Suriname

Republiek Suriname
Republic of Suriname
Flag of Suriname Coat of arms of Suriname
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: Justitia - Pietas - Fides  (Latin)
"Justice - Piety - Loyalty"
Anthem: Opo kondreman
Location of Suriname
Capital Paramaribo
Largest city Paramaribo
Official language Dutch
Government Constitutional democracy
 - President Ronald Venetiaan
Independence from the Netherlands 
 - Date November 25 1975 
Area
 - Total 163,820 km² (91st)
63,251 sq mi 
 - Water (%) 1.1
Population
 - July 2005 estimate 449,000 (170th)
 - 2004 census 487,024
 - Density 2.7/km² (223rd)
7.0/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2005 estimate
 - Total $2.898 billion (161st)
 - Per capita $5,683 (99th)
HDI  (2003) 0.759 (medium) (89th)
Currency Surinamese dollar (SRD)
Time zone ART (UTC-3)
 - Summer (DST) not observed (UTC-3)
Internet TLD .sr
Calling code +597

Suriname, officially the Republiek Suriname, is a country in northern South America. Other common names are Surinam or Sranang. It was formerly known as Nederlands Guyana, Netherlands Guiana or Dutch Guiana. It lies in between French Guiana to the east and Guyana to the west. The southern border is shared with Brazil and the northern border is the Atlantic coast. The most southern parts of the borders with Guyana and French Guiana are disputed (upper Corantijn and Marowijne rivers; the map shows the Guyana and French Guiana versions of the border). The country is the smallest sovereign state in terms of area and population in South America.

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History

Native Americans of the Arawak and Carib tribes were the first to inhabit Suriname in 3000 BC. In the seventeenth century, there were several attempts by the Dutch and English to colonize Suriname, with the Dutch eventually gaining stable control. The Netherlands, and therefore Suriname, had a system of slave labour, with slaves mostly of African descent. The slaves were treated badly, and many escaped to the jungle. These Maroons (also known as "Djukas" or "Bakabusi Nengre") often returned to attack the plantations. Slave labour was only abolished in 1863, placing the Netherlands among the last European countries to do so. (Spanish-controlled Cuba and Puerto Rico had slaves until 1880 and 1873, respectively.) However, slaves were not released until 1873. After that, labourers were imported from the Dutch East Indies (modern Indonesia).

In 1954, Suriname gained self-government, with the Netherlands retaining control of defense and foreign affairs. In 1973, the local government, led by the NPK (a largely Creole party) started negotiations with the Dutch government about independence, which was granted at 25 November 1975. The first President of the country was Johan Ferrier, with Henck Arron (leader of the Surinam National Party) as Prime Minister. Roughly a third of the population emigrated to the Netherlands, fearing that the new country would not be able to survive. A series of military coups in 1980 led to the breakdown in Dutch-Suriname relations, but elections were held and a new constitution written in 1987. A coup in 1990 interrupted this process, but elections were held again in 1991. With democracy, the Dutch government resumed aid. Since 1990, the four-party New Front coalition, led by Ronald Venetiaan has held government. In recent years, developing the economy has been one of the most difficult issues for Suriname.

In the autumn of 2006, Suriname's army was dispatched to Nickerie in anticipation of the possible illegal immigration of Guyanese people escaping violence during Guyana's election on August 28, 2006. The election proved peaceful.

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Administrative divisions

Suriname is divided into ten districts:
  1. Brokopondo
  2. Commewijne
  3. Coronie
  4. Marowijne
  5. Nickerie
  6. Para
  7. Paramaribo
  8. Saramacca
  9. Sipaliwini
  10. Wanica
Map of the districts of Suriname in alphabetical order

Suriname is further subdivided into 62 "resorts" (ressorten).

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Geography

Tailor's shop, Paramaribo, 1955.
Tailor's shop, Paramaribo, 1955.

Suriname is the smallest independent country in South America. Situated on the Guiana Shield, the country can be divided into two main geographic regions. The northern, lowland coastal area (roughly above the line Albina-Paranam-Wageningen) has been cultivated, and most of the population lives here. The southern part consists of tropical rainforest and sparsely inhabited savanna along the border with Brazil, covering about 80% of Suriname's land surface.

There are two main mountain ranges in Suriname: the Bakhuis Mountains and the Van Asch Van Wijck Mountains. Julianatop is the highest mountain in the country at 1,286 metres (4,219 ft) above sea level. Other mountains include Tafelberg (1,026 m; 3,366 ft), Mount Kasikasima (718 m; 2,356 ft), Goliathberg (358 m; 1,174 ft) and Voltzberg (240 m; 787 ft).

Lying near the equator, Suriname has a tropical climate, and temperatures do not vary a lot throughout the year. The year has two wet seasons, from December to early February and from late April to mid-August.

Located in the northeast portion of the country is the W.J. van Blommestein Meer, one of the largest reservoir lakes in the world. It was created in 1964 by the Afobakka dam (the Brokopondo Project), built to provide hydropower for the bauxite industry (which consumes about 75% of the output) and for domestic consumption.

In the upper Coppename River watershed, the Central Suriname Nature Reserve is a UNESCO World Heritage Site cited for its unspoiled rainforest biodiversity. There are many national parks in the country: Galibi National Reserve, Coppename Manding National Park and Wia Wia NR along the coast, Brownsberg NR, Raleighvallen/Voltzeberg NR, Tafelberg NR and Eilerts de Haan NP in the centre and the Sipaliwani NR on the Brazilian border. In all, 12% of the country's land area are national parks and lakes.

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Economy

The economy of Suriname is dominated by the bauxite industry, which accounts for more than 15% of GDP and 70% of export earnings. Other main export products include rice and bananas. Suriname has recently started exploiting some of its sizeable oil[1] and gold[2] reserves. About a quarter of the people work in the agricultural sector. The Surinamese economy is very dependent on other countries, with its main trade partners being the Netherlands, the United States and countries in the Caribbean.

After assuming power in the fall of 1996, the Wijdenbosch government ended the structural adjustment program of the previous government, claiming it was unfair to the poorer elements of society. Tax revenues fell as old taxes lapsed and the government failed to implement new tax alternatives. By the end of 1997, the allocation of new Dutch development funds was frozen as Surinamese Government relations with the Netherlands deteriorated. Economic growth slowed in 1998, with decline in the mining, construction, and utility sectors. Rampant government expenditures, poor tax collection, a bloated civil service, and reduced foreign aid in 1999 contributed to the fiscal deficit, estimated at 11% of GDP. The government sought to cover this deficit through monetary expansion, which led to a dramatic increase in inflation and exchange rate depreciation.

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Demographics

Suriname's population of 438,144 (July 2005 estimate) is made up of several distinct ethnic groups. East Indians (known locally as Hindoestanen or Hindus) form the largest group at 37% of the population. They are descendants of nineteenth-century immigrants from India. They are from the Indian states of Bihar and Eastern Uttar Pradesh, in Northern India, along the Nepalese border. The Creoles, mixed white and black, form about 31%, while the Javanese ("imported" from the former Dutch East Indies) make up 15%. Maroons (descendants of escaped African slaves) make up 10% and are divided into five main groups: Aucans, Kwinti, Matawi, Paramaccans and Saramaccans. Amerindians form 3% of the population (some say as low as 1%), the main groups being the Akuriyo, Arawak, Carib/Kaliña, Trío and Wayana. The remainder is formed by Chinese, Europeans, and Brazilian immigrant workers that have arrived in Suriname in recent times.

A small Jewish community composed of about 200 people, descendants of Sephardim who had earlier fled from Spain and Portugal to the Netherlands, also inhabits the country, mostly in Paramaribo; they have been supplied with the requirements for Passover by the World Jewish Congress since the 1980s. They previously operated an autonomous region of Suriname called the "Jodensavanne", which in the mid-seventeenth century was one of the largest Jewish communities in the Western Hemisphere.

Because of the great number of ethnic groups in the country, there is no one main religion. Most of the Hindustani are Hindu, but they also practice Islam and Christianity. Christianity, both in the form of Roman Catholicism and variations of Protestantism, is dominant among Creoles and Maroons.

Dutch is the official language of Suriname. The Surinamese also speak their own languages: Sranan Tongo (also known as Surinaams). This is an English creole with a large influence from Dutch and several other languages, including Spanish, Portuguese, West African languages and several indigenous languages. Also, the original Carib and Arawak Amerindians of Suriname speak their own languages, as do the Maroons; Aucan (n'Djuka or Ndjukas) and Saramaccan. The second largest language of the nation is Sarnami Hindustani, a form of Bihari, which is a dialect of modern India's Hindi language. Additionally, English and Spanish are also widely used, especially at tourist-oriented facilities or shops.

The vast majority of people (about 90%) live in Paramaribo or on the coast. There is also a significant Surinamese population in the Netherlands. In 2004 there were 321,000 Surinamese people living in the Netherlands, which is about 2% of the total population of the Netherlands (compared to 449 000 in Suriname).

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Culture

Waterfront houses in Paramaribo, 1955.
Waterfront houses in Paramaribo, 1955.

Due to the mix of population groups, Surinamese culture is very diverse.

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Miscellaneous

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See also

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Notes

  1. This article was copied from the English Wikipedia article. Rigzone Staatsolie Launches Tender for 3 Offshore Blocks
  2. This article was copied from the English Wikipedia article. Cambior Development of the Gross Rosebel Mine in Suriname
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External links

Maps of Suriname 6° N -55° E


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