Suriname is a former Dutch colony on the north coast of South America. Democracy was restored in 1991, after almost 11 years of military rule. The Netherlands is still the main supplier of aid.
Geography: Mostly covered by tropical rainforest. Coastal plain rises to central plateaus and the Guiana Highlands.
Climate: Tropical. Hot and humid, but cooled by trade winds. High rainfall, especially in the interior.
People and Society: The Dutch brought labourers from South Asia and Java. Independence saw mass emigration: over 300,000 Surinamese live in the Netherlands. Of those left, over 85% live near the coast, the rest in scattered rainforest communities. Indigenous Amerindians only number a few thousand. Bosnegers – descended from runaway African slaves – fought the military government in the late 1980s. Under civilian rule, each group has had a political party representing its interests.
The Economy: Alumina and gold are the key exports. Rice and bananas are main cash crops. Oil production and tourism are growing. Excessive bureaucracy.
Insight: In a 1667 Anglo-Dutch deal, Holland gained Suriname but lost New Amsterdam (now New York )
Official Name: Republic of Suriname
Date of Formation: 1975
Total Area: 63,039 sq. miles (163,270 sq. km)
Density: 8 people per sq. mile
Languages: Sranan (Creole), Dutch*, Javanese, Sarnami, Hindi, other
Religions: Christian 48%, Hindu 27%, Muslim 20%, traditional beliefs 5%
Ethnic Mix: South Asian 27%, other 25%, Creole 18%, Javanese 15%, Black 15%
Government: Parliamentary system
Currency: Surinamese dollar = 100 cents