First explored by the Spaniards in the 16th century and then settled by the English in the mid-17th century, Suriname became a Dutch colony in 1667. With the abolition of slavery in 1863, workers were brought in from India and Java. Independence from the Netherlands was granted in 1975. Five years later the civilian government was replaced by a military regime that soon declared a socialist republic.


It continued to exert control through a succession of nominally civilian administrations until 1987, when international pressure finally forced a democratic election. In 1990, the military overthrew the civilian leadership, but a democratically elected government – a four-party New Front coalition – returned to power in 1991 and has ruled since, expanding to eight parties in 2005.


Location: Northern South America, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between French Guiana and Guyana
Geographic coordinates: 4 00 N, 56 00 W
Population:  560,157 (July 2012 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 26.4% (male 66,440/female 63,469)

15-64 years: 67.3% (male 164,739/female 166,139)

65 years and over: 6.3% (male 13,300/female 17,902) (2011 est.)

Country name: conventional long form: Republic of Suriname

conventional short form: Suriname

local long form: Republiek Suriname

local short form: Suriname

former: Netherlands Guiana, Dutch Guiana

Government type: constitutional democracy
Telephones – main lines in use: 85,000 (2009)
Telephones – mobile cellular: 890,000 (2009)
Airports: 47 (2012)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 5

over 3,047 m: 1

under 914 m: 4 (2012)

Military branches: Suriname Armed Forces: Ground Forces, Naval Forces, Air Forces (2010)
Military service age and obligation: 18 years of age (est.); recruitment is voluntary, with personnel drawn almost exclusively from the Creole community (2007)


The economy is dominated by the mining industry, with exports of alumina, gold, and oil accounting for about 85% of exports and 25% of government revenues, making the economy highly vulnerable to mineral price volatility. The short-term economic outlook depends on the government’s ability to control inflation and on the development of projects in the bauxite and gold mining sectors. Suriname has received aid for these projects from Netherlands, Belgium, and the European Development Fund. Suriname’s economic prospects for the medium term will depend on continued commitment to responsible monetary and fiscal policies and to the introduction of structural reforms to liberalize markets and promote competition. In 2000, the government of Ronald VENETIAAN, returned to office and inherited an economy with inflation of over 100% and a growing fiscal deficit.