Geography and Landscape


SurinamePhoto: Public domain


The landscape of Suriname can be divided into three parts that run from south to north:

The mountainous region of Suriname covers more than 80% of the surface and is part of the highlands of Guyana. In contrast to the situation in Guyana, virtually nothing remains of the sandstone cover within the borders of Suriname. Weathering has created an upper layer of widely varying thickness in the mountainous region. In the south stretch from west to east the Acara Mountains, the Border Mountains and the Tumuk-Hoemak Mountains. The latter chain forms the watershed between the rivers flowing to the ocean in the north and the rivers flowing to the south (Amazon). The mountains of central Suriname generally form the watersheds between the major rivers. The highest mountains are the Julianatop (1280 m) and the Tafelberg (1080 m) in the Wilhelmina Mountains.

To the north of the mountainous area, a low and undulating landscape extends, most of which consists of pure quartz sands that are highly permeable and barren. Destruction of the jungle has resulted in a real savanna being created here. The transition from jungle to savannah is usually gradual.

The coastal plain of Suriname consists of a southern part. There the weathering has been very intensive. As a result, almost all minerals have been dissolved and bauxite has been created. The northern part consists of younger deposits that have been created by the cooperation of the rivers and the sea. The sands brought in by the rivers and coming from the seabed formed beach walls with shells from the sea. Silt was deposited in the lagoons in between. This is how swamps were created. Landscaping created plantations here in the 17th and 18th centuries, which were later abandoned. The actual coast is a wide mud flat, so sandy beaches are completely absent. The coast of Suriname has to process large amounts of sludge from the Amazon. The siltation promotes the growth of mangroves and parwan forests. Silt is trapped between the roots. As a result, the mouths of the smaller rivers are increasingly to the west.


Suriname(river)Photo: Pvt Pauline Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported no changes made

The drainage takes place via a number of rivers that run parallel from south to north.

The largest rivers in Suriname are the Corantijn and the Marowijne. Numerous islands occur in both rivers and the width is approximately 10 km at the mouth.

The other major rivers are the Coppename, the Saramacca and the Suriname (river). Smaller rivers include the Nickerie, the Commewijne and the Cottica. All rivers are easy to navigate in the low coastal region. Further upstream and on the small rivers one can make use of the great driving force of the flood. The water drainage is very large. In the rainy season, the rivers flood the wetlands. All rivers have rapids at the transition from the mountain country to the savannah.

Climate and Weather

precipitation in Paramaribo, SurinamePhoto:Ymnes in the public domain

Suriname has a tropical rainforest climate for the most part. The driest months are generally September and October. Suriname has a double rainy season. In January it rains a lot, but from April to July is the long rainy season. Sometimes heavy showers occur at the end of the rainy season.

The average temperature in Paramaribo is 27.3 degrees Celsius. The average daily maximum temperature is highest in October and lowest in January. The average minimum temperature is about 23 degrees all year round.

The relative humidity is on average 80%. The winds blow predominantly from the east and are generally weak at speeds of between one and two meters per second. The climate in the interior differs little, in general the precipitation is higher.

In short, Suriname has four seasons:

The short rainy season, the first half of December to the second half of January. The short dry season, the second half of January to the second half of March. The long rainy season, the second half of March to the first half of August. The great dry season, the second half of August to the first half of December.

Plants and Animals


Mangroves SurinamePhoto:Rob Oo Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic no changes made

Suriname has tropical vegetation. The vegetation is closely related to that of the neighboring Guyanas and to the Amazon region.

The number of species of plants is about 5000. For an area of this size and without high mountains that is quite a lot. Some common varieties are the Butterfly Flower family, Walstroke family, Euphorbia family, Palms and further Grasses, Bromeliads, Cacti and beautiful Orchids.

Characteristic for Suriname is the coastal forest that consists of mangrove (tidal forest), with mainly the Parwa. The national flower of Suriname is the palulu or Heliconia bihai. Suriname's national tree is the royal palm.


Howler Monkey SurinamePhoto Dennis Jarvis Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic no changes made

The animal world is of a tropical South American character and mainly includes the fauna of the tropical rainforest. The animal world is still full of surprises. The mammals comprise about 140 species, including 8 types of monkeys (including howler monkeys and capuchin monkeys) and 14 types of predators (including jaguar and puma). The bats are well represented with 65 species (including the bloodsucking vampires). Furthermore, there are three types of anteaters, two types of sloths and five types of armadillos (including the giant armadillo).There are also the South American tapir and three types of deer. A sea cow species occurs off the coast and in the estuaries.

The bird world is very rich and includes more than 600 species. The migratory birds (mainly waders from the north) comprise at least 60 species. Typical birds include the scarlet ibis, black vulture, toucans and parrots. Amphibians and reptiles have become widely known (amphibian salamanders, the bizarre looking Surinamese toad, poison dart frogs, caimans, crested lizard or iguana, boa constrictor, anaconda, forest master and rattlesnakes among the venomous snakes, and sea, water and tortoises).

Four-eyed fish SurinamePhoto:James St John Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic no changes made

The fish include many well-known aquarium fish in the fresh water (carp salmon and viviparous tooth carp); especially catfish are abundantly available. The piranhas, electric eel, stingray, four-eyed fish and cichlids deserve special mention.

Lower animals are represented by giant centipedes, tarantulas, land snails that grow to over 13 cm long and an innumerable insect world, including famous butterflies such as Morpho and the curious lantern bearer among the cicada-like bugs.

The coast and the mostly muddy continental shelf are home to a tropical Caribbean fauna, including commercially important fish and crustaceans. Numerous animals are hunted and eaten, especially monkeys, rodents and ungulates; seaturtle eggs are also very popular. Hunting is sufficiently regulated, but in practice it proves difficult to apply the decisions; poaching is an everyday occurrence and some provisions do not apply in parts of the interior.

sea turtle lays eggs in SurinamePhoto:Jan Willem Broekema Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic no changes

Sea turtles and their clutches are protected by a mixed system of reserves, quotas and bans. Nature conservation is therefore among the best in South America. In nine reserves spread throughout the country, fauna and flora are reasonably to well protected. A modest nature tourism has emerged from these areas; the best known of these areas are beaches where sea turtles nest, the Raleigh Falls-Voltzberg Reserve, Table Mountain, Sipaliwini Savannah and Brownsberg. The Asian mungo (a mongoose) was introduced at the beginning of this century to control rats and the bushmaster (a poisonous snake); distribution has been limited to date.

In 2007 the Surinamese nature conservation organization CIS (Conservation International Suriname) announced that 24 new animal species had been discovered, mainly in the Lely and Nassau mountains. This mountain range belongs to the Guyana shield, a continuous area of tropical rainforest that includes several countries. Among the newly discovered species are a Dipsas indica, a snail-eating snake, a dwarf catfish and a frog species belonging to the Antelopus genus.


Pre-colonial period

Indian hunter-gatherers settled in the area of present-day Suriname around 10,000 BC, archaeological excavations show. Axes and arrowheads correspond to European finds from the Stone Age. About 3000 BC, cultivators settled near the fertile rivers and produced pottery. There are few written sources from the pre-colonial period of Suriname, but archaeological finds indicate that there were some kind of mounds inhabited surrounded by fields in the period until the first Europeans set foot on land.

Spaniards, English and Dutch

Flag of the West India CompanyPhoto:LTB Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International no changes made

In 1593 Suriname was taken over by the Spaniards, but soon abandoned. The Dutch also founded a branch there, which, however, did not last either. After 1650, a group of English settlers from Barbados successfully settled on the Suriname River. In 1667 their colony had 175 plantations and more than 4000 settlers and slaves.

In 1667 the Zeelanders conquered Suriname under the leadership of Abraham Crijnssen and after the Peace of Breda they were able to keep Suriname in their possession. In 1682, the province of Zeeland transferred the colony to the West India Company (WIC), which founded a separate limited company. One third of the shares came into the hands of the WIC, one third of the city of Amsterdam and one third of the Van Aerssen van Sommelsdijk family.

Plantations, slavery and indentured servants

Plantation in SurinamePhoto:Public domain

Cornelis van Aerssen became the first governor of Suriname. He was committed to increasing the number of plantations. By waging war against the Indians and the runaway slaves, he made Suriname attractive to European investors. All of Van Aerssen's successors continued this policy in favor of plantation agriculture.

The Surinamese coffee and sugar were sold on the Dutch market. Dutch investors invested more than 60 million in Suriname between 1751 and 1773. In 1773, a crisis on the Amsterdam stock exchange brought a sudden end to the capital supply to Suriname. Many planters had borrowed too much and could not meet the interest payments and repayments and were obliged to sell their plantations to the moneylenders in the Netherlands. This change was of little significance to the slaves. They were forced to make their labor available to the plantations. Their number was estimated at 50,000 around 1800. After the conquest of Suriname by the English in 1799, the supply of slaves from Africa was prohibited in 1806. As a result of this measure, the mortality surplus among slaves could no longer be compensated by new supplies. Because two-thirds of the supplied slaves were men, the number of slaves slowly decreased. Some of the slaves also ran away and these runaways formed separate communities, which the colonial government could not destroy and with which it concluded peace treaties to protect the plantations from further attacks. These former slaves were called Maroons.

Plantation owner in Suriname with enslaved femalePhoto:Public domain

In 1863 slavery was abolished in Suriname and in 1873 the ex-plantation slaves were really free. In that year their obligation to enter into an annual employment contract with a plantation owner expired. Many plantations were merged to make up for the labor shortage. In 1862 Suriname had 216 plantations, in 1913 it was 79. The total sugar yield remained virtually constant over the centuries, although coffee, cocoa and cotton disappeared.

Although this form of agriculture became less and less economic, colonial policy continued to promote this sector. The government took more than 30,000 British Indians to Suriname and more than 33,000 Javanese, who had committed themselves to work on the plantations for a period of five years before being shipped, after which they were able to return home. In 1916 the importation of British Indians came to an end due to nationalist opposition in India to this form of labor migration. The supply from Java came to an end due to the decline of the plantations. Incidentally, about two-thirds of the Indian and Javanese indentured servants did not return home, but settled in the colony, after the colonial government began to promote the ownership of small plots for food farming after 1890.

There were few economic alternatives outside of plantation agriculture. The discovery of gold provided work for some of the former slaves, while the growth of the government apparatus also created a number of jobs. There was only limited industrial development in Suriname. Around 1970, 23% of the working population made a living in agriculture, 15% in industry and 40% in the service sector (government, crafts).

The social structure of Suriname was strongly influenced by the lack of contacts between the different population groups. The slave emancipation of 1863 meant that a large part of the population originally from Africa turned their backs on plantation farming and turned to work in forestry, mining and the service sector. Their place in agriculture was taken by the Hindus and the Javanese. At the top were the white plantation owners and the administrative officials from the Netherlands. The small Creole middle class felt connected with the white upper layer.

The social balance of power was reflected in the States of Suriname, which were established in 1866. The members of the States of Suriname were appointed by the governor until 1901, after which they were elected according to census electoral law. Universal suffrage was introduced in 1948.

From self-government to independence

Pengel SurinamePhoto:Harry Pot in the public domain

After the war, Suriname was granted a large degree of self-government. In the Statute for the Kingdom of the Netherlands (1954) the position of Suriname and the Netherlands Antilles was regulated. Since then, the political parties have sought a looser relationship with the Kingdom. Parts of the National Party of Suriname (NPS) and the Party Nationalist Republic (PNR), which mainly belonged to the Creole population group, strove for independence in the short term. The Hindustani Vatan Hitkari Party (VHP), led by Lachmon, still wanted a link with the Netherlands.

Under Prime Minister Pengel and his successor Jules Sedney, opposition to the bad socio-economic situation increased. For example, there were strikes at education (which led to the fall of Pengel) and at the Suriname Aluminum Company (Suralco), while a general strike took place in early 1973. In parliamentary elections in 1973, the National Party Combination (NPK) was victorious. Arron, chairman of the NPS and the NPK, formed a new government, which announced its intention to make the country independent before the end of 1975. In October 1975, a law amending the Kingdom Statute was passed in the Dutch Parliament. In Suriname, Prime Minister Arron and opposition leader Lachmon, who had hitherto strongly opposed independence, reached agreement on the Constitution, which was subsequently adopted.

Suriname's independence became a fact on November 25, 1975. Ferrier, until then governor, became the first president. Prime Minister Arron remained leader of an NPK cabinet. After the first parliamentary elections in independent Suriname in October 1977, which were won by the NPK, Arron again formed a government.


Desi Bouterse SurinamePhoto:We El Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

In February 1980, an old conflict between the government and professional soldiers over the establishment of a union broke out, which resulted in a military coup (25 February 1980). The civilian government disappeared and a number of the rebel soldiers, including Sital and Desi Bouterse, formed a National Military Council (NMR), which declared that they had taken power. They announced that they want to end corruption and implement important reforms. President Ferrier was initially prepared to more or less legalize the coup on the condition that civilian government would be established. It was formed and placed under the leadership of Chin A Sen, a prominent member of the PNR in mid-March. In mid-May, parliament passed an enabling law, which gave the government far-reaching powers and greatly diminished the role of parliament. In the following years Suriname had governments of different types. However, the soldiers under the leadership of Desi Bouterse ('Bevel') had the last word.

The memorial sign commemorating the December Murders on December 8th, 1982Photo:JvL Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic no changes made

A low point was the December murders of 1982, in which 15 prominent opposition members were executed by the military. Due to the political lack of freedom, the ever worsening economic situation and the emergence of a guerrilla led by Ronnie Brunswijk in the interior, the popularity of Desi Bouterse declined.


Ronals Venetiaan, SurinamePhoto:Ricardo Stuckert/PR Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Brazil no changes made

Ultimately, the military was forced to enter into consultations with the old political parties. This led to the referendum and the 1987 elections, which brought the old parties back into the cabinet. The president, R. Shankar, became the most important man in the country. Despite their severe defeat in the elections, the military retained great power behind the scenes.

From 1987 consultations with the Netherlands about resuming development aid started again. But in 1990, aid, which has now resumed, was suspended after another coup d'état by soldiers on Christmas Eve. In the subsequent elections, the old parties, united in the New Front, emerged as the largest party.

Ronald Venetiaan was elected president in September 1991 as the successor of interim president J. Kraag and, together with members of the New Front, formed a government that sought a greater rapprochement with the Netherlands. In June 1992, the Netherlands and Suriname signed a friendship treaty. This also resulted in a protocol on how to spend the 1.3 billion guilders that Suriname still owed by the Netherlands under a 1975 treaty. Both states agreed to tackle organized cross-border crime in particular.

In 1994, there was widespread social unrest due to the out of control inflation (more than 300% on an annual basis), which mainly eroded the salaries of government employees. The economic situation was so chaotic that the country had to be kept going with money and food parcels from the Netherlands.

New aid promises from the Netherlands and a settlement with The Hague failed to materialize, because Suriname did not want to accept the IMF and the World Bank as supervisor of its recovery program. 1995 was also dominated by the government's laborious efforts to achieve an economic restructuring program.

In the May 1996 parliamentary elections, the New Front (NF) lost a four-party coalition and lost a majority in parliament. Desi Bouterse's NPD was one of the big winners. However, it was thanks to the disintegration of the NF coalition that Jules Wijdenbosch was able to defeat former president Ronald Venetiaan in the presidential elections in September. The latter to the great disappointment of the Dutch government and parliament, who feared that Bouterse would show himself the true ruler behind the scenes.

Suriname kept its bad reputation in the field of drug trafficking. The cocaine trade in particular played an important role in Suriname's poor prestige. Bouterse may be convicted in criminal proceedings before the Dutch court. It is still unclear whether it will actually appear.

21 century

Bouterse in 2010, SurinamePhoto:Pieter van Maele Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported no changes made

In August 2000, 64-year-old Ronald Venetiaan was elected the new president of Suriname. The leader of the Creole NPS, part of the four-party block New Front, received 37 of the 51 votes in the Surinamese parliament and thus obtained the necessary two-thirds majority. With the election of Venetian, the reign of Jules Wijdenbosch came to an end.

Venetiaan made the reorganization of the dying economy one of his most important spearheads. He also wanted to restore the confidence of the Surinamese population in politics, which was characterized by corruption, self-enrichment and drug interests. The improvement of the relationship with the Netherlands was also on his program. In the elections held on May 25, 2005, the New Front's government coalition will be reduced from 33 to 23 seats in Parliament. The winner is Bouterse's NDP, which gains eight seats, bringing it to a total of 15 seats. The VVV van Wijdenbosch gets five seats. Three interior parties, which have united in the A-Combination led by Ronnie Brunswijk, win five seats, one of which is for the Brunswijk party. The Alternative-1 led by Winston Jessurun will get three seats. On June 30, 2005, the members of the National Assembly (DNA) were sworn in. Parliament chairman is Paul Somohardjo, leader of the Javanese party Pertjaja Luhur, which is part of the New Front.

The United People's Assembly (the parliament expanded with district and resort councils to approximately 900 persons) has elected Ronald Venetiaan and Ramdien Sardjoe as president and vice-president.

Shan Santoki, SurinamePhoto:Master9sword1 in the public domain

In September 2007, a UN tribunal settled a conflict over an oil-rich section off the coast between Guyana and Suriname. Both countries will receive a share. In July 2008 the trial against Desi Bouterse starts. In October 2008, mining giant Billiton announced that it would stop operating in 2010 after a falling out with the government. In May 2010 the mega combination of Bouterse won the elections. In July 2010 Bouterse is elected president with the support of two former enemies. He will take office in August. The Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Verhagen says that Bouterse is only welcome in the Netherlands to serve his sentence. The Surinamese parliament passed the amnesty law in April 2012, so that the suspects of the 1982 December murders go free. In response to this, the Netherlands recalls its ambassador and stops payments to Suriname. In 2013 there will be a slight improvement in the relationship between Suriname and the Netherlands. Ernst Noorman has been appointed by Minister Frans Timmermans as charge d'affaires with the aim of normalizing relations as much as possible. In January 2014 Timmermans met his Surinamese counterpart Lackin, which is the first contact at this level in two years. They agree to meet again later this year. In May 2015, De NDP van Bouterse obtained the absolute majority in the parliamentary elections and can thus govern without coalition partners. In December 2015, the Court of Justice ruled that the trial of President Desi Bouterse for the murders of 15 political opponents in 1982 must be resumed despite an amnesty law. In May 2016, Bouterse prevents authorities from re-indicting him for the 1982 murders by invoking article 148 of the constitution that allows the president to stop the proceedings in the interests of state security. A new Dutch ambassador was due to take office in July 2017, but he is not welcome. In the May 2020 elections, Bouterse's NDP loses significantly and a coalition government led by Chan Santokhi takes office in July, with Ronnie Brunswijk as vice-president.


Keti Koti celebration SurinamePhoto:StarNieuws Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported no changes made

The population shows great ethnic diversity as a result of the colonial labor policy to maintain plantation agriculture. There are 8 different population groups to name. In 2017, the proportions are as follows: Hindustani 27%, Maroons or Maroons 22%, Creoles 16%, Javanese 14%, Mixed 13%, Indians 2%, Chinese 2%, Europeans 1% and others.

The population is concentrated in the coastal region, more than half live within a radius of 35 km around Paramaribo. Greater Paramaribo has approximately 239,000 inhabitants. The remaining population lives in small settlements along the coast and along the rivers. The only other place of significance is Nieuw Nickerie.

It is estimated that about 350,000 people of Surinamese descent live in the Netherlands (see also emigration).

In 2017, the population of Suriname was 591,3919. The natural population growth was 1.02% in 2017. The birth rate in 2017 was 15.8 per 1000 inhabitants and the death rate 6.1. The average life expectancy for men is 70.1 years and for women 75.1 years.

National Anthem SurinamePhoto:Brokopondo Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International no changes made

About 20 languages are spoken in Suriname. The official language is Dutch. Surinamese or Sranantongo developed as a creole language early during the slave period. 'Sranan' can be distinguished from the languages spoken by the Maroons, such as Saramakan and Aukan. The Indians speak several Native American languages. The indentured servants who arrived in the 19th century brought Hindi, Javanese and Chinese. The colloquial language between the groups is Sranantongo.


Winti Dance, SurinamePhoto:Tropenmuseum, part of the National Museum of World Cultures Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

The religious diversity is broadly in line with the ethnic one. The Creoles mainly belong to the Christian churches. More than 40% of them are Roman Catholic and about the same percentage of the Creoles are members of the Evangelical Brotherhood. A growing number belong to different Pentecostal churches. The religious expressions of the Creoles and of the Bush Negroes and the Indians must also include the Winti cult. Often these populations are devoted to both Winti and a Christian religion. The Jews (both Ashkenazim and Sephardim) are a very small minority. The Indo-Surinamese adhere to about 80% Hinduism, 15% are Muslims, 5% Christians. The Javanese are predominantly Muslim. The Indians are largely, at least officially, Christianized.


State structure

national assemblyPhoto:Brokopondo in the public domain

Suriname's form of government is parliamentary democracy. Under the 1987 constitution, supreme power rests with the president elected for five years by the United People's Assembly (an extended parliament), who is head of state and commander-in-chief of the armed forces. The latter position is held ex officio by the vice-president. The National Assembly is the highest state body and has 51 members.

Administrative division

Districts of SurinamePhoto:Golbez Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

Suriname is divided into ten districts plus the capital. The districts are Paramaribo, Brokopondo, Commewijne, Coronie, Marowijne, Para, Wanica, Sipaliwini, Saramacca and Nickerie. The districts are administered by a district commissioner. The district is an administrative part of the central government in Paramaribo, and the district commissioner receives his instructions from the Minister of District Administration and Decentralization. The districts themselves are subdivided into areas that fall under an administrative official with a permanent position. There is no municipal division. Within a district, however, different communities are distinguished, such as settlements (old plantations), village communities, water boards and villages (lands).


Precidential Palace SurinamePhoto:Ian Mackenzie Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic no changes made

The following political parties played an important role before the military coup of 1980 and after the redemocratization in 1987. The Kaum Tani Persatuan Indonesia, now called Kerukanan Tulodo Pranatan Ingil (KTPI = Party for National Unity and Togetherness of the Highest Order). This party is strong with the Javanese population group. The National Party of Suriname (NPS), the largest party for the Creoles. The Progressive Reform Party (VHP), based on the Hindustani population group. Together these three parties form the New Front for Democracy and Development. There are also the National Democratic Party (NDP) associated with army leader Bouterse and the Democratic Alternative '91 (DA '91), a combination of four parties.

The trade union movement has traditionally played an important role in social life. The most important trade unions are the General Union of Trade Unions in Suriname, 'the Mother Union', the Centrale 47 (C-47) and the Centrale van Landsdienaren Organizations. These three unions united in 1987 in the Council of Trade Unions Suriname.

The current political situation is described in the chapter history.



Surinam DollarPhoto:Brokopondo in the public domain

The economy has traditionally been highly dependent on foreign countries. During the boom of plantation agriculture, the country relied economically on the export of tropical products (sugar, coffee, cocoa, cotton). In the 20th century, bauxite mining became increasingly important. The economy is dominated by mining, aluminum, gold and oil exports account for about 85% of exports and 25% of government revenues, making the economy very fragile and dependent on price fluctuations. Economic growth between 2010-13 has been around 4-5% per year, but the government budget has been hit by high inflation in 2010. In January 2011, the government devalued the currency by 20% and increased taxes to cover the budget deficit. reduce. As a result of these measures, inflation has declined to about 4% in 2013. Suriname's medium-term economic outlook depends on sound monetary and fiscal policies and the implementation of structural reforms to liberalize markets and promote competition. In 2017, the economy will grow by 1.9%. The GNP per capita then amounts to $ 14,900 per year.

Agriculture, livestock, forestry, fishing and industry

Factory of the Surinamese Bauxite CompanyPhoto:Willem van de Poll in the public doamain

Approx. 11% of the working population is employed in agriculture, fishing and forestry. The sector accounts for 811.6% of GDP (2017). The cultivated area is limited to a small strip off the coastal plain. A significant portion of it is taken up by large farms. Palm oil production has shown promising growth since 1975. The government operates a number of banana plantations. The smaller farms are mostly run by Javanese and East Indians. The country provides for its own needs for sugar, citrus fruits, rice and bananas. Animal husbandry is of little importance. Although 85% of the territory is covered by forests, forestry and wood processing are of limited economic significance as it is difficult to do so in a commercially attractive way. Fishing on the rivers and in coastal waters has steadily increased in importance, especially shrimp fishing.

Apart from the bauxite processing, the industry is of little importance. There are some food processing, clothing and shoe companies, targeting the domestic market. Industry contributes approximately 31.1% to GDP; 11.2% of the active labor force works in this sector (2017).

Mining and energy supply

oldmine SurinamePhoto:Lamgold Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

Bauxite mining is in the hands of the American Suralco and the Dutch Billiton Maatschappij (Shell). Suriname has long been the most important bauxite supplier (raw material for aluminum) in the world, but in 1989 Suriname came in eighth place. The most important sites are Moengo, Paranam and Smalkalden. Alumina factories are located near Paranam. Iron ore, nickel, platinum, tin, copper, manganese, diamonds and gold are mined on a small scale. Energy is generated by means of diesel engines. The hydroelectric power plant at Afobaka in Brokopondo district is the main energy source. Gas production is done by coal gasification.


Export SurinamePhoto:R Haussmann, Cesar Hidalgo, et. al. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

The main export products are gold, aluminum, oil and food. The main customers are Switzerland, Belgium, United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong and Guyana. Food, machinery, petroleum and means of transport are imported. The main suppliers are the United States, the Netherlands, China, and Trinidad and Tobago. The total value of exports in 2017 was $ 2 billion and the total value of imports was $ 1.3 billion. Suriname therefore has a positive trade balance.

Traffic and transport

Bridge over the Suriname riverPhoto:Mark Ashmann Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

The road network extends over approximately 9000 km, of which approximately 25% is paved. As a remnant of a larger railway network, there is an approx. 86 km long railway from Onverwacht (near Paramaribo) via Zanderij to Bronsweg on the Van Blommesteinmeer. In 1978, as part of the development of Western Suriname, an 80 km railway line was opened between the Bakhuys Mountains and Apoera on the Corantijnerivier. Both lines are no longer in use. The rivers, with a navigable length of 1500 km, have a function for inland transport. The largest seaport is Paramaribo.

The national airline is Surinam Airways (also known as Surinam Airways Company), near Paramaribo is the international airport Johan Adolf Pengel International Airport, also known as Paramaribo-Zanderij International Airport. There are approximately 35 airstrips for small aircraft spread across the country. The largest traffic project was completed in 2000. That is the Wijdenbosch bridge over the Suriname river.


The economic development of Suriname is seriously affected by emigration to the Netherlands in particular. This is referred to as a "brain drain" because the highly educated people in particular moved en masse to the Netherlands. At least 300,000 emigrants live and work in the Netherlands, but do feel strongly involved in Suriname.

Bigi Pan Nature Reserve, Suriname. Lots of birds in these wetlands.Photo:Jan Willem Broekema Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic no changes

Tourism is still in its infancy in Suriname. One possibility could be nature or eco tourism. After all, the country is 85% covered with tropical rainforest. A negative factor for tourism is the lack of beautiful beaches. Many Surinamese who live in the Netherlands regularly visit Suriname.

Parimaribo seen fron the Surinam riverPhoto:Mark Ashmann Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

Paramaribo is located on the Suriname River and is the capital of Suriname and the base for most tourists. The city center has been recognized as a World Heritage Site since the year 2002. Visit the St. Peter and Paul Cathedral, which is made entirely of wood. Here you will find a tombstone of Peerke Donders, who was a priest who worked at a colony for lepers in the 19th century. Climb the towers and enjoy the beauty of the view.

Suriname parimaribo marketPhoto: M M Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic no changes made

The central market is the meeting point of everyone in the city. Here you can buy fish, meat, accessories, shoes and clothing. The market is open from early morning to early evening. Fort Zeelandia is a remnant of colonial times. The fort is beautifully situated on the banks of the Suriname River. The Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha'at Mosque is the largest mosque in the Caribbean and this part of the world.

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Beatty, N.B. / Suriname
Chelsea House

Encarta Encyclopedie

Leuwsha, T / Reishandboek Suriname

Noordegraaf, W / Suriname

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Last updated October 2021
Copyright: Team Landenweb