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 African slavery in 1863, workers were brought in from India and Java. The Netherlands granted the colony independence in 1975. Five years later the civilian government was replaced by a military regime that soon declared Suriname 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 coalition - returned to power in 1991. The coalition expanded to eight parties in 2005 and ruled until August 2010, when voters returned former military leader Desire BOUTERSE and his opposition coalition to power. President BOUTERSE was reelected unopposed in 2015.
Northern South America, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between French Guiana and Guyana
timber, hydropower, fish, kaolin, shrimp, bauxite, gold, and small amounts of nickel, copper, platinum, iron ore
Population - distribution
population concentrated along the northern coastal strip; the remainder of the country is sparsely populated
Dutch (official), English (widely spoken), Sranang Tongo (Surinamese, sometimes called Taki-Taki, is the native language of Creoles and much of the younger population and is lingua franca among others), Caribbean Hindustani (a dialect of Hindi), Javanese
PARAMARIBO (capital) 234,000 (2014)
- Conventional long form
- Republic of Suriname
- Conventional short form
- Local long form
- Republiek Suriname
- Local short form
- Geographic coordinates
- 5 50 N, 55 10 W
- Time difference
- UTC-3 (2 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction
Suriname’s economy is dominated by the mining industry, with exports of oil and gold accounting for approximately 85% of exports and 27% of government revenues. This makes the economy highly vulnerable to mineral price volatility. The worldwide drop in international commodity prices and the cessation of alumina mining in Suriname significantly reduced government revenue and national income during the past few years. After 99 years of operations, a major US aluminum company recently discontinued its activities in Suriname. Public sector revenues fell, together with exports, international reserves, employment, and private sector investment.
- Total tax rate (% of commercial profits)
- Real Interest Rate
- Manufacturing, value added (% of GDP)
- Current Account Balance
- US$ -156,833,622
- Labor Force, Total
- Employment in Agriculture
- Employment in Industry
- Employment in Services
- Unemployment Rate
- Imports of goods and services
- US$ 1,780,802,346
- Exports of goods and services
- US$ 1,632,210,424
- Total Merchandise Trade
- FDI, net inflows
- US$ 174,273,021
- Commercial Service Exports
- US$ 153,401,349
rice, bananas, palm kernels, coconuts, plantains, peanuts; beef, chickens; shrimp; forest products
bauxite and gold mining, alumina production; oil, lumbering, food processing, fishing
- alumina, gold, crude oil, lumber, shrimp and fish, rice, bananas
- Switzerland 21.9%, UAE 14.6%, India 13.5%, Belgium 9.7%, US 9%, France 8.1%, Canada 6.6% (2015)
- capital equipment, petroleum, foodstuffs, cotton, consumer goods
- US 26.7%, Netherlands 14.3%, China 12.2%, Trinidad and Tobago 7.4%, Japan 4.8% (2015)
- Country Risk Rating
- A very uncertain political and economic outlook and a business environment with many troublesome weaknesses can have a significant impact on corporate payment behavior. Corporate default probability is high.
- Business Climate Rating
- The business environment is difficult. Corporate financial information is often unavailable and when available often unreliable. Debt collection is unpredictable. The institutional framework has many troublesome weaknesses. Intercompany transactions run major risks in the difficult environments rated C.
- Mineral resources and agricultural potential
- Support from international donors and international investors
- Dependence on oil, gold and aluminum
- Poorly diversified economy
- Scale of the informal economy (30 % of GDP) with casinos, alluvial digging and contraband
- Problems with the management of public companies
- Lack of transport infrastructure (roads, ports)
- Difficult business climate, ineffective justice system
Suriname's economy relies heavily on exports of gold, bauxite and oil, which represent almost one third of the country's GDP and tax receipts. In 2016, economic activity contracted sharply because of weak commodity prices and whole host of fiscal and monetary measures which affected domestic demand. The central bank's decision to devalue the currency by 20% in late 2015, as well as the austerity policy conducted by the government since President Bouterse's re-election (higher taxes on fuel, gradual removal of subsidies on water and electricity) contributed to the drop in domestic demand and specifically in household consumption. In 2017, the country is expected to begin a modest recovery driven by higher public investment, supported by the award of financial aid by the IMF (stand-by arrangement) amounting to USD 478 million. The performances of the agricultural sector, which relies heavily on rice and banana cultivation, are expected to benefit from the dissipation of the effects of the El Nino weather phenomenon. The start of production at the Merian gold mine in October 2016 and the completion of extension work at the Staatsolie refinery should help boost exports. Private consumption will, however, remain weak, affected by the fall in household purchasing power because of inflation, which, although lower, remains high. This climbed sharply in 2016 in response to the devaluation of the local currency, which affected most imported consumer goods.
In 2016, the fiscal deficit deepened because of the fall in income from the mining sector (about 30% of tax receipts) and the expansionary policy conducted by the government in 2015 (electoral period) comprising, in particular, an increase in civil service wages. Faced with slippage in the public accounts, the authorities decided to proceed with budget restructuring involving, in particular, a freeze on civil service wages, a cut in subsidies on water and electricity prices and in public investment spending depending on the external financing obtained. Thanks to the implementation of its reforms, Suriname has been able to benefit from IMF financial aid (USD 478 million). The country also issued 10-year bonds (USD 550 million) at 9.25% in late 2016. The use of borrowing is expected to contribute to an increase in the public debt. Monetary policy is expected to remain cautious, but the central bank's room for manoeuvre will remain limited because of weak foreign exchange reserves. In May 2016, the central bank decided to abandon the currency's pegged float against the dollar, after a 20% devaluation of the currency in late 2015.
The current account balance deteriorated sharply in 2016 in connection with the persistent weakness of commodity prices (gold, bauxite, in particular) and the closing of the aluminium refinery belonging to the Alcoa group. In 2017, the current account deficit is expected to narrow but will remain large. It will be maintained by the expected increase in the volume of gold exports thanks to full production at the Merian mine and of oil derivatives, which will benefit from the completion of extension work at the state oil company, Staatsolie. Moreover, exports of mining and non-mining products are also expected to become more competitive due to the depreciation of the local currency against the dollar. Imports of consumer goods, now more expensive, are however expected to cool, although the resumption of investment will require new purchases of imported capital goods.
President Désiré Bouterse, leader of the National Democratic Party (NDP), is expected to continue his programme of reforms in order to maintain financial support from the international institutions. The austerity measures (including higher electricity and water tariffs) and the effects of the currency's depreciation which has hit most imported consumer goods, are, however, proving very unpopular and impact on the government's image with the population. Limited access to credit, under-developed infrastructure and the lack of skilled labour continue, moreover, to hamper the business climate. Internationally, President Bouterse's relations with the Netherlands and the United States will remain tense. The former dictator is alleged to secretly support drug trafficking and money laundering.