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Suriname Country Information

Background:
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 rule through a succession of nominally civilian administrations until 1987, when international pressure finally forced a democratic election. In 1989, the military overthrew the civilian government, but a democratically-elected government returned to power in 1991.

Geography
Location: Northern South America, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between French Guiana and Guyana

Area: total: 163,270 sq km
Water: 1,800 sq km
Land: 161,470 sq km
Area - comparative: slightly larger than Georgia

Border countries: Brazil, French Guiana, Guyana

Climate: tropical; moderated by trade winds
Terrain: mostly rolling hills; narrow coastal plain with swamps

Elevation extremes:
Lowest point: unnamed location in the coastal plain - 2 m
Highest point: Juliana Top - 1,230 m

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

People
Population: 436,935 (July 2004 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 30.2% (male 67,588; female 64,223)
15-64 years: 63.7% (male 142,656; female 135,819)
65 years and over: 6.1% (male 11,914; female 14,735) (2004 est.)
Median age: 25.8 years
Population growth rate: 0.31%
Life expectancy at birth: male: 66.77 years
female: 71.55 years (2004 est.)

Ethnic groups: Hindustani (also known locally as "East Indians"; their ancestors emigrated from northern India in the latter part of the 19th century) 37%, Creole (mixed white and black) 31%, Javanese 15%, "Maroons" (their African ancestors were brought to the country in the 17th and 18th centuries as slaves and escaped to the interior) 10%, Amerindian 2%, Chinese 2%, white 1%, other 2%
Religions: Hindu 27.4%, Muslim 19.6%, Roman Catholic 22.8%, Protestant 25.2% (predominantly Moravian), indigenous beliefs 5%

Languages: Dutch (official), English (widely spoken), Sranang Tongo (Surinamese, sometimes called Taki-Taki, is native language of Creoles and much of the younger population and is lingua franca among others), Hindustani (a dialect of Hindi), Javanese
Literacy (age 15 and over can read and write): total population: 93%

Government
Country name: Republic of Suriname
Government type: constitutional democracy
Capital: Paramaribo
Independence: 25 November 1975 (from Netherlands)
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch: chief of state: President Runaldo Ronald VENETIAAN (since 12 August 2000); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
Legislative branch: unicameral National Assembly or Nationale Assemblee (51 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
Judicial branch: Court of Justice (justices are nominated for life)

Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Henry Lothar ILLES
consulate(s) general: Miami
FAX: [1] (202) 244-5878
telephone: [1] (202) 244-7488

Embassy: Dr. Sophie Redmondstraat 129, Paramaribo
mailing address: Department of State, 3390 Paramaribo Place, Washington, DC, 20521-3390
telephone: [597] 472900
FAX: [597] 420800

Economy
The economy is dominated by the bauxite industry, which accounts for more than 15% of GDP and 70% of export earnings. Suriname's economic prospects for the medium term will depend on renewed commitment to responsible monetary and fiscal policies and to the introduction of structural reforms to liberalize markets and promote competition. The government of Ronald VENETIAAN has begun an austerity program, raised taxes, and attempted to control spending. However, in 2002, President VENETIAAN agreed to a large pay raise for civil servants, which threatens his earlier gains in stabilizing the economy. The Dutch Government has agreed to restart the aid flow, which will allow Suriname to access international development financing. 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.

Population below poverty line: 70% (2002 est.)
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture NA, industry NA, services NA
Unemployment rate: 17% (2000)

Agriculture - paddy rice, bananas, palm kernels, coconuts, plantains, peanuts; beef, chickens; forest products; shrimp

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

Exports - commodities: alumina, crude oil, lumber, shrimp and fish, rice, bananas

Currency: Surinamese guilder (SRG)

Communications
Telephone system: general assessment: international facilities are good
international: country code - 597



All information on this page provided by The World Factbook. See http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/index.html.
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