surinamese economy and living conditions into the new millennium. However, the SAP was abandoned in 1996 in favor of a National Reconstruction Plan.

In 2000, the Netherlands announced their aid package would be disbursed by sectoral priorities, as opposed to individual projects. The government was not in favor of this approach, but began to cooperate. Suriname's economic situation deteriorated from 1996 to 2001. Inflation grew from 0.5% at the end of 1996 to 113% at the end of 1999, in part due to loose governmental fiscal policies, and a soaring parallel market for foreign exchange. This, along with an unstable exchange rate, and falling real incomes, led to a political crisis. The new government elected in 2000 devalued the official exchange rate by 88%, raised tariffs on water and electricity, and eliminated the subsidy on gasoline. The inflation rate had fallen to 22% in 2002, and a new law was enacted, placing a 60% ceiling on the ratio of total government debt to gross domestic product (GDP). The large fiscal deficit had been eliminated, the exchange rate was stabilized, and investor and donor confidence was reviving.

As of 2006, the economic situation and investment climate had improved. Suriname is faced with the decision to follow responsible monetary and fiscal policies and to introduce structural reforms to liberalize markets and promote competition. The 2005 presidential elections were won once again by Ronald Venetiaan, who raised taxes and attempted to control spending. The Dutch government in 2005 agreed to restart the flow of aid, which will allow Suriname to access international development financing, but the Dutch planned to phase out financing over the following five years. The government is open to plans to further develop the bauxite and gold mining sectors. The opening of the Gross Rosbel gold mine is expected to boost exports and GDP growth. An onshore oil drilling program is underway, and prospects look good. In 2004, offshore oil drilling was aided by an exploration agreement signed by the state oil company (Staatsolie) with Repsol and Mearsk. In 2004, the government introduced a new currency, the Surinamese dollar, to replace the guilder.

SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT

Organized welfare programs are conducted largely by private initiative, through ethnic or religious associations. However, the government has begun to establish a social welfare system designed eventually to include a free national health service.

Women have full legal rights under the law, but discrimination in hiring and salary practices persists. Opportunities for women remain limited as a result of traditional attitudes that encourage women to stay at home. This attitude is especially prevalent in rural areas. As of 2004, the government has not made specific efforts to combat economic inequality. Spousal abuse and other forms of violence against women are widespread social problems, and the government has not addressed these issues.

Amerindians in Suriname have traditionally played only a limited role in decisions affecting their land and culture. Although Suriname's human rights record has improved, some abuses continue to be committed. These include the mistreatment of detainees, the abuse of prisoners, and overcrowding of jails. Pretrial detainees still constitute a large percentage of all prisoners. Nongovernmental organizations are permitted to monitor the conditions of prisons.

HEALTH

Suriname's largest hospital is the Academic Hospital, which had 402 beds and has the country's only emergency unit. Other hospitals included the 227-bed Diakonessen Hospital, 75-bed Nickerie Hospital, and the Military Hospital. The 280-bed Psychiatric Hospital provided mental health care. In 2004, there were an estimated 45 doctors per 100,000 people. Safe water was available to 89% of the population. Health care expenditures totaled 5% of GDP.

In 2002, Suriname's estimated birth rate was 20 per 1,000 people. The infant mortality rate was estimated at 23.57 per 1,000 live births in 2005. Average life expectancy was estimated at 68.96 years and the total fertility rate at 2.4 children per woman. The mortality rate for children under five years of age was 8.7 per 1,000. Overall mortality was 5.7 per 1,000 in 2002. The immunization rates for a child under one were as follows: diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus, 85%; polio, 81%; and measles, 81%.

Tuberculosis, malaria, and syphilis, once the chief causes of death, have been controlled. The HIV/AIDS prevalence was 1.70 per 100 adults in 2003. As of 2004, there were approximately 5,200 people living with HIV/AIDS in the country. There were an estimated 500 deaths from AIDS in 2003.

HOUSING

Housing programs are supervised by the Department of Social Affairs. As of 1 July 1980 there were 68,141 inhabited houses in Suriname and 8,208 huts; 82.3% of living quarters had electricity. Between 1988 and 1990, 82% of the urban and 94% of the rural population had access to a public water supply, while 64% of urban dwellers and 36% of rural dwellers had sanitation services. As of late 2005, the results of the 2004 population and housing census had not yet been published. However, a Habitat for Humanity report indicated that the housing deficit stood at about 20,000 units. The country has about 90,000 households.

EDUCATION

Education is compulsory for all children ages 6 through 16. While primary education lasts for six years, secondary education has two phasesfour years followed by three years. Free primary education is offered by the government and by Roman Catholic and Protestant mission schools. The official school language is Dutch.

In 2001, about 96% of children between the ages of four and five were enrolled in some type of preschool program. Primary school enrollment in 2003 was estimated at about 97% of age-eligible students. The same year, secondary school enrollment was about 64% of age-eligible students; 54% for boys and 74% for girls. It is estimated that about 74% of all students complete their primary education. The student-to-teacher ratio for primary school was at about 20:1 in 2003; the ratio for secondary school was about 15:1. In 2003, private schools accounted for about 47.8% of primary school enrollment and 21.3% of secondary enrollment.

Higher education is provided by five teacher-training colleges, five technical schools, the Academy for Higher Art and Culture, and the University of Suriname, with its Law School and a Medical Science Institute. The Polytechnic College of Suriname was established in 1994. There is also a dental school and a nursing school. Higher education is free of charge to citizens. The adult literacy rate for 2004 was estimated at about 88%, with 92.3% for men and 84.1% for women.

LIBRARIES AND MUSEUMS

The main public library is at the Stichting Cultureel Centrum in Paramaribo, with 850,000 volumes, seven branches, and two bookmobiles. The Anton de Kom University in Paramaribo has 51,000 volumes and serves as a depository library for the United Nations. The library of parliament is also in Paramaribo. The Suriname Museum and the Natural History Museum are in Paramaribo. There is an open-air museum in Nieuw Amsterdam, with historical exhibits based at an 18th century fort.

MEDIA

Nearly all the towns and villages have telephone connections. In 2003, there were 79,800 mainline phones and 168,100 mobile phones in us throughout the country. In 2004, there were 14 television stations and 25 radio stations. Two television stations and two radio stations were publicly owned. Broadcasts are available in Dutch, English, Hindi, Portuguese, Spanish, and some local languages. In 1997, 668 radios and 137 television receivers were in use for every 1,000 people. In 2002, there were 20,000 Internet users. There were 18 Internet hosts in 2003.

There were two privately owned daily newspapers in 2005: the Dutch-language De Ware Tijd (circulation 10,000 in 2002) and De West (circulation 15,000 in 2002). The constitution provides for freedom of speech and of the press, and the government is said to generally respect these rights.

ORGANIZATIONS

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry is located in Paramaribo.

Youth organizations in Suriname include the YWCA/YWCA, Girl Scouts, and Boy Scouts. The Bouterse government established the National Women's Organization and the Suriname Youth Union. There are several sports associations in the country representing such pastimes as tennis, tae kwon do, weightlifting, badminton, and football (soccer); many sports associations are affiliated with international counterparts.

Volunteer service organizations, such as the Lions Clubs and Kiwanis International, are also present. The Father Ahlbrinck Foundation promotes development programs for the Amerindian and Bush Negro communities in central Suriname. The National Forum of Nongovernmental Organizations Against Poverty and for Sustainable Development was formed in 1992. There are national chapters of the Red Cross Society and Habitat for Humanity.

TOURISM, TRAVEL, AND RECREATION

Tourism is a growing industry in Suriname. The government is the main support encouraging ecotourism and increasing tourism facilities. Sports are the primary source of recreation, with football (soccer), basketball, and cricket being the most popular. Visitors also fish in the Suriname and Saramacca Rivers. The brilliant flora and fauna are shown off on dugout canoe jungle trips, and Paramaribo is becoming more popular with its wooden architecture and market.

A vaccination certificate against yellow fever is required if traveling from an infected country. All visitors must have a valid passport and onward/return ticket. Visas are required for all foreign nationals except citizens of Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Gambia, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Netherlands Antilles, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, Venezuela, and citizens of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM)

In 2004, the US Department of State estimated the daily cost of staying in Suriname at $183.

FAMOUS SURINAMESE

Lt. Col. Désiré ("Dési") Bouterse (b.1945) led the coup of February 1980, and is perhaps the most controversial figure in the history of independent Suriname.

DEPENDENCIES

Suriname has no territories or colonies.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Buckman, Robert T. Latin America, 2005. 39th ed. Harpers Ferry, W.Va.: Stryker-Post, 2005.

Calvert, Peter. A Political and Economic Dictionary of Latin America. Philadelphia: Routledge/Taylor and Francis, 2004.

Dew, Edward M. The Trouble in Suriname, 1975-1993. Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 1994.

Health in the Americas, 2002 edition. Washington, D.C.: Pan American Health Organization, Pan American Sanitary Bureau, Regional Office of the World Health Organization, 2002.

Heenan, Patrick and Monique Lamontagne (eds.). The South America Handbook. Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2002.

Price, Richard (ed.). Maroon Societies. 3rd ed. Baltimore, Md.: John Hopkins University Press, 1996.

West-Duran. African Caribbeans: A Reference Guide. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood, 2003.

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Suriname

PROFILE
PEOPLE
HISTORY
GOVERNMENT
NATIONAL SECURITY
ECONOMY
FOREIGN RELATIONS
U.S.-SURINAMESE RELATIONS
TRAVEL

Compiled from the January 2008 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:

Republic of Suriname

PROFILE

Geography

Area: 163,194 sq. km. (63,037 sq. mi.); slightly larger than Georgia.

Cities: Capital—Paramaribo (pop. 242,946). Other cities—Nieuw Nickerie, Moengo, Brownsweg, Albina.

Terrain: Rain forest, savanna, coastal swamps, hills.

Climate: Tropical.

People

Nationality: Noun—Surinamer(s). Adjective—Surinamese.

Population: (2004 census) 492,829.

Annual growth rate: (2004) 1.30%.

Ethnic groups: Hindustani (East Indian) 27%, Creole 18%, Javanese 15%, Maroon 15%, Mixed 12.5%, Amerindians 3.7%, Chinese 1.8% (percentages from 2004 census).

Religions: Hindu, Muslim, Roman Catholic, Dutch Reformed, Moravian, several other Christian denominations, Jewish, Baha'i.

Languages: Dutch (official), English, Sranan Tongo (Creole language), Hindustani, Javanese.

Education: Years compulsory—ages 6-12. Literacy—90%.

Health: Infant mortality rate (2004)—7 per 1,000. Life expectancy (2003)—71 yrs.

Work force: (100,000) Government—35%; private sector—41%; parastatal companies—10%; unemployed—14%.

Government

Type: Constitutional democracy.

Constitution: September 30, 1987.

Independence: November 25, 1975.

Government branches: Executive—president, vice president, Council of Ministers. Legislative—elected 51-member National Assembly made up of representatives of political parties. Judicial—Court of Justice.

Political subdivisions: 10 districts.

Political parties: Governing coalition—National Party of Suriname (NPS); Progressive Reform Party (VHP); Pertjaja Luhur; A—Combination, a coalition of General Interior Development Party (ABOP), Brotherhood and Unity in Politics (BEP), and Seeka; Suriname Workers Party (SPA); Democratic Alternative '91 (DA' 91). Other parties in the National Assembly—National Democratic Party (NDP), Democratic National Platform 2000 (DNP 2000), Alternative 1 (Al), Party for Renewal and Development (BVD), Javanese Indonesian Peasants Party (KTPI).

Suffrage: Universal at 18.

Economy

GDP: (2007 est.) U.S. $2.23 billion (Source: IMF).

Annual growth rate real GDP: (2006 est.) 5.8%.

Per capita GDP: (2006 est.) U.S. $4,000.

Inflation: (2006) 5.6%.

Natural resources: Bauxite, gold, oil, iron ore, other minerals; forests; hydroelectric potential; fish and shrimp.

Agriculture: Products—rice, bananas, timber, and citrus fruits.

Industry: Types—alumina, oil, gold, fish, shrimp, lumber.

Trade: (Source: IMF) Exports (2006)— US $1.391 billion: alumina, gold, crude oil, wood and wood products, rice, bananas, fish, and shrimp. Major markets (2005) —Norway (23.9%), U.S. (16.8%), Canada (16.4%), France (8.1%), Iceland (2.9%). Imports (2006)—US $1.2 billion: capital equipment, petroleum, iron and steel products, agricultural products, and consumer goods. Major suppliers (2005)—U.S. (24.4%), Netherlands (14.5%), Trinidad and Tobago (10.5%), Japan (4.3%), China (5.4%), Brazil (3.6%).

PEOPLE

Most Surinamese live in the narrow, northern coastal plain. The population is one of the most ethnically diverse 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 schools and the workplace.

HISTORY

Arawak and Carib tribes lived in the region before Columbus sighted the coast in 1498. Spain officially claimed the area in 1593, but Spanish and Portuguese explorers of the time gave the area little attention. Dutch settlement began in 1616 at the mouths of several rivers between present-day Georgetown, Guyana, and Cayenne, French Guiana.

Suriname became a Dutch colony in 1667. The new colony, Dutch Guiana, did not thrive. Historians cite several reasons for this, including Holland's preoccupation with its more extensive (and profitable) East Indian territories, violent conflict between whites and native tribes, and frequent uprisings by the imported slave population, which was often treated with extraordinary cruelty. Barely, if at all, assimilated into plantation society, many of the slaves fled to the interior, where they maintained a West African culture and established the five major Bush Negro tribes in existence today: the Djuka, Saramaccaner, Matuwari, Paramaccaner, and Quinti.

Plantations steadily declined in importance as labor costs rose. Rice, bananas, and citrus fruits replaced the traditional crops of sugar, coffee, and cocoa. Exports of gold rose beginning in 1900. The Dutch government gave little financial support to the colony. Suriname's economy was transformed in the years following World War I, when an American firm (ALCOA) began exploiting bauxite deposits in East Suriname. Bauxite processing and then alumina production began in 1916. During World War II, more than 75% of U.S. bauxite imports came from Suriname.

In 1951, Suriname began to acquire a growing measure of autonomy from the Netherlands. Suriname became an autonomous part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands on December 15, 1954, and gained independence, with Dutch consent, on November 25, 1975.

Most of Suriname's political parties took shape during the autonomy period and were overwhelmingly based on ethnicity. For example, the National Party of Suriname found its support among the Creoles, the Progressive Reform Party members came from the Hindustani population, and the Indonesian Peasant's Party was Javanese. Other smaller parties found support by appealing to voters on an ideological or pro-independence platform; the Partij Nationalistische Republiek (PNR) was among the most important. Its members pressed most strongly for independence and for the introduction of leftist political and economic measures. Many former PNR members would go on to play a key role following the coup of February 1980.

Suriname was a parliamentary democracy in the years immediately following independence. Henk Arron became the first Prime Minister and was re-elected in 1977. On February 25, 1980, 16 noncommissioned officers overthrew the elected government, which many accused of inefficiency and mismanagement. The military-dominated government then suspended the constitution, dissolved the legislature, and formed a regime that ruled by decree. Although a civilian filled the post of president, a military man, Desi Bouterse, actually ruled the country.

Throughout 1982, pressure grew for a return to civilian rule. In early December 1982, military authorities cracked down, arresting and killing 15 prominent opposition leaders, including journalists, lawyers, and trade union leaders.

Following the murders, the United States and the Netherlands suspended economic and military cooperation with the Bouterse regime, which increasingly began to follow an erratic but often leftist-oriented political course. The regime restricted the press and limited the rights of its citizens. The economy declined rapidly after the suspension of economic aid from the Netherlands.

Continuing economic decline brought pressure for change. During the 1984-87 period, the Bouterse regime tried to end the crisis by appointing a succession of nominally civilian-led cabinets. Many figures in the government came from the traditional political parties that had been shoved aside during the coup. The military eventually agreed to free elections in 1987, a new constitution, and a civilian government.

Another pressure for change had erupted in July 1986, when a Maroon insurgency, led by former soldier Ronnie Brunswijk, began attacking economic targets in the country's interior. In response, the army ravaged villages and killed suspected Brunswijk supporters. Thousands of Maroons fled to nearby French Guiana. In an effort to end the bloodshed, the Surinamese Government negotiated a peace treaty, called the Kourou Accord, with Brunswijk in 1989. However, Bouterse and other military leaders blocked the accord's implementation.

On December 24, 1990, military officers forced the resignations of the civilian President and Vice President elected in 1987. Military-selected replacements were hastily approved by the National Assembly on December 29. Faced with mounting pressure from the U.S., other nations, the Organization of American States (OAS), and other international organizations, the government held new elections on May 25, 1991. The New Front (NF) Coalition, comprised of the Creole-based National Party of Suriname (NPS), the Hindustani-based Progressive Reform Party (VHP), the Javanese-based Indonesian Peasants Party (KTPI), and the labor-oriented Surinamese Workers Party (SPA) were able to win a majority in the National Assembly. On September 6, 1991, NPS candidate Ronald Venetiaan was elected President, and the VHP's Jules Ajodhia became Vice President.

The Venetiaan government was able to effect a settlement to Suriname's domestic insurgency through the August 1992 Peace Accord with Bush Negro and Amerindian rebels. In April 1993, Desi Bouterse left his position as commander of the armed forces and was replaced by Arthy Gorre, a military officer committed to bringing the armed forces under civilian government control. Economic reforms instituted by the Venetiaan government eventually helped curb inflation, unify the official and unofficial exchange rates, and improve the government's economic situation by re-establishing relations with the Dutch, thereby opening the way for a major influx of Dutch financial assistance.

Despite these successes, the governing coalition lost support and failed to retain control of the government in the subsequent round of national elections. The rival National Democratic Party (NDP), founded in the early 1990s by Desi Bouterse, benefited from the New Front government's loss of popularity. The NDP won more National Assembly seats (16 of 51) than any other party in the May 1996 national elections, and in September, 1996, joined with the KTPI, dissenters from the VHP, and several smaller parties to elect NDP vice chairman Jules Wijdenbosch president of an NDP-led coalition government. Divisions and subsequent reshufflings of coalition members in the fall of 1997 and early 1998 weakened the coalition's mandate and slowed legislative action.

In May 1999, after mass demonstrations protesting poor economic conditions, the government was forced to call early elections. The elections in May 2000 returned Ronald Venetiaan and his New Front coalition to the presidency. The NF based its campaign on a platform to fix the falter-

ing Surinamese economy. In the national election held on May 25, 2005, the ruling NF coalition suffered a significant setback due to widespread dissatisfaction with the state of the economy and the public perception that the NF had produced few tangible gains. The NF won just 23 seats, falling short of a majority in the National Assembly, and immediately entered into negotiations with the Maroon-based “A” Combination and the A-1 Coalition to form a working majority. Desi Bouterse's NDP more than doubled its representation in the National Assembly, winning 15 seats. Bouterse, the NDP's declared presidential candidate, withdrew from the race days before the National Assembly convened to vote for the next president and tapped his running mate, Rabin Parmessar, to run as the NDP's candidate. In the National Assembly, the NF challenged Parmessar's Surinamese citizenship, displaying copies of a Dutch passport issued to Parmessar in 2004. Parmessar was eventually allowed to stand for election, and parliament later confirmed his Surinamese citizenship. After two votes, no candidate received the required two-thirds majority, pushing the final decision in August 2005 to a special session of the United People's Assembly, where President Venetiaan was reelected with a significant majority of votes from the local, district, and national assembly members gathered. His running mate, Ramdien Sardjoe, was elected as vice president. While the Venetiaan administration has made progress in stabilizing the economy, tensions within the coalition have impeded progress and stymied legislative action.

Long-anticipated legal proceedings began in November 2007 with the issuance of summonses to 25 defendants accused of participating in the December 8, 1982 murders of 15 political opponents of the former military-dominated government. The court martial tribunal convened on November 30 and met again on December 17. A series of preliminary motions and hearings will precede the actual start of the trial.

GOVERNMENT

The Republic of Suriname is a constitutional democracy based on the 1987 constitution. The legislative branch of government consists of a 51-member unicameral National Assembly, simultaneously and popularly elected for a 5-year term.

The executive branch is headed by the president, who is elected by a two-thirds majority of the National Assembly or, failing that, by a majority of the People's Assembly for a 5-year term. 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. A vice president, normally elected at the same time as the president, needs a simple majority in the National Assembly or People's Assembly to be elected for a 5-year term. As head of government, the president appoints a cabinet of ministers. There is no constitutional provision for removal or replacement of the president unless he resigns.

A 15-member State Advisory Council advises the president in the conduct of policy. Eleven of the 15 council seats are allotted by proportional representation of all political parties represented in the National Assembly. The president chairs the council; two seats are allotted to representatives of labor, and two are allotted to employers' organizations.

The judiciary is headed by the Court of Justice (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.

The country is divided into 10 administrative districts, each headed by a district commissioner appointed by the president. The commissioner is similar to the governor of a U.S. State but serves at the president's pleasure.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 2/1/2008

Pres.: Ronald VENETIAAN

Vice Pres.: Ramdien SARDJOE

Min. of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry, & Fisheries: Kermechend RAGHOEBARSINGH

Min. of Defense: Ivan FERNALD

Min. of Education & Human Development: Edwin WOLF

Min. of Finance: Humphrey HILDENBERG

Min. of Foreign Affairs: Lygia KRAAG-KETELDIJK

Min. of Health: Celcius WATERBERG

Min. of Home Affairs: Urmila JOELLA-SEWNUNDUN

Min. of Interior: Maurits HASSANKHAN

Min. of Justice & Police: Chandrikapersad SANTHOKI

Min. of Labor: Clifford MARICA

Min. of Natural Resources: Gregory RUSLAND

Min. of Planning & Development Cooperation: Rick Van RAVENS WAAY

Min. of Public Works: Ganeshkoemar KANHAI

Min. of Regional Development: Michel FELISIE

Min. of Social Affairs & Housing: Hendrik SETROWIDJOJO

Min. of Trade & Industry:

Min. of Transportation, Communication, & Tourism: Guno CASTELEN

Min. of Zoning: Michael JONG TJIEN FA

Pres., Central Bank: Andre TELTING

Ambassador to the US: Henry ILLES

Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Ewald Wensley LIMON

Suriname maintains an embassy in the United States at 4301 Connecticut Ave, NW, Suite 460, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-244-7488; fax 202-244-5878). There also is a Suriname consulate general at 7235 NW 19th St., Suite A, Miami, FL 33136 (tel. 305-593-2163).

NATIONAL SECURITY

Surinamese armed forces consist of the national army under the control of the Minister of Defense and a smaller civil police force, which is responsible to the Minister of Justice and Police. The national armed forces comprise some 2,200 personnel, the majority of whom are deployed as light infantry security forces. A small air force, navy, and military police also exist. The Netherlands has provided limited military assistance to the Surinamese armed forces since the election of a democratic government in 1991.

In recent years, the U.S. has provided training to military officers and policymakers to promote a better understanding of the role of the military in a civilian government, and also offers significant humanitarian aid. Since the mid-1990s, the People's Republic of China has been donating military equipment and logistical material to the Surinamese Armed Forces. The Netherlands, France, Venezuela, and Brazil also have working relationships with the Surinamese military. Suriname's borders are porous; largely uninhabited, unguarded, and ungoverned rain forest and rivers make up the eastern, western, and southern borders, and the navy's capability to police Suriname's north-ernAtlantic coast is limited. Protecting natural resources from illegal exploitation such as unlicensed gold mining is difficult, and significant tax revenue is lost. Porous borders also make Suriname a target for transshipment of drugs. Since 2000, arrests and prosecutions of drug smugglers have increased, partially due to funding and training for police capacity through the U.S. State Department Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement.

ECONOMY

Suriname's economy has been dominated by the exports of alumina, oil, and gold. Other export products include bananas, shrimp and fish, rice, and lumber. In 2006 alumina accounted for approximately 46.2% of total exports. Government income from the oil sector, however, has surpassed that of the bauxite/alumina sector. Suriname's bauxite deposits have been among the world's richest. Active in Suriname since 1916, SURALCO, a subsidiary of the Aluminum Company of America (ALCOA), has had a long-standing working relationship with the Australian-owned BHP Billiton.

After two years and an investment of approximately U.S. $130 million, BHP Billiton officially commenced its mining activities at the Kaaimangrasie and Klaverblad mines in 2006. These mines are expected to provide enough bauxite to cover the transition between the closing of the depleted Lelydorp Mine and the possible opening of a mine in the Bakhuis area with estimated reserves of 300 to 400 metric tons. Other proven reserves, sufficient to last until 2045, exist in the east, west, and north of the country. However, distance and topography make their immediate development costly. The government is currently in negotiations with SURALCO and BHP Billiton over the exploitation rights for the Bakhuis region. Parties expect to have a new bauxite agreement signed by 2008, with the companies commencing activities in that region in either 2010 or 2011.

The severe shortage of affordable energy sources has hampered Suriname's ability to expand its industries. This goes for the bauxite sector as well. Currently running on dieselleviate some of Suriname's energy woes, the state-owned oil company, Staatsolie, built a 14 megawatt (MW) diesel-generated energy plant in 2006. In its most recently updated expansion plan, the company intends to expand the capacity of the plant to 18 M

The gold mining sector is largely informal, unregulated, and small scale, but constitutes an important part of the informal economy (estimated at as much as 100% of GDP), and must be brought into the realm of tax and environmental authorities. In the official sector the Gross Rosebel Goldmines, wholly owned by the Canadian firm IAMGOLD, commemenced its operations in 2004 and immediately positioned itself as the most productive and low-cost of all mines owned by IAMGOLD. A new player in the Surinamese gold sector is the U.S. firm Newmont Mining Corporation. Working in a joint venture with SURALCO, the company has indicated that it will be seeking a production license from the Government of Suriname by 2008. Newmont wants to be operational by 2010. The reserves in the company's concession area are estimated to be 300 million troy ounces.

Suriname has also attracted the attention of international companies interested in extensive development of a tropical hardwoods industry and possible diamond mining. However, proposals for exploitation of the country's tropical forests and undeveloped regions of the interior traditionally inhabited by indigenous and Maroon communities have raised the concerns of environmentalists and human rights activists in Suriname and abroad.

The sector with the most promising outlook for rapid, near future expansion is the oil sector. A 2000 study by the U.S. Geological Survey suggests that there may be up 15 billion barrels of oil in the Guyana Plateau. The state-owned oil company, Staatsolie, is by law the only company with the right to operate in Suriname's oil sector. Other companies can only access the market through production sharing agreements with Staatsolie. With its current output at 14,000 barrels per day (bpd), Staatsolie announced a robust expansion plan titled “Vision 2020” that will seek to expand output to 18,000 bpd by 2012. Staatsolie also plans to expand its onshore exploration research in order to increase reserves by 30 million barrels per five years. In order to reach this goal, the company signed a production sharing agreement with the Australian company Hardman Resources. Staatsolie further intends to establish and develop near shore reserves. In its offshore activities the company signed a production sharing agreements with the Spanish Repsol YPF (2004), the Danish Maersk Oil (2004), and the American Occidental Petroleum Corporation (2005). A second U.S. firm, Murphy Corporation, is expected to sign a production sharing agreement with Staatsolie for offshore activities. Staatsolie expects 2008 to become the high point for Suriname's offshore oil activities, with Repsol YPF drilling its first test well. In its “Vision 2020” Staatsolie also announced major expansion plans for its downstream market. The company wants to expand its refining capacity from 7,000 bpd to 15,000 bpd. Staatsolie also plans to put up its own retail business.

In an effort to address the problem of Suriname's ailing 110 parastatals, the government has introduced a plan that would strengthen them, after which they would be privatized. The first parastatals chosen for this experiment were the banana company, Surland, the wood processing company, Bruynzeel, and the rice company, SML. After closing for more than seven months in 2002, the banana company was reopened under the new name SBBS. After an initial attempt to privatize the company failed in 2005, the government continued the restructuring of the company. With heavy financing from the European Union the company has been revitalized, but is not yet out of debt. In 2006 SBBS produced and exported at record quantities. The management of the company is currently in the hands of a French company. The government has not announced any new plans for privatizing the company. The privatization attempt of the wood processing company, Bruynzeel, has failed. After months of negotiations, a memorandum of understanding, a letter of intent, and opposition protests against the deal, the government and the Dutch company Doorwin failed to reach an agreement on the terms of sale. The government is currently considering its options with this company. A British investment firm, the Emerald Investment Group, has expressed an interest in the company and has made a tentative offer to the government for Bruynzeel. The government has not indicated what it plans to do with the company. The restructuring of the heavily indebted rice company SML has failed. The company has also continuously been involved in legal proceedings brought by one of its largest creditors. In May 2007 the government announced that it would go ahead with the sale of the company. A call for proposals was published in the daily newspapers. Indications are that the government might go ahead and accept any bid that would cover the company's extensive debt.

FOREIGN RELATIONS

Since gaining independence, Suriname has become a member of the United Nations, the OAS, and the

Non-Aligned Movement. Suriname is a member of the Caribbean Community and Common Market and the Association of Caribbean States; it is associated with the European Union through the Lome Convention. The Netherlands remains Suriname's biggest donor, but it has been surpassed by the U.S. as a trade partner. Suriname participates in the Amazonian Pact, a grouping of the countries of the Amazon Basin that focuses on protection of the Amazon region's natural resources from environmental degradation. Reflecting its status as a major bauxite producer, Suriname is also a member of the International Bauxite Association. The country also belongs to the Economic Commission for Latin America, the Inter-American Development Bank, the International Finance Corporation, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund. Suriname became a member of the Islamic Development Bank in 1998.

At independence, Suriname signed an agreement with the Netherlands providing for about $1.5 billion in development assistance grants and loans over a 10-to 15-year period. Initial disbursements amounted to about $100 million per year, but were discontinued during military rule. After the return to a democratically elected government in 1991, Dutch aid resumed. The Dutch relationship continued to be an important factor in the economy; with the Dutch insisting that Suriname undertake economic reforms and produce specific plans acceptable to the Dutch for projects on which aid funds could be spent. In 2000, the Dutch revised the structure of their aid package and signaled to the Surinamese authorities their decision to disburse aid by sectoral priorities as opposed to individual projects. In 2001 both governmments agreed to spend the remaining development funds to finance programs in 6 different sectors: health care, education, environment, agriculture, housing and governance.

Relations with the Dutch have been complicated by Dutch prosecution of Desi Bouterse in absentia on drug charges, and by legal maneuvering by Dutch prosecutors trying to bring charges relating to the December 1982 murders. (A Dutch appellate court in 2000 found Bouterse guilty of one drug-related charge; the decision was upheld on appeal.)

Bilateral agreements with several countries of the region, covering diverse areas of cooperation, have underscored the government's interest in strengthening regional ties. The return to Suriname from French Guiana of about 8,000 refugees of the 1986-91 civil war between the military and domestic insurgents has improved relations with French authorities. Longstanding border disputes with Guyana and French Guiana remain unresolved. Negotiations with the Government of Guyana brokered by the Jamaican Prime Minister in 2000 did not produce an agreement, but the countries agreed to restart talks after Guyanese national elections in 2001. In January 2002, the presidents of Suriname and Guyana met in Suriname and agreed to resume negotiations, establishing the Suriname-Guyana border commission. In 2004 Guyana brought Suriname before the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea in the case regarding the maritime border dispute; a decision is expected in 2007. An earlier dispute with Brazil ended amicably after formal demarcation of the border.

U.S.-SURINAMESE RELATIONS

Since the reestablishment of a democratic, elected government in 1991, the United States has maintained positive and mutually beneficial relations with Suriname based on the principles of democracy, respect for human rights, rule of law, and civilian authority over the military. To further strengthen civil society and bolster democratic institutions, the U.S. has provided training regarding appropriate roles for the military in civil society to some of Suriname's military officers and decision makers. In addition, Narcotics trafficking organizations are channeling increasing quantities of cocaine through Suriname for repackaging and transport to Europe and the United States, and of ecstasy for transport to the United States. To assist Suriname in the fight against drugs and associated criminal activity, the U.S. has helped train Surinamese anti-drug squad personnel. The U.S. and Suriname also have significant partnerships in fighting trafficking in persons and money laundering.

Since 2000, the U.S. has donated a criminal records database to the police as well as computers, vehicles, and radio equipment. Projects through which the U.S. has supported the judicial system include case management and computer hardware donation. Along with training projects, these programs have led to a strong relationship with law enforcement entities in Suriname. The U.S. Peace Corps in Suriname works with the Ministry of Regional Development and rural communities to encourage community development in Suriname's interior.

Suriname is densely forested, and increased interest in large-scale commercial logging and mining in Suriname's interior have raised environmental concerns. The U.S. Forest Service, the Smithsonian, and numerous non-governmental environmental organizations have promoted technical cooperation with Suriname's government to prevent destruction of the country's tropical rain forest, one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world. U.S. experts have worked closely with local natural resource officials to encourage sustainable development of the interior and alternatives such as ecotourism. On December 1, 2000, UNESCO designated the 1.6-million hectare Central Suriname Nature Reserve a World Heritage site. Suriname's tourism sector remains a minor part of the economy, and tourist infrastructure is limited (in 2004, some 145,000 foreign tourists visited Suriname). Suriname's efforts in recent years to liberalize economic policy created new possibilities for U.S. exports and investments. The U.S. remains one of Suriname's principal trading partners, largely due to ALCOA's longstanding investment in Suriname's bauxite mining and processing industry. Several U.S. corporations represented by Surinamese firms acting as dealers are active in Suriname, largely in the mining, consumer goods, and service sectors. Principal U.S. exports to Suriname include chemicals, vehicles, machine parts, meat, and wheat. U.S. consumer products are increasingly available through Suriname's many trading companies. Opportunities for U.S. exporters, service companies, and engineering firms will probably expand over the next decade.

Suriname is looking to U.S. and other foreign investors to assist in the commercial development of its vast natural resources and to help finance infrastructure improvements. Enactment of a new investment code and intellectual property rights protection legislation which would strengthen Suriname's attractiveness to investors has been discussed; the investment law was approved by the National Assembly and is currently being revised by the Ministry of Finance.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

Last Updated: 2/19/2008

PARAMARIBO (E) Dr. Sophie Red-mondstraat 129, (597) 472900, Fax (597) 410972, INMARSAT Tel 011-871-1531423, Workweek: Mon-Fri, 0730-1600, Website: http://paramaribo.usembassy.gov.

AMB OMS:Aikens, Althena
HRO:Parvez Khan (Res. In Miami)
MGT:Lara M. Studzinski
POL ECO:Jesse Sanders
AMB:Lisa Bobbie Schreiber Hughes
CON:Wendy Webb
DCM:Thomas Genton
GSO:Anthony M. Via
RSO:Douglas C. Marvin
AGR:Jeffrey Willnow (Res.Caracas)
CLO:James Webb
DAO:MAJ Brian Butcher (Res.Brasilia)
DEA:Susan Nave
EEO:Vacant
FAA:Mayte Ashby (Res. Miami)
IMO:Joseph Cole
IRS:Frederick Dulas (Res.Mexico City)
ISSO:Abraham Adjei-Gbenda
LEGATT:Kevin Currier
MLO:Willard Tracey Green
POL:Andrew Utschig

Other Contact Information

U.S. Department of Commerce International Trade Administration

Office of Latin America and the Caribbean 14th and Constitution, NW Washington, DC 20230 Tel: 202-482-1658, 202-USA-TRADE Fax: 202-482-0464

Caribbean Central American Action (CCAA)
1818 N Street, NW Suite 310
Washington, DC 20036
Tel: 202-466-7464
Fax: 202-822-0075

U.S. Department of State Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs

Office of Caribbean Affairs
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC
Tel: 202-647-4719

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet

August 27, 2007

Country Description: The Republic of Suriname is a developing nation located on the northern coast of South America. Tourist facilities are widely available in the capital city of Paramaribo; they are less developed and in some cases non-existent in the country's rugged jungle interior. English is widely used, and most tourist arrangements can be made in English.

Entry Requirements: A passport, visa and, if traveling by air, return ticket are required for travel to Suriname. There is a processing fee for business and tourist visas. A business visa requires a letter from the sponsoring company detailing the reason for the visit. There is an airport departure charge and a terminal fee, normally included in the price of airfare. Travelers arriving from Guyana, French Guiana and Brazil are required to show proof of a yellow fever vaccination. For further information, travelers can contact the Embassy of the Republic of Suriname, 4301 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 460, Washington, DC 20008, telephone (202) 244-7488, email: [email protected], or the Consulate of Suriname in Miami, 7235 NW 19th Street, Suite A, Miami, Fl 33126, telephone (305) 593-2697.

Safety and Security: Land and maritime borders between Suriname and Guyana are in dispute. Talks between the countries are ongoing, but tensions occasionally rise. Travelers near the borders should keep this in mind and exercise due caution. Demonstrations are rare, but American citizens traveling to or residing in Suriname should take common-sense precautions and avoid large gatherings or other events where crowds have congregated to demonstrate or protest. Travelers proceeding to the interior may encounter difficulties due to limited government authority. Limited transportation and communications may hamper the ability of the U.S. Embassy to assist in an emergency situation.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site, where the current Worldwide Caution Travel Alert, Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts can be found. Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444.

Crime: Criminal activity throughout the country is on the rise and foreigners, including Americans, may be viewed as targets of opportunity. Burglary, armed robbery and violent crime occur with some frequency in Paramaribo and in outlying areas. Pick pocketing and robbery are increasingly common in the major business and shopping districts of the capital. Visitors should avoid wearing expensive or flashy jewelry or displaying large amounts of money in public.

Although there are few reports of criminal incidents in the vicinity of the major tourist hotels, night walks outside the immediate vicinity of the hotels are not recommended. Visitors should avoid the Palm Garden area (“Palmentuin” in Dutch) after dark, as there is no police presence and it is commonly the site of criminal activity.

Theft from vehicles is infrequent, but it does occur, especially in areas near the business district. Drivers are cautioned not to leave packages and other belongings in plain view in their vehicles. There have been reports of carjackings within Paramaribo, particularly in residential areas. When driving, car windows should be closed and doors locked. The use of public minibuses is discouraged, due to widespread unsafe driving and poor maintenance.

Travel to the interior is usually trouble-free, but there have been reports of tourists being robbed. Police presence outside Paramaribo is minimal, and banditry and lawlessness are occasionally of concern in the cities of Albina and Moengo and the district of Brokopondo, as well as along the East-West Highway between Paramaribo and Albina and the Afobakka Highway in the district of Para. There have been reports of attempted and actual car-jackings committed by gangs of men along the East-West Highway. Travelers proceeding to the interior are advised to make use of well-established tour companies for a safer experience.

The emergency number 115 is used for police, fire and rescue. Fire and rescue services provide a relatively timely response, but police response, especially during nighttime hours, is a rarity for all but the most serious of crimes.

Information for Victims of Crime: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S.

passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

Medical Facilities and Health Information: Medical care, including emergency medical care, is limited and does not meet U.S. standards. There is one public emergency room in Paramaribo with only a small ambulance fleet providing emergency transport with limited first response capabilities. The emergency room has no neurosurgeon, and other medical specialists may not always be available. As a rule, hospital facilities are not air-conditioned, although private rooms with individual air-conditioning are available at extra cost and on a space-available basis.

Emergency medical care outside Paramaribo is limited, and is virtually non-existent in the interior of the country. Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC's Internet site at http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) web site at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Suriname is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Traffic moves on the left in Suriname; left-hand-drive cars are allowed on the road. Excessive speed, unpredictable driving habits by both vehicles and motorcyclists/bicycles, unusual right of way patterns, poorly maintained roads and a lack of basic safety equipment on many vehicles are daily hazards on Surinamese roads. As of January 2007, seatbelts are required for all passengers of automobiles and drivers must use a hands-free device if using a mobile phone while driving. Visitors are encouraged to use automobiles equipped with seat belts and to avoid the use of motorcycles or scooters. An international driver's license is necessary to rent a car.

The major roads in Paramaribo are usually paved, but not always well maintained. Large potholes are common on city streets, especially during the rainy seasons, which last from approximately mid-November to January, and from April to July (rainy seasons can differ from year to year by as much as six weeks). Roads are often not marked with traffic lines. Many main thoroughfares do not have sidewalks, forcing pedestrians, motorcycles and bicycle traffic to share the same space.

The East-West Highway, a paved road that stretches from Nieuw Nick-erie in the west to Albina in the east, runs through extensive agriculture areas; it is not uncommon to encounter slow-moving farm traffic or animals on the road. Travelers should exercise caution when driving to and from Nieuw Nickerie at night due to poor lighting and sharp road turns without adequate warning signs. Police recommend that travelers check with the police station in Albina for the latest safety information regarding travel between Paramaribo and Albina.

Roads in the interior are sporadically maintained dirt roads that pass through rugged, sparsely populated rain forest. Some roads are passable for sedans in the dry season, but they deteriorate rapidly during the rainy season. Interior roads are not lit, nor are there service stations or emergency call boxes. Bridges in the interior are in various states of repair. Travelers are advised to consult with local sources, including The Foundation for Nature Conservation in Suriname, or STINASU, at telephone (597) 421-683 or 476-579, or with their hotels regarding interior road conditions before proceeding.

For specific information concerning Suriname driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, please contact the Embassy of Suriname in Washington, D.C. or the Consulate of Suriname in Miami. Visit the web site of Suriname Tourism Foundation for further information at www.suriname-tourism.org/cms.

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Suriname's Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Suriname's air carrier operations. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA's web site at http://www.faa.gov.

Special Circumstances: Credit cards are not widely accepted outside the major hotels and upscale restaurants. Travelers should contact their intended hotel or tour company to confirm that credit cards are accepted. Currently, only one bank, Royal Bank of Trinidad and Tobago (RBTT), has Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) accepting foreign ATM cards. In order to withdraw money from the ATM machines of other banks, you must have a local Surinamese bank account and ATM card.

Visitors can exchange currency at banks, hotels and official exchange houses, which are called “cambios.” Exchanging money outside of these locations is illegal and can be dangerous. Telephone service within Suriname can be problematic, especially during periods of heavy rains.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses.

Persons violating Suriname's laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Suriname are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Children's Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children's Issues website at http://travel.state.gov/family.

Registration and Embassy Locations: Americans living or traveling in Suriname are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department's travel registration web site and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Suriname. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy is located at Dr. Sophie Redmondstraat 129, telephone (011)(597) 472-900, web site http://paramaribo.usembassy.gov. The Consular Section hours of operation for routine American citizen services are Mondays and Wednesdays from 1:30 pm—3:30 pm, or by appointment, except on American and Surinamese holidays. U.S. citizens requiring emergency assistance evenings, weekends, and holidays may contact an Embassy duty officer by cell phone at (011) (597) 088-08302. The U.S. Embassy in Paramaribo also provides consular services for French Guiana.

International Adoption

April 2007

The information in this section has been edited from a report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Adoption section of this book and review current reports online at http://travel.state.gov/family.

Disclaimer: The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is based on public sources and current understanding. Questions involving foreign and U.S. immigration laws and legal interpretation should be addressed respectively to qualified foreign or U.S. legal counsel.

Patterns of Immigration: Please review current reports online at http://travel.state.gov/family.

Adoption Authority: The government office responsible for adoptions in Suriname is the Bureau of Family Rights and Affairs (Bureau Voor Familierechtelijke Zaken).

Address:
Bureau Voor Familerechtelijke Zaken
Grote Combeweg no. 7
Paramaribo, Suriname
Telephone Numbers:
+597 478759
+597 475763
+597 476485
Fax: +597 478759

Mailing Address:
Bureau Voor
Familierechtelijke Zaken
Aan Postbus 67
Paramaribo, Suriname
Email Address: [email protected]
[email protected]

Eligibility Requirements for Adoptive Parents: Prospective adoptive parents who are married must be at least 18 years older than the child. Married prospective adoptive parents must be married for at least three years to adopt. Single prospective adoptive parents must be at least 25 years of age. The age difference between the parents and the child may not be more than 50 years for the father and 40 years for the mother.

Residency Requirements: The Surinamese government has no residency requirements for prospective adoptive parents.

Time Frame: The time frame for adoption processing varies. The local adoption authority states that processing is handled on a case-by-case basis and ranges from months to years for foreign-based adoptions.

Adoption Agencies and Attorneys: Prospective adoptive parents are advised to fully research any adoption agency or facilitator they plan to use for adoption services. For U.S.-based agencies, it is suggested that prospective adoptive parents contact the Better Business Bureau and/or the licensing office of the appropriate state government agency in the U.S. state where the agency is located or licensed.

Adoption Fees: The Surinamese government has no fees for adoption services, but prospective adoptive parents may be responsible for some associated costs such as hospital and orphanage fees.

Adoption Procedures: Prospective adoptive parents interested in adopting from Suriname should first contact the Bureau of Family Rights and Affairs, which assists in identifying a child to be placed with the prospective adoptive parents.

Once a specific child is identified, the adoption request is filed in quintuple with the Cantonal Judge in Suriname, together with the birth certificates of the adoptive child and the adoptive parent(s). The Bureau of Family Rights and Affairs conducts an investigation to determine whether the request of the prospective adoptive parents is in the best interest of the adoptive child. The investigation typically lasts three months, but can sometimes take much longer.

Court proceedings are held following the investigation. The biological parents of the child may participate in the proceedings. The proceedings are closed to the general public. The personal appearance of the prospective adoptive parents is not required. The custody decree is registered with the civil registry of births where the adopted child registered.

Required Documents:

  • A home study;
  • Proof that the prospective adoptive parent(s) is living abroad;
  • Marriage certificate of prospective adoptive parent(s), if applicable;
  • Birth certificates of the prospective adoptive parent(s);
  • Medical clearance for the prospective parent(s);
  • Job letter from the prospective parent(s)' employer;
  • Statement from the judicial authorities that the couple has permission to bring the child into the U.S. or into a third country;
  • Statement from the judicial authorities that the couple, according to U.S. law, can adopt the child.

Embassy Of Suriname
Van Ness Centre EVE Suite 10
4301 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Tel: (202) 244 7590
Fax: (202) 244 58

Consulate General In Miami
6303 Blue Lagoon Drive, Suite 32
Miami, FL 33126
Tel: (305) 265 4655

U.S. Immigration Requirements: Prospective adoptive parents are strongly encouraged to consult USCIS publication M-249, The Immigration of Adopted and Prospective Adoptive Children, as well as the Department of State publication, International Adoptions. Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at http://travel.state.gov/family.

U.S. Embassy Paramaribo
Dr. Sophieredmondstraat 129
Paramaribo, Suriname
Tel: +597 472900
Fax: +597 425788

Additional Information: Specific questions about adoption in Suriname may be addressed to the U.S. Embassy in Paramaribo.

General questions regarding inter-country adoption may be addressed to the Office of Children's Issues, U.S. Department of State, CA/OCS/CI, SA-29, 4th Floor, 2201 C Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20520-4818, toll-free Tel: 1-888-407-4747.

views updated

Suriname

Compiled from the October 2006 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
Republic of Suriname

PROFILE

PEOPLE

HISTORY

GOVERNMENT

NATIONAL SECURITY

ECONOMY

FOREIGN RELATIONS

U.S.-SURINAMESE RELATIONS

TRAVEL

PROFILE

Geography

Area: 163,194 sq. km. (63,037 sq. mi.); slightly larger than Georgia.

Cities: Capital—Paramaribo (pop. 243,556). Other cities—Nieuw Nickerie, Albina, Moengo.

Terrain: Rain forest, savanna, coastal swamps, hills.

Climate: Tropical.

People

Nationality: Noun—Surinamer(s). Adjective—Surinamese.

Population: (2004 census) 492,829.

Annual growth rate: (2004) 1.30%.

Ethnic groups: Hindustani (East Indian) 27%, Creole 18%, Javanese 15%, Maroon 15%, Mixed 12.5%, Amerindians 3.7%, Chinese 1.8% (percentages from 2004 census).

Religions: Hindu, Muslim, Roman Catholic, Dutch Reformed, Moravian, several other Christian denominations, Jewish, Baha’i.

Languages: Dutch (official), English, Sranan Tongo (Creole language), Hindustani, Javanese.

Education: Years compulsory—ages 6-12. Literacy—90%.

Health: Infant mortality rate (2000)—27.1/1,000. Life expectancy (2003)—71 yrs.

Work force: (100,000) Government—35%; private sector—41%; parastatal companies—10%; unemployed—14%.

Government

Type: Constitutional democracy.

Constitution: September 30, 1987.

Independence: November 25, 1975.

Government branches: Executive—president, vice president, Council of Ministers. Legislative—elected 51-member National Assembly made up of representatives of political parties. Judicial—Court of Justice.

Political subdivisions: 10 districts.

Political parties: Governing Coalition—National Party of Suriname (NPS); Progressive Reform Party (VHP); Pertjaja Luhur; A—Combination, a coalition of General Interior Development Party (ABOP), Brotherhood and Unity in Politics (BEP), and Seeka; Suriname Workers Party (SPA); Democratic Alternative’91 (DA’ 91). Other parties in the National Assembly—National Democratic Party (NDP), Democratic National Platform 2000 (DNP 2000), Alternative 1 (A1), Party for Renewal and Development (BVD), Javanese Indonesian Peasants Party (KTPI).

Suffrage: Universal at 18.

Economy

GDP: (2005 est.) US$1,344 million

Annual growth rate real GDP: (2004 est.) 4.2%.

Per capita GDP: (2004 est.) US$4,300

Inflation: (2005) 9.6%

Natural resources: Bauxite, gold, oil, iron ore, other minerals; forests; hydroelectric potential; fish and shrimp.

Agriculture: Products—rice, bananas, timber, and citrus fruits.

Industry: Types—alumina, oil, gold, fish, shrimp, lumber.

Trade: (2004) Exports—US$870.5 million: alumina, gold, crude oil, wood and wood products, rice, bananas, fish, and shrimp. Major markets—Norway (29.8%), U.S. (15.4%), Canada (12.7%), France (8.5%), Iceland (3.9%). Imports—$740.1 million: capital equipment, petroleum, iron and steel products, agricultural products, and consumer goods. Major suppliers—U.S. (26.5%), Netherlands (19.5%), Trinidad and Tobago (13.7%), Japan (6.7%), China (4.6%), Brazil (4.2%).

PEOPLE

Most Surinamese live in the narrow, northern coastal plain. The population is one of the most ethnically diverse 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 schools and the workplace.

HISTORY

Arawak and Carib tribes lived in the region before Columbus sighted the coast in 1498. Spain officially claimed the area in 1593, but Spanish and Portuguese explorers of the time gave the area little attention. Dutch settlement began in 1616 at the mouths of several rivers between present-day Georgetown, Guyana, and Cayenne, French Guiana.

Suriname became a Dutch colony in 1667. The new colony, Dutch Guiana, did not thrive. Historians cite several reasons for this, including Holland’s preoccupation with its more extensive (and profitable) East Indian territories, violent conflict between whites and native tribes, and frequent uprisings by the imported slave population, which was often treated with extraordinary cruelty. Barely, if at all, assimilated into plantation society, many of the slaves fled to the interior, where they maintained a West African culture and established the five major Bush Negro tribes in existence today: the Djuka, Saramaccaner, Matuwari, Paramaccaner, and Quinti.

Plantations steadily declined in importance as labor costs rose. Rice, bananas, and citrus fruits replaced the traditional crops of sugar, coffee, and cocoa. Exports of gold rose beginning in 1900. The Dutch government gave little financial support to the colony. Suriname’s economy was transformed in the years following World War I, when an American firm (ALCOA) began exploiting bauxite deposits in East Suriname. Bauxite processing and then alumina production began in 1916. During World War II, more than 75% of U.S. bauxite imports came from Suriname. In 1951, Suriname began to acquire a growing measure of autonomy from the Netherlands. Suriname became an autonomous part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands on December 15, 1954, and gained independence, with Dutch consent, on November 25, 1975.

Most of Suriname’s political parties took shape during the autonomy period and were overwhelmingly based on ethnicity. For example, the National Party of Suriname found its support among the Creoles, the Progressive Reform Party members came from the Hindustani population, and the Indonesian Peasant’s Party was Javanese. Other smaller parties found support by appealing to voters on an ideological or pro-independence platform; the Partij Nationalistische Republiek (PNR) was among the most important. Its members pressed most strongly for independence and for the introduction of leftist political and economic measures. Many former PNR members would go on to play a key role following the coup of February 1980.

Suriname was a parliamentary democracy in the years immediately following independence. Henk Arron became the first Prime Minister and was re-elected in 1977. On February 25, 1980, 16 noncommissioned officers overthrew the elected government, which many accused of inefficiency and mismanagement. The military-dominated government then suspended the constitution, dissolved the legislature, and formed a regime that ruled by decree. Although a civilian filled the post of president, a military man, Desi Bout-erse, actually ruled the country.

Throughout 1982, pressure grew for a return to civilian rule. In early December 1982, military authorities cracked down, arresting and killing 15 prominent opposition leaders, including journalists, lawyers, and trade union leaders.

Following the murders, the United States and the Netherlands suspended economic and military cooperation with the Bouterse regime, which increasingly began to follow an erratic but often leftist-oriented political course. The regime restricted the press and limited the rights of its citizens. The economy declined rapidly after the suspension of economic aid from the Netherlands.

Continuing economic decline brought pressure for change. During the 1984-87 period, the Bouterse regime tried to end the crisis by appointing a succession of nominally civilian-led cabinets. Many figures in the government came from the traditional political parties that had been shoved aside during the coup. The military eventually agreed to free elections in 1987, a new constitution, and a civilian government.

Another pressure for change had erupted in July 1986, when a Maroon insurgency, led by former soldier Ronnie Brunswijk, began attacking economic targets in the country’s interior. In response, the army ravaged villages and killed suspected Brunswijk supporters. Thousands of Maroons fled to nearby French Guiana. In an effort to end the bloodshed, the Surinamese Government negotiated a peace treaty, called the Kourou Accord, with Brunswijk in 1989. However, Bouterse and other military leaders blocked the accord’s implementation.

On December 24, 1990, military officers forced the resignations of the civilian President and Vice President elected in 1987. Military-selected replacements were hastily approved by the National Assembly on December 29. Faced with mounting pressure from the U.S., other nations, the Organization of American States (OAS), and other international organizations, the government held new elections on May 25, 1991. The New Front (NF) Coalition, comprised of the Creole-based National Party of Suriname (NPS), the Hindustani-based Progressive Reform Party (VHP), the Javanese-based Indonesian Peasant’s Party (KTPI), and the labor-oriented Surinamese Workers Party (SPA) were able to win a majority

in the National Assembly. On September 6, 1991, NPS candidate Ronald Venetiaan was elected President, and the VHP’s Jules Ajodhia became Vice President.

The Venetiaan government was able to effect a settlement to Suriname’s domestic insurgency through the August 1992 Peace Accord with Bush Negro and Amerindian rebels. In April 1993, Desi Bouterse left his position as commander of the armed forces and was replaced by Arthy Gorre, a military officer committed to bringing the armed forces under civilian government control. Economic reforms instituted by the Venetiaan government eventually helped curb inflation, unify the official and unofficial exchange rates, and improve the government’s economic situation by re-establishing relations with the Dutch, thereby opening the way for a major influx of Dutch financial assistance. Despite these successes, the governing coalition lost support and failed to retain control of the government in the subsequent round of national elections. The rival National Democratic Party (NDP), founded in the early 1990s by Desi Bouterse, benefited from the New Front government’s loss of popularity. The NDP won more National Assembly seats (16 of 51) than any other party in the May 1996 national elections, and in September, 1996, joined with the KTPI, dissenters from the VHP, and several smaller parties to elect NDP vice chairman Jules Wijdenbosch president of an NDP-led coalition government. Divisions and subsequent reshufflings of coalition members in the fall of 1997 and early 1998 weakened the coalition’s mandate and slowed legislative action.

In May 1999, after mass demonstrations protesting poor economic conditions, the government was forced to call early elections. The elections in May 2000 returned Ronald Venetiaan and his New Front coalition to the presidency. The NF based its campaign on a platform to fix the faltering Surinamese economy.

In the national election held on May 25, 2005, the ruling NF coalition suffered a significant setback due to widespread dissatisfaction with the state of the economy and the public perception that the NF had produced few tangible gains. The NF won just 23 seats, falling short of a majority in the National Assembly, and immediately entered into negotiations with the Maroon-based “A” Combination and the A-1 Coalition to form a working majority. Desi Bouterse’s NDP more than doubled its representation in the National Assembly, winning 15 seats. Bouterse, the NDP’s declared presidential candidate, withdrew from the race days before the National Assembly convened to vote for the next president and tapped his running mate, Rabin Parmessar, to run as the NDP’s candidate. In the National Assembly, the NF challenged Parmessar’s Surinamese citizenship, displaying copies of a Dutch passport issued to Parmessar in 2004. Parmessar was eventually allowed to stand for election, and parliament later confirmed his Surinamese citizenship. After two votes, no candidate received the required two-thirds majority, pushing the final decision in August 2005 to a special session of the United People’s Assembly, where President Venetiaan was reelected with a significant majority of votes from the local, district, and national assembly members gathered. His running mate, Ramdien Sardjoe, was elected as vice president. While the Venetiaan administration has made progress in stabilizing the economy, tensions within the coalition have impeded progress and stymied legislative action.

GOVERNMENT

The Republic of Suriname is a constitutional democracy based on the 1987 constitution. The legislative branch of government consists of a 51-member unicameral National Assembly, simultaneously and popularly elected for a 5-year term.

The executive branch is headed by the president, who is elected by a two-thirds majority of the National Assembly or, failing that, by a majority of the People’s Assembly for a 5-year term. 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. A vice president, normally elected at the same time as the president, needs a simple majority in the National Assembly or People’s Assembly to be elected for a 5-year term. As head of government, the president appoints a cabinet of ministers. There is no constitutional provision for removal or replacement of the president unless he resigns.

A 15-member State Advisory Council advises the president in the conduct of policy. Eleven of the 15 council seats are allotted by proportional representation of all political parties represented in the National Assembly. The president chairs the council; two seats are allotted to representatives of labor, and two are allotted to employers’ organizations. The judiciary is headed by the Court of Justice (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.

The country is divided into 10 administrative districts, each headed by a district commissioner appointed by the president. The commissioner is similar to the governor of a U.S. State but serves at the president’s pleasure.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 3/16/2006

President: Ronald VENETIAAN

Vice President: Jules Rattankoemar AJODHIA

Min. of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry, & Fisheries: Kermechend RAGHOEBARSINGH

Min. of Defense: Ivan FERNALD

Min. of Education & Human Development: Edwin WOLF

Min. of Finance: Humphrey HILDENBERG

Min. of Foreign Affairs: Lygia KRAAGKETELDIJK

Min. of Health: Celcius WATERBERG

Min. of Home Affairs: Urmila JOELLASEWNUNDUN

Min. of Interior: Maurits HASSANKHAN

Min. of Justice & Police: Chandrikapersad SANTHOKI

Min. of Labor: Clifford MARICA

Min. of Natural Resources: Gregory RUSLAND

Min. of Planning & Development Cooperation: Rick Van RAVENSWAAY

Min. of Public Works: Ganeshkoemar KANHAI

Min. of Regional Development: Michel FELISIE

Min. of Social Affairs & Housing: Hendrik SETROWIDJOJO

Min. of Trade & Industry:

Min. of Transportation, Communication, & Tourism: Guno CASTELEN

Min. of Zoning: Michael JONG TJIEN FA

Pres., Central Bank: Andre TELTING

Ambassador to the US: Henry ILLES

Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Ewald Wensley LIMON

Suriname maintains an embassy in the United States at 4301 Connecticut Ave, NW, Suite 460, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-244-7488; fax 202-244-5878). There also is a Suriname consulate general at 7235 NW 19th St., Suite A, Miami, FL 33136 (tel. 305-593-2163).

NATIONAL SECURITY

Surinamese armed forces consist of the national army under the control of the Minister of Defense and a smaller civil police force, which is responsible to the Minister of Justice and Police. The national armed forces comprise some 2,200 personnel, the majority of whom are deployed as light infantry security forces. A small air force, navy, and military police also exist. The Netherlands has provided limited military assistance to the Surinamese armed forces since the election of a democratic government in 1991. In recent years, the U.S. has provided training to military officers and policymakers to promote a better understanding of the role of the military in a civilian government, and also offers significant humanitarian aid. Since the mid-1990s, the People’s Republic of China has been donating military equipment and logistical material to the Surinamese Armed Forces. The Netherlands, France, Venezuela, and Brazil also have working relationships with the Surinamese military.

Suriname’s borders are porous; largely uninhabited, unguarded, and ungoverned rain forest and rivers make up the eastern, western, and southern borders, and the navy’s capability to police Suriname’s northern Atlantic coast is limited. Protecting natural resources from illegal exploitation such as unlicensed gold mining is difficult, and significant tax revenue is lost. Porous borders also make Suriname a target for transshipment of drugs. Since 2000, arrests and prosecutions of drug smugglers have increased, partially due to funding and training for police capacity through the U.S. State Department Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement.

ECONOMY

Suriname’s economy has been dominated by the exports of alumina, oil and gold. Other export products include bananas, shrimp and fish, rice and lumber. In 2005 alumina accounted for approximately 50% of total exports. Government income from the oil sector, however, has slightly surpassed that of the bauxite/alumina sector. Suriname’s bauxite deposits have been among the world’s richest. Active in Suriname since 1916, SURALCO, a subsidiary of the Aluminum Company of America (ALCOA), has had a long-standing working relationship with the Australian-owned BHP Billiton.

After two years and an investment of approximately 130 million USD, BHP Billiton officially commenced its mining activities at the Kaaimangrasie and Klaverblad mines in 2006. These mines are expected to provide enough bauxite to cover the transition between the closing of the depleted Lelydorp Mine and the possible opening of a mine in the Bakhuis area with estimated reserves of 300 to 400 metric tons. Other proven reserves, sufficient to last until 2045, exist in the east, west, and north of the country. However, distance and topography make their immediate development costly. The government and the companies are looking into cost-effective ways to develop the new mines. The preeminence of bauxite and ALCOA’s continued presence in Suriname are key elements in the U.S.-Suriname economic relationship. The severe shortage of affordable energy sources has hampered Suriname’s ability to expand its industries. This goes for the bauxite sector as well. Currently running on diesel fueled generators, SURALCO has indicated that any expansion of operations to include mining and refining reserves from West Suri-name will depend on Suriname expanding its energy generating sources. The gold mining sector is largely informal, unregulated, and small scale, but constitutes an important part of the informal economy (estimated at as much as 100% of GDP), must be brought into the realm of tax and environmental authorities. In the official sector the Gross Rosebel Goldmines, wholly owned by the Canadian firm CAMBIOR, commenced its operations in 2004 and immediately positioned itself as the most productive and low-cost of all mines owned by CAMBIOR.

Suriname has also attracted the attention of international companies interested in extensive development of a tropical hardwoods industry and possible diamond mining. However, proposals for exploitation of the country’s tropical forests and undeveloped regions of the interior traditionally inhabited by indigenous and Maroon communities have raised the concerns of environmentalists and human rights activists in Suriname and abroad.

With its current output at 12,700 barrels a day, reserves at 107 million barrels, and regional geology suggesting additional potential, oil is currently the most promising sector in Suriname. There is particular interest in Suriname’s offshore potential. A 2000 study by the U.S. Geological Survey suggests that there may be up to 15 billion barrels of oil in the Guyana Plateau. The area includes territory affected by a maritime border dispute with Guyana. By law Staatsolie, the state-owned oil company, is the only company with the rights to operate in Suriname’s oil sector. The company has therefore sought reputable international partners to explore the possibilities for offshore oil production. Since 2004 the company has signed exploration agreements with Repsol YPF (Spain), Mearsk Oil (Denmark), and Occidental Oil and Gas (United States). Bidding on three new blocks offshore was completed in July 2006. Staatsolie has not yet announced its decision, and is also seeking to expand its onshore activities. The company recently started new oil exploration projects seeking oil in other areas of the country.

In an effort to address the problem of Suriname’s ailing 110 parastatals, the Government has introduced a plan that would strengthen them, after which they would be privatized. The first parastatals chosen for this experiment were the banana company, Surland, the wood processing company, Bruynzeel, and the rice company, SML. After closing for more than seven months in 2002, the banana company was reopened under the new name SBBS. With significant and continuous financial support from the European Union, the company was able to resume its banana exports and improve its infrastructure. In 2005 the government attempted to privatize the company by opening an international bidding round. After receiving several unsatisfactory bids, the company was taken off the market, and is now in a strengthening phase. The privatization of the wood processing company, Bruynzeel, is nearing a conclusion with a Memorandum of Understanding and a Letter of Intent signed between the Government and the Dutch company Doorwin, but opposition demands for Suriname to negotiate a better deal have delayed the process. No indication has been provided on when the final sale may be concluded. The restructuring of the rice company SML has failed according to the minister of Agriculture. The company was never able to recover from its debt situation, and neglect and mismanagement in the rice sector has added fuel to the fire. The company is now facing a public sale by its largest creditor.

FOREIGN RELATIONS

Since gaining independence, Suri-name has become a member of the United Nations, the OAS, and the Non-Aligned Movement. Suriname is a member of the Caribbean Community and Common Market and the Association of Caribbean States; it is associated with the European Union through the Lome Convention. The Netherlands remains Suriname’s biggest donor, but it has been surpassed by the U.S. as a trade partner. Suri-name participates in the Amazonian Pact, a grouping of the countries of the Amazon Basin that focuses on protection of the Amazon region’s natural resources from environmental degradation. Reflecting its status as a major bauxite producer, Suri-name is also a member of the International Bauxite Association. The country also belongs to the Economic Commission for Latin America, the Inter-American Development Bank, the International Finance Corporation, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund. Suriname became a member of the Islamic Development Bank in 1998.

At independence, Suriname signed an agreement with the Netherlands providing for about $1.5 billion in development assistance grants and loans over a 10- to 15-year period. Initial disbursements amounted to about $100 million per year, but were discontinued during military rule. After the return to a democratically elected government in 1991, Dutch aid resumed. The Dutch relationship continued to be an important factor in the economy; with the Dutch insisting that Suriname undertake economic reforms and produce specific plans acceptable to the Dutch for projects on which aid funds could be spent. In 2000, the Dutch revised the structure of their aid package and signaled to the Surinamese authorities their decision to disburse aid by sectoral priorities as opposed to individual projects. In 2001 both governments agreed to spend the remaining development funds to finance programs in 6 different sectors: health care, education, environment, agriculture, housing and governance.

Relations with the Dutch have been complicated by Dutch prosecution of Desi Bouterse in absentia on drug charges, and by legal maneuvering by Dutch prosecutors trying to bring charges relating to the December 1982 murders. (A Dutch appellate court in 2000 found Bouterse guilty of one drug-related charge; the decision was upheld on appeal.)

Bilateral agreements with several countries of the region, covering diverse areas of cooperation, have underscored the government’s interest in strengthening regional ties. The return to Suriname from French Guiana of about 8,000 refugees of the 1986-91 civil war between the military and domestic insurgents has improved relations with French authorities. Longstanding border disputes with Guyana and French Guiana remain unresolved. Negotiations with the Government of Guyana brokered by the Jamaican Prime Minister in 2000 did not produce an agreement, but the countries agreed to restart talks after Guyanese national elections in 2001. In January 2002, the presidents of Suriname and Guyana met in Suriname and agreed to resume negotiations, establishing the Suriname-Guyana border commission. In 2004 Guyana brought Suriname before the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea in the case regarding the maritime border dispute; a decision is expected in 2007. An earlier dispute with Brazil ended amicably after formal demarcation of the border.

U.S.-SURINAMESE RELATIONS

Since the reestablishment of a democratic, elected government in 1991, the United States has maintained positive and mutually beneficial relations with Suriname based on the principles of democracy, respect for human rights, rule of law, and civilian authority over the military. To further strengthen civil society and bolster democratic institutions, the U.S. has provided training regarding appropriate roles for the military in civil society to some of Suriname’s military officers and decision makers. In addition, Narcotics trafficking organizations are channeling increasing quantities of cocaine through Suriname for repackaging and transport to Europe and the United States, and of ecstasy for transport to the United States. To assist Suriname in the fight against drugs and associated criminal activity, the U.S. has helped train Surinamese anti-drug squad personnel. The U.S. and Suri-name also have significant partnerships in fighting trafficking in persons and money laundering. Since 2000, the U.S. has donated a criminal records database to the police as well as computers, vehicles, and radio equipment. Projects through which the U.S. has supported the judicial system include case management and computer hardware donation. Along with training projects, these programs have led to a strong relationship with law enforcement entities in Suriname.

The U.S. Peace Corps in Suriname works with the Ministry of Regional Development and rural communities to encourage community development in Suriname’s interior.

Suriname is densely forested, and increased interest in large-scale commercial logging and mining in Suriname’s interior have raised environmental concerns. The U.S. Forest Service, the Smithsonian, and numerous non-governmental environmental organizations have promoted technical cooperation with Suriname’s government to prevent destruction of the country’s tropical rain forest, one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world. U.S. experts have worked closely with local natural resource officials to encourage sustainable development of the interior and alternatives such as ecotourism. On December 1, 2000, UNESCO designated the 1.6-million hectare Central Suriname Nature Reserve a World Heritage site. Suriname’s tourism sector remains a minor part of the economy, and tourist infrastructure is limited (in 2004, some 145,000 foreign tourists visited Suriname).

Suriname’s efforts in recent years to liberalize economic policy created new possibilities for U.S. exports and investments. The U.S. remains one of Suriname’s principal trading partners, largely due to ALCOA’s longstanding investment in Suriname’s bauxite mining and processing industry. Several U.S. corporations represented by Surinamese firms acting as dealers are active in Suriname, largely in the mining, consumer goods, and service sectors. Principal U.S. exports to Suriname include chemicals, vehicles, machine parts, meat, and wheat. U.S. consumer products are increasingly available through Suriname’s many trading companies. Opportunities for U.S. exporters, service companies, and engineering firms will probably expand over the next decade.

Suriname is looking to U.S. and other foreign investors to assist in the commercial development of its vast natural resources and to help finance infrastructure improvements. Enactment of a new investment code and intellectual property rights protection legislation which would strengthen Suriname’s attractiveness to investors has been discussed; the investment law was approved by the National Assembly and is currently being revised by the Ministry of Finance.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

PARAMARIBO (E) Address: Dr. Sophie Redmondstraat 129; Phone: (597) 472900; Fax: (597) 410972; INMARSAT Tel: 011-871-1531423; Workweek: Mon-Fri, 0730-1600.

AMB:Lisa Bobbie Schreiber Hughes
AMB OMS:Aikens, Althena
DCM:Thomas Genton
POL:Andrew Utschig
POL/ECO:Jesse Sanders
CON:Wendy Webb
MGT:David LaMontagne
AGR:Jeffrey Willnow (res. Caracas)
CLO:James Webb
DAO:Brian Butcher (res. Brasilia)
DEA:Susan Nave
EEO:Vacant
FAA:Mayte Ashby (res. Miami)
GSO:Anthony M. Via
IMO:Wendy Dawson
IRS:Frederick Dulas (res. Mexico City)
ISSO:Abraham Adjei-Gbenda
LEGATT:Kevin Currier
MLO:Willard Tracey Green
RSO:Jason R. Kight

Last Updated: 1/19/2007

Other Contact Information

U.S. Department of Commerce International Trade Administration Office of Latin America and the Caribbean
14th and Constitution, NW
Washington, DC 20230
Tel: 202-482-1658, 202-USA-TRADE
Fax: 202-482-0464

Caribbean Central American Action (CCAA)
1818 N Street, NW Suite 310
Washington, DC 20036
Tel: 202-466-7464
Fax: 202-822-0075

U.S. Department of State Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs Office of Caribbean Affairs
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC
Tel: 202-647-4719

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet : October 20, 2006

Country Description: The Republic of Suriname is a developing nation located on the northern coast of South America. Tourist facilities are widely available in the capital city of Paramaribo; they are less developed and in some cases non-existent in the country’s rugged jungle interior. English is widely used, and most tourist arrangements can be made in English.

Entry/Exit Requirements: A passport, visa and, if traveling by air, return ticket are required for travel to Suriname. There is a processing fee for business and tourist visas. A business visa requires a letter from the sponsoring company detailing the reason for the visit. There is an airport departure charge and a terminal fee, normally included in the price of airfare. Travelers arriving from Guyana, French Guiana and Brazil are required to show proof of a yellow fever vaccination. For further information, travelers can contact the Embassy of the Republic of Suri-name, 4301 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Suite 460, Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 244-7488, email: [email protected], or the Consulate of Suriname in Miami, 7235 NW 19th Street, Suite A, Miami, Fl 33126, telephone (305) 593-2697.

Safety and Security: Land and maritime borders between Suriname and Guyana are in dispute. Talks between the countries are ongoing, but tensions occasionally rise. Travelers near the borders should keep this in mind and exercise due caution. Demonstrations are rare, but American citizens traveling to or residing in Suriname should take common-sense precautions and avoid large gatherings or other events where crowds have congregated to demonstrate or protest. Travelers proceeding to the interior may encounter difficulties due to limited government authority. Limited transportation and communications may hamper the ability of the U.S. Embassy to assist in an emergency situation.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department’s Internet web site, where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found. Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

Crime: Criminal activity throughout the country is on the rise and foreigners, including Americans, may be viewed as targets of opportunity. Burglary, armed robbery and violent crime occur with some frequency in Paramaribo and in outlying areas. Pick pocketing and robbery are increasingly common in the major business and shopping districts of the capital. Visitors should avoid wearing expensive or flashy jewelry or displaying large amounts of money in public.

Although there are few reports of criminal incidents in the vicinity of the major tourist hotels, night walks outside the immediate vicinity of the hotels are not recommended. Visitors should avoid the Palm Garden area (“Palmentuin” in Dutch) after dark, as there is no police presence and it is commonly the site of criminal activity. Theft from vehicles is infrequent, but it does occur, especially in areas near the business district. Drivers are cautioned not to leave packages and other belongings in plain view in their vehicles. When driving, car windows should be closed and doors locked. The use of public minibuses is discouraged, due to widespread unsafe driving and poor maintenance.

Travel to the interior is usually trouble-free, but there have been reports of tourists being robbed. Police presence outside Paramaribo is minimal, and banditry and lawlessness are occasionally of concern in the cities of Albina and Moengo and the district of Brokopondo, as well as along the East-West Highway between Paramaribo and Albina and the Afobakka Highway in the district of Para. There have been reports of attempted and actual carjackings committed by gangs of men along the East-West Highway. Travelers proceeding to the interior are advised to make use of well-established tour companies for a safer experience.

The emergency number 115 is used for police, fire and rescue. Fire and rescue services provide a relatively timely response, but police response, especially during nighttime hours, is a rarity for all but the most serious of crimes.

Information for Victims of Crime: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance.

The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

Medical Facilities and Health Information: Medical care, including emergency medical care, is limited and does not meet U.S. standards. There is one public emergency room in Paramaribo with only a small ambulance fleet providing emergency transport with limited first response capabilities. The emergency room has no neurosurgeon, and other medical specialists may not always be available. As a rule, hospital facilities are not air-conditioned, although private rooms with individual air-conditioning are available at extra cost. Emergency medical care outside Paramaribo is limited, and is virtually non-existent in the interior of the country.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC’s Internet Website at http://www.cdc.gov/travel/. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization’s (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Suriname is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Traffic moves on the left in Suriname; left-hand-drive cars are allowed on the road. Excessive speed, unpredictable driving habits by both vehicles and motorcyclists/bicycles, unusual right of way patterns, poorly maintained roads and a lack of basic safety equipment on many vehicles are daily hazards on Surinamese roads. Visitors are encouraged to use automobiles equipped with seat belts and to avoid the use of motorcycles or scooters. An international driver’s license is necessary to rent a car.

The roads in Paramaribo are usually paved, but not always well maintained. Large potholes are common on city streets, especially during the rainy seasons, which last from approximately mid-November to January, and from April to June (rainy seasons can differ from year to year by as much as six weeks). Roads are often not marked with traffic lines. Many main thoroughfares do not have sidewalks, forcing pedestrians, motorcycles and bicycle traffic to share the same space.

The East-West Highway, a paved road that stretches from Nieuw Nick-erie in the west to Albina in the east, runs through extensive agriculture areas; it is not uncommon to encounter slow-moving farm traffic or animals on the road. Travelers should exercise caution when driving to and from Nieuw Nickerie at night due to poor lighting and sharp road turns without adequate warning signs. Police recommend that travelers check with the police station in Albina for the latest safety information regarding travel between Paramaribo and Albina.

Roads in the interior are sporadically maintained dirt roads that pass through rugged, sparsely populated rain forest. Some roads are passable for sedans in the dry season, but they deteriorate rapidly during the rainy season. Interior roads are not lit, nor are there service stations or emergency call boxes. Bridges in the interior are in various states of repair. Travelers are advised to consult with local sources, including The Foundation for Nature Conservation in Suri-name, or STINASU, at telephone (597) 421-683 or 476-579, or with their hotels regarding interior road conditions before proceeding. For specific information concerning Suri-name driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, please contact the Embassy of Suriname in Washington, D.C. or the Consulate of Suriname in Miami.

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Suriname’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Suriname’s air carrier operations. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA’s website at http://www.faa.gov.

Special Circumstances: Credit cards are not widely accepted outside the major hotels. Travelers should contact their intended hotel or tour company to confirm that credit cards are accepted. Currently, only one bank, Royal Bank of Trinidad and Tobago (RBTT), has Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) accepting foreign ATM cards. In order to withdraw money from the ATM machines of other banks, you must have a local Surinamese bank account and ATM card. Visitors can exchange currency at banks, hotels and official exchange houses, which are called “cambios.” Exchanging money outside of these locations is illegal and can be dangerous. Telephone service within Suri-name can be problematic, especially during periods of heavy rains.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country’s laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Suriname’s laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Suriname are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Children’s Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children’s Issues website at http://travel.state.gov/family/family_1732.html.

Registration/Embassy Location: Americans living or traveling in Suri-name are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department’s travel registration website and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Suriname. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency.

The U.S. Embassy is located at Dr. Sophie Redmondstraat 129, telephone (011)(597) 472-900, website http://paramaribo.usembassy.gov. The Consular Section hours of operation for routine American citizen services are Mondays and Wednesdays from 1:30 pm – 3:30 pm, or by appointment, except on American and Surinamese holidays. U.S. citizens requiring emergency assistance evenings, weekends, and holidays may contact an Embassy duty officer by cell phone at (011)(597) 088-08302. The U.S. Embassy in Paramaribo also provides consular services for French Guiana.

International Adoption : July 2005

The information below has been edited from a report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Adoption section of this book and review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family.

Disclaimer: The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is based on public sources and our current understanding. Questions involving foreign and U.S. immigration laws and legal interpretation should be addressed respectively to qualified foreign or U.S. legal counsel.

Patterns of Immigration: Please review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family.

Adoption Authority in Suriname: The government office responsible for adoptions in Suriname is the Bureau of Family Rights and Affairs (Familie Rechtelijke Zaken).

Address:
Bureau Voor Familierechtelijke
Zaken
Grote Combeweg #7
Telephone Numbers:
(597) 478759
(597) 475763
Mailing Address:
Bureau Voor
Familierechtelijke Zaken
Postbus 67

Eligibility Requirements for Adoptive Parents: Prospective adoptive parents who are married must be at least 18 years older than the child. Married prospective adoptive parents must be married for at least three years to adopt. Single prospective adoptive parents must be at least 25 years of age. The age difference between the parents and the child may not be more than 50 years for the father and 40 years for the mother.

Residential Requirements: The Surinamese government has no residency requirements for adoptive parents.

Time Frame: The time frame for adoption processing varies. The local adoption authority states that processing will take anywhere from 2 to 5 months. Visa processing time at the U.S. Embassy in Paramaribo should also be considered. Filing an I-600A petition prior to arrival in Suriname will expedite processing time.

Adoption Fees in Suriname: The Surinamese government has no fees for adoption services. Attorney’s fees are subject to the particular firm.

Adoption Procedures: The first contact is with the Bureau of Family Rights and Affairs, which assists in identifying a child to be placed with the adoptive parents. Once a specific child is identified, the adoption request is filed in quintuple with the Cantonal Judge in Suriname, together with the birth certificates of the adoptive child and the adoptive parent(s).

The Bureau of Family Rights and Affairs conducts an investigation to determine whether the request of the adoptive parents is in the best interest of the adoptive child. The investigation typically lasts three months. Court proceedings are held following the investigation. The biological parents of the child may participate in the proceedings. The proceedings are closed to the general public. The personal appearance of the adoptive parents is not required. The custody decree is registered with the civil registry of births where the adopted child is registered.

Documentary Requirements:

  • A homestudy. A copy of the home-study sent to the USCIS will suffice;
  • Proof that the prospective parent(s) is living abroad or in the United States. The prospective parent(s) may submit an apartment lease, home ownership or tax documents. If the prospective parent(s) reside in Suriname, passport with legal status including the stamp from the Surinamese government must be provided;
  • Marriage certificate, if applicable;
  • Birth certificates of the prospective parent(s);
  • Medical clearance on the prospective parent(s);
  • Job letter from the prospective parent(s) employer;
  • Statement from the judicial authorities that the couple has permission to bring the child into the U.S. or into a third country;
  • Statement from the judicial authorities that the couple, according to U.S. law, can adopt the child.

Surinamese Embassy and Consulate in the United States:
Van Ness Centre EVE Suite 108
4301 Connecticut Avenue, N.W.
Washington D.C. 20008
Tel: (202) 244 7590
Fax: (202) 244 5878

Consulate General in Miami
6303 Blue Lagoon Drive, Suite 325
Miami, Florida 33126
Tel: (305) 265-4655

U.S. Immigration Requirements:
Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at travel.state.gov/family.

U.S. Embassy in Suriname:
U.S. Embassy Paramaribo
Dr. Sophie Redmond Straat 129
Paramaribo
Tel: (597) 472900
Fax: (597) 425788

Additional Information: Specific questions about adoption in Suri-name may be addressed to the U.S. Embassy in Suriname. General questions regarding international adoption may be addressed to the Office of Children’s Issues, U.S. Department of State, CA/OCS/CI, SA-29, 4 th Floor, 2201 C Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20520-4818, toll-free Tel: 1-888-404-4747.

views updated

SURINAME

Compiled from the September 2005 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
Republic of Suriname


PROFILE

Geography

Area:

163,194 sq. km. (63,037 sq. mi.); slightly larger than Georgia.

Cities:

Capital—Paramaribo (pop. 243,556). Other cities—Nieuw Nickerie, Moengo.

Terrain:

Varies from coastal swamps to savanna to hills.

Climate:

Tropical.

People

Nationality:

Noun—Surinamer(s). Adjective—Surinamese.

Population (2004 census):

492,829.

Annual growth rate (2004):

1.30%.

Ethnic groups:

Hindustani (East Indian) 27%, Creole 18%, Javanese 15%, Maroon 15%, Mixed 12.5%, Amerindians 3.7%, Chinese 1.8% (percentages from 2004 census).

Religion:

Hindu, Muslim, Roman Catholic, Dutch Reformed, Moravian, several other Christian denominations, Jewish, Baha'i.

Language:

Dutch (official), English, Sranan Tongo (Creole language), Hindustani, Javanese.

Education:

Years compulsory—ages 6-12. Literacy—90%.

Health:

Infant mortality rate (2000)—27.1/1,000. Life expectancy (2003)—71 yrs.

Work force (100,000):

Government—35%; private sector—41%; parastatal companies—10%; unemployed—14%.

Government

Type:

Constitutional democracy.

Constitution:

September 30, 1987.

Independence:

November 25, 1975.

Branches:

Executive—president, vice president, Council of Ministers. Legislative—elected 51-member National Assembly made up of representatives of political parties. Judicial—Court of Justice.

Administrative subdivisions:

10 districts.

Political parties:

Governing Coalition—National Party of Suriname (NPS), Progressive Reform Party (VHP), Pertjaja Luhur, Suriname Workers Party (SPA). Other parties in the National Assembly—Democratic Alternative '91 (DA 91), Democratic National Platform (DNP) 2000, Political Wing of the FAL (Federation of Agricultural Workers), Progressive Workers and Farmers Union (PALU), National Democratic Party (NDP), Democratic Party (DP), Javanese Indonesian Peasants Party (KTPI), Independent Progressive Democratic Alternative (OPDA).

Suffrage:

Universal at 18.

Economy

GDP (2004 est.):

U.S. $1.885 million.

Annual growth rate real GDP (2004 est.):

4.2%.

Per capita GDP (2004 est.):

$4,300.

Natural resources:

Bauxite, gold, oil, iron ore, other minerals; forests; hydroelectric potential; fish and shrimp.

Agriculture:

Products—rice, bananas, timber, and citrus fruits.

Industry:

Types—alumina, oil, fish, shrimp, gold, lumber.

Trade (2001):

Exports—$479 million (U.S.$): alumina, wood and wood products, rice, bananas, fish, and shrimp. Major markets—U.S. (about 25%), Norway, Netherlands, and other European countries. Imports—$501 million: capital equipment, petroleum, iron and steel products, agricultural products, and consumer goods. Major suppliers—U.S. (about 40%), Netherlands, EU (about 30%), and Caribbean (CARICOM) countries (20%).


PEOPLE

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.


HISTORY

Arawak and Carib tribes lived in the region before Columbus sighted the coast in 1498. Spain officially claimed the area in 1593, but Portuguese and Spanish explorers of the time gave the area little attention. Dutch settlement began in 1616 at the mouths of several rivers between present-day Georgetown, Guyana, and Cayenne, French Guiana.

Suriname became a Dutch colony in 1667. The new colony, Dutch Guiana, did not thrive. Historians cite several reasons for this, including Holland's preoccupation with its more extensive (and profitable) East Indian territories, violent conflict between whites and native tribes, and frequent uprisings by the imported slave population, which was often treated with extraordinary cruelty. Barely, if at all, assimilated into European society, many of the slaves fled to the interior, where they maintained a West African culture and established the five major Bush Negro tribes in existence today—the Djuka, Saramaccaner, Matuwari, Paramaccaner, and Quinti.

Plantations steadily declined in importance as labor costs rose. Rice, bananas, and citrus fruits replaced the traditional crops of sugar, coffee, and cocoa. Exports of gold rose beginning in 1900. The Dutch Government gave little financial support to the colony. Suriname's economy was transformed in the years following World War I, when an American firm (ALCOA) began exploiting bauxite deposits in East Suriname. Bauxite processing and then alumina production began in 1916. During World War II, more than 75% of U.S. bauxite imports came from Suriname.

In 1951, Suriname began to acquire a growing measure of autonomy from the Netherlands. Suriname became an autonomous part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands on December 15, 1954, and gained independence on November 25, 1975.

Most of Suriname's political parties took shape during the autonomy period and were overwhelmingly based on ethnicity. For example, the National Party of Suriname found its support among the Creoles, the Progressive Reform Party members came from the Hindustani population, and the Indonesian Peasant's Party was Javanese. Other smaller parties found support by appealing to voters on an ideological or pro-independence platform; the Partij Nationalistische Republiek (PNR) was among the most important. Its members pressed most strongly for independence and for the introduction of leftist political and economic measures. Many former PNR members would go on to play a key role following the coup of February 1980.

Suriname was a working parliamentary democracy in the years immediately following independence. Henk Arron became the first Prime Minister and was re-elected in 1977. On February 25, 1980, 16 noncommissioned officers overthrew the elected government. The military-dominated government then suspended the constitution, dissolved the legislature, and formed a regime that ruled by decree. Although a civilian filled the post of president, a military man, Desi Bouterse, actually ruled the country.

Throughout 1982, pressure grew for a return to civilian rule. In response, the military ordered drastic action. Early in December 1982, military authorities arrested and killed 15 prominent opposition leaders, including journalists, lawyers, and trade union leaders.

Following the murders, the United States and the Netherlands suspended economic and military cooperation with the Bouterse regime, which increasingly began to follow an erratic but generally leftist-oriented political course. Economic decline rapidly set in after the suspension of economic aid from the Netherlands. The regime restricted the press and limited the rights of its citizens.

Continuing economic decline brought pressure for change. During the 1984-87 period, the Bouterse regime tried to end the crisis by appointing a succession of nominally civilian-led cabinets. Many figures in the government came from the traditional political parties that had been shoved aside during the coup. The military eventually agreed to free elections in 1987, a new constitution, and a civilian government.

Another pressure for change had erupted in July 1986, when a Bush Negro (aka Maroon) insurgency, led by former soldier Ronnie Brunswijk, began attacking economic targets in the country's interior. In response, the army ravaged villages and killed suspected Brunswijk supporters. Thousands of Bush Negroes fled to nearby French Guiana. In an effort to end the bloodshed, the Surinamese Government negotiated a peace treaty, called the Kourou Accord, with Brunswijk in 1989. However, Bouterse and other military leaders blocked the accord's implementation.

On December 24, 1990, military officers forced the resignations of the civilian President and Vice President elected in 1987. Military-selected replacements were hastily approved by the National Assembly on December 29. Faced with mounting pressure from the U.S., other nations, the Organization of American States (OAS), and other international organizations, the government held new elections on May 25, 1991. The New Front (NF) Coalition, comprised of the Creole National Party of Suriname (NPS), the Hindustani Progressive Reform Party (VHP), the Javanese Indonesian Peasant's Party (KTPI), and the Surinamese Workers Party (SPA) were able to win a majority in the National Assembly. On September 6, 1991, NPS candidate Ronald Venetiaan was elected President, and the VHP's Jules Ajodhia

became Vice President of the New Front Coalition government.

The Venetiaan government was able to effect a settlement to Suriname's domestic insurgency through the August 1992 Peace Accord with Bush Negro and Amerindian rebels. In April 1993, Desi Bouterse left his position as commander of the armed forces and was replaced by Arthy Gorre, a military officer committed to bringing the armed forces under civilian government control. Economic reforms instituted by the Venetiaan government eventually helped curb inflation, unify the official and unofficial exchange rates, and improve the government's economic situation by re-establishing relations with the Dutch, thereby opening the way for a major influx of Dutch financial assistance. Despite these successes, the governing coalition lost support and failed to retain control of the government in the subsequent round of national elections. The rival National Democratic Party (NDP), founded in the early 1990s by Desi Bouterse, benefited from the New Front government's loss of popularity. The NDP won more National Assembly seats (16 of 51) than any other party in the May 1996 national elections and in September 1996, joined with the KTPI, dissenters from the VHP, and several smaller parties to elect NDP vice chairman Jules Wijdenbosch president of a NDP-led coalition government. Divisions and subsequent reshufflings of coalition members in the fall of 1997 and early 1998 weakened the coalition's mandate and slowed legislative action.

In May 1999, after mass demonstrations protesting poor economic conditions, the government was forced to call early elections. The elections in May 2000 returned Ronald Venetiaan and his coalition to the presidency. The NF ran its campaign on a platform to fix the faltering Surinamese economy. But while the Venetiaan administration has made progress in stabilizing the economy, tensions within the coalition and the impatience of the populace have impeded progress.

Relations with the Dutch have been complicated by Dutch prosecution of Desi Bouterse in absentia on drug charges, and legal maneuvering by Dutch prosecutors trying to bring charges relating to the December 1982 murders. (A Dutch appellate court in 2000 found Bouterse guilty of one drug-related charge; the decision was upheld on appeal.) A key component of the relationship is the 600 million Dutch guilders (Nf.) remaining from Nf. 2.5 billion promised for development at independence. The disposition of the funds was a matter of much discussion during recent Dutch cabinet-level visits intended to lay the groundwork to restart the flow of guilders, which the Dutch stanched in response to irresponsible spending by the Wijdenbosch administration. The parties are at odds over the control of the funds, and needed aid has not flowed to the country.

In August 2001, the Dutch provided a triple-A state guarantee to enable the Surinamese Government to receive a 10-year loan from the Dutch Development Bank (NTO) for the amount of Euro 137.7 million (U.S. $125 million). The loan has an interest rate of 5.18% per year and was used to consolidate floating government debts. U.S. $32 million of the loan was used to pay off foreign loans, which had been taken under unfavorable conditions by the Wijdenbosch government. The remaining 93 million of the loan was used to pay off debts at the Central Bank of Suriname. This enabled the Central Bank to strengthen its foreign currency position according to the IMF standards to the equivalency of 3 months of imports.

In the national election held on May 25, 2005, the ruling NF coalition suffered a significant setback due to widespread dissatisfaction with the state of the economy and a public perception that the NF had produce few tangible gains for the country. The NF won just 23 seats, falling short of a simple majority in the National Assembly, and immediately entered into negotiations with the Maroon-based "A" Combination and the A-1 Coalition to form a working majority. Desi Bouterse's NDP better than doubled its representation in the National Assembly, winning 15 seats. Bouterse, who had placed himself as the NDP's declared presidential candidate, withdrew from the race days before the National Assembly convened to vote for the next president and tapped his running mate, Rabin Parmessar, to run as the NDP's candidate. In the National Assembly, the NF challenged Parmessar's Surinamese citizenship, displaying copies of a Dutch passport issued to Parmessar in 2004. After two votes, no candidate received the required two-thirds majority, pushing the final decision in August 2005 to a special session of the United People's Assembly, where President Venetiaan was reelected with a significant majority of votes from the local, district, and national assembly members gathered. His running mate, Ramdien Sardjoe, was elected as vice president.


GOVERNMENT

The Republic of Suriname is a constitutional democracy based on the 1987 constitution. The legislative branch of government consists of a 51-member unicameral National Assembly, simultaneously and popularly elected for a 5-year term.

The executive branch is headed by the president, who is elected by a twothirds majority of the National Assembly or, failing that, by a majority of the People's Assembly for a 5-year term. 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. A vice president, normally elected at the same time as the president, needs a simple majority in the National Assembly or People's Assembly to be elected for a 5-year term. As head of government, the president appoints a cabinet of ministers. There is no constitutional provision for removal or replacement of the president unless he resigns.

A 15-member State Advisory Council advises the president in the conduct of policy. Eleven of the 15 council seats are allotted by proportional representation of all political parties represented in the National Assembly. The president chairs the council, and two seats are allotted to representatives of labor, and two are allotted to employers' organizations.

The judiciary is headed by the Court of Justice (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.

The country is divided into 10 administrative districts, each headed by a district commissioner appointed by the president. The commissioner is similar to the governor of a U.S. State but serves at the president's pleasure.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 8/31/2005

President: Runaldo Ronald VENETIAAN
Vice President: Jules Rattankoemar AJODHIA
Min. of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry, & Fisheries: Kermechend RAGHOEBARSINGH
Min. of Defense: Ivan FERNALD
Min. of Education & Human Development: Edwin WOLF
Min. of Finance: Humphrey HILDENBERG
Min. of Foreign Affairs: Lygia KRAAG KETELDIJK
Min. of Health: Celcius WATERBERG
Min. of Home Affairs: Urmila JOELLA SEWNUNDUN
Min. of Interior: Maurits HASSANKHAN
Min. of Justice & Police: Chandrikapersad SANTHOKI
Min. of Labor: Clifford MARICA
Min. of Natural Resources: Gregory RUSLAND
Min. of Planning & Development Cooperation: Rick Van RAVENSWAAY
Min. of Public Works: Ganeshkoemar KANHAI
Min. of Regional Development: Michel FELISIE
Min. of Social Affairs & Housing: Hendrik SETROWIDJOJO
Min. of Trade & Industry: Sigfried GILDS
Min. of Transportation, Communication, & Tourism: Guno CASTELEN
Min. of Zoning: Michael JONG TJIEN FA
Pres., Central Bank: Andre TELTING
Ambassador to the US: Henry ILLES
Permanent Representative to the UN: Ewald Wensley LIMON

Suriname maintains an embassy in the United States at 4301 Connecticut Ave, NW, Suite 460, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-244-7488; fax 202-244-5878). There also is a Suriname consulate general at 7235 NW 19th St., Suite A, Miami, FL 33136 (tel. 305-593-2163).


NATIONAL SECURITY

Surinamese armed forces consist of the national army under the control of the Minister of Defense and a smaller civil police force, which is responsible to the Minister of Justice and Police. The national armed forces comprise some 2,200 personnel, the majority of whom are deployed as light infantry security forces. A small air force, navy, and military police also exist. The Netherlands has provided limited military assistance to the Surinamese armed forces since the election of a democratic government in 1991. In recent years, the U.S. has provided training to military officers and policymakers to promote a better understanding of the role of the military in a civilian government. Also, since the mid-1990s, the People's Republic of China has been donating military equipment and logistical material to the Surinamese Armed Forces.


ECONOMY

The backbone of Suriname's economy is the export of alumina and small amounts of aluminum produced from bauxite mined in the country. In 1999, the aluminum smelter was closed. However, alumina exports accounted for 72% of Suriname's estimated export earnings of $496.6 million in 2001. Suriname's bauxite deposits have been among the world's richest.

In 1984, SURALCO, a subsidiary of the Aluminum Company of America (ALCOA), formed a joint venture with the Royal Dutch Shell-owned Billiton Company, which did not process the bauxite it mined in Suriname. Under this agreement, both companies share risks and profits.

Inexpensive power costs are Suriname's big advantage in the energy-intensive alumina and aluminum business. In the 1960s, ALCOA built a $150-million dam for the production of hydroelectric energy at Afobaka (south of Brokopondo), which created a 1,560-sq. km. (600-sq. mi.) lake, one of the largest artificial lakes in the world.

The major mining sites at Moengo and Lelydorp are maturing, and it is now estimated that their reserves will be depleted by 2006. Other proven reserves exist in the east, west, and north of the country sufficient to last until 2045. However, distance and topography make their immediate development costly. In October 2002, Alcoa and BHP Billiton signed a letter of intent as the basis for new joint ventures between the two companies, in which Alcoa will take part for 55% in all bauxite mining activities in West Suriname. The government and the companies are looking into cost-effective ways to develop the new mines. The preeminence of bauxite and ALCOA's continued presence in Suriname are key elements in the U.S.-Suriname economic relationship.

A member of CARICOM, Suriname also exports rice, shrimp, timber, bananas, fruits, and vegetables. Gold mining is unregulated by the government, and this important part of the informal economy (estimated at as much as 100% of GDP) must be brought into the realm of tax and environmental authorities. Suriname has attracted the attention of international companies in gold exploration and exploitation as well as those interested in extensive development of a tropical hardwoods industry and possible diamond mining. However, proposals for exploitation of the country's tropical forests and undeveloped regions of the interior traditionally inhabited by indigenous and Maroon communities have raised the concerns of environmentalists and human rights activists both in Suriname and abroad. Oil is a promising sector; current output is 12,000 barrels a day, and regional geology suggests additional potential. Staatsolie, the state-owned oil company, is actively seeking international joint venture partners.

At independence, Suriname signed an agreement with the Netherlands providing for about $1.5 billion in development assistance grants and loans over a 10- to 15-year period. Dutch assistance allocated to Suriname thus amounted to about $100 million per year, but was discontinued during periods of military rule. After the return to a democratically elected government in 1991, Dutch aid resumed. The Dutch relationship continues to be an important factor in the economy, with the Dutch insisting that Suriname undertake economic reforms and produce specific plans acceptable to the Dutch for projects on which aid funds could be spent. In 2000, however, the Dutch revised the structure of their aid package and signaled to the Surinamese authorities their decision to disburse aid by sectoral priorities as opposed to individual projects. Although the present government is not in favor of this approach, it has identified sectors and is now working on sectoral analyses to present to the Dutch.

From 1991 to 1992, Suriname's economic situation showed some improvement, and measures taken in 1993 led to economic stabilization, a relatively stable exchange rate, low inflation, sustainable fiscal policies, and growth, However, Suriname's economic situation has deteriorated since 1996, due in large part to loose fiscal policies of the Wijdenbosch government, which, in the face of lower Dutch development aid, financed its deficit through credit extended by the Central Bank. As a consequence, the parallel market for foreign exchange soared so that by the end of 1998, the premium of the parallel market rate over the official rate was 85%. Since more than 90% of import transactions took place at the parallel rate, inflation took off, with 12-month inflation growing from 0.5% at the end of 1996 to 23% at the end of 1998 and 113% at the end of 1999. The government also instituted a regime of stringent economic controls over prices, the exchange rate, imports, and exports in an effort to contain the adverse effects of its economic policies. The cumulative impact of soaring inflation, an unstable exchange rate, and falling real incomes led to a political crisis.

Suriname elected a new government in May 2000, but until it was replaced, the Wijdenbosch government continued its loose fiscal and monetary policies. By the time it left office, the exchange rate in the parallel market had depreciated further, over 10% of GDP had been borrowed to finance the fiscal deficit, and there was a significant monetary overhang in the country. The new government dealt with these problems by devaluing the official exchange rate by 88%, eliminating all other exchange rates except the parallel market rate set by the banks and cambios, raising tariffs on water and electricity, and eliminating the subsidy on gasoline. The new administration also rationalized the extensive list of price controls to 12 basic food items. More important, the government ceased all financing from the Central Bank. It is attempting to broaden its economic base, establish better contacts with other nations and international financial institutions, and reduce its dependence on Dutch assistance. However, to date the government has yet to implement an investment law or to begin privatization of any of the 110 parastatal, nor has it given much indication that it has developed a comprehensive plan to grow the economy.

State-owned banana producer Surland closed its doors on April 5, 2002, after its inability to meet payroll expenses for the second month in a row; it is still unclear if Surland will survive its current crisis. Moreover, in January 2002, the current government renegotiated civil servant wages (a significant part of the work force and a significant portion of government expenditure), agreeing to raises as high as 100%. Pending implementation of these wage increases and concerned that the government may be unable to meet these increased expenses, the local currency weakened from Sf 2200 in January 2002 to nearly Sf 2500 in April 2002. On March 26, 2003, the Central Bank of Suriname (CBvS) adjusted the exchange rate of the U.S. dollar. This action resulted in further devaluation of the Surinamese guilder. In 2004, the administration introduced a new currency, the Surinamese dollar (SRD), to replace the guilder. The government has kept the SRD exchange rate relatively stable since its inception, at around 2.7 SRD per U.S. dollar. However, uncertainty surrounding the May 25, 2005 election has put pressure on the currency.


FOREIGN RELATIONS

Since gaining independence, Suriname has become a member of the United Nations, the OAS, and the Non-Aligned Movement. Suriname is a member of the Caribbean Community and Common Market and the Association of Caribbean States; it is associated with the European Union through the Lome Convention. Suriname participates in the Amazonian Pact, a grouping of the countries of the Amazon Basin that focuses on protection of the Amazon region's natural resources from environmental degradation. Reflecting its status as a major bauxite producer, Suriname is also a member of the International Bauxite Association. The country also belongs to the Economic Commission for Latin America, the Inter-American Development Bank, the International Finance Corporation, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund. Suriname became a member of the Islamic Development Bank in 1998, under the Wijdenbosch government.

Bilateral agreements with several countries of the region, covering diverse areas of cooperation, have underscored the government's interest in strengthening regional ties. The return to Suriname from French Guiana of about 8,000 refugees of the 1986-91 civil war between the military and domestic insurgents has improved relations with French authorities. Longstanding border disputes with Guyana and French Guiana remain unresolved. Negotiations with the Government of Guyana brokered by the Jamaican Prime Minister in 2000 did not produce an agreement, but the countries agreed to restart talks after Guyanese national elections in 2001. In January 2002, the presidents of Suriname and Guyana met in Suriname and agreed to resume negotiations, establishing the Suriname-Guyana border commission. An earlier dispute with Brazil ended amicably after formal demarcation of the border.

In May 1997, then-President Wijden-bosch joined President Clinton and 14 other Caribbean leaders during the first-ever U.S.-regional summit in Bridgetown, Barbados. The summit strengthened the basis for regional cooperation on justice and counternarcotics issues, finance and development, and trade.


U.S.-SURINAMESE RELATIONS

Since the reestablishment of a democratic, elected government in 1991, the United States has maintained positive and mutually beneficial relations with Suriname based on the principles of democracy, respect for human rights, rule of law, and civilian authority over the military. To strengthen civil society and bolster democratic institutions, the U.S. has provided training regarding appropriate roles for the military in civil society to some of Suriname's military officers and decision makers.

Narcotics trafficking organizations appear to be channeling increasing quantities of cocaine through Suriname for repackaging and transport to Europe and the United States; and of XTC for transport to the United States. To assist Suriname in the fight against drugs and associated criminal activity, the U.S. has helped train Surinamese anti-drug squad personnel. The U.S. Peace Corps in Suriname works with the Ministry of Regional Development and rural communities to encourage community development in Suriname's interior.

Suriname is densely forested and has thus far suffered little from deforestation, but increased interest in large-scale commercial logging and mining in Suriname's interior have raised environmental concerns. The U.S. Forest Service, the Smithsonian, and numerous non-governmental environmental organizations have promoted technical cooperation with Suriname's government to prevent destruction of the country's tropical rain forest, one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world. U.S. experts have worked closely with local natural resource officials to encourage sustainable development of the interior and alternatives such as ecotourism. Suriname's tourism sector remains a minor part of the economy, and tourist infrastructure is limited (in 2000, some 56,843 foreign tourists visited Suriname). On December 1, 2000, UNESCO designated the 1.6-million hectare Central Suriname Nature Reserve a World Heritage site.

Suriname's efforts in recent years to liberalize economic policy created new possibilities for U.S. exports and investments. The U.S. remains one of Suriname's principal trading partners, largely due to ALCOA's longstanding investment in Suriname's bauxite mining and processing industry. More than one-half of world exports to Suriname originate in the United States. Several U.S. corporations are active in Suriname, largely in the mining, consumer goods, and service sectors. Principal U.S. exports to Suriname include chemicals, aircraft, vehicles, machine parts, meat, and wheat. U.S. consumer products are increasingly available through Suriname's many trading companies. Opportunities for U.S. exporters, service companies, and engineering firms will probably expand over the next decade.

Suriname is looking to U.S. and other foreign investors to assist in the commercial development of its vast natural resources and to help finance infrastructure improvements. Enactment of a new investment code and intellectual property rights protection legislation, which would strengthen Suriname's attractiveness to investors, has been discussed, and recently some progress has been made. The investment law was approved by the National Assembly and is currently being revised by the Ministry of Finance.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

PARAMARIBO (E) Address: Dr. Sophie Redmondstraat 129; Phone: (597) 472900; Fax: (597) 410972; INMARSAT Tel: 011-871-1531423; Workweek: Mon-Fri, 0730-1600; Website: State.gov.

AMB:Marsha E. Barnes
AMB OMS:Aikens, Althena
DCM:Mary Beth Leonard
POL:Douglas O'Neill
POL/ECO:Thomas J. Walsh
CON:Nataliya Ioffe
MGT:David LaMontagne
AGR:Leanne Hogie (res. Caracas)
CLO:Vacant
DAO:Lorenzo Harris
DEA:Daniel Lakin and Darion Eshmon (res. Curacao)
EEO:Thomas J. Walsh
FAA:Mayte Ashby (res. Miami)
GSO:Pamela J. Magnant
IPO:Eley M. Johnson
IRS:Frederick Dulas (res. Mexico City)
ISSO:Stevie Cook
LEGATT:Kevin Currier
RSO:Jason R. Kight
Last Updated: 12/1/2005

Other Contact Information

U.S. Department of Commerce International Trade Administration Office of Latin America and the Caribbean
14th and Constitution, NW
Washington, DC 20230
Tel: 202-482-1658, 202-USA-TRADE
Fax: 202-482-0464

Caribbean/Latin American Action
1818 N Street, NW Suite 310
Washington, DC 20036
Tel: 202-466-7464
Fax: 202-822-0075


TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet

October 12, 2005

Country Description:

The Republic of Suriname is a developing nation located on the northern coast of South America. Tourist facilities are widely available in the capital city of Paramaribo; they are less developed and in some cases non-existent in the country's rugged jungle interior. English is widely used, and most tourist arrangements can be made in English. The Government of Suriname continues to encourage ecotourism and is expanding tourism facilities in the interior by establishing guesthouses and tour packages.

Entry/Exit Requirements:

A passport, visa and, if traveling by air, return ticket are required for travel to Suriname. There is a processing fee for business and tourist visas. A business visa requires a letter from the sponsoring company detailing the reason for the visit. There is an airport departure charge and a terminal fee, normally included in the price of airfare. Travelers arriving from Guyana, French Guiana and Brazil are required to show proof of a yellow fever vaccination. For further information, travelers can contact the Embassy of the Republic of Suriname, 4301 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Suite 460, Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 244-7488, email: [email protected], or the Consulate of Suriname in Miami, 7235 NW 19th Street, Suite A, Miami, Fl 33126, telephone (305) 593-2697.

Safety and Security:

Land and maritime borders between Suriname and Guyana are in dispute. Talks between the countries are ongoing, but tensions occasionally rise. Travelers near the borders should keep this in mind and exercise due caution. Demonstrations are rare, but American citizens traveling to or residing in Suriname should take common-sense precautions and avoid large gatherings or other events where crowds have congregated to demonstrate or protest. Travelers proceeding to the interior may encounter difficulties due to limited government authority. Limited transportation and communications may hamper the ability of the U.S. Embassy to assist in an emergency situation.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov where the current Travel Warnings and Public Announcements, including the Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, can be found. Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

Crime:

Criminal activity throughout the country is on the rise and foreigners, including Americans, may be viewed as targets of opportunity. Burglary, armed robbery and violent crime occur with some frequency in Paramaribo and in outlying areas. Pick pocketing and robbery are increasingly common in the major business and shopping districts of the capital. Visitors should avoid wearing expensive or flashy jewelry or displaying large amounts of money in public.

Although there are few reports of criminal incidents in the vicinity of the major tourist hotels, night walks outside the immediate vicinity of the hotels are not recommended. Visitors should avoid the Palm Garden area ("Palmentuin" in Dutch) after dark, as there is no police presence and it is commonly the site of criminal activity.

Theft from vehicles is infrequent, but it does occur, especially in areas near the business district. Drivers are cautioned not to leave packages and other belongings in plain view in their vehicles. When driving, car windows should be closed and doors locked. The use of public minibuses is discouraged, due to widespread unsafe driving and poor maintenance.

Travel to the interior is usually trouble-free, but there have been reports of tourists being robbed. Police presence outside Paramaribo is minimal, and banditry and lawlessness continue to be of concern in the cities of Albina and Moengo, as well as along the East-West Highway between Paramaribo and Albina. There have been reports of attempted and actual car-jackings committed by gangs of men along the East-West Highway. Travelers proceeding to the interior are advised to make use of well-established tour companies for a safer experience.

The emergency number 115 is used for police, fire and rescue. Fire and rescue services provide a relatively timely response, but police response, especially during nighttime hours, is a rarity for all but the most serious of crimes.

Information for Victims of Crime:

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed

Medical Facilities and Health Information:

Medical care, including emergency medical care, is limited and does not meet U.S. standards. There is one public emergency room in Paramaribo with only a small ambulance fleet providing emergency transport with limited first response capabilities. The emergency room has no neurosurgeon, and other medical specialists may not always be available. As a rule, hospital facilities are not air-conditioned, although private rooms with individual air-conditioning are available at extra cost. Emergency medical care outside Paramaribo is limited, and is virtually non-existent in the interior of the country.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance:

The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions:

While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning name of country is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Traffic moves on the left in Suriname; left-hand-drive cars are allowed on the road. Excessive speed, unpredictable driving habits, poorly maintained roads and a lack of basic safety equipment on many vehicles are daily hazards on Surinamese roads. Visitors are encouraged to use automobiles equipped with seat belts and to avoid the use of motorcycles or scooters. An international driver's license is necessary to rent a car.

The roads in Paramaribo are usually paved, but not always well maintained. Large potholes are common on city streets, especially during the rainy seasons, which last from approximately mid-November to January, and from April to June (rainy seasons can differ from year to year by as much as six weeks). Roads are often not marked with traffic lines. Many main thoroughfares do not have sidewalks, forcing pedestrians, motorcycles and bicycle traffic to share the same space.

The East-West Highway, a paved road that stretches from Nieuw Nickerie in the west to Albina in the east, runs through extensive agriculture areas; it is not uncommon to encounter slow-moving farm traffic or animals on the road. Travelers should exercise caution when driving to and from Nieuw Nickerie at night due to poor lighting and sharp road turns without adequate warning signs. Police recommend that travelers check with the police station in Albina for the latest safety information regarding travel between Paramaribo and Albina.

Roads in the interior are sporadically maintained dirt roads that pass through rugged, sparsely populated rain forest. Some roads are passable for sedans in the dry season, but they deteriorate rapidly during the rainy season. Interior roads are not lit, nor are there service stations or emergency call boxes. Bridges in the interior are in various states of repair. Travelers are advised to consult with local sources, including The Foundation for Nature Conservation in Suriname, or STINASU, at telephone (597) 421-683 or 476-579, or with their hotels regarding interior road conditions before proceeding.

For specific information concerning Suriname driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, please contact the Embassy of Suriname in Washington, D.C. or the Consulate of Suriname in Miami.

Aviation Safety Oversight:

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Suriname as being in compliance with ICAO international aviation safety standards for oversight of Suriname's air carrier operations.

Special Circumstances:

Credit cards are not widely accepted outside the major hotels. Travelers should contact their intended hotel or tour company to confirm that credit cards are accepted. Currently, only one bank, Royal Bank of Trinidad and Tobago (RBTT), has Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) accepting foreign ATM cards. In order to withdraw money from the ATM machines of other banks, you must have a local Surinamese bank account and ATM card. Visitors can exchange currency at banks, hotels and official exchange houses, which are called "cambios." Exchanging money outside of these locations is illegal and can be dangerous. Telephone service within Suriname can be problematic, especially during periods of heavy rains.

Criminal Penalties:

While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Suriname's laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Suriname are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in illicit sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Children's Issues:

For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children's Issues website at http://www.travel.state.gov/family/family_1732.html.

Registration/Embassy Location:

Americans living in or visiting Suriname are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Paramaribo through the State Department's travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Suriname. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the Consular Section. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency. The Embassy is located at Dr. Sophie Redmondstraat 129, telephone (011)(597) 472-900, web site http://paramaribo.usembassy.gov. The Consular Section hours of operation for routine American citizen services are Mondays and Wednesdays from 1:30 pm – 3:30 pm, or by appointment, except on American and Surinamese holidays. U.S. citizens requiring emergency assistance evenings, weekends, and holidays may contact an Embassy duty officer by cell phone at (011)(597) 088-08302. The U.S. Embassy in Paramaribo also provides consular services for French Guiana.

International Adoption

July 2005

The information below has been edited from a report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Adoption section of this book and review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family.

Disclaimer:

The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is based on public sources and our current understanding. Questions involving foreign and U.S. immigration laws and legal interpretation should be addressed respectively to qualified foreign or U.S. legal counsel.

Patterns of Immigration of Adopted Orphans to the U.S.: Recent U.S. immigrant visa statistics reflect the following pattern for visa issuance to orphans;

Fiscal Year: Number of Immigrant Visas Issued

FY 2004: 0
FY 2003: 0
FY 2002: 2
FY 2001: 1
FY 2000: 0

Adoption Authority in Suriname:

The government office responsible for adoptions in Suriname is the Bureau of Family Rights and Affairs (Familie Rechtelijke Zaken).

Eligibility Requirements for Adoptive Parents:

Prospective adoptive parents who are married must be at least 18 years older than the child. Married prospective adoptive parents must be married for at least three years to adopt. Single prospective adoptive parents must be at least 25 years of age. The age difference between the parents and the child may not be more than 50 years for the father and 40 years for the mother.

Residential Requirements:

The Surinamese government has no residency requirements for adoptive parents.

Time Frame:

The time frame for adoption processing varies. The local adoption authority states that processing will take anywhere from 2 to 5 months. Visa processing time at the U.S. Embassy in Paramaribo should also be considered. Filing an I-600A petition prior to arrival in Suriname will expedite processing time.

Adoption Fees in Suriname:

The Surinamese government has no fees for adoption services. Attorney's fees are subject to the particular firm.

Adoption Procedures:

The first contact is with the Bureau of Family Rights and Affairs, which assists in identifying a child to be placed with the adoptive parents. Once a specific child is identified, the adoption request is filed in quintuple with the Cantonal Judge in Suriname, together with the birth certificates of the adoptive child and the adoptive parent(s). The Bureau of Family Rights and Affairs conducts an investigation to determine whether the request of the adoptive parents is in the best interest of the adoptive child. The investigation typically lasts three months. Court proceedings are held following the investigation. The biological parents of the child may participate in the proceedings. The proceedings are closed to the general public. The personal appearance of the adoptive parents is not required. The custody decree is registered with the civil registry of births where the adopted child is registered.

Documents Required for Adoption in Suriname:

  • A homestudy. A copy of the homestudy sent to the USCIS will suffice;
  • Proof that the prospective parent(s) is living abroad or in the United States. The prospective parent(s) may submit an apartment lease, home ownership or tax documents. If the prospective parent(s) reside in Suriname, passport with legal status including the stamp from the Surinamese government must be provided;
  • Marriage certificate, if applicable;
  • Birth certificates of the prospective parent(s);
  • Medical clearance on the prospective parent(s);
  • Job letter from the prospective parent(s) employer;
  • Statement from the judicial authorities that the couple has permission to bring the child into the U.S. or into a third country;
  • 8. Statement from the judicial authorities that the couple, according to U.S. law, can adopt the child.

Note:

The I-600A approval from the BCIS will suffice for 7) and 8).

Authenticating U.S. Documents to be Used Abroad:

All U.S. documents submitted to the Suriname government/court must be authenticated. Visit the State Department website at travel.state.gov for additional information about authentication procedures.

Surinamese Embassy and Consulate in the United States:

Van Ness Centre EVE Suite 108
4301 Connecticut Avenue, N.W.
Washington D.C. 20008
Tel: (202) 244 7590
Fax: (202) 244 5878

Consulate General in Miami
6303 Blue Lagoon Drive, Suite 325
Miami, Florida 33126
Tel: (305) 265-4655

U.S. Immigration Requirements:

Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at travel.state.gov/family.

U.S. Embassy in Suriname:

U.S. Embassy Paramaribo
Dr. Sophie Redmond Straat 129
Paramaribo
Tel: (597) 472900
Fax: (597) 425788

Additional Information:

Specific questions about adoption in Suriname may be addressed to the U.S. Embassy in Suriname. General questions regarding international adoption may be addressed to the Office of Children's Issues, U.S. Department of State, CA/OCS/CI, SA-29, 4 th Floor, 2201 C Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20520-4818, toll-free Tel: 1-888-404-4747.

views updated

SURINAME

Compiled from the August 2004 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
Republic of Suriname


PROFILE

Geography

Area: 163,194 sq. km. (63,037 sq. mi.); slightly larger than Georgia.

Cities: Capital—Paramaribo (pop. 243,556). Other cities—Nieuw Nickerie, Moengo.

Terrain: Varies from coastal swamps to savanna to hills.

Climate: Tropical.

People

Nationality: Noun—Surinamer(s). Adjective—Surinamese.

Population: (2001) 441,356.

Annual growth rate: (2003) 1.3%.

Ethnic groups: Hindustani (East Indian) 37%, Creole 31%, Javanese 15%, Bush Negro 10%, Amerindians 3%, Chinese 1.7% (percentages date from 1972 census, the last in which ethnicity data was collected).

Religions: Hindu, Muslim, Roman Catholic, Dutch Reformed, Moravian, several other Christian denominations, Jewish, Baha'i.

Languages: Dutch (official), English, Sranan Tongo (Creole language), Hindustani, Javanese.

Education: Years compulsory—ages 6-12. Literacy—90%.

Health: Infant mortality rate (2000)—27.1/1,000. Life expectancy (2000)—70.7 yrs.

Work force: (100,000) Government—35%; private sector—41%; parastatal companies—10%; unemployed—14%.

Government

Type: Constitutional democracy.

Constitution: September 30, 1987.

Independence: November 25, 1975.

Branches: Executive—president, vice president, Council of Ministers. Legislative—elected 51-member National Assembly made up of representatives of political parties. Judicial—Court of Justice.

Administrative subdivisions: 10 districts.

Political parties: Governing Coalition—National Party of Suriname (NPS), Progressive Reform Party (VHP), Pertjaja Luhur, Suriname Workers Party (SPA). Other parties in the National Assembly—Democratic Alternative '91 (DA 91), Democratic National Platform (DNP) 2000, Political Wing of the FAL (Federation of Agricultural Workers), Progressive Workers and Farmers Union (PALU), National Democratic Party (NDP), Democratic Party (DP), Javanese Indonesian Peasants Party (KTPI), Independent Progressive Democratic Alternative (OPDA).

Suffrage: Universal at 18.

Economy

GDP: (2001) $833 million. (U.S.$)

Annual growth rate real GDP: (2001) 1.9%.

Per capita GDP: (2001) $1,672.

Natural resources: Bauxite, gold, oil, iron ore, other minerals; forests; hydroelectric potential; fish and shrimp.

Agriculture: Products—rice, bananas, timber, and citrus fruits.

Industry: Types—alumina, oil, fish, shrimp, gold, lumber.

Trade: (2001) Exports—$479 million (USD) alumina, wood and wood products, rice, bananas, fish, and shrimp. Major markets—U.S. (about 25%), Norway, Netherlands, and other European countries. Imports—$501 million: capital equipment, petroleum, iron and steel products, agricultural products, and consumer goods. Major suppliers—U.S. (about 40%), Netherlands, EU (about 30%), and Caribbean (CARICOM) countries (20%).


PEOPLE

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.


HISTORY

Arawak and Carib tribes lived in the region before Columbus sighted the coast in 1498. Spain officially claimed the area in 1593, but Portuguese and Spanish explorers of the time gave the area little attention. Dutch settlement began in 1616 at the mouths of several rivers between present-day Georgetown, Guyana, and Cayenne, French Guiana.

Suriname became a Dutch colony in 1667. The new colony, Dutch Guiana, did not thrive. Historians cite several reasons for this, including Holland's preoccupation with its more extensive (and profitable) East Indian territories, violent conflict between whites and native tribes, and frequent uprisings by the imported slave population, which was often treated with extraordinary cruelty. Barely, if at all, assimilated into European society, many of the slaves fled to the interior, where they maintained a West African culture and established the five major Bush Negro tribes in existence today—the Djuka, Saramaccaner, Matuwari, Paramaccaner, and Quinti.

Plantations steadily declined in importance as labor costs rose. Rice, bananas, and citrus fruits replaced the traditional crops of sugar, coffee, and cocoa. Exports of gold rose beginning in 1900. The Dutch Government gave little financial support to the colony. Suriname's economy was transformed in the years following World War I, when an American firm (ALCOA) began exploiting bauxite deposits in East Suriname. Bauxite processing and then alumina production began in 1916. During World War II, more than 75% of U.S. bauxite imports came from Suriname.

In 1951, Suriname began to acquire a growing measure of autonomy from the Netherlands. Suriname became an autonomous part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands on December 15, 1954, and gained independence on November 25, 1975.

Most of Suriname's political parties took shape during the autonomy period and were overwhelmingly based on ethnicity. For example, the National Party of Suriname found its support among the Creoles, the Progressive Reform Party members came from the Hindustani population, and the Indonesian Peasant's Party was Javanese. Other smaller parties found support by appealing to voters on an ideological or pro-independence platform; the Partij Nationalistische Republiek (PNR) was among the most important. Its members pressed most strongly for independence and for the introduction of leftist political and economic measures. Many former PNR members would go on to play a key role following the coup of February 1980.

Suriname was a working parliamentary democracy in the years immediately following independence. Henk Arron became the first Prime Minister and was re-elected in 1977. On February 25, 1980, 16 noncommissioned officers overthrew the elected government. The military-dominated government then suspended the constitution, dissolved the legislature, and formed a regime that ruled by decree. Although a civilian filled the post of president, a military man, Desi Bouterse, actually ruled the country.

Throughout 1982, pressure grew for a return to civilian rule. In response, the military ordered drastic action. Early in December 1982, military authorities arrested and killed 15 prominent opposition leaders, including journalists, lawyers, and trade union leaders.

Following the murders, the United States and the Netherlands suspended economic and military cooperation with the Bouterse regime, which increasingly began to follow an erratic but generally leftist-oriented political course. Economic decline rapidly set in after the suspension of economic aid from the Netherlands. The regime restricted the press and limited the rights of its citizens.

Continuing economic decline brought pressure for change. During the 1984-87 period, the Bouterse regime tried to end the crisis by appointing a succession of nominally civilian-led cabinets. Many figures in the government came from the traditional political parties that had been shoved aside during the coup. The military eventually agreed to free elections in 1987, a new constitution, and a civilian government.

Another pressure for change had erupted in July 1986, when a Bush Negro (aka Maroon) insurgency, led by former soldier Ronnie Brunswijk, began attacking economic targets in the country's interior. In response, the army ravaged villages and killed suspected Brunswijk supporters. Thousands of Bush Negroes fled to nearby French Guiana. In an effort to end the bloodshed, the Surinamese Government negotiated a peace treaty, called the Kourou Accord, with Brunswijk in 1989. However, Bouterse and other military leaders blocked the accord's implementation.

On December 24, 1990, military officers forced the resignations of the civilian President and Vice President elected in 1987. Military-selected replacements were hastily approved by the National Assembly on December 29. Faced with mounting pressure from the U.S., other nations, the Organization of American States (OAS), and other international organizations, the government held new elections on May 25, 1991.

The New Front (NF) Coalition, comprised of the Creole National Party of Suriname (NPS), the Hindustani Progressive Reform Party (VHP), the Javanese Indonesian Peasant's Party (KTPI), and the Surinamese Workers Party (SPA) were able to win a majority in the National Assembly. On September 6, 1991, NPS candidate Ronald Venetiaan was elected

President, and the VHP's Jules Ajodhia became Vice President of the New Front Coalition government.

The Venetiaan government was able to effect a settlement to Suriname's domestic insurgency through the August 1992 Peace Accord with Bush Negro and Amerindian rebels. In April 1993, Desi Bouterse left his position as commander of the armed forces and was replaced by Arthy Gorre, a military officer committed to bringing the armed forces under civilian government control. Economic reforms instituted by the Venetiaan government eventually helped curb inflation, unify the official and unofficial exchange rates, and improve the government's economic situation by re-establishing relations with the Dutch, thereby opening the way for a major influx of Dutch financial assistance. Despite these successes, the governing coalition lost support and failed to retain control of the government in the subsequent round of national elections. The rival National Democratic Party (NDP), founded in the early 1990s by Desi Bouterse, benefited from the New Front government's loss of popularity. The NDP won more National Assembly seats (16 of 51) than any other party in the May 1996 national elections and in September 1996, joined with the KTPI, dissenters from the VHP, and several smaller parties to elect NDP vice chairman Jules Wijdenbosch president of a NDP-led coalition government. Divisions and subsequent reshufflings of coalition members in the fall of 1997 and early 1998 weakened the coalition's mandate and slowed legislative action.

In May 1999, after mass demonstrations protesting poor economic conditions, the government was forced to call early elections. The elections in May 2000 returned Ronald Venetiaan and his coalition to the presidency. The NF ran its campaign on a platform to fix the faltering Surinamese economy. But while the Venetiaan administration has made progress in stabilizing the economy, tensions within the coalition and the impatience of the populace have impeded progress.

Relations with the Dutch have been complicated by Dutch prosecution of Desi Bouterse in absentia on drug charges, and legal maneuvering by Dutch prosecutors trying to bring charges relating to the December 1982 murders. (A Dutch appellate court in 2000 found Bouterse guilty of one drug-related charge; the decision was upheld on appeal.) A key component of the relationship is the 600 million Dutch guilders (Nf.) remaining from Nf. 2.5 billion promised for development at independence. The disposition of the funds was a matter of much discussion during recent Dutch cabinet-level visits intended to lay the groundwork to restart the flow of guilders, which the Dutch stanched in response to irresponsible spending by the Wijdenbosch administration. The parties are at odds over the control of the funds, and needed aid has not flowed to the country.

In August 2001, the Dutch provided a triple A state guarantee to enable the Surinamese Government to receive a 10-year loan from the Dutch Development Bank (NTO) for the amount of Euro 137.7 million (U.S.$125 million). The loan has an interest rate of 5.18% per year and was used to consolidate floating government debts. U.S.$32 million of the loan was used to pay off foreign loans, which had been taken under unfavorable conditions by the Wijdenbosch government. The remaining 93 million of the loan was used to pay off debts at the Central Bank of Suriname. This enabled the Central Bank to strengthen its foreign currency position according to the IMF standards to the equivalency of 3 months of imports.


GOVERNMENT

The Republic of Suriname is a constitutional democracy based on the 1987 constitution. The legislative branch of government consists of a 51-member unicameral National Assembly, simultaneously and popularly elected for a 5-year term. The last election was held in May 2000.

The executive branch is headed by the president, who is elected by a twothirds majority of the National Assembly or, failing that, by a majority of the People's Assembly for a 5-year term. 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. A vice president, normally elected at the same time as the president, needs a simple majority in the National Assembly or People's Assembly to be elected for a 5-year term. As head of government, the president appoints a cabinet of ministers. There is no constitutional provision for removal or replacement of the president unless he resigns.

A 15-member State Advisory Council advises the president in the conduct of policy. Eleven of the 15 council seats are allotted by proportional representation of all political parties represented in the National Assembly. The president chairs the council, and two seats are allotted to representatives of labor, and two are allotted to employers' organizations.

The judiciary is headed by the Court of Justice (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.

The country is divided into 10 administrative districts, each headed by a district commissioner appointed by the president. The commissioner is similar to the governor of a U.S. State but serves at the president's pleasure.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 6/11/03

President: Venetiaan , Runaldo Ronald
Vice President: Ajodhia , Jules Rattankoemar
Min. of Agriculture & Fishing: Panday , Geetapersad Gangaram
Min. of Defense: Assen , Ronald
Min. of Education & Human Development: Sandriman , Walter
Min. of Finance: Hildenberg , Humphrey
Min. of Foreign Affairs: Levens , Marie
Min. of Health: Khudabux , Mohamed Rakieb
Min. of Home Affairs: Joella-Sewnundun , Urmila
Min. of Justice & Police: Gilds , Siegfried
Min. of Labor: Marica , Clifford
Min. of Natural Resources: Demon , Franco Rudy
Min. of Planning & Development Cooperation: Raghoebarsingh , Keremchand
Min. of Public Works: Balesar , Dewanand
Min. of Regional Development: Russel , Romeo van
Min. of Social Affairs:
Min. of Trade & Industry: Jong Tjien Fa , Michael
Min. of Transportation, Communication, & Tourism: Castelen , Guno
Pres., Central Bank: Telting , Andre
Ambassador to the US: Illes , Henry
Permanent Representative to the UN: Limon , Ewald Wensley

Suriname maintains an embassy in the United States at 4301 Connecticut Ave, NW, Suite 460, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-244-7488; fax 202-244-5878). There also is a Suriname consulate general at 7235 NW 19th St., Suite A, Miami, FL 33136 (tel. 305-593-2163).


NATIONAL SECURITY

Surinamese armed forces consist of the national army under the control of the Minister of Defense and a smaller civil police force, which is responsible to the Minister of Justice and Police. The national armed forces comprise some 2,200 personnel, the majority of whom are deployed as light infantry security forces. A small air force, navy, and military police also exist. The Netherlands has provided limited military assistance to the Surinamese armed forces since the election of a democratic government in 1991. In recent years, the U.S. has provided training to military officers and policymakers to promote a better understanding of the role of the military in a civilian government. Also, since the mid-1990s, the People's Republic of China has been donating military equipment and logistical material to the Surinamese Armed Forces.


ECONOMY

The backbone of Suriname's economy is the export of alumina and small amounts of aluminum produced from bauxite mined in the country. In 1999, the aluminum smelter was closed. However, alumina exports accounted for 72% of Suriname's estimated export earnings of $496.6 million in 2001. Suriname's bauxite deposits have been among the world's richest.

In 1984, SURALCO, a subsidiary of the Aluminum Company of America (ALCOA), formed a joint venture with the Royal Dutch Shell-owned Billiton Company, which did not process the bauxite it mined in Suriname. Under this agreement, both companies share risks and profits.

Inexpensive power costs are Suriname's big advantage in the energy-intensive alumina and aluminum business. In the 1960s, ALCOA built a $150-million dam for the production of hydroelectric energy at Afobaka (south of Brokopondo), which created a 1,560-sq. km. (600-sq. mi.) lake, one of the largest artificial lakes in the world.

The major mining sites at Moengo and Lelydorp are maturing, and it is now estimated that their reserves will be depleted by 2006. Other proven reserves exist in the east, west, and north of the country sufficient to last until 2045. However, distance and topography make their immediate development costly.

In October 2002, Alcoa and BHP Billiton signed a letter of intent as the basis for new joint ventures between the two companies, in which Alcoa will take part for 55% in all bauxite mining activities in West Suriname. The government and the companies are looking into cost-effective ways to develop the new mines. The preeminence of bauxite and ALCOA's continued presence in Suriname are key elements in the U.S.-Suriname economic relationship.

A member of CARICOM, Suriname also exports rice, shrimp, timber, bananas, fruits, and vegetables. Gold mining is unregulated by the government, and this important part of the informal economy (estimated at as much as 100% of GDP) must be brought into the realm of tax and environmental authorities. Suriname has attracted the attention of international companies in gold exploration and exploitation as well as those interested in extensive development of a tropical hardwoods industry and possible diamond mining. However, proposals for exploitation of the country's tropical forests and undeveloped regions of the interior traditionally inhabited by indigenous and Maroon communities have raised the concerns of environmentalists and human rights activists both in Suriname and abroad. Oil is a promising sector; current output is 12,000 barrels a day, and regional geology suggests additional potential. Staatsolie, the state-owned oil company, is actively seeking international joint venture partners.

At independence, Suriname signed an agreement with the Netherlands providing for about $1.5 billion in development assistance grants and loans over a 10- to 15-year period. Dutch assistance allocated to Suriname thus amounted to about $100 million per year, but was discontinued during periods of military rule. After the return to a democratically elected government in 1991, Dutch aid resumed. The Dutch relationship continues to be an important factor in the economy, with the Dutch insisting that Suriname undertake economic reforms and produce specific plans acceptable to the Dutch for projects on which aid funds could be spent. In 2000, however, the Dutch revised the structure of their aid package and signaled to the Surinamese authorities their decision to disburse aid by sectoral priorities as opposed to individual projects. Although the present government is not in favor of this approach, it has identified sectors and is now working on sectoral analyses to present to the Dutch.

From 1991 to 1992, Suriname's economic situation showed some improvement, and measures taken in 1993 led to economic stabilization, a relatively stable exchange rate, low inflation, sustainable fiscal policies, and growth, However, Suriname's economic situation has deteriorated since 1996, due in large part to loose fiscal policies of the Wijdenbosch government, which, in the face of lower Dutch development aid, financed its deficit through credit extended by the Central Bank. As a consequence, the parallel market for foreign exchange soared so that by the end of 1998, the premium of the parallel market rate over the official rate was 85%. Since more than 90% of import transactions took place at the parallel rate, inflation took off, with 12-month inflation growing from 0.5% at the end of 1996 to 23% at the end of 1998 and 113% at the end of 1999. The government also instituted a regime of stringent economic controls over prices, the exchange rate, imports, and exports in an effort to contain the adverse effects of its economic policies. The cumulative impact of soaring inflation, an unstable exchange rate, and falling real incomes led to a political crisis.

Suriname elected a new government in May 2000, but until it was replaced, the Wijdenbosch government continued its loose fiscal and monetary policies. By the time it left office, the exchange rate in the parallel market had depreciated further, over 10% of GDP had been borrowed to finance the fiscal deficit, and there was a significant monetary overhang in the country. The new government dealt with these problems by devaluing the official exchange rate by 88%, eliminating all other exchange rates except the parallel market rate set by the banks and cambios, raising tariffs on water and electricity, and eliminating the subsidy on gasoline. The new administration also rationalized the extensive list of price controls to 12 basic food items. More important, the government ceased all financing from the Central Bank. It is attempting to broaden its economic base, establish better contacts with other nations and international financial institutions, and reduce its dependence on Dutch assistance. However, to date the government has yet to implement an investment law or to begin privatization of any of the 110 parastatal, nor has it given much indication that it has developed a comprehensive plan to grow the economy.

State-owned banana producer Surland closed its doors on April 5, 2002, after its inability to meet payroll expenses for the second month in a row; it is still unclear if Surland will survive its current crisis. Moreover, in January 2002, the current government renegotiated civil servant wages (a significant part of the work force and a significant portion of government expenditure), agreeing to raises as high as 100%. Pending implementation of these wage increases and concerned that the government may be unable to meet these increased expenses, the local currency weakened from Sf 2200 in January 2002 to nearly Sf 2500 in April 2002. On March 26, 2003, the Central Bank of Suriname (CBvS) adjusted the exchange rate of the U.S. dollar. This action resulted in further devaluation of the Surinamese guilder. The official exchange rate of the $U.S. is SF 2,650 for selling and SF 2,600 for purchasing. With the official exchange rate, the CBvS came closer to the exchange rate on the parallel market which sell the U.S. dollar for SF 3,250.


FOREIGN RELATIONS

Since gaining independence, Suriname has become a member of the United Nations, the OAS, and the Non-Aligned Movement. Suriname is a member of the Caribbean Community and Common Market and the Association of Caribbean States; it is associated with the European Union through the Lome Convention. Suriname participates in the Amazonian Pact, a grouping of the countries of the Amazon Basin that focuses on protection of the Amazon region's natural resources from environmental degradation. Reflecting its status as a major bauxite producer, Suriname is also a member of the International Bauxite Association. The country also belongs to the Economic Commission for Latin America, the Inter-American Development Bank, the International Finance Corporation, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund. Suriname became a member of the Islamic Development Bank in 1998, under the Wijdenbosch government.

Bilateral agreements with several countries of the region, covering diverse areas of cooperation, have underscored the government's interest in strengthening regional ties. The return to Suriname from French Guiana of about 8,000 refugees of the 1986-91 civil war between the military and domestic insurgents has improved relations with French authorities. Longstanding border disputes with Guyana and French Guiana remain unresolved. Negotiations with the Government of Guyana brokered by the Jamaican Prime Minister in 2000 did not produce an agreement, but the countries agreed to restart talks after Guyanese national elections in 2001. In January 2002, the presidents of Suriname and Guyana met in Suriname and agreed to resume negotiations, establishing the Suriname-Guyana border commission. An earlier dispute with Brazil ended amicably after formal demarcation of the border.

In May 1997, then-President Wijdenbosch joined President Clinton and 14 other Caribbean leaders during the first-ever U.S.-regional summit in Bridgetown, Barbados. The summit strengthened the basis for regional cooperation on justice and counternarcotics issues, finance and development, and trade.


U.S.-SURINAMESE RELATIONS

Since the reestablishment of a democratic, elected government in 1991, the United States has maintained positive and mutually beneficial relations with Suriname based on the principles of democracy, respect for human rights, rule of law, and civilian authority over the military. To strengthen civil society and bolster democratic institutions, the U.S. has provided training regarding appropriate roles for the military in civil society to some of Suriname's military officers and decision makers.

Narcotics trafficking organizations appear to be channeling increasing quantities of cocaine through Suriname for repackaging and transport to Europe and the United States; and of XTC for transport to the United States. To assist Suriname in the fight against drugs and associated criminal activity, the U.S. has helped train Surinamese anti-drug squad personnel. The U.S. Peace Corps in Suriname works with the Ministry of Regional Development and rural communities to encourage community development in Suriname's interior.

Suriname is densely forested and has thus far suffered little from deforestation, but increased interest in largescale commercial logging and mining in Suriname's interior have raised environmental concerns. The U.S. Forest Service, the Smithsonian, and numerous non-governmental environmental organizations have promoted technical cooperation with Suriname's government to prevent destruction of the country's tropical rain forest, one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world. U.S. experts have worked closely with local natural resource officials to encourage sustainable development of the interior and alternatives such as ecotourism. Suriname's tourism sector remains a minor part of the economy, and tourist infrastructure is limited (in 2000, some 56,843 foreign tourists visited Suriname). On December 1, 2000, UNESCO designated the 1.6-million hectare Central Suriname Nature Reserve a World Heritage site.

Suriname's efforts in recent years to liberalize economic policy created new possibilities for U.S. exports and investments. The U.S. remains one of Suriname's principal trading partners, largely due to ALCOA's longstanding investment in Suriname's bauxite mining and processing industry. More than one-half of world exports to Suriname originate in the United States. Several U.S. corporations are active in Suriname, largely in the mining, consumer goods, and service sectors. Principal U.S. exports to Suriname include chemicals, aircraft, vehicles, machine parts, meat, and wheat. U.S. consumer products are increasingly available through Suriname's many trading companies. Opportunities for U.S. exporters, service companies, and engineering firms will probably expand over the next decade.

Suriname is looking to U.S. and other foreign investors to assist in the commercial development of its vast natural resources and to help finance infrastructure improvements. Enactment of a new investment code and intellectual property rights protection legislation, which would strengthen Suriname's attractiveness to investors, has been discussed, and recently some progress has been made. The investment law was approved by the National Assembly and is currently being revised by the Ministry of Finance.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

PARAMARIBO (E) Address: Dr. Sophie Redmondstraat 129; Phone: (597) 472900; Fax: (597) 410972; INMARSAT Tel: 011-871-1531423; Workweek: Mon–Fri, 0730-1600; Website: State.gov

AMB:Marsha E. Barnes
AMB OMS:Debra Clark-Ware
DCM:Mary Beth Leonard
POL:Douglas O'Neill
POL/ECO:Thomas J. Walsh
CON:Nataliya Ioffe
MGT:David LaMontagne
AGR:Leanne Hogie (res. Caracas)
CLO:Xiomara Rooks
DAO:Francis D. Grimm
DEA:Daniel Lakin and Darion Eshmon (res. Curacao)
EEO:Thomas J. Walsh
FAA:Mayte Ashby (res. Miami)
GSO:Pamela G. Magnant
IPO:Eley M. Johnson
IRS:Frederick Dulas (res. Mexico City)
ISSO:Stevie Cook
LEGATT:Dennis Pierce (res. Caracas)
RSO:Christopher R. Rooks
Last Updated: 2/4/2005

Other Contact Information

U.S. Department of Commerce
International Trade Administration Office of Latin America and the Caribbean
14th and Constitution, NW
Washington, DC 20230
Tel: 202-482-1658, 202-USA-TRADE;
Fax: 202-482-0464

Caribbean/Latin American Action
1818 N Street, NW Suite 310
Washington, DC 20036
Tel: 202-466-7464
Fax: 202-822-0075


TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet

November 29, 2004

Country Description: The Republic of Suriname is a developing nation located on the northern coast of South America. Tourist facilities are widely available in the capital city of Paramaribo; they are less developed and in some cases non-existent in the country's rugged jungle interior. English is widely used, and most tourist arrangements can be made in English. The Government of Suriname continues to encourage ecotourism and is expanding tourism facilities in the interior by establishing guesthouses and tour packages.

Entry/Exit Requirements: A passport, visa and, if traveling by air, return ticket are required for travel to Suriname. There is a processing fee for business and tourist visas. A business visa requires a letter from the sponsoring company detailing the reason for the visit. There is an airport departure charge and a terminal fee, normally included in the price of airfare. Travelers arriving from Guyana, French Guiana and Brazil are required to show proof of a yellow fever vaccination. For further information, travelers can contact the Embassy of the Republic of Suriname, 4301 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Suite 460, Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 244-7488, email: [email protected], or the Consulate of Suriname in Miami, 7235 NW 19th Street, Suite A, Miami, Fl 33126, telephone (305) 593-2697. See our Foreign Entry Requirements brochure for more information on Suriname and other countries.

Safety and Security: Land and maritime borders between Suriname and Guyana are in dispute. Talks between the countries are ongoing, but tensions occasionally rise. Travelers near the borders should keep this in mind and exercise due caution. Demonstrations are rare, but American citizens traveling to or residing in Suriname should take common-sense precautions and avoid large gatherings or other events where crowds have congregated to demonstrate or protest. Travelers proceeding to the interior may encounter difficulties due to limited government authority. Limited transportation and communications may hamper the ability of the U.S. Embassy to assist in an emergency situation.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found.

Up-to-date information of safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-317-472-2328. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas. For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State's pamphlet A Safe Trip Abroad.

Crime: Criminal activity throughout the country is on the rise and foreigners, including Americans, may be viewed as targets of opportunity. Burglary, armed robbery and violent crime occur with some frequency in Paramaribo and in outlying areas. Pick pocketing and robbery are increasingly common in the major business and shopping districts of the capital. Visitors should avoid wearing expensive or flashy jewelry or displaying large amounts of money in public.

Although there are few reports of criminal incidents in the vicinity of the major tourist hotels, night walks outside the immediate vicinity of the hotels are not recommended. Visitors should avoid the Palm Garden area ("Palmentuin" in Dutch) after dark, as there is no police presence and it is commonly the site of criminal activity.

Theft from vehicles is infrequent, but it does occur, especially in areas near the business district. Drivers are cautioned not to leave packages and other belongings in plain view in their vehicles. When driving, car windows should be closed and doors locked. The use of public minibuses is discouraged, due to widespread unsafe driving and poor maintenance.

Travel to the interior is usually trouble-free, but there have been reports of tourists being robbed. Police presence outside Paramaribo is minimal, and banditry and lawlessness continue to be of concern in the cities of Albina and Moengo, as well as along the East-West Highway between Paramaribo and Albina. Travelers proceeding to the interior are advised to make use of well-established tour companies for a safer experience.

The emergency number 115 is used for police, fire and rescue. Fire and rescue services provide a relatively timely response, but police response, especially during nighttime hours, is a rarity for all but the most serious of crimes.

Information for Victims of Crime: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed. Posts in countries that have victims of crime assistance programs should include that information. See our information on Victims of Crime at http://travel.state.gov/travel/brochure_victim_assistance.html.

Medical Facilities and Health Information: Medical care, including emergency medical care, is limited and does not meet U.S. standards. There is one public emergency room in Paramaribo with only a small ambulance fleet providing emergency transport with limited first response capabilities. The emergency room has no neurosurgeon, and other medical specialists may not always be available. As a rule, hospital facilities are not air-conditioned, although private rooms with individual air-conditioning are available at extra cost. Emergency medical care outside Paramaribo is limited, and is virtually non-existent in the interior of the country.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Suriname is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Traffic moves on the left in Suriname; left-hand-drive cars are allowed on the road. Excessive speed, unpredictable driving habits, poorly maintained roads and a lack of basic safety equipment on many vehicles are daily hazards on Surinamese roads. Visitors are encouraged to use automobiles equipped with seat belts and to avoid the use of motorcycles or scooters. An international driver's license is necessary to rent a car.

The roads in Paramaribo are usually paved, but not always well maintained. Large potholes are common on city streets, especially during the rainy seasons, which last from approximately mid-November to January, and from April to June (rainy seasons can differ from year to year by as much as six weeks). Roads are often not marked with traffic lines. Many main thoroughfares do not have sidewalks, forcing pedestrians, motorcycles and bicycle traffic to share the same space.

The East-West Highway, a paved road that stretches from Nieuw Nickerie in the west to Albina in the east, runs through extensive agriculture areas; it is not uncommon to encounter slow-moving farm traffic or animals on the road. Police recommend that travelers check with the police station in Albina for the latest safety information regarding travel between Paramaribo and Albina.

Roads in the interior are sporadically maintained dirt roads that pass through rugged, sparsely populated rain forest. Some roads are passable for sedans in the dry season, but they deteriorate rapidly during the rainy season. Interior roads are not lit, nor are there service stations or emergency call boxes. Bridges in the interior are in various states of repair. Travelers are advised to consult with local sources, including The Foundation for Nature Conservation in Suriname, or STINASU, at telephone (597) 421-683 or 476-579, or with their hotels regarding interior road conditions before proceeding.

For specific information concerning Suriname driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, please contact the Embassy of Suriname in Washington, D.C. or the Consulate of Suriname in Miami.

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Suriname as being in compliance with ICAO international aviation safety standards for oversight of Suriname's air carrier operations. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA's internet web site at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/index.cfm.

Special Circumstances: Credit cards are not widely accepted outside the major hotels. Travelers should contact their intended hotel or tour company to confirm that credit cards are accepted. Currently, only one bank, Royal Bank of Trinidad and Tobago (RBTT), has Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) accepting foreign ATM cards. In order to withdraw money from the ATM machines of other banks, you must have a local Surinamese bank account and ATM card. Visitors can exchange currency at banks, hotels and official exchange houses, which are called "cambios." Exchanging money outside of these locations is illegal and can be dangerous. Telephone service within Suriname can be problematic, especially during periods of heavy rains.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offences. Persons violating Suriname's laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Suriname are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in illicit sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Children's Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children's Issues website at http://travel.state.gov/family/index.html.

Registration/Embassy Location: Americans living in or visiting Suriname are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Paramaribo through the State Department's travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Suriname. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the Consular Section. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency. The Embassy is located at Dr. Sophie Redmondstraat 129, telephone (011)(597) 472-900, web site http://paramaribo.usembassy.gov. The Consular Section hours of operation for routine American citizen services are Mondays and Wednesdays from 8:00 a.m.—10:00 a.m., or by appointment, except on American and Surinamese holidays. U.S. citizens requiring emergency assistance evenings, weekends, and holidays may contact an Embassy duty officer by cell phone at (011)(597) 088-08302. The U.S. Embassy in Paramaribo also provides consular services for French Guiana.

International Adoption

January 2005

The information below has been edited from a report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Adoption section of this book and review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family.

Patterns of Immigration of Adopted Orphans to the U.S.: Recent U.S. immigrant visa statistics reflect the following pattern for visa issuance to orphans

Fiscal Year: Number of Immigrant Visas Issued
FY 2003: 0
FY 2002: 2
FY 2001: 1
FY 2000: 0
FY 1999: 0

Adoption Authority in Suriname: The government office responsible for adoptions in Suriname is the Bureau of Family Rights and Affairs (Familie Rechtelijke Zaken). Address: Bureau Voor Familierechtelijke Zaken, Grote Combeweg #7; Telephone Numbers: (597) 478759, (597) 475763. Mailing Address: Bureau Voor Familierechtelijke Zaken, aan Postbus 67.

Eligibility Requirements for Adoptive Parents: Prospective adoptive parents who are married must be at least 18 years older than the child. Married prospective adoptive parents must be married for at least three years to adopt. Single prospective adoptive parents must be at least 25 years of age. The age difference between the parents and the child may not be more than 50 years for the father and 40 years for the mother.

Residential Requirements: The Surinamese government has no residency requirements for adoptive parents.

Time Frame: The time frame for adoption processing varies. The local adoption authority states that processing will take anywhere from 2 to 5 months. Visa processing time at the U.S. Embassy in Paramaribo should also be considered. Filing an I-600A petition prior to arrival in Suriname will expedite processing time.

Adoption Agencies and Attorneys: There are currently no adoption agencies or attorneys in Suriname. Prospective adopting parents are advised to fully research any adoption agency or facilitator they plan to use for adoption services. For U.S.-based agencies, it is suggested that prospective adopting parents contact the Better Business Bureau and licensing office of the Department of Health and Family Services in the state where the agency is located.

Adoption Fees in Suriname: The Surinamese government has no fees for adoption services. Attorney's fees are subject to the particular firm.

Adoption Procedures: The first contact is with the Bureau of Family Rights and Affairs, which assists in identifying a child to be placed with the adoptive parents. Once a specific child is identified, the adoption request is filed in quintuple with the Cantonal Judge in Suriname, together with the birth certificates of the adoptive child and the adoptive parent(s). The Bureau of Family Rights and Affairs conducts an investigation to determine whether the request of the adoptive parents is in the best interest of the adoptive child. The investigation typically lasts three months. Court proceedings are held following the investigation. The biological parents of the child may participate in the proceedings. The proceedings are closed to the general public. The personal appearance of the adoptive parents is not required. The custody decree is registered with the civil registry of births where the adopted child is registered.

Documents Required for Adoption in Suriname:

  • A homestudy. A copy of the homestudy sent to the USCIS will suffice;
  • Proof that the prospective parent(s) is living abroad or in the United States. The prospective parent(s) may submit an apartment lease, home ownership or tax documents. If the prospective parent(s) reside in Suriname, passport with legal status including the stamp from the Surinamese government must be provided;
  • Marriage certificate, if applicable;
  • Birth certificates of the prospective parent(s);
  • Medical clearance on the prospective parent(s);
  • Job letter from the prospective parent(s) employer;
  • Statement from the judicial authorities that the couple has permission to bring the child into the U.S. or into a third country;
  • Statement from the judicial authorities that the couple, according to U.S. law, can adopt the child.

Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at travel.state.gov/family.

Authenticating U.S. Documents To Be Used Abroad: All U.S. documents submitted to the Suriname government/court must be authenticated. Please visit our Web site at travel.state.gov for additional information about authentication procedures.

Surinamese Embassy and Consulate in the United States: Embassy of Suriname; Van Ness Centre EVE Suite 108; 4301 Connecticut Avenue, N.W.; Washington D.C. 20008; Tel: (202) 244 7590; Fax: (202) 244 5878.

Consulate General in Miami; 6303 Blue Lagoon Drive, Suite 325; Miami, Florida 33126; Tel: (305) 265-4655.

U.S. Embassy Paramaribo; Dr. Sophie Redmond Straat 129; Paramaribo; Tel: (597) 472900; Fax: (597) 425788.

Additional Information: Specific questions about adoption in Suriname may be addressed to the U.S. Embassy in Suriname. General questions regarding international adoption may be addressed to the Office of Children's Issues, U.S. Department of State, CA/OCS/CI, SA-29, 4 th Floor, 2201 C Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20520-4818, toll-free Tel: 1-888-404-4747.

views updated

SURINAME

Compiled from the December 2003 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.


Official Name:
Republic of Suriname


PROFILE
PEOPLE
HISTORY
GOVERNMENT
NATIONAL SECURITY
ECONOMY
FOREIGN RELATIONS
U.S.-SURINAMESE RELATIONS
TRAVEL


PROFILE


Geography

Area: 163,194 sq. km. (63,037 sq. mi.); slightly larger than Georgia.

Cities: Capital—Paramaribo (pop. 243,556). Other cities—Nieuw Nickerie, Moengo.

Terrain: Varies from coastal swamps to savanna to hills.

Climate: Tropical.


People

Nationality: Noun—Surinamer(s). Adjective—Surinamese.

Population: (2001) 441,356.

Annual growth rate: (2003) 1.3%.

Ethnic groups: Hindustani (East Indian) 37%, Creole 31%, Javanese 15%, Bush Negro 10%, Amerindians 3%, Chinese 1.7% (percentages date from 1972 census, the last in which ethnicity data was collected).

Religions: Hindu, Muslim, Roman Catholic, Dutch Reformed, Moravian, several other Christian denominations, Jewish, Baha'i.

Languages: Dutch (official), English, Sranan Tongo (Creole language), Hindustani, Javanese.

Education: Years compulsory—ages 6-12. Literacy—90%.

Health: Infant mortality rate (2000)—27.1/1,000. Life expectancy (2000)—70.7 yrs.

Work force: (100,000) Government—35%; private sector—41%; parastatal companies—10%; unemployed—14%.


Government

Type: Constitutional democracy.

Constitution: September 30, 1987.

Independence: November 25, 1975.

Branches: Executive—president, vice president, Council of Ministers. Legislative—elected 51-member National Assembly made up of representatives of political parties. Judicial—Court of Justice.

Administrative subdivisions: 10 districts.

Political parties: Governing Coalition—National Party of Suriname (NPS), Progressive Reform Party (VHP), Pertjaja Luhur, Suriname Workers Party (SPA). Other parties in the National Assembly—Democratic Alternative '91 (DA 91), Democratic National Platform (DNP) 2000, Political Wing of the FAL (Federation of Agricultural Workers), Progressive Workers and Farmers Union (PALU), National Democratic Party (NDP), Democratic Party (DP), Javanese Indonesian Peasants Party (KTPI), Independent Progressive Democratic Alternative (OPDA).

Suffrage: Universal at 18.

Economy

GDP: (2001) $833 million. (U.S.$)

Annual growth rate real GDP: (2001) 1.9%.

Per capita GDP: (2001) $1,672.

Natural resources: Bauxite, gold, oil, iron ore, other minerals; forests; hydroelectric potential; fish and shrimp.

Agriculture: Products—rice, bananas, timber, and citrus fruits.

Industry: Types—alumina, oil, fish, shrimp, gold, lumber.

Trade: (2001)Exports—$479 million (USD) alumina, wood and wood products, rice, bananas, fish, and shrimp. Major markets—U.S. (about 25%), Norway, Netherlands, and other European countries. Imports—$501 million: capital equipment, petroleum, iron and steel products, agricultural products, and consumer goods. Major suppliers—U.S. (about 40%), Netherlands, EU (about 30%), and Caribbean (CARICOM) countries (20%).



PEOPLE

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.



HISTORY

Arawak and Carib tribes lived in the region before Columbus sighted the coast in 1498. Spain officially claimed the area in 1593, but Portuguese and Spanish explorers of the time gave the area little attention. Dutch settlement began in 1616 at the mouths of several rivers between present-day Georgetown, Guyana, and Cayenne, French Guiana.


Suriname became a Dutch colony in 1667. The new colony, Dutch Guiana, did not thrive. Historians cite several reasons for this, including Holland's preoccupation with its more extensive (and profitable) East Indian territories, violent conflict between whites and native tribes, and frequent uprisings by the imported slave population, which was often treated with extraordinary cruelty. Barely, if at all, assimilated into European society, many of the slaves fled to the interior, where they maintained a West African culture and established the five major Bush Negro tribes in existence today—the Djuka, Saramaccaner, Matuwari, Paramaccaner, and Quinti.


Plantations steadily declined in importance as labor costs rose. Rice, bananas, and citrus fruits replaced the traditional crops of sugar, coffee, and cocoa. Exports of gold rose beginning in 1900. The Dutch Government gave little financial support to the colony. Suriname's economy was transformed in the years following World War I, when an American firm (ALCOA) began exploiting bauxite deposits in East Suriname. Bauxite processing and then alumina production began in 1916. During World War II, more than 75% of U.S. bauxite imports came from Suriname.

In 1951, Suriname began to acquire a growing measure of autonomy from the Netherlands. Suriname became an autonomous part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands on December 15, 1954, and gained independence on November 25, 1975.


Most of Suriname's political parties took shape during the autonomy period and were overwhelmingly based on ethnicity. For example, the National Party of Suriname found its support among the Creoles, the Progressive Reform Party members came from the Hindustani population, and the Indonesian Peasant's Party was Javanese. Other smaller parties found support by appealing to voters on an ideological or pro-independence platform; the Partij Nationalistische Republiek (PNR) was among the most important. Its members pressed most strongly for independence and for the introduction of leftist political and economic measures. Many former PNR members would go on to play a key role following the coup of February 1980.


Suriname was a working parliamentary democracy in the years immediately following independence. Henk Arron became the first Prime Minister and was re-elected in 1977. On February 25, 1980, 16 noncommissioned officers overthrew the elected government. The military-dominated government then suspended the constitution, dissolved the legislature, and formed a regime that ruled by decree. Although a civilian filled the post of president, a military man, Desi Bouterse, actually ruled the country.


Throughout 1982, pressure grew for a return to civilian rule. In response, the military ordered drastic action. Early in December 1982, military authorities arrested and killed 15 prominent opposition leaders, including journalists, lawyers, and trade union leaders.


Following the murders, the United States and the Netherlands suspended economic and military cooperation with the Bouterse regime, which increasingly began to follow an erratic but generally leftist-oriented political course. Economic decline rapidly set in after the suspension of economic aid from the Netherlands. The regime restricted the press and limited the rights of its citizens.

Continuing economic decline brought pressure for change. During the 1984-87 period, the Bouterse regime tried to end the crisis by appointing a succession of nominally civilian-led cabinets. Many figures in the government came from the traditional political parties that had been shoved aside during the coup. The military eventually agreed to free elections in 1987, a new constitution, and a civilian government.


Another pressure for change had erupted in July 1986, when a Bush Negro (aka Maroon) insurgency, led by former soldier Ronnie Brunswijk, began attacking economic targets in the country's interior. In response, the army ravaged villages and killed suspected Brunswijk supporters. Thousands of Bush Negroes fled to nearby French Guiana. In an effort to end the bloodshed, the Surinamese Government negotiated a peace treaty called the Kourou Accord, with Brunswijk in 1989. Bouterse and other military leaders blocked the accord's implementation.


On December 24, 1990, military officers forced the resignations of the civilian President and Vice President elected in 1987. Military-selected replacements were hastily approved by the National Assembly on December 29. Faced with mounting pressure from the U.S., other nations, the Organization of American States (OAS), and other international organizations, the government held new elections on May 25, 1991. The New Front (NF) Coalition, comprised of the Creole National Party of Suriname (NPS), the Hindustani Progressive Reform Party (VHP), the Javanese Indonesian Peasant's Party (KTPI), and the Surinamese Workers Party (SPA) were able to win a majority in the National Assembly. On September 6, 1991, NPS candidate Ronald Venetiaan was elected President, and the VHP's Jules Ajodhia
became Vice President of the New Front Coalition government.


The Venetiaan government was able to effect a settlement to Suriname's domestic insurgency through the August 1992 Peace Accord with Bush Negro and Amerindian rebels. In April 1993, Desi Bouterse left his position as commander of the armed forces and was replaced by Arthy Gorre, a military officer committed to bringing the armed forces under civilian government control. Economic reforms instituted by the Venetiaan government eventually helped curb inflation, unify the official and unofficial exchange rates, and improve the government's economic situation by re-establishing relations with the Dutch, thereby opening the way for a major influx of Dutch financial assistance. Despite these successes, the governing coalition lost support and failed to retain control of the government in the subsequent round of national elections. The rival National Democratic Party (NDP), founded in the early 1990s by Desi Bouterse, benefited from the New Front government's loss of popularity. The NDP won more National Assembly seats (16 of 51) than any other party in the May 1996 national elections and in September 1996, joined with the KTPI, dissenters from the VHP, and several smaller parties to elect NDP vice chairman Jules Wijdenbosch president of a NDP-led coalition government. Divisions and subsequent reshufflings of coalition members in the fall of 1997 and early 1998 weakened the coalition's mandate and slowed legislative action.

In May 1999, after mass demonstrations protesting poor economic conditions, the government was forced to call early elections. The elections in May 2000 returned Ronald Venetiaan and his coalition to the presidency. The NF ran its campaign on a platform to fix the faltering Surinamese economy. But while the Venetiaan administration has made progress in stabilizing the economy, tensions within the coalition and the impatience of the populace have impeded progress.


Relations with the Dutch have been complicated by Dutch prosecution of Desi Bouterse in absentia on drug charges, and legal maneuvering by Dutch prosecutors trying to bring charges relating to the December murders. (A Dutch appellate court in 2000 found Bouterse guilty of one drug-related charge; the decision was upheld on appeal.) A key component of the relationship is the 600 million Dutch guilders (Nf.) remaining from Nf. 2.5 billion promised for development at independence. The disposition of the funds was a matter of much discussion during recent Dutch cabinet-level visits intended to lay the groundwork to restart the flow of guilders, which the Dutch stanched in response to irresponsible spending by the Wijdenbosch administration. The parties are at odds over the control of the funds, and needed aid has not flowed to the country.


In August 2001, the Dutch provided a triple A state guarantee to enable the Surinamese government to receive a 10-year loan from the Dutch Development Bank (NTO) for the amount of Euro 137.7 million (U.S.$125 million). The loan has an interest rate of 5.18% per year and was used to consolidate floating government debts. U.S.$32 million of the loan was used to pay off foreign loans, which had been taken under unfavorable conditions by the Wijdenbosch government. The remaining 93 million of the loan was used to pay off debts at the Central Bank of Suriname. This enabled the Central Bank to strengthen its foreign currency position according to the IMF standards to the equivalency of 3 months of imports.



GOVERNMENT

The Republic of Suriname is a constitutional democracy based on the 1987 constitution. The legislative branch of government consists of a 51-member unicameral National Assembly, simultaneously and popularly elected for a 5-year term. The last election was held in May 2000.


The executive branch is headed by the president, who is elected by a two-thirds majority of the National Assembly or, failing that, by a majority of the People's Assembly for a 5-year term. 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. A vice president, normally elected at the same time as the president, needs a simple majority in the National Assembly or People's Assembly to be elected for a 5-year term. As head of government, the president appoints a cabinet of ministers. There is no constitutional provision for removal or replacement of the president unless he resigns.


A 15-member State Advisory Council advises the president in the conduct of policy. Eleven of the 15 council seats are allotted by proportional representation of all political parties represented in the National Assembly. The president chairs the council, and two seats are allotted to representatives of labor, and two are to employers' organizations.

The judiciary is headed by the Court of Justice (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.


The country is divided into 10 administrative districts, each headed by a district commissioner appointed by the president. The commissioner is similar to the governor of a U.S. State but serves at the president's pleasure.


Principal Government Officials
Last Updated: 6/11/03


President: Venetiaan, Runaldo Ronald

Vice President: Ajodhia, Jules Rattankoemar

Min. of Agriculture & Fishing: Panday, Geetapersad Gangaram

Min. of Defense: Assen, Ronald

Min. of Education & Human Development: Sandriman, Walter

Min. of Finance: Hildenberg, Humphrey

Min. of Foreign Affairs: Levens, Marie

Min. of Health: Khudabux, Mohamed Rakieb

Min. of Home Affairs: Joella-Sewnundun, Urmila

Min. of Justice & Police: Gilds, Siegfried

Min. of Labor: Marica, Clifford

Min. of Natural Resources: Demon, Franco Rudy

Min. of Planning & Development Cooperation: Raghoebarsingh, Keremchand

Min. of Public Works: Balesar, Dewanand

Min. of Regional Development: Russel, Romeo van

Min. of Social Affairs:

Min. of Trade & Industry: Jong Tjien Fa, Michael

Min. of Transportation, Communication, & Tourism: Castelen, Guno

Pres., Central Bank: Telting, Andre

Ambassador to the US: Illes, Henry

Permanent Representative to the UN: Limon, Ewald Wensley



Suriname maintains an embassy in the United States at 4301 Connecticut Ave, NW, Suite 460, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-244-7488; fax 202-244-5878). There also is a Suriname consulate general at 7235 NW 19th St., Suite A, Miami, FL 33136 (tel. 305-593-2163).



NATIONAL SECURITY

Surinamese armed forces consist of the national army under the control of the Minister of Defense and a smaller civil police force, which is responsible to the Minister of Justice and Police. The national armed forces comprise some 2,200 personnel, the majority of whom are deployed as light infantry security forces. A small air force, navy and military police also exist. The Netherlands has provided limited military assistance to the Surinamese armed forces since the election of a democratic government in 1991. In recent years, the U.S. has provided training to military officers and policy makers to promote a better understanding of the role of the military in a civilian government. Also, since the mid-1990s, the People's Republic of China has been donating military equipment and logistical material to the Surinamese Armed Forces.



ECONOMY

The backbone of Suriname's economy is the export of alumina and small amounts of aluminum produced from bauxite mined in the country. In 1999, the aluminum smelter was closed; however, alumina exports accounted for 72% of Suriname's estimated export earnings of $496.6 million in 2001. Suriname's bauxite deposits have been among the world's richest.


In 1984, SURALCO, a subsidiary of the Aluminum Company of America (ALCOA), formed a joint venture with the Royal Dutch Shell-owned Billiton Company, which did not process the bauxite it mined in Suriname. Under this agreement, both companies share risks and profits.

Inexpensive power costs are Suriname's big advantage in the energy-intensive alumina and aluminum business. In the 1960s, ALCOA built a $150-million dam for the production of hydroelectric energy at Afobaka (south of Brokopondo), which created a 1,560-sq.km. (600-sq.mi.) lake, one of the largest artificial lakes in the world.


The major mining sites at Moengo and Lelydorp are maturing, and it is now estimated that their reserves will be depleted by 2006. Other proven reserves exist in the east, west, and north of the country sufficient to last until 2045. However, distance and topography make their immediate development costly. In October 2002, Alcoa and BHP Billiton signed a letter of intent as the basis for new joint ventures between the two companies, in which Alcoa will take part for 55% in all bauxite mining activities in West Suriname. The government and the companies are looking into cost-effective ways to develop the new mines. The preeminence of bauxite and ALCOA's continued presence in Suriname is a key element in the U.S.-Suriname economic relationship.


A member of CARICOM, Suriname also exports rice, shrimp, timber, bananas, fruits, and vegetables. Gold mining is unregulated by the government, and this important part of the informal economy (estimated as much as 100% of GDP) must be brought into the realm of tax and environmental authorities. Suriname has attracted the attention of international companies in gold exploration and exploitation as well as those interested in extensive development of a tropical hardwoods industry and possible diamond mining. However, proposals for exploitation of the country's tropical forests and undeveloped regions of the interior traditionally inhabited by indigenous and Maroon communities have raised the concerns of environmentalists and human rights activists both in Suriname and abroad. Oil is a promising sector; current output is 12,000 barrels a day, and regional geology suggests additional potential. Staatsolie, the state-owned oil company, is actively seeking international joint venture partners.

At independence, Suriname signed an agreement with the Netherlands providing for about $1.5 billion in development assistance grants and loans over a 10- to 15-year period. Dutch assistance allocated to Suriname thus amounted to about $100 million per year, but was discontinued during periods of military rule. After the return to a democratically elected government in 1991, Dutch aid resumed. The Dutch relationship continues to be an important factor in the economy, with the Dutch insisting that Suriname undertake economic reforms and produce specific plans acceptable to the Dutch for projects on which aid funds could be spent. In 2000, however, the Dutch revised the structure of their aid package and signaled to the Surinamese authorities their decision to disburse aid by sectoral priorities as opposed to individual projects. Although the present government is not in favor of this approach, it has identified sectors and is now working on sectoral analyses to present to the Dutch.


After a short respite in 1991-96, when measures taken in 1993 led to economic stabilization, a relatively stable exchange rate, low inflation, sustainable fiscal policies, and growth, Suriname's economic situation deteriorated from 1996 to the present. This was due in large part to loose fiscal policies of the Wijdenbosch government, which, in the face of lower Dutch development aid, financed its deficit through credit extended by the Central Bank. As a consequence, the parallel market for foreign exchange soared so that by the end of 1998, the premium of the parallel market rate over the official rate was 85%. Since over 90% of import transactions took place at the parallel rate, inflation took off, with 12-month inflation growing from 0.5% at the end of 1996, to 23% at the end of 1998, and 113% at the end of 1999. The government also instituted a regime of stringent economic controls over prices, the exchange rate, imports, and exports, in an effort to contain the adverse efforts of its economic policies. The cumulative impact of soaring inflation, an unstable exchange rate, and falling real incomes led to a political crisis.

Suriname elected a new government in May 2000, but until it was replaced, the Wijdenbosch government continued its loose fiscal and monetary policies. By the time it left office, the exchange rate in the parallel market had depreciated further, over 10% of GDP had been borrowed to finance the fiscal deficit, and there was a significant monetary overhang in the country. The new government dealt with these problems by devaluing the official exchange rate by 88%, eliminating all other exchange rates except the parallel market rate set by the banks and cambios, raising tariffs on water and electricity, and eliminating the subsidy on gasoline. The new administration also rationalized the extensive list of price controls to 12 basic food items. More important, the government ceased all financing from the Central Bank. It is attempting to broaden its economic base, establish better contacts with other nations and international financial institutions, and reduce its dependence on Dutch assistance. However, do date the government has yet to implement an investment law or to begin privatization of any of the 110 parastatal, nor has it given much indication that it has developed a comprehensive plan to grow the economy.


State-owned banana producer Surland closed its doors on April 5, 2002, after its inability to meet payroll expenses for the second month in a row; it is still unclear if Surland will survive its current crisis. Moreover, in January 2002, the current government renegotiated civil servant wages (a significant part of the work force and a significant portion of government expenditure), agreeing to raises as high as 100%. Pending implementation of these wage increases and concerned that the government may be unable to meet these increased expenses, the local currency has weakened from Sf 2200 in January 2002 to nearly Sf 2500 in April 2002. On March 26, 2003, the Central Bank of Suriname (CBvS) adjusted the exchange rate of the U.S.

dollar. This action resulted in further devaluation of the Surinamese guilder. The official exchange rate of the $U.S. is SF 2,650 for selling and SF 2,600 for purchasing. With the official exchange rate, the CBvS came closer to the exchange rate on the parallel market which sell the U.S. dollar for SF 3,250.



FOREIGN RELATIONS

Since gaining independence, Suriname has become a member of the United Nations, the OAS, and the Non-Aligned Movement. Suriname is a member of the Caribbean Community and Common Market and the Association of Caribbean States; it is associated with the European Union through the Lome Convention. Suriname participates in the Amazonian Pact, a grouping of the countries of the Amazon Basin that focuses on protection of the Amazon region's natural resources from environmental degradation. Reflecting its status as a major bauxite producer, Suriname is also a member of the International Bauxite Association. The country also belongs to the Economic Commission for Latin America, the Inter-American Development Bank, the International Finance Corporation, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund. Suriname became a member of the Islamic Development Bank in 1998, under the Wijdenbosch government.


Bilateral agreements with several countries of the region, covering diverse areas of cooperation, have underscored the government's interest in strengthening regional ties. The return to Suriname from French Guiana of about 8,000 refugees of the 1986-91 civil war between the military and domestic insurgents has improved relations with French authorities. Longstanding border disputes with Guyana and French Guiana remain unresolved. Negotiations with the Government of Guyana brokered by the Jamaican Prime Minister in 2000 did not produce an agreement, but the countries agreed to rest art talks after Guyanese national elections in 2001. In January 2002 the presidents of Suriname and Guyana met in Suriname and agreed to resume negotiations, establishing the Suriname-Guyana border commission to begin meeting in May 2002. An earlier dispute with Brazil ended amicably after formal demarcation of the border.

In May 1997, then-President Wijdenbosch joined President Clinton and 14 other Caribbean leaders during the first-ever U.S.-regional summit in Bridgetown, Barbados. The summit strengthened the basis for regional cooperation on justice and counter narcotics issues, finance and development, and trade.



U.S.-SURINAMESE RELATIONS

Since the reestablishment of a democratic, elected government in 1991, the United States has maintained positive and mutually beneficial relations with Suriname based on the principles of democracy, respect for human rights, rule of law, and civilian authority over the military. To strengthen civil society and bolster democratic institutions, the U.S. has provided training regarding appropriate roles for the military in civil society to some of Suriname's military officers and decision makers.


Narcotics trafficking organizations appear to be channeling increasing quantities of cocaine through Suriname for repackaging and transport to Europe and the United States; and of XTC for transport to the United States. To assist Suriname in the fight against drugs and associated criminal activity, the U.S. has helped train Surinamese anti-drug squad personnel. The U.S. Peace Corps in Suriname works with the Ministry of Regional Development and rural communities to encourage community development in Suriname's interior.


Suriname is densely forested and has thus far suffered little from deforestation, but increased interest in largescale commercial logging and mining in Suriname's interior have raised environmental concerns. The U.S. Forest Service, the Smithsonian, and numerous non-governmental environmental organizations have promoted technical cooperation with Suriname's government to prevent destruction of the country's tropical rain forest, one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world. U.S. experts have worked closely with local natural resource officials to encourage sustainable development of the interior and alternatives such as ecotourism. Suriname's tourism sector remains a minor part of the economy, and tourist infrastructure is limited; In 2000 some 56,843 foreign tourists visited Suriname. On December 1, 2000, UNESCO designated the 1.6-million hectare Central Suriname Nature Reserve a World Heritage site.

Suriname's efforts in recent years to liberalize economic policy created new possibilities for U.S. exports and investments. The U.S. remains one of Suriname's principal trading partners, largely due to ALCOA's longstanding investment in Suriname's bauxite mining and processing industry. More than one-half of world exports to Suriname originate in the United States. Several U.S. corporations are active in Suriname, largely in the mining, consumer goods, and service sectors. Principal U.S. exports to Suriname include chemicals, aircraft, vehicles, machine parts, meat, and wheat. U.S. consumer products are increasingly available through Suriname's many trading companies. Opportunities for U.S. exporters, service companies, and engineering firms will probably expand over the next decade.


Suriname is looking to U.S. and other foreign investors to assist in the commercial development of its vast natural resources and to help finance infrastructure improvements. Enactment of a new investment code and intellectual property rights protection legislation, which would strengthen Suriname's attractiveness to investors, has been discussed, and recently some progress has been made. The investment law was approved by the National Assembly and is currently being revised by the Ministry of Finance.


Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

Paramaribo (E), Dr. Sophie Redmondstraat 129 • P.O. Box 1821, Paramaribo • Dept. of State, 3390 Paramaribo Pl., Wash., D.C., 20521–3390, Tel [597] 472900, 477881, 476459; AMB 478300; DCM 476507; IRM 476793; GSO Fax 479829; AMB Fax 420800; ADM Fax 410972. E-mail: [email protected]

AMB: Daniel A. Johnson
AMB OMS: Deborah Clark-Ware
DCM: Robert J. Faucher
POL/ECO: Beth Lampron
CON: Rodney Ford
MGT: Robyn Hooker
ECO/COM: Beth Lampron
GSO: William Marshall
RSO: Christopher Rooks
PAO: David A. Bustamante (res. Port-of-Spain)
DAO: MAJ Francis Grimm
PC: Charles Childers
IRM: Eley Johnson
AGR: Leanne Hogie
FAA: Victor Tamariz (res. Miami)
LAB: Terrence Daru (res. Bridgetown)
LEGATT: Dennis Pierce
DEA: Peter McMillan
DEA: Michael Short
IRS: Frederick Dulas (res. Mexico City)


Last Modified: Wednesday, September 24, 2003


Other Contact Information

U.S. Department of Commerce
International Trade Administration
Office of Latin America and the Caribbean
14th and Constitution, NW
Washington, DC 20230
Tel: 202-482-1658, 202-USA-TRADE
Fax: 202-482-0464


Caribbean/Latin American Action
1818 N Street, NW Suite 310
Washington, DC 20036
Tel: 202-466-7464
Fax: 202-822-0075


TRAVEL


Consular Information Sheet
January 30, 2004


Country Description: The Republic of Suriname is a developing nation located on the northern coast of South America. English is widely used, and most tourist arrangements can be made in English. Tourist facilities are widely available in the capital city of Paramaribo; they are less developed and in some cases nonexistent in the country's rugged jungle interior. The Government of Suriname continues to encourage ecotourism and is expanding tourism facilities in the interior by establishing guesthouses and tour packages. Credit cards are not widely accepted outside the major hotels. Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) are available through local banks and Royal Bank of Trinidad and Tobago (RBTT). Travelers should contact their intended hotel or tour company to confirm that credit cards are accepted.


Entry and Exit Requirements: A passport, visa and, if traveling by air, return ticket are required for travel to Suriname. There is a processing fee for business and tourist visas. A business visa requires a letter from the sponsoring company detailing the reason for the visit. There is an airport departure charge and a terminal fee, normally included in the price of airfare. Travelers arriving from Guyana, French Guiana and Brazil are required to show proof of a yellow fever vaccination. For further information, travelers can contact the Embassy of the Republic of Suriname, 4301 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Suite 460, Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 244-7488, email: [email protected], or the Consulate of Suriname in Miami, 7235 NW 19th Street, Suite A, Miami, Fl 33126, telephone (305) 593-2697.


In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian not present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure.

Safety and Security: Land and maritime borders between Suriname and Guyana are in dispute. Talks between the countries are ongoing, but tensions occasionally rise. Travelers near the borders should keep this in mind and exercise due caution.


Demonstrations are rare, but American citizens traveling to or residing in Suriname should take common-sense precautions and avoid large gatherings or other events where crowds have congregated to demonstrate or protest.


Travelers proceeding to the interior may encounter difficulties due to limited government authority and inadequate or nonexistent medical facilities. Limited transportation and communications may hamper the ability of the U.S. Embassy to assist in an emergency situation.


For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet website at http://travel.state.gov where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found.


The Overseas Citizens Services call center at 1-888-407-4747 can answer general inquiries on safety and security overseas. This number is available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Callers who are unable to use toll-free numbers, such as those calling from overseas, may obtain information and assistance during these hours by calling 1-317-472-2328.


Crime: Criminal activity throughout the country is on the rise and foreigners, including Americans, may be viewed as targets of opportunity. Burglary, armed robbery and violent crime occur with some frequency in Paramaribo and in outlying areas. Pick pocketing and robbery are increasingly common in the major business and shopping districts of the capital. Visitors should avoid wearing expensive or flashy jewelry or displaying large amounts of money in public.


Although there are few reports of criminal incidents in the vicinity of the major tourist hotels, night walks outside the immediate vicinity of the hotels are not recommended. Visitors should avoid the Palm Garden area ('Palmentuin' in Dutch) after dark, as there is no police presence and it is commonly the site of criminal activity.


Theft from vehicles is infrequent, but it does occur, especially in areas near the business district. Drivers are cautioned not to leave packages and other belongings in plain view in their vehicles. When driving, car windows should be closed and doors locked. The use of public minibuses is discouraged, due to widespread unsafe driving and poor maintenance.


Travel to the interior is usually trouble-free, but there have been reports of tourists being robbed. Police presence outside Paramaribo is minimal, and banditry and lawlessness continue to be of concern in the cities of Albina and Moengo, as well as along the East-West Highway between Paramaribo and Albina. Travelers proceeding to the interior are advised to make use of well-established tour companies for a safer experience.


The emergency number 115 is used for police, fire and rescue. Fire and rescue services provide a relatively timely response, but police response, especially during nighttime hours, is a rarity for all but the most serious of crimes.


The loss or theft of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's pamphlets, A Safe Trip Abroad and Tips for Travelers to Central and South America, for ways to promote a trouble-free journey. The pamphlets are available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.gpoaccess.gov/, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.

Medical Facilities: Medical care, including emergency medical care, is limited and does not meet U.S. standards. There is one public emergency room in Paramaribo with only a small ambulance fleet providing emergency transport with limited first response capabilities. The emergency room has no neurosurgeon, and other medical specialists may not always be available. As a rule, hospital facilities are not air-conditioned, although private rooms with individual air-conditioning are available at extra cost. Emergency medical care outside Paramaribo is limited, and is virtually non-existent in the interior of the country.


Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and if it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. U.S. medical insurance plans seldom cover health costs incurred outside the United States unless supplemental coverage is purchased. Further, U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. However, many travel agents and private companies offer insurance plans that will cover health care expenses incurred overseas including emergency services such as medical evacuations.


When making a decision regarding health insurance, Americans should consider that many foreign doctors and hospitals require payment in cash prior to providing service and that a medical evacuation to the U.S. may cost well in excess of $50,000. Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas often face extreme difficulties. When consulting with your insurer prior to your trip, ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas healthcare provider or if you will be reimbursed later for expenses you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.

Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure, Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page.


Other Health Information: Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.


Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Suriname is provided for general reference only, and it may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.


Safety of Public Transportation: Fair
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Fair
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Poor


Traffic moves on the left in Suriname; left-hand-drive cars are allowed on the road. Excessive speed, unpredictable driving habits, poorly maintained roads and a lack of basic safety equipment on many vehicles are daily hazards on Surinamese roads. Visitors are encouraged to use automobiles equipped with seat belts and to avoid the use of motorcycles or scooters. An international driver's license is necessary to rent a car.


The roads in Paramaribo are usually paved, but not always well maintained. Large potholes are common on city streets, especially during the rainy seasons, which last from approximately mid-November to January, and from April to June (rainy seasons can differ from year to year by as much as six weeks). Roads are often not marked with traffic lines. Many main thoroughfares do not have sidewalks, forcing pedestrians, motorcycles and bicycle traffic to share the same space.


The East-West Highway, a paved road that stretches from Nieuw Nickerie in the west to Albina in the east, runs through extensive agriculture areas; it is not uncommon to encounter slow-moving farm traffic or animals on the road. Police recommend that travelers check with the police station in Albina for the latest safety information regarding travel between Paramaribo and Albina.


Roads in the interior are sporadically maintained dirt roads that pass through rugged, sparsely populated rain forest. Some roads are passable for sedans in the dry season, but they deteriorate rapidly during the rainy season. Interior roads are not lit, nor are there service stations or emergency call boxes. Bridges in the interior are in various states of repair. Travelers are advised to consult with local sources, including The Foundation for Nature Conservation in Suriname, or STINASU, at telephone (597) 421-683 or 476-579, or with their hotels regarding interior road conditions before proceeding.


For additional general information about road safety, including links to foreign government sites, please see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html. For specific information concerning Suriname driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, please contact the Embassy of Suriname in Washington, D.C. or the Consulate of Suriname in Miami.

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Suriname's civil aviation authority as Category 1 –- in compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Suriname's air carrier operations.


For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA's Internet website at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/index.cfm.


The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact DOD at (618) 229-4801.


Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the U.S. for similar offenses. Persons violating Surinamese laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Suriname are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines.


Special Circumstances: Visitors can exchange currency at banks, hotels and official exchange houses, which are called "cambios." Exchanging money outside of these locations is illegal and can be dangerous. Telephone service within Suriname can be problematic, especially during periods of heavy rains.

Children's Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, please refer to our Internet site at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html or telephone the Overseas Citizens Services Call Center at 1-888-407-4747. The OCS call center can answer general inquiries regarding international adoptions and abductions and will forward calls to the appropriate country officer in the Bureau of Consular Affairs. This number is available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. eastern time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Callers who are unable to use toll-free numbers, such as those calling from overseas, may obtain information and assistance during these hours by calling 1-317-472-2328.


Registration/Embassy and Consulate Locations: Americans living in or visiting Suriname are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Paramaribo to obtain updated information on travel and security within Suriname. The Embassy is located at Dr. Sophie Redmondstraat 129, telephone (011)(597) 472-900. The Consular Section hours of operation for routine American citizen services are Mondays and Wednesdays from 8:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m., or by appointment, except on American and Surinamese holidays. U.S. citizens requiring emergency assistance evenings, weekends, and holidays may contact an Embassy duty officer by pager at (011)(597) 088-08302. The U.S. Embassy in Paramaribo also provides consular services for French Guiana. For further information on French Guiana, please refer to the separate Consular Information Sheet on French Guiana.

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SURINAME

Republic of Suriname

Major City:
Paramaribo

Other Cities:
Albina, Moengo, Nieuw-nickerie, Totness, Wageningen

EDITOR'S NOTE

This chapter was adapted from the Department of State Post Report dated July 1993. Supplemental material has been added to increase coverage of minor cities, facts have been updated, and some material has been condensed. Readers are encouraged to visit the Department of State's web site athttp://travel.state.gov/ for the most recent information available on travel to this country.

INTRODUCTION

SURINAME , which, as Dutch Guiana, was an autonomous territory within the Kingdom of the Netherlands until 1975, is an independent, racially and ethnically mixed country on the northeast coast of South America. It retains much of its Dutch heritage in language and culture, while striving to develop an identity within the context of its geographical environment.

Suriname is currently pursuing institutional changes in a concerted effort to recover from a 1980 military coup and an escalating austerity alien to this once prosperous colony. From the beginning, it has been faced with a small population and an economic development largely restricted to a narrow coastal band, and the suspension of Dutch aid in the wake of the military takeover has created additional hardships. Growing inflation and foreign exchange restrictions continue to strain immediate plans for development.

MAJOR CITY

Paramaribo

Suriname's capital city, Paramaribo, is located 12 miles inland, on the west bank of the Suriname River. Founded in 1613 as a trading post with the Indians it was, at various times, subject to alternating British and Dutch administration. The city expanded and developed greatly during the 18th century, but declined somewhat during the next century after two damaging fires. At present, many of Paramaribo's structures date from the early and mid-20th century, and exhibit a characteristic Dutch-colonial, tropical style of architecture. The canals are reminiscent of the Netherlands.

Some 180,000 people live in Paramaribo and its immediate suburbs. The city is the heart of Suriname's political, cultural, and intellectual life, serving not only its own population, but also that of the entire country. Older cultural traditions prevail in isolated jungle villages.

Paramaribo is not generally afflicted by floods, although heavy rains can, at times, exceed the city's drainage capabilities and create isolated flooding on some streets and in low-lying areas.

About 350 American citizens live in Suriname. Most are connected with the U.S. Embassy, or are in Protestant missionary work.

Resident foreign embassies include those of the U.S., the Netherlands, India, Brazil, Venezuela, the former U.S.S.R., the People's Republic of China, Indonesia, South Korea, Japan, Libya, France, and Guyana. A number of other countries are represented by honorary consular officers. Cuba established a trade mission in 1981, but its advisers were expelled after the U.S. invasion of Grenada in October 1983.

Schools for Foreigners

The American Cooperative School, operated by American Protestant missionaries, provides classes in grades kindergarten through 8. Instruction is in English and meets U.S. standards. The school year runs from late August until May.

Suriname has a dual religious and secular educational system, conducted in Dutch. Schools are run by Catholic and Moravian Churches as well as by the state. While some foreign children enroll in the Suriname schools at Paramaribo, the necessity of learning Dutch and the problems of transferring credits make this difficult (if not impossible) for Americans. Standards vary from school to school, with the best schools having an excellent record in placing students in universities here and abroad.

Suriname's Anton de Kom University (in the capital) has faculties of medicine, law, technical and social sciences, and natural resources. Other institutions of higher education also operate in Suriname.

Recreation

The most popular national sport is soccer. Basketball and cricket are also available, and adult teams play regularly. Weight lifting, badminton, horseback riding, and aerobic exercise classes are also pursued by Americans. A nine-hole golf course is four miles from Paramaribo. Formerly a rice paddy, it is flat and low, and drainage, though extensive and well planned, is a problem during the rainy season. Americans have found Paramaribo an excellent place to learn to play golf under uncrowded but rustic conditions.

Hunting and fishing also evoke a great deal of interest, as neither requires any unusual equipment. Both, however, can involve hard trekking in deep forests. Stringent laws govern ownership of firearms and ammunition. Rifles and pistols are prohibited, and an individual may own only one shotgun. Guides and transportation to the best hunting areas are expensive; hunting without a guide is definitely not recommended. It may be necessary to hire a power boat and/or plane to get to the desired area. Dogs are needed for some kinds of hunting.

A gun club uses pistols (owned by the club) at a range near Paramaribo three times a week, traps at Paranam once a month, and rifles (owned by the club) at a range near Zanderij Airport, also monthly.

Fishing in the Suriname and Saramacca Rivers, Afobakka Lake, and the surrounding streams is not unduly inconvenient, but trips to the interior or saltwater fishing are as difficult to organize as hunting trips. Tarpon is the principal sport fish, with catfish and other species also popular. Many excellent streams and rivers in Suriname are suitable for small boats. It is possible to do some fishing from the river banks.

Camping and hiking are difficult because of heat, insects, and lack of organized campsites and marked trails, but adventurous types might enjoy these sports at several of the national parks here. Bicycling is popular, although heavy traffic makes it risky.

There are neither ocean beaches nor lakes suitable for swimming. Several tannic acid-colored rivers and creeks offer interesting and safe swimming and water-skiing. The city has one public swimming pool, and four private clubs maintain their own pools.

The Suriname Aero Club has a Cessna plane and operates both a ground school and a flying school. For beginners, at least a basic knowledge of Dutch is necessary, since the ground course and examination are conducted in that language. Costs are somewhat higher than those in the U.S., but not prohibitively so.

Some opportunities exist for sight-seeing. The visitor can drive to Kola Creek, Brokopondo Dam, Groningen, Joden Savanna, or Nieuw-Amsterdam for outings; some facilities for picnicking are available. It also is possible to drive to Cayenne, French Guiana, and to the border of Guyana. The scenery and climate in these places are similar to that of Suriname. French Guiana, however, offers the added attraction of French wines, cheeses, and meals, making it a popular place to visit. Trips to the interior by plane or boat are interesting, but can be expensive.

Entertainment

Paramaribo has one small museum (Fort Zeelandia), a natural history collection, a small zoo, and numerous public parks. There are 10 movie theaters, but not all of them are patronized by Americans. Films in English are popular at most of the theaters, and five establishments specialize in Indian movies. Movies are censored and may be restricted to certain age groups. A film league offers art films about every two weeks, and one drive-in theater shows an occasional movie in English.

Suriname's government-owned TV channel (STVS) broadcasts every evening and offers American variety programs and occasional feature films. A private TV station (ATV), inaugurated in 1987, offers American, Brazilian, and European programs, mostly in English.

Videotapes in VHS or Betamax can be rented from commercial sources at low cost. The Beta format, popular here, offers the most variety.

Although the country has no legitimate theater, the Suriname Cultural Center (CCS) and Ons Erf sponsor occasional plays, concerts, and other cultural presentations. Plays are almost always in Dutch or Sranan Tongo. Modest parades and trade fairs are sometimes held on holidays.

Average-to-good Chinese, Javanese, and Korean food is served in at least five restaurants in Paramaribo. Prices are higher than those at good U.S. restaurants. A few continental-style restaurants are here.

No special or unusual etiquette is required when participating in any form of entertainment. Bush Negroes often object to being photographed in their villages.

The Torarica Hotel stages floor shows on weekendsusually a solo performance by a singer, dancer, or musician. It also has a dance band and a casino and restaurant. A few local discos and nightclubs cater to young people. Good Chinese and Javanese food is served in at least five restaurants, with prices comparable to those at good U.S. dining establishments. There is a good continental-style restaurant at the Ambassador Hotel, and a disco next to the Krasnapolsky Hotel.

Paramaribo is a friendly city. It is easy to meet people through personal introductions. Among men's and women's service clubs, Rotary, Lions, Kiwanis, Jaycees, Optimists, Soroptimists, and Toastmasters are represented in Paramaribo. Anyone interested in social work may volunteer with the Salvation Army, Red Cross, YWCA, the family planning organization (LOBI), or one of many other secular and religious groups.

The American community is too small to support exclusive social activity, even in Paramaribo. Most of the non-Surinamese middle-class expatriate community is composed of Dutch Europeans and some Belgians, with few other foreigners. Social calls and social affairs among both Surinamese and Dutch are more structured than U.S. custom requires. Close friends usually do not call on one another without prior notice.

OTHER CITIES

ALBINA is a seaport town on the west bank of the Maroni (Morowijne) River. Besides being a district capital, it is the largest city on the French Guiana border.

MOENGO lies on the Cottica River in the northeast part of the country. The local economy depends on extensive bauxite deposits.

NIEUW-NICKERIE is Suriname's major coastal town in the northwest, across from Corriverton, Guyana. It is the capital of the Nickerie District. The city is an important port through which rice, cocoa, and lumber is exported.

TOTNESS is the capital and largest village of Coronie District. Situated on the Atlantic Ocean, halfway between Nieuw-Nickerie and Paramaribo, Totness has a government guest house and bus connections to Paramaribo. The village's main road traverses a great forest of coconut palms.

The small town of WAGENINGEN has great status in the field of agriculture. It lies on the Nickerie River, 30 miles southeast of Nieuw-Nickerie, in the northwest. Located in the heart of the country's rice-producing area, Wageningen is the home of one of the world's largest fully mechanized rice farms. The road from Nieuw-Nickerie is newly rebuilt.

COUNTRY PROFILE

Geography and Climate

Roughly square, Suriname lies on South America's northeast coast, bounded on the east by French Guiana, on the south by Brazil, and on the west by Guyana. Most of the 220-mile shoreline on the Atlantic ocean consists of mud flats and swamps. Suriname's inland boundaries with French Guiana and Guyana are in dispute.

Suriname (this is the Dutch spelling, but the English spelling, Surinam, is often seen) has a land area of about 63,000 square miles, and is about the same size as Georgia. However, most Surinamers live in the 1,900-square mile, narrow coastal plain in and around Paramaribo, Moengo, and Nieuw-Nickerie.

Suriname's coastal area is flat. Hills and low mountains, reaching a maximum height of about 4,000 feet (1,230 meters), rise in the heavily forested interior. Between these two zones lie the savanna lands, 30 to 40 miles in width. Large rivers and streams bisect the country from the south to the north and provide major transportation routes between the coast and the interior. However, they hinder east-west land transportation.

Suriname has a tropical rainforest climatehot and humid all year. Daytime temperatures average about 90 ° F (27 ° C), although evening and night readings are considerably lower (about 70°F, or 21°C). Interior temperatures, not moderated by coastal breezes, are slightly more extreme.

Most Americans find the climate notably more agreeable than they had anticipated. On a normal day, outdoor activities such as golfing, fishing, and jogging are pleasant except between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun is high.

Seasons are distinguished only by more or less rain, with annual rainfall averaging 87 inches. December to February and April to August are generally the periods of heaviest rainfall. The hottest months are September and October, with temperatures averaging 89°F (35°C). Suriname lies outside the hurricane and earthquake area.

Population

Suriname's estimated population is 434,000 (2000 est.). Because of emigration to the Netherlands between 1972 and 1980, there was a significant decline in total numbers. The people are a mixture of several ethnic and racial classifications, with Hindustanis (37%) and Creoles (32%) the two largest groups. Others represented in the population include Javanese (15.3%), Bush Negroes (10.3%), Amerindians (2.7%), Chinese (1.7%), and Europeans, one percent.

The Hindustanis (East Indians) are predominately Hindu, but include a substantial Muslim minority. They are descended from contract farm laborers brought to Suriname in the latter part of the 19th century. Hindustanis are still heavily engaged in agriculture, but have become increasingly urbanized and are often active in business and commerce.

Creoles, of mixed African, European, and other ancestry, are descendants of African slave laborers emancipated in 1863. In this century, they have filled the ranks of civil service and office jobs.

The Javanese, who are descended from farm laborers brought to Suri-name on contract from Java, in Indonesia, are chiefly active in agricultural life in the rural areas of Suriname. They have retained their own language. The Bush Negroes, or Maroons, are descended from escaped African slaves. Many escaped before losing their African culture, which has been maintained in some primitive villages along streams and rivers in the interior. Although such communities still exist far removed from the developed coastal region, many Bush Negroes are now abandoning their traditional life-style to move to population centers in search of better education and job opportunities.

Amerindians, descendants of original pre-Columbian inhabitants, also live in tribal villages along interior streams and rivers. They are less hospitable and desire more privacy than Bush Negroes. Certain small Amerindian tribes in Suriname have been discovered only recently.

The Chinese, many born in China, are mostly shopkeepers, business people, and restaurateurs. They speak Chinese (Hakka and Cantonese) among themselves, and support a Chinese newspaper.

Caucasians are mainly descended from Dutch farmers who came here in the 18th and 19th centuries, though some are descended from early Jewish, French, and German immigrants. A small community of expatriate Europeans, mostly from the Netherlands, work in some local businesses.

Approximately 350 Americans reside in Suriname, mostly in Paramaribo. Mostly Protestant missionaries, they spend some of their time in the interior.

Each ethnic group maintains its identity and customs. Some wear distinctive clothing. Almost all celebrate their own holidays, observe their own religions and, except for sophisticated city dwellers, associate with members of their particular groups in exclusive or semi-exclusive social clubs and societies. Political parties are racially or ethnically oriented. The government seeks to break down such barriers and forge a national identity.

The official language of Suriname is Dutch, but Sranan Tongo (literally, Suriname tongue), also called Surinamese, a non-tonal English-based Creole tongue, is the lingua franca. Dutch is taught in school and used exclusively by the government; government publications and newspapers are in that language, as are radio and television.

English is widely understood and almost all educated people speak it fluently. A great many Surinamers speak three or even four languagesSranan Tongo, Dutch, and English, plus Hindi, Chinese, or Javanese. The latter three are used extensively in Paramaribo.

Freedom of religion is legally protected in Suriname. Hindus and Muslims comprise the two largest religious groups, but there are also many Roman Catholics and other Christians (primarily Moravians) and a small number of Jews and Baha'is. A significant number of Amerindians and Bush Negroes follow animistic religions, although the majority of both groups profess Christianity in either its Catholic or Moravian form.

Government

The popularly elected government that ruled Suriname after the end of Dutch colonial rule was overthrown in a military coup in February 1980. The sergeants who took power in 1980 were at first welcomed as reformers. Their gradual leftward drift, however, increasingly alienated the generally conservative middle-class Surinamese majority, and the repressive methods they employed to maintain control eventually cost them most of their popular support.

The executions of 15 opposition leaders in 1982 led to the suspension of Dutch and American development aid. Combined with a decline in world market prices for bauxite and alumina (Suriname's chief export commodities), the aid suspension led to a general economic downturn that had reached a critical stage. When an insurgent group began a series of attacks on military and economic targets in the interior, the government gave in to international and domestic pressures and announced that a new constitution would be adopted by the end of March 1987, and that national elections would be held in November of that year.

Eighty-eight percent of Suriname's eligible voters took part in the elections, in which a coalition of traditional, ethnic-based, pre-coup parties called the Front for Development and Democracy won with an 85 percent majority.

Under the new constitution, the 51-member directly elected National Assembly is the highest authority in Suriname. The President, chosen by the Assembly, is both head of government and head of state. The Vice President, also elected by the Assembly, is chairman of the Council of Ministers that, together with the President and Vice President, makes up the government. Like the Assembly members, the President and Vice President are elected for five-year terms.

Despite the democratic elections of 1987, Suriname's political situation remained extremely unstable. Although the army had relinquished control of the government, it remained powerful and influential. The army often sharply criticized the new government's economic policies. A series of confrontations between the government and army caused relations to worsen. By 1990, the tensions between the two parties had come to a head. On December 24, 1990, the army launched a successful military coup against the government. President Ramswewak Shankar was overthrown and replaced by Johannes Samuel Kraag. A military council established shortly after the coup announced that Kraag would govern on an interim basis until new elections could be held.

The military fulfilled this promise by holding democratic elections in May 1991. Election results showed that the New Front Coalition, consisting of three ethnically-based parties and the Surinamese Labor Party, captured 30 of 51 seats. The pro-military National Democratic Party obtained only 10 seats. The rest of the seats were divided among several small opposition parties. On September 6, 1991, the National Assembly and other elected representatives of districts and subdistricts met to select a new President. The New Front Coalition candidate, Ronald Venetiaan, became Suri-name's new president after gaining 80 percent of the vote.

Economic difficulties caused Venetiaan's popularity to decline over the succeeding years, and he was replaced by NDP candidate Jules Wijdenbosch in elections held in May 1996. These elections marked the first peaceful transfer of power between democratically elected governments since Suriname gained independence.

In May 1999, after mass demonstrations protesting poor economic conditions, the government was forced to call early elections. The elections in May 2000 returned Ronald Venetiaan and his coalition to the presidency. The New Front ran its campaign on a platform to fix the faltering Surinamese economy. But while the Venetiaan administration has made progress in stabilizing the economy, tensions within the coalition and the impatience of the populace have impeded progress.

Suriname is a member of the United Nations, World Health Organization (WHO), and United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), as well as European Communities, International Bauxite Association, Inter-American Development Bank, Nonaligned Movement, Organization of American States and Latin American Economic System.

The flag of Suriname consists of green, white, red, white, and green horizontal bands, with a yellow star in the middle of the red band.

Arts, Science, Education

Some local cultural activities are available. Occasional plays and concerts are offered at the Suriname Cultural Center, Ons Erf Cultural Center, and elsewhere. Two or three times a year, foreign groups (Chinese acrobats, American jazz ensembles) arrive for performances. Live theater is confined to two companies which produce plays in Dutch and Sranan Tongo. A music school offers instruction in a wide range of instruments. There are several small ballet schools in Paramaribo.

Each government cultural center maintains a public library with a limited collection of English editions. English-language paperbacks and hardcover books are available from several retail outlets in Paramaribo, but are expensive. Ons Erf, a Roman Catholic Church organization, maintains an arts and crafts center and sponsors activities for younger children.

Suriname's main ethnic groupsCreoles, Hindustanis, and Javanesemaintain associations which occasionally sponsor cultural activities.

Suriname has an extensive educational system, with compulsory free schooling until age 14. Its Anton de Kom University has faculties of medicine, law, natural resources, and social and technical sciences. However, transfer of individual course credit to or from the U.S. is unlikely, even when a non-Dutch-speaking person is allowed to enroll. Teacher-training institutes, secondary schools, and technical schools also provide degrees. Nurses and dental technicians are trained in conjunction with the medical faculty. The adult literacy rate was approximately 93 percent in 1995.

The government and the Roman Catholic and Moravian Churches provide education from kindergarten through secondary school. All instruction is in Dutch, except at the American Cooperative Elementary School, administered by the Suriname Aluminum Company (SURALCO), and in two private schools administered by American missionaries. Lectures in English are sometimes given at the university. Many students still attend high schools and universities in the Netherlands; a growing number study in U.S. universities.

The Government Language Center offers courses in Dutch, English, Spanish, and Sranan Tongo. French is offered by the Alliance Française, Spanish by the Andrés Bello Center, and Portuguese by the Brazilian Cultural Center. The Indonesian and Indian centers give instruction in their native folk art and dance.

Commerce and Industry

Approximately 70 percent of Suri-name's exports by value are bauxite and its aluminum derivatives. The attractiveness of Suriname's bauxite reserves has diminished in recent years as more economical sources have been developed elsewhere in the world and the worldwide marketing of bauxite and aluminum has become more complex. SURALCO, a subsidiary of ALCOA and the biggest private firm in Suriname, has reduced its labor force as its bauxite and aluminum shipments have fallen and internal costs have risen.

Agriculture is important as a major source of employment. Rice, citrus, other tropical fruits, vegetables, seafood, and a few other commodities are available. The principal food crop is rice. Suriname also produces half of the sugar it consumes. Commercial fishing is undertaken by Japanese, Korean, and Surinamese companies using imported labor. Shrimp is a major export; the catch has diminished since 1982 as the shrimp have at least temporarily moved to grounds closer to Guyana. However, production of other foodstuffs is inadequate to meet the needs of the country. Importation of a wide variety of foods is, therefore, necessary.

Forestry is an important sector of the economy, dominated by the state-owned company, Bruynzeel, which exports products derived from tropical hardwoods.

Wheat, potatoes, some poultry, milk powder, cheese, and many other commodities must be imported. Protective tariff and nontariff barriers and import substitution plans have been put into effect, sometimes limiting the variety of foods available on the local market. Local manufacturing consists of saw mills, shrimp-packing plants, a cigarette factory, a rum distillery, a brewery, soft drink bottlers, and a few other small industries.

A rapid deterioration in the Surinamese balance of trade began in 1983. It was brought about both by reduced bauxite revenues and by terminationdue to Dutch displeasure with Suriname Government actions regarding human rightsof Dutch development aid. The virtual disappearance by late 1984 of freely available foreign exchange finally induced the government to impose stringent restrictions on import of consumer and industrial goods.

High wages, low foreign exchange levels, a small domestic economy, and little experience in exporting limit Suriname's competitiveness in international markets. Nonetheless, the country's GDP was an estimated $1.48 billion in 1999. Per capita income is ten times that of the poorest Caribbean islands.

Suriname is a member of the Lome Convention and has observer status in the Caribbean Common Market (CARICOM). The U.S. has traditionally been the country's largest trading partner, accounting for approximately one-third of export-import trade. The remainder has been carried on with European nations, Japan and, to an increasing extent, neighboring countries in the Caribbean and South America. This pattern may change, however, as the Surinamese Government does more centralized procurement in bulk from lower cost sources.

The Suriname Chamber of Commerce and Industry can be reached at P.O. Box 149, Mirandastraat 10, Paramaribo.

Transportation

Suriname's extensive rivers and streams are important avenues of transportation. Some rivers are navigable by ocean freighters for 100 miles inland. Hundreds of miles of smaller rivers are navigable by smaller boats and barges, which are used widely for moving people and freight. The boats of the Amerindians and Bush Negroes are vital to them.

Surinamese Luchtvaart Maatschappij NV (SLM) offers flights between major populated areas. The only practical means of reaching some interior areas is by small plane, using the recently built "grasshopper" airstrips. Chartered flights to these small fields are very expensive. Zanderij International Airport, 25 miles south of Paramaribo, can accommodate large jets. Zanderij is served by KLM, ALM, SLM, Guyana Airways, and Brazil's Cruzeiro do Sul, which connect the country with the U.S., Europe, and major South American cities. A small airfield on the edge of the city is limited to twin-engine propeller craft.

Suriname has no passenger rail transportation. River transport is one way to visit the interior and some coastal areas.

Buses serve Paramaribo, but service is erratic and the buses are hot and usually crowded during rush hours. Motorbikes, motorcycles, scooters, and bicycles are important local means of transportation. Traffic is hazardous, especially for riders of two-wheeled vehicles. Paramaribo has several taxi companies. Cabs are hard to find, but it is possible to phone for service.

Private cars are the best means of transportation in Paramaribo, particularly small vehicles, as some streets are narrow, and good maneuverability is necessary in traffic. Cars are not used very often for trips outside the city. Traffic moves on the left (although cars for right-hand traffic are numerous), and visitors are cautioned to be careful when crossing streets, as it is easy to forget which way traffic is coming. The bicycle and motorbike paths can be hazardous, too, as the latter have the right-of-way.

Prices of small foreign cars are comparable to U.S. prices, and spare parts for these vehicles are more readily available than for large American cars. Insurance can be purchased at reduced rates (10 percent per year up to five years) with a statement from previous insurers that no claim has been made within five years. For other than liability, it is wise to purchase additional insurance through a U.S. company, as rates are more reasonable. A driver's license can be obtained for a small fee by presenting a valid U.S. license and two photos.

Communications

Postal, telegraph, and telephone systems connect Suriname's cities with one another and with the outside world. These services are quite reliable, and the rates reasonable. Suriname has a dial telephone system; direct dialing from the U.S. is possible using country code 597. International airmail letters arrive almost daily from the U.S., with transit time averaging 15 days. Surface mail takes two months or longer. Local mail service is slow, although reasonably reliable.

Government-owned, commercial stations provide news and entertainment in local languages, Dutch and English. Shortwave radio can pick up Voice of America (VOA), Armed Forces Radio, British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), a few U.S. stations, and numerous Spanish and Portuguese broadcasts. The television broadcasts provide many recorded programs from the U.S., with some in color. The news is reported in Dutch.

Government publications and newspapers are in Dutch. The government cultural center maintains a public library with a limited collection of English editions. A few very expensive English-language paperbacks and hardcover books are available from one or two outlets in Paramaribo.

Health

Paramaribo has medical facilities which are satisfactory for all but the most serious health problems. Local doctors have received their training in the Netherlands, Suriname, and the U.S. Several good dentists with modern equipment practice in the city. Eyeglasses can be fitted satisfactorily, as there are several eye specialists and opticians. Some common prescription and patent medicines are available, but most prescription medications are unavailable.

The general level of sanitation and health in Paramaribo, although not up to U.S. standards, is good. Garbage is collected weekly. Government efforts have eliminated yellow fever, malaria, and rabies from the capital area. Locally produced food, milk, bottled drinks, and meat are safe.

Tap water is potable in Paramaribo, Nieuw-Nickerie, and Moengo. In small villages and in the interior, waterborne diseases are always a possibility because of various unsanitary health practices. Skin infections are fairly common. It is inadvisable to walk barefoot, since schistosomiasis and other parasites can be contracted through exposed skin. The coastal area has been free of yellow fever and malaria for many years, but these diseases are still found in the interior. The visitor should take anti-malarial drugs when traveling in those regions.

Suriname's high humidity aggravates arthritis, sinusitis, rheumatism, and bronchial asthma. The damp, warm air encourages fungus growth which can affect the skin or cause allergic reactions. Numerous plants and flowers are also sources of allergies. The climate is debilitating to many Americans, particularly those arriving from cooler climates. New arrivals may feel weak and tired and may require extra sleep during their first few weeks in Paramaribo. The tropical sun is surprisingly strong, and direct exposure at midday can cause uncomfortable burns in 15 to 20 minutes.

Mosquitoes are prevalent in some lower lying parts of Paramaribo. Some people use mosquito nets when sleeping in rooms that are not air-conditioned, especially in some areas outside the capital, where mosquitoes may carry malaria. Mosquito and insect repellents are widely used. The many insects found in this tropical region result in frequent, but mild, bites, which sometimes become infected despite precautions. Outside heavier-populated sections, there are poisonous reptiles and wild animals. Caution should be exercised by wearing proper clothing and keeping alert when in forested areas.

Clothing and Services

The warm, humid climate of Suri-name normally necessitates only lightweight summer clothing, except in some air-conditioned offices and buildings. Evenings in the rainy season are cooler than in the dry season. It rains almost daily, so an umbrella is necessary for each family member. Because of the high humidity, raincoats are seldom worn.

Men normally wear light cotton shirts and lightweight suits. At many social occasions, casual attire is acceptable.

Women generally wear skirts or slacks while shopping in the city. Shorts should not be worn in public. Pants and pantsuits are often seen in casual social situations. Clothing accessories can be purchased in Paramaribo, but selection is limited, and prices are higher than in the U.S.

Basic services are adequate. The city has two laundries and two dry cleaners. Work is fair, and prices are higher than to those in the U.S. A few dressmakers, tailors, hairdressers, and barbers do good work at reasonable rates. Repairs of any kind are adequate, but slow. Qualified technicians for some repairs do not exist in Paramaribo. However, many auto garages, especially those of dealers, have modern facilities, skilled mechanics, and do adequate work, although parts are often in short supply.

Virtually all miscellaneous household items, supplies, medicines, and tobacco are difficult to find locally. Since nearly everything must be imported, prices are high. It is advisable to have on hand a supply of special or unusual medicines or toiletries.

Domestic Help

English-speaking domestics are not only hard to find, but are rarely willing to live in. A full-time maid works six hours a day, six days a week, is paid at least $300 a month, plus food and transportation, and is paid overtime for evening work.

Part-time gardeners often will do heavy tasks when required. For entertaining, ample extra help is available.

Expatriates should be careful not to hire persons with illegal residential status in Suriname, as is often the case with Guyanese and Haitians.

NOTES FOR TRAVELERS

There are several routes from the U.S. to Paramaribo, the easiest being the SLM flight from Miami, which departs twice a week. Transit can also be through Curaçao, Netherlands Antilles, from Miami; or through Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, from either New York or Miami.

A passport, visa and, if traveling by air, return ticket are required for travel to Suriname. There is a processing fee for business and tourist visas. A business visa requires a letter from the sponsoring company detailing the reason for the visit. There is an airport departure charge and a terminal fee. Travelers arriving from Guyana, French Guiana and Brazil are required to show proof of a yellow fever vaccination. For further information, travelers can contact the Embassy of the Republic of Suriname, 4301 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Suite 460, Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 244-7488, email:[email protected], or the Consulate of Suriname in Miami, 7235 NW 19th Street, Suite A, Miami, Fl 33126, telephone (305) 593-2697.

While the situation in the countryside is stable at present, there is insufficient police authority over much of the interior of Suriname to offer assistance in an emergency. Unaccompanied travel to the interior, particularly the East-West highway between Paramaribo and Albina, is considered risky due to the high incidence of robberies and assaults along this route. Isolated acts of violence, particularly in but not limited to the interior, may occur. Travelers to remote areas of the interior of Suriname should be aware that they may encounter difficulties because of the lack of government authority throughout the interior and inadequate medical facilities in some areas. The ability of the U.S. Embassy to assist in an emergency situation may be hampered by limited transportation and communications in some areas.

The rate of violent crime has increased. Burglary and armed robbery are increasingly common in the capital city of Paramaribo, as well as in the outlying areas. Banditry occurs along routes in the interior of the country where police protection is inadequate. An increasing number of tourists report being attacked and robbed. Visitors may wish to exercise caution when traveling to the interior without an organized tour group, and secure their belongings carefully while staying in Paramaribo. Visitors may find it useful to carry photocopies of their passport, drivers license, credit cards and other important papers and leave the originals in a safe place.

Travelers to Suriname may experience disruptions in travel plans because of the unreliability of scheduled airline service to and from that country. Suriname Airways (SLM), operating in conjunction with Antillean Airways, serves as the only direct air link between the U.S. and Suriname. Limited flight schedules and ongoing technical problems commonly result in delays. Additionally, transportation to the interior is unreliable. Interior flights are often delayed, sometimes for days, because of mechanical difficulties, fuel shortages, and runway conditions. Dutch is the official language of Suriname; however, English is widely used, and most tourist arrangements can be made in English.

Household pets must have veterinary certificates stating that they are free from disease and have had rabies shots. Quarantine is waived if the documentation is in order. No kennels are available.

Stringent laws govern ownership of firearms and ammunition. Hunting licenses are obtained only after acquiring a permit to own a shotgun, and importing and registering a shotgun is a long, slow process. An individual may own one shotgun. Twelve and 16-gauge shotguns are used almost exclusively. Rifles or pistols are forbidden.

Travelers should note that natives object to being photographed.

Paramaribo has Roman Catholic, Southern Baptist, Dutch Reformed, Lutheran, Moravian, Baptist, Assembly of God, Jehovah's Witnesses, Pilgrim Holiness, AME, and Seventh-Day Adventist churches, an Anglican mission, two synagogues, a Baha'i center and several Muslim mosques and Hindu temples. English services are held regularly each Sunday at the Anglican mission and the AME church. A Catholic mass in English is offered once a month. Many Americans attend an interdenominational Protestant service held each Sunday.

The time in Suriname is Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) minus three-and-a-half.

The Suriname guilder (Sf) is the monetary unit. Currency controls are stringent.

The metric system is used. An additional unit of weight measurement is the Dutch pond, which equals 500 grams, 46 more than in an American pound.

Americans living in or visiting Suri-name are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Paramaribo to obtain updated information on travel and security within Suriname. The Embassy is located at Dr. Sophie Redmondstraat 129, telephone (011)(597) 472-900. The Consular Section hours of operation for routine American citizen services are Mondays and Wednesdays from 8:00 a.m.-10:00 a.m., or by appointment, except on American and Surinamese holidays. U.S. citizens requiring emergency assistance evenings, weekends, and holidays may contact an Embassy duty officer by pager at (011)(597) 088-08302. The U.S. Embassy in Paramaribo also provides consular services for French Guiana. For further information on French Guiana, please refer to the separate Consular Information Sheet on French Guiana.

LOCAL HOLIDAYS

Jan. 1 New Year's Day

Feb/Mar Holi Phagwa*

Id al-Fitr*

Mar/Apr. Good Friday*

Mar/Apr. Easter Monday*

Mar/Apr. Easter*

May 1Labor Day

July 1Emancipation Day

Nov. 25Independence Day

Dec. 25 Christmas Day

Dec. 26 Boxing Day

*variable

RECOMMENDED READING

The following titles are provided as a general indication of the material published on this country:

Beatty, Noelle B. Suriname. New York: Chelsea House, 1988.

Hoogbergen, Wim. The Boni Maroon Wars in Suriname. Kinderhook, NY: EJ Brill, 1990.

Price, Richard. Alabi's World. The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1990.

Stedman, John G. Stedman's Surinam: Life in an Eighteenth-Century Slave Society. Edited by Richard Price and Sally Price. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992.

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SURINAME

Republic of Suriname

Republiek Suriname

COUNTRY OVERVIEW

LOCATION AND SIZE.

Suriname sits on the northern shoulder of South America, facing the Atlantic Ocean between Guyana to the west, French Guiana to the east, and Brazil to the south. It shares with these 3 nations 1,707 kilometers (1,061 miles) of border and has a coastline of about 386 kilometers (240 miles). With an area of 163,270 square kilometers (63,038 square miles), Suri-name is slightly larger than the state of Georgia. The capital, Paramaribo, lies on the Atlantic coast.

POPULATION.

The population of Suriname was estimated at 431,303 in mid-2000. Population density is one of the lowest on earth: 6.9 people per square mile compared with 921.8 people per square mile in Aruba, another former Dutch colony in the region. The heaviest population density is on the coast, with around 45 percent of the population living in the capital district. The birthrate of 21.08 births per 1,000 people is relatively high (more than one and a half times that of Aruba's), but very high levels of emigration 8.92 out of every 1,000 Surinamers left in 2000have kept the annual growth rate to a modest 0.65 percent. One-third of all Surinamers live abroad, mostly in the Netherlands, Netherlands Antilles, and the United States. The life expectancy is 71.36 years. About one-third of the population is younger than 15, and 6 percent is older than 65.

Suriname's ethnic composition is diverse. Slightly more than one-third of the population (37 percent) is of Indian origin, descended from 19th-century indentured laborers brought from northern India. Other large population groups are mixed black-white Creole (31 percent), Javanese (15 percent), and Maroons (10 percent), the descendants of West African slaves who were imported in the 17th and 18th centuries and escaped inland. The rest of the population is comprised of Amerindians (2 percent), Chinese (2 percent), whites (1 percent), and assorted others (2 percent). The official language is Dutch, though English is widely used, as is the Surinamese Creole, Sranang Tongo (also called Taki-Taki). Hindustani (a dialect of Hindi), and Javanese are also spoken.

OVERVIEW OF ECONOMY

Suriname is richly endowed with natural resources. With large reserves of minerals and timber and considerable opportunities for agriculture, industry, and fishing, Suriname has the makings of a prosperous nation, but years of political turbulence and military misrule have taken a heavy toll, and Suriname still struggles to turn its natural assets into national wealth.

The Surinamese economy had long been based on sugar cane, introduced by the Dutch in the 17th century. Most Surinamers are the descendants of African, Indian, and Javanese laborers imported to work on sugar plantations. Since the beginning of the 20th century, the core of the economy has been bauxite mining and processing, an industry that continues to supply over 70 percent of official export revenue. With geological surveys suggesting existing mines will be exhausted by 2006, continued bauxite production will require the exploration and development of new mines, a difficult venture in the face of Suriname's serious infrastructural shortcomings.

Most of the country's population and infrastructure are concentrated on the narrow coastal plain, leaving the interior largely empty, inaccessible, and outside the government's full control. Consequently, exploiting Suriname's reserves of oil, gold, kaolin, stone, and timber tends to be difficult and expensive, and the natural resource sector, for all of its potential, remains under-developed.

Political uncertainty and mismanagement have also been significant problems. In 1982 the Netherlands, Suriname's largest benefactor, cut off aid to the military junta, exacerbating a pattern of economic deterioration. A structural adjustment program initiated in 1992 aimed at economic stabilization through improved tax collection, removal of certain government subsidies , and the harmonization of exchange rates . Although the program succeeded in taming Suriname's rampant inflation (bringing it from 400 percent in 1994 to less than 1 percent in 1996), it failed to address the more difficult reforms, such as trimming the civil service and privatizing government-owned industries. In the absence of a clear and rigorous economic plan, Suriname experienced a soaring inflation rate in the late 1990s and its currency began to tumble.

POLITICS, GOVERNMENT, AND TAXATION

Occupied by the Dutch in 1667, Suriname (then Dutch Guiana) was ruled from the Netherlands until 1954, when it gained autonomous status under Dutch sovereignty. Full independence was achieved in 1975. Since then Suriname has had a turbulent history. The first elected government was ejected by the military in 1980, followed by a long period of political instability and deteriorating economic conditions. Although popular pressure led to elections in 1988, the military reasserted itself in another coup in 1990. Elections in 1991 and 1996 resulted in the establishment of fragile coalition governments. Growing frustration at the worsening state of the economy led to widespread strikes and demonstrations and forced the government of President Jules Wijden-bosch to resign in 2000. After new elections, a coalition led by the New Front (Nieuw Front or NF) was formed under the leadership of Ronald Venetiaan, who had been president from 1991 to 1996.

The president is both the chief of state and the head of government. The president and vice president are elected by the 51-member National Assembly or, in case of deadlock, by the larger People's Assembly, which has 869 representatives from national, local, and regional councils. Legislative power is vested in the unicameral National Assembly, whose members are elected to 5-year terms. Judicial power is vested in a Court of Justice, in which justices serve for life.

While the transition to multi-party democracy has been essentially peaceful, the threat of civil disorder remains ever present. The government has little control over the interior, where remnants of the Maroon Jungle Commando rebellion, officially quelled in 1992, continue to operate, along with bandits, drug traffickers, and illegally armed gold miners, making development difficult and even dangerous. Corruption and favoritism in the bureaucracy also combine to undermine government's effectiveness. In October 2000 it was discovered that 98 percent of Suriname's gold reserves had disappeared. Foreign investors are discouraged by a legal and regulatory system they consider inefficient and unreliable.

Since the 1990s, relations with the Netherlands, once an important source of foreign aid, have been strained. The United States suspects Suriname of being a transshipment base for both South American cocaine and illegal Chinese immigrants. Suriname is also embroiled in long-standing disputes with neighboring Guyana and French Guiana over rival territorial and maritime claims.

Suriname's tariff regime is cumbersome and complex. Average import duties range from 30 to 40 percent. New legislation is being drafted to liberalize and streamline the system. To compensate for losses in tariff revenues, the government plans to enact more aggressive strategies for collecting taxes from the country's large informal economy . Direct taxes accounted for only a third of revenue in 1996, and the government hopes to increase this by 20 percent.

INFRASTRUCTURE, POWER, AND COMMUNICATIONS

Suriname's poor transportation deteriorated further due to neglect during the period of military rule in the 1980s. The country has 4,530 kilometers (2,814 miles) of road, about 26 percent of which are paved. Although these roads have been joined together into 1 integrated system with the construction of bridges across the Coppename and Suriname Rivers in 1999 and 2000 respectively, they are overwhelmingly concentrated in the northern coastal region. Transportation into the heavily forested and sparsely populated interior is still extremely difficult. The logging and bauxite industries use Suriname's 166 kilometers (103 miles) of railway; others must depend on the river system, whose 1,200 kilometers (746 miles) of navigable waterways are an essential means of travel and transport, and on air transport. Paramaribo, the capital, is the major seaport and handles around 500 to 600 vessels a year. There are about 46 airports throughout the country, but only 5 paved runways. International air links are through Johan Adolf Pengel Airport outside Paramaribo.

Telecommunications are largely the preserve of the state-owned Telesur, though the private-sector operator ICMS is also active, and there are plans to open the industry up to full competition. Services are generally good, and infrastructural development has seen the number of telephones rise from 71 per 1,000 people in 1985 to 152 in 1998. By the late 1990s, there were 18 radio stations, 3 television stations, and 1 Internet service provider.

Suriname is largely self-sufficient in energy production. Three-quarters of its power consumption is supplied by the state-owned hydroelectric stations at Paramaribo and Nickerie and by the Suriname Aluminum Company's station on the Blommestein Meer, whose electricity is bought by the government. Oil production at the Tambaradjo oil field outside Paramaribo is 12,500 barrels per day (more than 300 percent over its 1982 levels), which is enough to meet all of Suriname's own oil needs, and leave about 40 percent for export. The government is planning to develop the industry further but needs an overseas strategic partner to help it with the cost of exploration.

ECONOMIC SECTORS

Precise data about the Surinamese economy are not always available, especially because of the large informal sector that runs from street vending and casual labor through illegal mining and drug trafficking. Mining is the predominant sector in the official economy, as it has been for most of the 20th century. Along with quarrying, it generated 14.5 percent of the GDP in 1998. Altogether, industry contributed 22 percent of the GDP, while agriculture contributed 13 percent and services 65 percent.

Communications
Country Telephones a Telephones, Mobile/Cellular a Radio Stations b Radios a TV Stations a Televisions a Internet Service Providers c Internet Users c
Suriname 64,000 4,090 AM 4; FM 13; shortwave 1 300,000 3 (2000) 63,000 2 10,000
United States 194 M 69.209 M (1998) AM 4,762; FM 5,542; shortwave 18 575 M 1,500 219 M 7,800 148 M
Brazil 17.039 M 4.4 M AM 1,365; FM 296; shortwave 161 (1999) 71 M 138 36.5 M 50 8.65 M
Guyana 70,000 (2000) 6,100 (2000) AM 3; FM 3; shortwave 1 420,000 3 46,000 3 3,000
aData is for 1997 unless otherwise noted.
bData is for 1998 unless otherwise noted.
cData is for 2000 unless otherwise noted.
SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [Online].

AGRICULTURE

AGRICULTURE.

With only 0.4 percent of Suriname's total land area cultivable, cropping and farming play a secondary role in the economy, employing around 12 percent of the workforce. Half of the cultivable land, mostly in the alluvial coastland, is devoted to rice production, which makes up around 10 percent of Suriname's total exports. The rest is used for fruit and vegetable production, especially bananas, which account for 2.5 percent of total export revenues. As the European Union moves to scale down the special trading access it allows to developing nations, Suriname's rice and banana sales can be expected to suffer. Beef and cut-flower production are being investigated.

FORESTRY.

About 90 percent of Suriname's land area is forest and woodland, but the government has tried to preserve its fragile ecology by opting against large-scale logging operations in favor of sustainable harvesting. Lumber generated about US$3 million in export receipts in 1998. A promising ancillary industry is the production of traditional homeopathic remedies from forest plants.

FISHING.

Fishing, especially for shellfish, is an important sector, with wild-harvest shrimp accounting for US$29 million, or 6.7 percent of all exports in 1998, and scale-fish another 0.8 percent. Fish, shrimp, and crabs are also farmed, though a major setback occurred in October 2000, when a ban was imposed on Suriname's aquaculture products because of unacceptably high levels of toxic residues.

INDUSTRY

Bauxite mining and alumina smelting are the backbone of Suriname's economy, bringing in two-thirds of its export revenues. With 3.9 million tons produced annually, Suriname is the eighth largest producer of bauxite in the world and responsible for an estimated 3.2 percent of all bauxite production globally in 1998. The industry is entirely in the hands of 2 corporations: the Suriname Aluminum Company (Suralco), a subsidiary of the Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa); and Billiton Maatschappij Suriname (BMS). The government is looking for new partners to develop mines in the western Bakhuys Mountains in preparation for the exhaustion of existing mines, expected around 2006.

In 1998 Suriname's gold production reached an estimated 770,000 ounces, but much of the gold mining industry, which includes some 14,000 small producers, either mines illegally or evades government tax levies . The government tried to bring miners into the formal economy by lowering the levy rate from 3 percent to 1 percent in 1997, but with limited success. Legitimate mining operations have been further discouraged by low prices for gold on the world market.

Other resources include oil, kaolin (used in ceramic, rubber, plastic, paper, and cosmetics production), nickel, silver, and granite. Deposits of manganese, platinum, uranium, iron ore, phosphate, and diamonds have also been found. The discovery of offshore oil and gas reserves also suggests significant promise.

Manufacturing, which generated around 12 percent of the GDP in 1998, is dominated by food processing, which accounts for 60 percent of the revenues of this sector, and by the refining of bauxite into alumina and aluminum.

SERVICES

TOURISM.

Suriname has hopes of capitalizing on its lush forests and enormously diverse plant life to appeal to the ecotourist nature-holiday market. While the potential is significant, prospects are seriously hindered by the deficiencies in Suriname's infrastructure, which has few tourist amenities, and by the inaccessibility and hazards of so much of the rain-forested interior. Most of Suriname's 500 or so hotel rooms are in Paramaribo and cater to business travelers, who made up a large proportion of its 89,000 visitor arrivals in 1997; the remaining visitors were largely emigrants making trips home.

FINANCIAL SERVICES.

Financial services are rudimentary and consist of the Central Bank of Suriname, which supplies the foreign exchange market and 3 major commercial banks. Difficulties in financing are further complicated by the economy's instability, especially the parallel currency markets. The financial services industry, a valuable source of foreign exchange for many of Suriname's neighbors, is a potential growth sector for the country, and the government is preparing new legislation designed to stimulate activity.

RETAIL.

Suriname's consumer tastes are fairly thoroughly Westernized, and the retail trade is consequently well developed, especially in the capital district. Complicated and expensive import procedures, however, do limit the availability of goods. Paramaribo also has a full complement of "American-style" fast-food chains such as Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pizza Hut, and McDonald's restaurants.

INTERNATIONAL TRADE

Suriname's bauxite exports and aid grants (especially from the Netherlands, Belgium, and the European Union) have tended to keep its trade account more or less balanced, and the country ran a balance of payments surplus until 1997. A heavy reliance on importsespecially food and consumer goods combined with the fall of commodity prices for Surinamese products and the suspension of Dutch aid in 1997, pushed the account in 1998 into the red. In that year, exports were valued at US$406.1 million and imports at US$461.4 million.

In 1999 alumina and aluminum accounted for 71 percent of all exports, with the remaining 29 percent derived from rice, bananas, shrimp, and timber. Suriname's main export customers in that year were the United States (23.2 percent), Norway (19 percent), Canada (10.8 percent), and the Netherlands (9.6 percent). The main import suppliers were the United States (34.9 percent), the Netherlands (14.8 percent), and Trinidad and Tobago (12.2 percent).

Suriname joined the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in 1995, eliminating all tariffs on CARICOM products in 1996 and with the hope that the region would one day be a pan-American free-trade area. This move has tended to shift trading relations away from Europe, Suriname's traditional source of imports, and towards the U.S. and Caribbean region.

Trade (expressed in billions of US$): Suriname
Exports Imports
1975 .277 .262
1980 .514 .504
1985 .329 .299
1990 .472 .472
1995 N/A N/A
1998 N/A N/A
SOURCE: International Monetary Fund. International Financial Statistics Yearbook 1999.
Exchange rates: Suriname
Surinamese guilders, gulden, or florins per US$1
Dec 2001 N/A
Dec 2000 2,178.50
Dec 1999 987.50
Dec 1998 401.00
Dec 1997 401.00
Dec 1996 401.26
Note: Beginning in July 1994, the central bank midpoint exchange rate was unified and became market determined; 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; the government currently allows trading within a band of SRG 500 around the official rate.
SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [ONLINE].

MONEY

The withdrawal of Dutch support in 1982 forced the government to meet its budgetary shortfall by borrowing on the domestic market, diverting credit from private investment. The strain on the money supply sent inflation into triple digits. Brought briefly under control in the 1990s, the deficit began to increase again, and in 1999 it reached an estimated US$52.6 million, or 16 percent of the GDP. Debt has also climbed as the government substantially expanded its spending on the transportation infrastructure in the late 1990s. The debt rose from US$154 million in 1996 to US$282 million in August 2000. One of the consequences has been the separation of Suriname's currency, beginning in late 1998, into parallel markets, with its bank valuation falling well below the official exchange rate. The result was a 40 percent de-valuation in January 1999 to SG998 per U.S. dollar. With the discovery of the disappearance of the country's gold reserves in October 2000, the rate fell even further, to SG2,200 per dollar. Inflation rose rapidly, increasing by 9 percent per month through 1999, and peaking at 126.7 percent in October 1999 before dropping back to 38.1 percent in June 2000.

POVERTY AND WEALTH

Suriname ranked 67th out of 174 countries in the United Nations Development Program 's development index, which places it in the middle spectrum of nations. This ranking conceals the wide variety of living standards in the country, ranging from Paramaribo, with its roads, full electricity and water services, cosmopolitan shops, and affluent suburbs, to the Maroon and Amerindian villages of the interior, often accessible only by river and with little or no telephone and electricity connections. The index also does not convey quality of life, which even in Paramaribo has been increasingly undermined by

GDP per Capita (US$)
Country 1975 1980 1985 1990 1998
Suriname 888 930 801 787 N/A
United States 19,364 21,529 23,200 25,363 29,683
Brazil 3,464 4,253 4,039 4,078 4,509
Guyana 873 819 626 554 825
SOURCE: United Nations. Human Development Report 2000; Trends in human development and per capita income.

urban crimes such as household burglary and armed robbery. The interior, which has considerably less police supervision, can be even more dangerous. Crime reflects growing disparities in wealth and opportunity, not just between the employed and growing numbers of unemployed, but even within the wage and salary sector, where industry salaries run significantly higher than those in the public sector .

WORKING CONDITIONS

Suriname has a workforce of around 100,000, of which half either work directly for the government or for government-owned businesses. Attempts to down-size the public sector have caused considerable unrest, leading to mass street demonstrations by opposition groups and labor unions in 1999, which forced President Jules Wijdenbosch from office. Restructuring and the slow pace of economic development has sent the unemployment rate up to 20 percent (1997) and precipitated an exodus of manpower that in 2000 ran to 8.92 Suri-namers per 1,000. Most emigrants tend to be under 30 and well-educated; the literacy rate in Suriname, despite a long-neglected education system, is high (93 percent, according to 1995 estimates), and many speak English. This drain of expertise is likely continue.

The concentration of workers in government departments and large industries has created a powerful role for trade unions in the economy. This role has been further strengthened by the government's traditional sympathy for worker issues, enshrined in the 1947 labor laws that still regulate the labor market and safeguard worker rights. Union membership is high, and unions are instrumental in determining pay scales and wage increases.

COUNTRY HISTORY AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

1667. By the Treaty of Breda, England cedes Dutch Guiana (now Suriname) to the Netherlands in exchange for New Amsterdam (later New York City); Dutch colonization and plantation settlement begins.

1799-1815. Britain controls Dutch Guiana during the Napoleonic wars.

1863. Slavery is abolished.

1954. Suriname becomes internally autonomous (with foreign affairs and defense still controlled from the Netherlands).

1975. With independence from the Netherlands, Suri-name becomes a republic under a new constitution.

1980. A military coup ejects the civilian government of Henck Arron and suspends the constitution, replacing it with a government by Lieutenant-Colonel Deysi Bouterse's National Military Council.

1982. The so-called "December Bloodbath" occurs in which 15 critics of the junta are murdered. Dutch aid suspended.

1988. Elective government is restored.

1990. Deysi Bouterse stages another military coup.

1991. Elections are held, but no party carries the required two-thirds majority of seats, so parliament chooses Ronald Venetiaan, a former education minister, as president.

1992. Deysi Bourtese resigns as army chief.

1994. Bread riots occur in Paramaribo.

1996. Elections are held; again no party carries the required two-thirds majority of seats, so parliament selects Jules Wijdenbosch as president and forms a 5-party coalition.

1997. The Dutch government again suspends aid after Suriname refuses to extradite Deysi Bouterse, indicted in the Netherlands on drug charges.

2000. President Wijdenbosch resigns in face of mounting crises and mass demonstrations; new elections are called; with no party able to command a two-thirds majority, parliament selects Ronald Venetiaan as president.

FUTURE TRENDS

Military rule in the 1980s, which was marked by poor economic management, the disappearance of foreign aid, and highly disruptive guerrilla insurgencies, ushered in a period of steep economic decline for Suriname. Subsequent economic policy has been concerned with addressing this legacy and rebuilding the country's economic foundations, especially dismantling the state's overly dominant role in the economy. The process has been a slow one, and the social cost of restructuring has prevented the government from pursuing these aims with full vigor. Fundamental economic instability, with high inflation and a weak currency, continues to be a chronic problem. Positive indicators, such as an improving relationship with the Netherlands, the promise of better economic management by the Venetiaan government, and the strong state of the bauxite industry, will not be enough to stave off continued hardship and economic crisis for Suriname.

DEPENDENCIES

Suriname has no territories or colonies.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Economist Intelligence Unit. Country Profile: Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Suriname. London: Economist Intelligence Unit, 2000.

Suriname General Bureau of Statistics. Suriname. <http://www.parbo.com/information/surdata.html>. Accessed March 2001.

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. The World Factbook, 2000. <http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook>. Accessed January 2001.

U.S. Department of State. FY 2000 Country Commercial Guide: Suriname. Website: <http://www.state.gov/www/about_state/business/com_guides/index.html>. Accessed March 2001.

Alexander Schubert

CAPITAL:

Paramaribo.

MONETARY UNIT:

Surinamese guilder (SG). One guilder equals 100 cents. There are notes of 5, 10, 25, 100, 250, 500, and 1,000 guilders and coins of 1, 5, 10, and 25 cents and 1 and 2.5 guilders.

CHIEF EXPORTS:

Alumina, aluminum, crude oil, lumber, shrimp and fish, rice, bananas.

CHIEF IMPORTS:

Capital equipment, petroleum, foodstuffs, cotton, consumer goods.

GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT:

US$1.48 billion (1999 est.).

BALANCE OF TRADE:

Exports: US$406.1 million (f.o.b., 1998 est.). Imports: US$461.4 million (f.o.b., 1998 est.).

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Suriname

1 Location and Size

2 Topography

3 Climate

4 Plants and Animals

5 Environment

6 Population

7 Migration

8 Ethnic Groups

9 Languages

10 Religions

11 Transportation

12 History

13 Government

14 Political Parties

15 Judicial System

16 Armed Forces

17 Economy

18 Income

19 Industry

20 Labor

21 Agriculture

22 Domesticated Animals

23 Fishing

24 Forestry

25 Mining

26 Foreign Trade

27 Energy and Power

28 Social Development

29 Health

30 Housing

31 Education

32 Media

33 Tourism and Recreation

34 Famous Surinamese

35 Bibliography

Republic of Suriname Republiek Suriname

CAPITAL: Paramaribo

FLAG: A yellow star is at the center of five stripes: a broad red band in the middle, two white bands, and a green stripe at the top and bottom.

ANTHEM: The Surinaams Volkslied (National Anthem) begins “God zij met ons Suriname” (“God be with our Suriname”).

MONETARY UNIT: The Suriname guilder (Sf) is a paper currency of 100 cents. There are coins of 1, 5, 10, and 25 cents, and notes of 5, 10, 25, 100, and 500 guilders. Sf1 = $0.00037 (or $1 = Sf2700) as of 2005.

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: The metric system is used.

HOLIDAYS: New Year’s Day, 1 January; Revolution Day, 25 February; Labor Day, 1 May; National Union Day, 1 July; Independence Day, 25 November; Christmas, 25 December; Boxing Day, 26 December. Movable religious holidays include Holi Phagwah, Good Friday, Easter Monday, and ‘Id al-Fitr.

TIME: 8:30 am = noon GMT.

1 Location and Size

Located on the northeast coast of South America, Suriname is the smallest independent country on the continent, with a total area of 163,270 square kilometers (63,039 square miles). The area occupied by Suriname is slightly larger than the state of Georgia. The country has a total land boundary length of 1,707 kilometers (1,060 miles) and a coastline (Atlantic Ocean) of 386 kilometers (240 miles). Suriname also claims about 15,000 square kilometers (5,800 square miles) of southeastern Guyana and some 5,000 square kilometers (1,900 square miles) of southwestern French Guiana. Suriname’s capital city, Paramaribo, is located on the Atlantic coast.

2 Topography

Suriname is composed of thick forests, unexplored mountains, and swampy plains. Approximately 80% of the territory is classified as tropical rain forest. The highest point is Juliana Top, with an elevation of 1,230 meters (4,035 feet).

Several geologically old rivers, including the Maroni in the east and the Courantyne, flow northward to the Atlantic Ocean from the southern

GEOGRAPHICAL PROFILE

Geographic Features

Area: 163,270 sq km (63,039 sq mi)

Size ranking: 90 of 194

Highest elevation: 1,230 meters (4,035 feet) at Juliana Top (Wilhelmina Gebergte)

Lowest elevation: -2 meters (-7 feet) at an unnamed location in the coastal plain

Land Use*

Arable land: 1%

Permanent crops: 0%

Other: 99%

Weather**

Average annual precipitation: (Paramaribo): 230 centimeters (90 inches)

Average temperature in January: (Paramaribo): 22–29°c (70–84°f)

Average temperature in July: (Paramaribo): 23–31°c (73–88°f)

* Arable Land: Land used for temporary crops, like meadows for mowing or pasture, gardens, and greenhouses.

Permanent crops: Land cultivated with crops that occupy its use for long periods, such as cocoa, coffee, rubber, fruit and nut orchards, and vineyards.

Other: Any land not specified, including built-on areas, roads, and barren land.

** The measurements for precipitation and average temperatures were taken at weather stations closest to the country’s largest city.

Precipitation and average temperature can vary significantly within a country, due to factors such as latitude, altitude, coastal proximity, and wind patterns.

highlands near the Brazilian border, where numerous rapids and waterfalls prevent boat passage. The Courantyne is the longest river, with a total length of 764 kilometers (475 miles).

The coastal plain is flat and sometimes dips to 1.5 meters (5 feet) below sea level. The soils of the coastal plain are relatively fertile. A forest belt lies to the south, interspersed with grassy savannas. Farther south are dense forest and higher ground.

3 Climate

The climate is tropical and moist. Daytime temperatures range from 28 to 32°c (82 to 90°f). At night the temperature drops as low as 21°c (70°f). The annual rainfall in Paramaribo is about 230 centimeters (90 inches).

4 Plants and Animals

Covered largely by rainforest, Suriname contains many flowers but is most famous for water lilies and orchids. Tropical shrubs include hibiscus, bougainvillea, and oleander. There are more than 180 species of mammals. Among the reptiles are the tortoise, iguana, caiman, and many kinds of snakes. Tropical birds abound, especially the white egret.

5 Environment

Deforestation is becoming a concern. Pollutants from the country’s mining industry affect the purity of the water. Salinization (saltiness) of the water supply is becoming a problem for the coastal areas.

There are eight nature reserves. Due to the preservation of Suriname’s tropical rainforest, the nation’s wildlife flourishes. In 2006, threatened species included 12 types of mammals, 6 types of reptiles, 12 species of fish, and 27 species of plants. Threatened or endangered species in Suriname include the tundra peregrine falcon, five species of turtle, the Caribbean manatee, and the spectacled caiman.

6 Population

The population in 2005 was estimated at 447,000. The projected population for 2025 is about 480,000. Average estimated population density in 2005 was 3 persons per square kilometer (7 per square mile). Paramaribo, the capital, had a population of about 253,000 in 2005.

7 Migration

About 200,000 Surinamese lived in the Netherlands by 1985. An estimated 8,000 fled to French Guiana by 1987, seeking refuge from guerrilla warfare in the northeast. Most had returned from French Guiana by 1993. In 2005, the estimated net migration rate was -8.78 migrants per 1,000 population.

8 Ethnic Groups

Suriname has one of the most diverse populations in the world. The two largest ethnic groups are the Hindustani (also known locally as “East Indians”), who make up about 37% of the population, and the Creole community (mixed white and black), who make up about 31%. The Javanese constitute about 15%. “Maroons,” whose African ancestors were brought to the country in the 17th and 18th centuries as slaves but escaped to the interior lands, make up 10%. Amerindians, Suriname’s original inhabitants, form 2% of the population and include the Arawak, Carib, and Warrau groups along the riverbanks and coastal plains, and the Trios, Akurios, and Wyanas along the upper reaches of the rivers. Chinese account for 2% of the populace,

whites for 1%, and other groups for the remaining 2%.

9 Languages

The official language is Dutch, but English is widely spoken and the local people use a dialect known as Sranang-Tongo or Takki-Takki, a mixture of Dutch, African, and other languages.

BIOGRAPHICAL PROFILE

Name: Runaldo Ronald Venetiaan

Position: President of a constitutional democracy

Took Office: 2000, reelected August 2005

Birthplace: Paramaribo

Birthdate: 18 June 1936

Education: Studied mathematics in the Netherlands

Children: Three daughters, one son

Of interest: Venetiaan served as president of Suriname from 1991 to 1996, when he was defeated by Jules Albert Wijdenbosch.

Hindustani (a dialect of Hindi), Javanese, and several Chinese, Amerindian, and African languages and dialects are also spoken.

10 Religions

According to government statistics, 40% of the population is Christian. Approximately 18% are Roman Catholic, 15% are Moravian, and 7% are of other denominations, including Lutheran, Dutch Reformed, Methodist, Baptist, and evangelical churches. Hinduism is practiced by about 27% of the inhabitants and Islam by about 22%. Indigenous tribal religionists make up around 8% of the populace. There are small communities of Jews, Baha’is, and Buddhists.

11 Transportation

Suriname has 1,200 kilometers (746 miles) of navigable waterways. In 2005, the country had one merchant marine ship. A ferry service across the Courantyne River to Guyana began operating in 1990. There are 166 kilometers (103 miles) of single-track railway. As of 2002, there were 4,492 kilometers (2,794 miles) of roadways. In 2003, there were 64,400 passenger cars and 27,000 commercial vehicles. The total number of airports stood at forty-six in 2004, only 5 of which had paved runways. Zanderij International Airport near Paramaribo can handle jet aircraft. Suriname Airways offers regularly scheduled service to the Netherlands and Curaçao. In 2001 it carried 202,900 passengers.

12 History

Spaniards came to Suriname in the 16th century in search of gold, but did not stay when they found none. The first large-scale colonization took place under Francis, Lord Willoughby, the English governor of Barbados. In 1650, Willoughby sent an expedition led by Anthony Rowse to Suriname. In 1660, the British crown granted Willoughby official rights, and it became a flourishing agricultural colony. Settlers included English colonists, African slaves, and Jewish immigrants from the Netherlands, Italy, and Brazil. In the Peace of Breda between England and the United Netherlands in 1667, Suriname became a Dutch colony.

The English held Suriname again between 1799 and 1802 and from 1804 to 1816, when the Dutch resumed control over the colony under the Treaty of Paris. With the final abolition of slavery in 1863, workers were imported from India, Java, and China. In 1954, a new Dutch statute provided for full self-rule for Suriname, except in foreign affairs and defense. Suriname became an independent country on 25 November 1975.

For five years, Suriname was a parliamentary republic under Prime Minister Henk Arron. On 25 February 1980, the government was overthrown in a military coup led by Désiré Bouterse. Parliament was dissolved and the constitution suspended. In 1981 the new government declared itself a socialist republic.

The military and Bouterse ruled through a series of supposedly civilian governments, while pressure mounted for a return to genuine civilian rule. When the Surinamese Liberation Army (SLA), a guerrilla movement, began operating in the northeast in July 1986, the government responded by killing civilians suspected of supporting the rebels.

The military allowed for elections on 25 November 1987. An anti-Bouterse coalition, the Front for Democracy, won 80% of the vote, but the military gave law-making authority to a newly appointed state council, rather than the elected national assembly. International pressure mounted, and the military soon gave in, scheduling elections on 25 May 1991. An anti-military coalition again swept the election. The leader of the coalition, Runaldo Ronald Venetiaan, was chosen as president on 6 September 1991. Venetiaan’s popularity declined during his term as poverty increased. In May 1996, Jules Wijdenbosch of the National Democratic Party was elected to the presidency. The election marked the first time in independent Suriname’s history that one democratically elected government passed peacefully to another.

Wijdenbosch proved to be an unpopular president. The National Party of Suriname coalition swept the May 2000 elections, winning 32 of the 51 parliamentary seats and returning Venetiaan to the presidency. Venetiaan was reelected in 2005.

13 Government

The 1987 constitution provides for a single-chamber, 51-member national assembly directly elected for a five-year term. The executive branch consists of the president, vice president, and prime minister, all chosen by the national assembly. There also is a cabinet and an appointed

Yearly Growth Rate

This economic indicator tells by what percent the economy has increased or decreased when compared with the previous year.

state council. The republic is divided into 10 districts.

14 Political Parties

Suriname’s political parties tend to represent particular ethnic groups. The National Party of Suriname (NPS) draws support from the Creole population and the Progressive Reform Party (VHP) is East Indian. The Party for National Unity and Solidarity is made up primarily of Indonesian workers. In 1991, these three parties and the Suriname Labor Party (SPA) formed the New Front (NF) to defeat the National Democratic Party (NDP). Former president Jules Wijdenbosch’s was of a newly formed Democratic National Platform 2000 party.

15 Judicial System

The constitution provides the right to a fair public trial before a single judge, the right to legal counsel, and the right to appeal. There is a supreme court and three cantonal courts.

In 2003, Caribbean leaders met in Jamaica to establish the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ). Suriname has signed and ratified the treaty establishing the court.

The 1987 constitution called for the establishment of an independent constitutional court. As of 2005, it had not yet been established by the government.

16 Armed Forces

The Suriname National Army consists of army, air force, and naval divisions, with the strength of about 1,840 members in 2005. Defense spending was $7.7 million in 2005.

17 Economy

The bauxite and alumina industry has traditionally set the pace for Suriname’s economy. Next to bauxite, foreign aid is the mainstay of the country’s economy. After 1990, the government started a plan to reduce government spending and privatize key sectors of the economy. By 1995, the economy was improving slightly, ending years of decline, but inflation rates continued to soar.

18 Income

In 2005, the GDP was $2.1 billion, or about $4,700 per person. The annual growth rate of GDP was estimated at 5%. The average inflation rate in 2002 was 23%.

19 Industry

The major industries are mining and food processing. The bauxite industry over the years has developed into a complex of factories, workshops, power stations, and laboratories. Depressed world prices for bauxite and alumina in recent years have reduced the industry’s development. In 2005, however, Suriname Aluminum completed expansion of its alumina refinery in Paranam, in hopes of revitalizing the industry.

20 Labor

In 2003, the labor force had about 104,000 people. As of 1996, about 70% were engaged in services, 8.3% in manufacturing, 17% in commerce, 5.9% in agriculture, 7.8% in transportation and communications, and the remainder in other sectors. About 17% of the total labor force was unemployed in 2000. Nearly 60% of the workforce is unionized. The minimum age for employment is 14 years, but the law is not strictly enforced. There is no set minimum wage. The lowest wage for civil servants was $100 per month in 2002.

21 Agriculture

The chief crops are rice, sugar, plantains and bananas, citrus fruits, coffee, coconuts, and palm oil, in addition to staple food crops. Rice production

Components of the Economy

This pie chart shows how much of the country’s economy is devoted to agriculture (including forestry, hunting, and fishing), industry, or services.

was 95,000 tons in 2004. Production of sugarcane was 120,000 tons; of bananas, 43,000 tons; of plantains, 11,800 tons; of oranges, 13,000 tons; and of coconuts, 9,000 tons.

22 Domesticated Animals

Livestock numbers are relatively small, since breeding is done primarily by small farmers who own only a few animals each. The government has tried to reduce the import of eggs, dairy products, and meat. Estimated livestock numbers in 2005 included 137,000 head of cattle, 24,500 hogs, 7,100 goats, 7,700 sheep, and 3.8 million chickens.

23 Fishing

Fishing has become increasingly important, both on inland waterways and at sea. The chief commercial catch is shrimp, which is exported. In 2003, the freshwater catch was 250 tons and marine landings amounted to 28,107 tons. Shrimp production totaled 1,650 tons that year. Japan is the largest market for Surinamese shrimp.

Yearly Balance of Trade

The balance of trade is the difference between what a country sells to other countries (its exports) and what it buys (its imports). If a country imports more than it exports, it has a negative balance of trade (a trade deficit). If exports exceed imports there is a positive balance of trade (a trade surplus).

24 Forestry

Approximately 90.5% of Suriname is covered by tropical rain forest, but forest resources have scarcely been touched. Roundwood production in 2000 was about 227,000 cubic meters (8 million cubic feet).

25 Mining

Suriname is one of the largest producers of bauxite in the world. In 2003, about 4.21 million metric tons (gross weight) of bauxite was mined. Official gold mine output has been at 300 kilograms (661 pounds) from 1999–2003. In 2003, Suriname also produced hydraulic cement, common clays, gravel, common sand, and crushed and broken stone. Suriname also had resources

Selected Social Indicators

The statistics below are the most recent estimates available as of 2006. For comparison purposes, data for the United States and averages for low-income countries and high-income countries are also given. About 15% of the world’s 6.5 billion people live in high-income countries, while 37% live in low-income countries.

IndicatorSuriname Low-income countriesHigh-income countriesUnited States
sources: World Bank. World Development Indicators. Washington, D.C.: The World Bank, 2006; Central Intelligence Agency. The World Factbook. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 2006; World Resources Institute, Washington, D.C.
Per capita gross national income (GNI)*$4,700 $2,258$31,009$39,820
Population growth rate0.2% 2%0.8%1.2%
People per square kilometer of land3 803032
Life expectancy in years: male67 587675
female71 608280
Number of physicians per 1,000 people0.4 0.43.72.3
Number of pupils per teacher (primary school)20 431615
Literacy rate (15 years and older)89.6% 65%>95%99%
Television sets per 1,000 people245 84735938
Internet users per 1,000 people68 28538630
Energy consumed per capita (kg of oil equivalent)n.a. 5015,4107,843
CO2 emissions per capita (metric tons)5.18 0.8512.9719.92
* The GNI is the total of all goods and services produced by the residents of a country in a year. The per capita GNI is calculated by dividing a country’s GNI by its population and adjusting for relative purchasing power.
n.a.: data not available >: greater than <: less than

of chromium, clay, copper, diamond, iron ore, manganese, nickel, platinum, and tin.

26 Foreign Trade

In 2005, exports alumina contributed more than 70%, to total export earnings. Other exports include gold, rice, shrimp, wood products, and bananas. On the black market, Suriname is a large exporter of cocaine, especially to the Netherlands. Imports consist mainly of fuel and lubricating oils, cotton, flour, meat, and dairy products, refined petroleum products, machinery and transport equipment, and consumer goods.

Principal trading partners include Norway, the United States, the Netherlands, France, Canada, Japan, Trinidad and Tobago, and Belgium.

27 Energy and Power

Total electrical power production in 2002 was 1.9 billion kilowatt-hours. In 1992, the government-owned oil company Staatsolie completed construction of a 60-kilometer (37-mile) pipeline between the country’s oil fields and distribution facilities. In 2004, oil production was 12,000 barrels per day.

28 Social Development

Welfare programs are largely conducted privately or through ethnic or religious groups. Women have full legal rights under the law, but discrimination in employment practices continues. Opportunities for women remain limited as a result of traditional attitudes that encourage women to stay at home. Amerindians in Suriname have traditionally played only a limited role in decisions affecting their land and culture.

29 Health

Suriname’s largest hospital is the Academic Hospital. There are three other general hospitals and one psychiatric hospital. In 2004, there were an estimated 40 doctors for every 1,000 people.

In 2005, the infant mortality rate was estimated at 23.5 per 1,000 live births. Average life expectancy in 2005 was estimated at 68.9 years. Tuberculosis, malaria, and syphilis, once the chief causes of death, have been controlled. As of 2004, the number of people living with human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) was estimated at 5,200. In 2003, there were about 500 deaths from AIDS.

Between 1988 and 1990, 82% of the urban and 94% of the rural population had access to a public water supply, while 64% of urban dwellers and 36% of rural dwellers had sanitation services. As of 2005, it was estimated that the country had about 90,000 households and that the housing deficit stood at 20,000 units.

31 Education

Education is compulsory and free for all children ages 6 through 16. While primary education lasts for six years, secondary education has two phases—four years followed by three years. In 2003, about 97% of age-eligible students were enrolled in primary school. The same year, secondary school enrollment was about 64% of age-eligible students. The pupil-teacher ratio at the primary level averages 20 to 1. The pupil-teacher ratio at the secondary level averages 15 to 1.

Higher education is provided by five teacher-training colleges, five technical schools, and the University of Suriname, with its Law School and Medical Science Institute. Higher education is free of charge to citizens. The adult literacy rate for the year 2004 was estimated at 89.6% (males, 92.3%; females, 84.1%).

32 Media

In 2003, there were 79,800 mainline telephones and 168,100 mobile phones in use nationwide. In 2004, there were 14 television stations and 25 radio stations. In 1997, there were about 668 radios for every 1,000 people. As of 2006, there are an estimated 245 television sets for every 1,000 people and about 68 of every 1,000 people had access to the Internet.

There were two privately owned newspapers in 2005: the Dutch-language De Ware Tijd (circulation 10,000 in 2002) and De West (circulation 15,000 in 2002).

33 Tourism and Recreation

In 1998, there were approximately 54,500 tourist arrivals in Suriname with tourism receipts totaling $43 million. Hotel rooms numbered 1,276 that year. Suriname’s tropical rainforest is increasingly attracting eco-tourism. Sports are the primary source of recreation in Suriname, with soccer, basketball, and cricket being the most popular. Fishing in the Suriname and Saramacca Rivers is also popular.

34 Famous Surinamese

Lieutenant Colonel Désiré (“Dési”) Bouterse (1945–) led the coup of February 1980.

35 Bibliography

BOOKS

Beatty, Noelle B. Suriname. Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 1999.

Goslinga, Cornelis C. A Short History of the Netherlands Antilles and Suriname. Norwell, MA: Kluwer Academic Press, 1978.

Hoefte, Rosemarijn. Suriname. Santa Barbara, CA: Clio Press, 1990.

Lieberg, C. Suriname. Chicago: Children’s Press, 1995.

Williams, Colleen Madonna Flood. Suriname. Philadelphia: Mason Crest Publishers, 2004.

WEB SITES

Aquastat. www.fao.org/ag/Agl/AGLW/aquastat/countries/suriname/index.stm. (accessed on January 15, 2007).

Country Pages. www.state.gov/p/wha/ci/ns/. (accessed on January 15, 2007).

Government Home Page. www.surinameembassy.org/. (accessed on January 15, 2007).

World Heritage List. whc.unesco.org/en/statesparties/sr. (accessed on January 15, 2007).

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Suriname

Culture Name

Surinamese

Orientation

Identification. The name "Suriname" (Sranan, Surinam) may be of Amerindian origin. Suriname is a multiethnic, multicultural, multilingual, and multireligious country without a true national culture.

Location and Geography. Suriname is in South America but is considered a Caribbean country. The total area is 63,250 square miles (163,820 square kilometers). The majority of the inhabitants live in the narrow coastal zone. More than 90 percent of the national territory is covered by rain forest. Suriname is a tropical country with alternating dry and rainy seasons. Since the early colonial days, Paramaribo has been the capital.

Demography. The official population estimate in 2000 was 435,000. Approximately 35 to 40 percent of the population is of British Indian descent (the so-called Hindostani), 30 to 35 percent is Creole or Afro-Surinamese, 15 percent is of Javanese descent, 10 percent is Maroon (descended from runaway slaves), and there are six thousand to seven thousand Amerindians. Other minorities include Chinese and Lebanese/Syrians. Since 1870, the population has increased, but with many fluctuations. In the 1970s, mass emigration to the Netherlands led to a population decrease; an estimated 300,000 Surinamers now live in the Netherlands.

Linguistic Affiliation. The official language and medium of instruction is Dutch, but some twenty languages are spoken. The major creole language and lingua franca is Sranantongo, which developed at the plantations, where it was spoken between masters and slaves. Sranantongo is an English-based creole language that has African, Portuguese, and Dutch elements. Attempts to make Sranantongo the official language have met with resistance from the non-Creole population. Other major languages are Sarnami-Hindustani and Surinamese-Javanese. The Chinese are Hakka-speaking. The Maroon languages are all English-based. Eight Amerindian languages are spoken.

Symbolism. The major symbols of the "imagined community" are the national flag, the coat of arms, and the national anthem. The flag was unveiled at independence. It consists of bands in green, white, red, white, and green. Green is the symbol of fertility, white of justice and peace, and red of patriotism. In the center of the red band is a yellow five-pointed star that stands for national unity and a "golden future." The five points refer to the five continents and the five major population groups. The national coat of arms shows two Amerindians holding a shield and has the motto Justitia-Pietas-Fides ("Justice-Love-Fidelity"). The left part of the shield shows a ship; the palm tree on the right represents the future and is the symbol of the righteous man. The national anthem is based on a late nineteenth-century Dutch composition. In the 1950s, a text in Sranantongo was added. In the first lines, Surinamers are encouraged to rise because Sranangron (Suriname soil or territory) is calling them from wherever they originally come.

Independence Day has lost its meaning for many people because of the political and socioeconomic problems since independence. The mamio,a patchwork quilt, is often used as an unofficial symbol of Suriname's variety of population groups and cultures. It reflects a sense of pride and a belief in interethnic cooperation. The country's potential richness and fertility are captured in the saying "If you put a stick in the ground, it will grow."

History and Ethnic Relations

Emergence of the Nation. Suriname was a classical Caribbean plantation society. In the 1650s, English colonists and Sephardi Jewish refugees from Brazil introduced the cultivation of sugar. When the Dutch took over from the British in 1667, fifty sugar plantations were operating. After a decrease in the number of estates, Suriname developed into a prosperous colony producing sugar and later coffee, cacao, and cotton. In the nineteenth century, the value of these products dropped sharply, although sugar exports were more stable.

In 1788, slaves numbered fifty thousand out of a total population of fifty-five thousand, yet there were not many slave rebellions. By 1770, five thousand to six thousand Maroons or runaway slaves were living in the jungle. After waging protracted guerrilla wars, they established independent societies in the interior. Between 215,000 and 250,000 slaves were shipped to Suriname, mostly from West Africa. Slavery was not abolished until 1863. After a ten-year transition period in which ex-slaves had to perform paid work on the plantations, contract laborers from Asia were imported to replace them. Between 1873 and the end of World War I, 34,304 immigrants from British India (the Hindostani) arrived. A second flow of immigrants came from the Dutch East Indies, bringing almost 33,000 Javanese contract laborers between 1890 and 1939. The idea was that the Asian immigrants would return to their homelands as soon as their contracts had expired, but most remained.

The policy of the Dutch colonial administration was one of assimilation: Native customs, traditions, languages, and laws had to give way to Dutch language, law, and culture. The introduction of compulsory education in 1876 was an important aspect of this policy. Javanese and Hindostani traditions proved so strong, however, that in the 1930s assimilation was replaced by overt ethnic diversity. Against the will of the influential light-skinned Creole elite, the governor recognized so-called Asian marriages and other Asian cultural traditions.

The Creole elite increased its influence in the wake of a political process that started in 1942, when the Dutch promised their colonies more autonomy. The Creole slogan "Boss in our own home" expressed the prevailing feeling. Before the first general elections in 1949, number of political parties were formed, mostly on an ethnic basis. In 1954, Suriname became an autonomous part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

World War II had a profound effect on the nation's socioeconomic structure. The presence of U.S. troops to protect bauxite mines and transport routes led to an increase in employment and migration from the rural districts to Paramaribo and the mining centers. This urbanization gradually made Paramaribo a multiethnic city, and the proportion of Creoles in the urban population dwindled.

The position of the light-skinned Creole elite was challenged by the so-called fraternization policy, which involved political cooperation among nonelite Creoles and Hindostani. Creole nationalism later led to Hindostani opposition. Despite the strong resistance of the Hindostani party and the fact that the cabinet had only small majority in the parliament, a Creole-Javanese coalition led the nation to independence on 25 November 1975.

National Identity. After independence, Suriname attempted to bring about a process of integration that would transcend ethnic, social, and geographic barriers. That process was accelerated by the military regime that gained power on 25 February 1980, but lost popular backing when it committed gross violations of human rights during the socalled December murders of 1982. In 1987, the transition to democracy restored the "old political parties" to power. Race, class, and ethnicity continue to play an overwhelming role in national life.

Urbanism, Architecture, and the Use of Space

Greater Paramaribo, with 280,000 inhabitants, is the only city and the traditional commercial center. Paramaribo is multiethnic, but the rest of the coastal population lives in often ethnically divided villages.

Paramaribo is a three hundred-year-old colonial town with many wooden buildings in the old center. A distinctive national architectural style has developed whose most important characteristics are houses with a square brick foundation, white wooden walls, a high gabled roof, and green shutters. Multiethnicity is demonstrated by the many churches, synagogues, Hindu temples, and mosques.

Food and Economy

Food in Daily Life. The nation's many immigrants have left culinary traces. The only truly national dish is chicken and rice. In Paramaribo, Javanese and Chinese cuisine and restaurants are popular. In the countryside, breakfast consists of rice (for the Javanese), roti (Hindostani), or bread (Creoles). The main meal is eaten at 3 p.m., after offices have closed. After a siesta, sandwiches and leftovers are eaten. Drinking water and street food are generally safe.

Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions. At weddings and birthday parties, especially those celebrating a jubilee year, the so-called Bigi Yari, huge amounts of food are served. In Javanese religious life, ritual meals called slametans commemorate events such as birth, circumcision, marriage, and death.

Basic Economy. Commercial agriculture is limited to the narrow alluvial coastal zone. Smallholders are mostly Javanese and Hindostani. The largest rice farms are government-owned. The country is self-sufficient in rice, some tropical fruits, and vegetables, which also are exported. In 1996, agriculture contributed 7 percent to the national economy and employed 15 percent of the workforce. There is a small fishing industry. Overall, the country is a net importer of food.

Land Tenure and Property. Provisions for collective landholding are part of the legal system. Collective holding of agricultural lands can be found among Maroons, Amerindians, and Javanese.

Commercial Activities and Major Industries. The most important sector is mining, with bauxite and gold the leading products. Most of the bauxite is processed within the country produce alumina. Alumina and aluminium account for three-fourths of exports. Gold production is difficult to estimate.

Trade. In the 1990s, the main trading partners were Norway, the United States, the Netherlands, and the Netherlands Antilles. Besides mining products, exports include rice, bananas, shrimp, and timber. Imports come mainly from the United States, the Netherlands, and Trinidad and Tobago and include capital goods, basic manufactured goods, and chemicals.

Division of Labor. More than half the labor force is employed by the state. Those jobs are officially assigned on the basis of education, experience, and competence, but unofficially, ethnicity and political affiliation often play a role.

Social Stratification

Classes and Castes. Classes are increasingly multiethnic as a result of the social mobility of all population groups. The class structure is based on income and, to a lesser degree, social position. The elite includes importexport merchants, entrepreneurs, politicians, and military officers. Devaluation of the currency has squeezed a traditional middle class that is dependent on fixed incomes (civil servants, pensioners, teachers, paramedics). The gap between rich and poor is widening. The Hindostani could not maintain their caste system once they left India, but some notion of caste persists.

Political Life

Government. Suriname has been an independent republic since 1975. Its political institutions are defined by the constitution of 1987. The National Assembly has fifty-one members who are elected for a five-year term by proportional representation. The president is elected by a two-thirds majority in the Assembly. The president appoints the cabinet ministers. The Council of State, chaired by the president and including representatives of the military, trade unions, business, and political parties, can veto legislation that violates the constitution.

Leadership and Political Officials. Most political parties are based on ethnicity. Party politics are characterized by fragmentation and the frequent splitting up of parties. Since the elections of 1955, no party has had majority in the National Assembly, and so coalitions of are always necessary to form a government. Many party leaders are authoritarian. Clientelism, a patronclient relationship between a politician and voters in which the politician delivers socioeconomic assistance (e.g., jobs) in exchange for a vote, is an important feature of politics.

Social Problems and Control. The administration of justice is entrusted to a six-member Court of Justice and three cantonal courts. The crime rate has increased since the 1980s because of socioeconomic regression; crimes against property accounted for nearly 80 percent of all crimes in 1995. Formal punishments include jail sentences and fines; no death penalty has been enacted since World War II, but the law is still on the books. So far, human rights violations have not been prosecuted. Informal control is still fairly high but has eroded since a military coup in 1980.

Military Activity. The National Army played a major role in domestic (political) affairs from 1980 to 1992. It was involved in a civil war in the interior in the 1980s and in a United Nations mission in Haiti.

Social Welfare and Change Programs

There is a limited social welfare system funded by the state. Assistance by social organizations and benevolent societies to the elderly, poor, and infirm remains indispensable, as do remittances and care packages sent by emigrants.

Nongovernmental Organizations and Other Associations

Labor unions traditionally play an important political role. The number and significance of human rights, women's, and social welfare organizations has grown. Suriname is a member of several major global and regional organizations.

Gender Roles and Statuses

The Relative Status of Women and Men. Official labor force figures underestimate the participation of women, many of whom are employed in the informal sector. Women also work in subsistence agriculture.

Despite the economically independent position of many women within their households, in society in general women cannot claim equal status. The domestic status of women varies. Women are the emotional and economic center of the household (matrifocality) in many Creole groups but are subordinated in traditional, patriarchal Hindostani circles.

Marriage, Family, and Kinship

Marriage. Although many marriage partners are of the same ethnic group, mixed marriages do take place in Paramaribo. In traditional Hindostani families in the agricultural districts, parents still select partners for their children. Weddings can be very lavish. Living together without being married is common but is not acceptable to traditional Hindostani, among whom the bride is expected to be a virgin. In the Caribbean family system, female-headed households and the fact that women have children from different partners are accepted. Some women practice serial monogamy; it is more common for men to have several partners simultaneously. Having a mistress (buitenvrouw ) is accepted and usually is not shrouded in secrecy. Maroon men often have different wives in different villages; those men do, however, have the responsibility to supply each wife with a hut, a boat, and a cleared plot for subsistence agriculture.

Domestic Unit. Domestic units vary in type, size, and composition, ranging from female-headed households to extended families. Among the Hindostani, the institution of the joint family has given way to the nuclear family, and the authority of the man is eroding.

Kin Groups. The clan system among the Maroons is based on a shared belief in a common matrilineal descent. The population of a village can overlap considerably with a matrilineal clan (lo ).

Socialization

Infant Care. Babies usually sleep in cribs near the mother and are moved to a separate room when they are older. In the interior, mothers carry their babies during the day; at night, babies sleep in a hammock. In contrast to Maroon women, Amerindian women are reluctant to let anybody touch their babies.

Child Rearing and Education. Education and diplomas are considered exceedingly important by all population groups.

The Maroons and Amerindians have rites of passage. Among the Wayana, boys undergo an initiation rite, eputop, in which wasps are woven into a rush mat in the form of an animal that symbolizes power and courage. The mats are tied to the boys, who must withstand the stinging without a whimper. Among the Caribs, the girls undergo a similar ritual, except that stinging ants rather than wasps are used. The circumcision of Muslim boys is considered a rite of passage.

Higher Education. Despite economic constraints, public expenditure on education remains relatively high. Higher education is free. Education is compulsory between ages six and twelve. Between ages six and seventeen, school enrollment ratio is officially about 85 percent but the dropout rate is high. The adult literacy rate was 93 percent in 1995.

Etiquette

A typical, mainly urban Creole, expression is "no span" ("Keep cool; don't worry"), symbolizing the generally relaxed atmosphere. The population has a reputation for being hospitable, and most houses do not have a knocker or a bell. Shoes often are taken off when one goes inside. Guests usually are expected to partake in a meal. A casual conversation is initiated by a handshake, and good friends are greeted with a brasa (hug). Children are expected to respect adults, use the formal form of address when speaking to them, and be silent when adults speak.

Religion

Religious Beliefs. The three major religions are Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam. About 80 percent of the Hindostani are Hindus, 15 percent are Muslims, and 5 percent are Christians. Most Creoles are Christians: the largest denominations are Roman Catholicism and the Moravian Church (Evangelische Broedergemeente); the Pentecostal Church has been growing. Most Javanese are Muslims. Officially most Amerindians are baptized, as are many Maroons. However, many of these groups also adhere to their traditional religious beliefs. The most important alternative system for Maroons and Creoles is Winti, a traditional African religion that was forbidden until the 1970s.

Religious Practitioners. Religious practitioners of all beliefs are paid by the Ministry of the Interior.

Medicine and Health Care

Despite a lack of public funding, health care indicators are comparable with those in other Caribbean countries. Life expectancy at birth was 70.5 years in 1996 compared with 64.8 years in 1980. Infant mortality was 28 per 1,000 live births in 1996 (46.6 in 1980). Specialized care is available at the University Hospital in Paramaribo. There are medical posts throughout the interior. In all population groups, traditional healers are often consulted.

Secular Celebrations

Holidays include 1 January (New Year's Day), Id al-Fitr (end of Ramadan), Holi Phagwa (Hindu New Year, March/April), Good Friday and Easter Monday (March/April), 1 May (Labor Day), 1 July (Keti Koti, Emancipation Day, previously Day of Freedoms), 25 November (Independence Day), and 2526 December (Christmas).

The Arts and Humanities

Support for the Arts. Government and private, support for the arts is virtually nonexistent. Most artists and writers are amateurs. A lack of publishers and money makes writing and selling literature a difficult enterprise. Most authors try to sell their publications to friends or on the street. The great majority of established authors live and work in the Netherlands. Oral literature has always been important to all the population groups.

Painting is the most fully developed graphic art. The most popular art form is music. Popular among Creoles are kaseko and kawina music, originally sung and played at the plantations. Among Hindostani, the songs from Hindi movies and videos are favorites. A few traditional Javanese gamelan orchestras perform traditional Javanese songs.

The State of the Physical and Social Sciences

The University of Suriname in Paramaribo has faculties of law, economics, medicine, and social sciences. There are also a number of technical and vocational schools.

Bibliography

Bakker, Eveline, et al., eds. Geschiedenis van Suriname: Van stam tot staat, 2nd ed., 1998.

Binnendijk, Chandra van, and Paul Faber, eds. Sranan: Cultuur in Suriname, 1992.

Bruijning, C. F. A., and J. Voorhoeve, eds. Encyclopedie van Suriname, 1978.

Buddingh', Hans. Geschiedenis van Suriname, 2nd ed., 1995.

Colchester, Marcus. Forest Politics in Suriname, 1995.

Dew, Edward M. The Difficult Flowering of Surinam: Ethnicity and Politics in a Plural Society, 1978.

Economist Intelligence Unit. Country Profile Suriname 199899, 1999.

Hoefte, Rosemarijn. Suriname, 1990.

Lier, R. A. J. van. Frontier Society: A Social Analysis of the History of Surinam, 1971.

Meel, Peter. "Towards a Typology of Suriname Nationalism." New West Indian Guide 72 (3/4): 257281, 1998.

Oostindie, Gert. Het paradijs overzee: De 'Nederlandse' Caraiben en Nederland, 1997.

Plotkin, Mark. J. Tales of a Shaman's Apprentice: An Ethnobotanist Searches for New Medicines in the Amazon Rain Forest, 1993.

Price, Richard. First-Time: The Historical Vision of an Afro-American People, 1983.

Sedoc-Dahlberg, Betty, ed. The Dutch Caribbean: Prospects for Democracy, 1990.

Szulc-Krzyzanowski, Michel, and Michiel van Kempen. Deep-Rooted Words: Ten Storytellers and Writers from Surinam (South America), 1992.

Rosemarijn Hoefte

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