FLAG: A yellow star is at the center of five stripes: a broad red band in the middle, two white bands, and a green stripe at the top and bottom.
ANTHEM: The Surinaams Volkslied (National Anthem) begins "God zij met ons Suriname" ("God be with our Suriname").
MONETARY UNIT: The Suriname guilder (sf) is a paper currency of 100 cents. There are coins of 1, 5, 10, and 25 cents, and notes of 5, 10, 25, 100, and 500 guilders. sf1 = $0.00037 (or $1 = sf2700) as of 2005.
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: The metric system is used.
HOLIDAYS: New Year's Day, 1 January; Revolution Day, 25 February; Labor Day, 1 May; National Union Day, 1 July; Independence Day, 25 November; Christmas, 25 December; Boxing Day, 26 December. Movable religious holidays include Holi Phagwah, Good Friday, Easter Monday, and 'Id al-Fitr.
TIME: 8:30 am = noon GMT.
LOCATION, SIZE, AND EXTENT
Situated on the northeast coast of South America, Suriname is the smallest independent country on the continent, with a total area of 163,270 sq km (63,039 sq mi). Comparatively, the area occupied by Suriname is slightly larger than the state of Georgia. The nation has an extension of 662 km (411 mi) ne – sw and 487 km (303 mi) se – nw. Suriname is bordered on the n by the Atlantic Ocean, on the e by French Guiana, on the s by Brazil, and on the w by Guyana, with a total boundary length of 2,093 km (1,301 mi), of which 386 km (239 mi) is coastline. Suriname also claims about 15,000 sq km (5,800 sq mi) of southeastern Guyana and some 5,000 sq km (1,900 sq mi) of southwestern French Guiana.
Suriname's capital city, Paramaribo, is located on the Atlantic coast.
Suriname is composed of thick forests, unexplored mountains, and swampy plains. Several geologically old rivers, including the Maroni in the east and the Courantyne, flow northward to the Atlantic Ocean from the southern highlands near the Brazilian border; there, numerous rapids and waterfalls bar boat passage.
The coastal plain is flat and sometimes as much as 1.5 m (5 ft) below sea level, necessitating a system of sea defenses. The soils of the coastal plain are relatively fertile. A forest belt, 48 – 72 km (30 – 45 mi) wide, lies to the south, interspersed with grassy savannas. Farther south are dense forest and higher ground.
The climate is tropical and moist. Daytime temperatures range from 28 – 32 ° c (82 – 90 ° f). At night the temperature drops as low as 21 ° c (70 ° f) because of the moderating influence of the north-east trade winds, which blow in from the sea all year. The annual rainfall in Paramaribo is about 230 cm (90 in). May to August is the main rainy season, with a lesser rainy season from November to February.
FLORA AND FAUNA
Dominated by rain forest, Suriname contains many flowers but is most famous for water lilies and orchids. Tropical shrubs include hibiscus, bougainvillea, and oleander. There are at least 180 species of mammals. Among the reptiles are the tortoise, iguana, caiman, and numerous snakes. Tropical birds abound, especially the white egret.
In general, Suriname's environment and wildlife are protected from the destructive influences that threaten the majority of the world's nations. However, deforestation is becoming a concern, as foreign interests obtain timber concessions from the government. Pollutants from the country's mining industry affect the purity of the water. Salinization of the water supply is becoming a problem for the coastal areas.
Suriname's eight nature reserves are managed by the Foundation for Nature Preservation, founded in 1969. The Suriname Wildlife Rangers Club, consisting mainly of students 15 – 20 years old, assists in various nature preservation activities. National responsibility for environmental matters is vested in the Ministry of Health and Environment and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Energy. In the late 1990s, the Central Suriname Wilderness Nature reservation was created to set aside about 10% of the total land area as protected land; this site became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000.
Due to the preservation of Suriname's tropical rain forest, the nation's wildlife flourishes. Even so, according to a 2006 report issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), threatened species included 12 types of mammals, 6 types of reptiles, 2 species of amphibians, 12 species of fish, and 27 species of plants. Threatened species in Suriname included the brazil nut tree, red cedar, the tundra peregrine falcon, five species of turtle (South American river, green sea, hawksbill, olive ridley, and leatherback), the Caribbean manatee, and the spectacled caiman.
The population of Suriname in 2005 was estimated by the United Nations (UN) at 447,000, which placed it at number 164 in population among the 193 nations of the world. In 2005, approximately 6% of the population was over 65 years of age, with another 29% of the population under 15 years of age. There were 100 males for every 100 females in the country. According to the UN, the annual population rate of change for 2005 – 10 was expected to be 1.4%, a rate the government viewed as satisfactory. The government incorporates population planning into its comprehensive development policies. The projected population for the year 2025 was 480,000. The population density was 3 per sq km (7 per sq mi).
The UN estimated that 74% of the population lived in urban areas in 2005, and that urban areas were growing at an annual rate of 1.32%. The capital city, Paramaribo, had a population of 253,000 in that year.
About 90,000 Surinamese resided in the Netherlands by the mid-1970s, and the number had reached some 200,000 by 1985. Emigration was about 12,000 per year in the early 1970s, but it accelerated as the date of independence approached and again after the coup of February 1980. An estimated 8,000 Surinamese fled to neighboring French Guiana by 1987, seeking refuge from a guerrilla conflict raging in the northeast. Democracy was restored in 1987, and a repatriation movement began in 1988. In 1991, the refugees still living in French Guiana took part in that year's elections. Repatriation was completed with the return of most refugees by the end of 1993. In 2004 there were 100 refugees and no asylum seekers. In 2005, the net migration rate was an estimated -8.78 migrants per 1,000 population. The government views both the immigration and emigration levels as too high. Worker remittances were $12.9 million in 2002.
Suriname has one of the most cosmopolitan populations in the world. The largest ethnic group is the Hindustani (also known locally as "East Indians"), whose ancestors emigrated from northern India in the latter part of the 19th century, with 37% of the total population. Ranking a close second is the Creole community (mixed white and black), with 31%. The Javanese constitute about 15%. "Maroons," whose African ancestors were brought to the country in the 17th and 18th centuries as slaves but escaped to the interior lands, make up 10%. Amerindians, Suriname's original inhabitants, form 2% of the population and include the Arawak, Carib, and Warrau groups along the riverbanks and coastal plains, and Trios, Akurios, and Wyanas along the upper reaches of the rivers. Chinese account for 2% of the populace; whites for 1%; and other groups for the remaining 2%.
The official language is Dutch, but English is widely spoken, and the local people use a lingua franca known as Sranang-Tongo or Takki-Takki, a mixture of Dutch, African, and other languages. Hindustani (a dialect of Hindi), Javanese, and several Chinese, Amerindian, and African languages and dialects are also spoken.
Religious freedom is guaranteed by the constitution, and there is no state or dominant religion. According to government statistics, 40% of the population is Christian. Approximately 18% are Roman Catholic, 15% are Moravian, and 7% are of other denominations, including Lutheran, Dutch Reformed, Methodist, Baptist, and the Evangelical churches. Hinduism is practiced by about 27% of the inhabitants and Islam by about 22%. Indigenous tribal religionists make up around 8% of the populace. About 3% claim no religious affiliation at all. There are about 150 Jews in the country and a small number of Baha'is and Buddhists.
Political parties are often dominated by a particular ethnic and religious affiliation. For instance, members of the Creole National Party of Suriname are primarily Moravian and members of the Javanese Pertjaja Party are primarily Muslim. Certain Christian, Muslim, and Hindu holidays are celebrated as national holidays. The constitution provides for religious freedom.
Suriname, as of 2003, had 1,200 km (746 mi) of navigable waterways, most of which can handle vessels with a draft of up to 7 m. A ferry service across the Corantijn River to Guyana began operating in 1990. As of 2005, the country had only one merchant ship of 1,000 GRT or more, a cargo vessel, totaling 1,078 GRT. There are 166 km (103 mi) of single-track railway, 86 km (53 mi) government owned and the rest industrial. Paramaribo can be reached from any town or village on the coastal plain by good all-weather roads. In 1999, the first of two new bridges connecting the country from East to West along the coast was opened. As of 2002, there were 4,492 km (2,794 mi) of roadways, of which 1,168 km (726 mi) were paved. State-owned and private companies operate regular bus services, both local and long distance. In 2003, there were 65,400 passenger cars and 27,000 commercial vehicles. Total number of airports stood at an estimated 46 in 2004, only 5 of which had paved runways as of 2005. Zanderij International Airport near Paramaribo can handle jet aircraft, and there are small airstrips throughout the interior. The government-owned Suriname Airways offers regularly scheduled service to the Netherlands and Cura ç ao. In 2001 (the latest year for which data was available) it carried 202,900 passengers.
Military operations involving the Jungle Commando and the national army badly damaged Albina and the road connecting Moengo to the eastern border. Overall lack of proper maintenance on roads, canals, and port facilities has resulted in a degraded infrastructure and higher local transportation costs.
Spaniards came to Suriname in the 16th century in search of gold, but did not stay when they found none. The first large-scale colonization took place under Lord Francis Willoughby, the English governor of Barbados, who sent an expedition to Suriname in 1650 under Anthony Rowse. In 1660, the British crown granted Willoughby official rights, and it became a flourishing agricultural colony. Settlers included English colonists, African slaves, and Jewish immigrants from the Netherlands, Italy, and Brazil. In the Peace of Breda between England and the United Netherlands in 1667, Suriname became a Dutch colony.
The English held Suriname again between 1799 and 1802 and from 1804 to 1816, when the Dutch resumed control over the colony under the Treaty of Paris. With the final abolition of slavery in 1863, workers were imported from India, Java, and China. In 1954, a new Dutch statute provided for full autonomy for Suriname, except in foreign affairs and defense. A commission was set up on 5 January 1972 to prepare alternatives to the existing legal framework. In May 1974, the terms for Suriname's independence were agreed on, and Suriname became an independent country on 25 November 1975.
For five years, Suriname was a parliamentary republic under Prime Minister Henk Arron. On 25 February 1980, the government was overthrown in a military coup led by D é sir é Bouterse. Parliament was dissolved and the constitution suspended, and in 1981 the new government declared itself a Socialist republic. Relations with the United States became strained as the Bouterse government moved closer to Cuba. In December 1982, as a result of the government's execution of 15 political opponents, the Netherlands and the United States suspended all aid to Suriname.
The military and Bouterse continued to rule through a succession of nominally civilian governments. Still, pressure mounted for a return to genuine civilian rule. A separate challenge to the government came from a guerrilla movement under the leadership of Ronny Brunswijk. The Surinamese Liberation Army (SLA), also known as the Maroon or Bush Negro insurgency, began operating in the northeast in July 1986. It struck various economic targets, including the Suriname Aluminum Company. The government responded with repression, killing civilians suspected of supporting the insurgency.
The military allowed for elections on 25 November 1987. An anti-Bouterse coalition, the Front for Democracy, won 80% of the vote and 40 of the 51 seats in the newly constituted National Assembly, but a new appointive State Council, rather than the elective National Assembly, was given law-making authority. The new president, Ramsewak Shankar, remained in office from 25 January 1988 until 24 December 1990, when the military once again took over. International pressure mounted, and the military soon relented, allowing for elections on 25 May 1991. Again, an antimilitary coalition, called the New Front (NF), swept the election. The leader of the coalition, Ronald Venetiaan, was chosen president on 6 September 1991. Bouterse was forced to resign his post as army commander in 1992, but he retained his political influence by becoming president of the National Democratic Party (NDP).
Although Venetiaan managed to remain in office throughout his five-year term, severe economic difficulties leading to increased poverty for the majority of Suriname's citizens caused his popular support to decline. In the May 1996 elections, NDP candidate Jules Wijdenbosch was elected president, effectively returning Bouterse — as NDP president — to power. Nevertheless, these elections marked the first time in independent Suriname's history that power passed peacefully from one democratically elected government to another.
Wijdenbosch did not prove to be a popular president. His close association with Bouterse hurt him, both at home and abroad, as did the failure of his administration to improve Suriname's faltering economy, which continued to struggle with high inflation and unemployment, a major budget deficit, and the virtual collapse of its currency. A plan to privatize the oil and banana industries met with widespread protests culminating in a five-day general strike in the first part of June 1999. By the end of that month, popular discontent with the government had become so strong that Wijdenbosch called for early elections (which took months to arrange but still took place earlier than the normally scheduled date in 2001). In the meantime, Bouterse, sought by human rights groups for abuses during his time in power, was tried in absentia in the Netherlands for cocaine trafficking and convicted in July 1999.
The opposition New Front coalition, supported by former president Venetiaan, swept the May 2000 elections, winning 32 of the 51 contested parliamentary seats, just short of the two-thirds majority needed to select a new president. The Democratic National Platform 2000 of President Wijdenbosch sustained a staggering loss, winning only three seats, while Millennium Combination, a separate party formed by Bouterse, won 10 seats.
General elections were held in May 2005, and the New Front coalition won 23 seats to the NDP's 15. The People's Alliance for Progress coalition (VVV) won 5 seats, the A-Combinatie coalition won 5, and the Alternative-1 coalition (A-1) took 3 seats in the National Assembly. The NDP contested the results of the election. Venetiaan was reelected president in August after months of political deadlock; the regional People's National Assembly had to choose the president. The next elections were scheduled for May 2010.
In June 2004, the UN set up a tribunal to try to resolve the longstanding maritime border dispute between Guyana and Suriname. In 2000, Suriname gunboats evicted an oil exploration rig from the area; Guyana had approved the exploration in the oil-rich disputed region.
Between 1954 and 1975, Suriname was administered by a governor appointed by and representing the Dutch crown, with a cabinet appointed by the governor and an elected parliament (Staten van Suriname). Under the constitution adopted on 21 November 1975 by parliament, Suriname is a republic. However, that constitution, which provided for a unicameral, 39-member parliament directly elected for a four-year term by universal suffrage, was suspended on 15 August 1980 and parliament was dissolved. Bouterse then ruled through a series of appointed governments, whose members represented the military, industry, trade unions, business, and political parties. In September 1987, a popular referendum approved a new constitution, which is still in effect.
The constitution provides for a unicameral 51-member National Assembly directly elected for a five-year term. The executive branch consists of the president, vice president, and prime minister, all selected by the legislature. There is also a cabinet and an appointed Council of State. The judicial system is ineffective and in need of reform.
Suriname's political parties tend to represent particular ethnic groups. The National Party of Suriname (NPS), led by President Ronald Venetiaan, draws support from the Creole population. The Progressive Reform Party (VHP) is East Indian and the Party of National Unity and Solidarity, formerly the Indonesian Peasant's Party (KTPI) is more tied in name to its constituency. All three parties allied in the coalition National Front for Democracy in 1987 to defeat Bouterse's National Democratic Party (NDP). In 1991, these three parties and the Suriname Labor Party (SPA) formed the New Front (NF) and won a solid victory, gaining 30 of 51 Assembly seats, while Bouterse's NDP took 10 seats. Another coalition formed during the 1991 elections was called Democratic Alternative '91. It included four nonethnic parties representing a variety of white-collar concerns. They took 9 of the remaining
11 seats in the Assembly, with the other 2 going to minor parties.
After four years as an opposition party, following the 1996 elections, the New Front regained its parliamentary majority in early elections called for May 2000, winning a total of 32 seats (Suriname National Party, 14; Progressive Reform Party, 9; the Javan Pertjajah Luhur party, 7; Suriname Labor Party, 2) to 10 for Bouterse's Millennium Combination and only 3 for President Wijdenbosch's Democratic National Platform 2000.
The New Front coalition suffered a significant setback in the May 2005 elections, due to widespread dissatisfaction with the state of the economy and a public perception that the NF had done little for the country. The NF won 23 seats to the NDP's 15. The People's Alliance for Progress coalition (VVV) won 5 seats, the A-Combinatie coalition won 5, and the Alternative-1 coalition (A-1) took 3 seats in the National Assembly. The NDP contested the results of the election. Ronald Venetiaan was reelected president in August 2005 after months of political deadlock; the regional People's National Assembly had to choose the president.
The republic is divided into 10 districts, which include the urban district of Paramaribo. Administration is centralized and there are no recognized municipalities.
The Constitution provides the right to a fair public trial before a single judge, the right to counsel, and the right to appeal. There is a Supreme Court (Court of Justice) whose members are nominated for life, and there are three Cantonal Courts. In 2003, Caribbean leaders met in Kingston, Jamaica, to ratify a treaty to establish the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ). Eight nations — Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago — officially approved the CCJ, although 14 nations were planning to use the court for appeals. The court was officially inaugurated in April 2005, in Portof-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. As of 2005, however, the court's jurisdiction was limited to the CARICOM states of Barbados and Guyana. The CCJ heard its first case in August 2005.
Military personnel fall under military jurisdiction and are generally not subject to civilian criminal law. Military courts follow the same procedural rules as do the civil courts with military trials held before a judge and two military personnel.
The 1987 constitution calls for the establishment of an independent constitutional court. However, as of 2005, this body had not yet been established by the government.
The Suriname National Army consists of army, air force, and naval components, with the strength of 1,840 in 2005 (Army 1,400, Navy 240, and Air Force 160). The Army included one infantry battalion, one mechanized cavalry squadron, and one military police battalion. The Navy mans 3 patrol craft, while the Air Force's major units include 7 combat capable aircraft, 4 transports, and 3 utility helicopters. The defense budget was $7.7 million in 2005.
Suriname was admitted to the United Nations on 4 December 1975; it is part of ECLAC and several nonregional specialized agencies, such as the FAO, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, the World Bank, and the WHO. Suriname is also a member of the ACP Group, CARICOM, G-77, the South American Community of Nations (CSN), the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), the Islamic Development Bank, the Association of Caribbean States (ACS), the Inter-American Development Bank, the Latin American Economic System (LAES), the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), OAS, and the WTO.
Suriname is part of the Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (OPANAL) and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. The nation is also a member of the Nonaligned Movement. In environmental cooperation, Surinam is part of the Amazonian Pact, the Convention on Biological Diversity, Ramsar, CITES, the London Convention, the Montr é al Protocol, MARPOL, the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, and the UN Conventions on the Law of the Sea, Climate Change, and Desertification.
The bauxite and alumina industries traditionally set the pace for Suriname's economy, accounting for about 15% of GDP and 70% of exports. Two companies, Suriname Aluminum Co. (Suralco), a wholly-owned Alcoa subsidiary, and Billiton, owned by Royal Dutch/Shell, account for about one-third of government revenue and employ nearly 4,000 workers. In 2002, Alcoa and BHP Billiton signed a letter of intent as the basis for new joint ventures between the companies, in which Alcoa will assume 55% of all bauxite mining in West Suriname. The government and the companies are looking into cost-effective ways to develop new mines, as the major mining sites at Moengo and Lelydorp are maturing. Other proven reserves exist in the country and are projected to last until 2045. The opening of the Gross Rosbel gold mine is expected to boost exports and GDP growth.
Although agriculture is the chief means of subsistence and second-largest employer after the government; plantation agriculture is the weakest sector of the economy, with the notable exception of rice growing. Suriname is self-sufficient in rice, and exports large amounts; however, Suriname is a net food importer. Imports account for more than 80% of consumption. Agricultural products accounted for only 13% of GDP in 2001, with rice, bananas, palm kernels, coconuts, plantains, and peanuts as the principal crops.
In February 1987, guerrilla destruction of electricity pylons to the bauxite mines closed the industry while repairs were made. The collapse of world prices for bauxite in 1987 was another severe blow for the economy. Despite high expectations, the civilian government inaugurated in early 1988 proved unable to address the country's considerable economic problems and was overthrown by the military on 24 December 1990. A year later, civilian government, under the leadership of President Ronald Venetiaan, came back to power. Next to bauxite, foreign aid is the mainstay of the country's economy. Suriname was once a colony of the Netherlands, and thus the Dutch government continues to provide economic aid. When Suriname's economic and political problems escalated, the Netherlands suspended aid between 1982 and 1991, and in 1997. Aid was resumed, from both the Netherlands and the United States, once reforms were initiated.
The new government inherited a formidable array of economic problems. In 1992, real GDP fell by 5% and average inflation accelerated to 44%, compared to 26% in 1991. Foreign exchange reserves had reached a record low, unemployment was high, and the climate for foreign investment was bad. The government implemented a structural adjustment program (SAP), which included the legalization of the parallel foreign exchange market, reduced government spending, privatization of key sectors of the economy, and revision of the country's investment code. By 1994, the inflation rate had reached over 400%, but thereafter the SAP kicked in and reduced inflation to less than 1% in 1996. In 1997, relations with the Netherlands soured when Suriname ended the SAP and replaced it with an ambiguous National Reconstruction Plan, and the government failed to implement necessary austerity measures. Inflation reached almost 21% in 1999, and growth had slowed to 2%. By 2005, the GDP real growth rate was estimated at 4%. The inflation rate in 2004 stood at 9%.
The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports that in 2005 Suriname's gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at $2.1 billion. The CIA defines GDP as the value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a given year and computed on the basis of purchasing power parity (PPP) rather than value as measured on the basis of the rate of exchange based on current dollars. The per capita GDP was estimated at $4,700. The annual growth rate of GDP was estimated at 4%. The average inflation rate in 2005 was 9.5%. It was estimated that agriculture accounted for 13% of GDP, industry 22%, and services 65%.
According to the World Bank, in 2003 remittances from citizens working abroad totaled $21 million or about $48 per capita and accounted for approximately 2.1% of GDP.
It was estimated that in 2002 about 70% of the population had incomes below the poverty line.
In 2003, Suriname's workforce numbered 104,000. As of 1996 (the latest year for which data was available), about 70% were engaged in services, 8.3% in manufacturing, 17% in commerce, 5.9% in agriculture, and 7.8% in transport and communications. In 2000 the unemployment rate was 17%.
Suriname has numerous small unions, representing individual workplaces or enterprises, organized into six union federations. Among them are the General Confederation of Trade Unions, sometimes called the Moederbond (Mother Union); the Progressive Workers Organization, whose members are predominantly from the commercial and banking sectors; the Centrale 47, which includes bauxite and sugar unions; and the Central Organization for Civil Service Employees. Nearly 60% of the workforce is organized and about one-half are covered by collective bargaining agreements. Workers, with the exception of civil servants, are freely allowed to strike and do so often. Antiunion discrimination is illegal.
The minimum working age is 14 but this is not sufficiently enforced and many children work, especially in the informal sector. There is no set minimum wage. The lowest wage for civil servants was $100 per month in 2002. The standard workweek is 45 hours and time worked in excess of that requires overtime pay.
The chief crops are rice, sugar, plantains and bananas, citrus fruits, coffee, coconuts, and palm oil, in addition to staple food crops. With the exception of rice, the main export crop, plantation agriculture has suffered the consequences of absentee ownership. Rice production was 95,000 tons in 2004. Sugar production dropped so substantially in the 1980s that imports were required to meet local demand. Under union pressure, the government in early 1987 agreed to a national sugar plan to improve machinery and housing, and to create employment. Production of sugarcane in 2004 was 120,000 tons; of bananas, 43,000 tons; of plantains, 11,800 tons; of oranges, 13,000 tons; and of coconuts, 9,000 tons.
Since its creation in 1945, the Commission for the Application of Mechanized Techniques to Agriculture in Suriname has worked to reactivate several old plantations and bring new land under cultivation. The successful control of diseases and pests, introduction of water storage and irrigation schemes, and the development of new quick-growing varieties of rice have also increased total agricultural production.
Livestock numbers are relatively small, since breeding is done primarily by small farmers who own only a few animals each. The government has tried to reduce the import of eggs, dairy products, and meat by undertaking projects to cross Dutch and local breeds of cattle and poultry. Estimated livestock numbers in 2005 included 137,000 head of cattle, 24,500 hogs, 7,100 goats, 7,700 sheep, and 3.8 million chickens.
Fishing has become increasingly important, both on inland waterways and at sea. The chief commercial catch is shrimp, which is exported. In 2003, the freshwater catch was 250 tons, and marine landings amounted to 28,107 tons. Shrimp production totaled 1,650 tons that year. The Fisheries Service, founded in 1947, has worked to develop the fishing industry. Exports of fish and fish products in 2003 amounted to nearly $4.6 million. Japan is the largest market for Surinamese shrimp.
Approximately 90.5% of Suriname is covered by tropical rain forest, but existing forest resources have scarcely been touched. Initial exploitation has been confined to the more accessible strips along the riverbanks. The Suriname Forestry Service, under an FAO technical assistance program, has undertaken to survey and open up the forests for commercial use. Roundwood production was about 207,000 cu m (7.3 million cu ft) in 2004. In August 1992, a peace agreement between the central government and insurgent groups from the interior (where timber is found) was signed. Since the fighting ended, logging has increased. The trade deficit in forest products was $2 million for 2004.
Suriname was one of the world's largest producers of bauxite, and alumina. The bauxite industry in 2003, accounted for at least 15% of Suriname's gross domestic product (GDP) of an estimated $2.5 billion and around 70% of foreign exchange earnings in that year. Mineral production by Suriname is centered on alumina, bauxite, gold, and oil. In 2003, 4.215 million metric tons (gross weight) of bauxite was mined, up from 4.002 million metric tons in 2002. Suriname's bauxite industry has suffered in recent years from a weak market, foreign competition, and the effects of the guerrilla war, but mines with higher-grade bauxite were replacing older depleted mines. The alumina industry, however, was threatened by the deterioration of the international alumina market. Suriname's privately owned multinational companies mined the bauxite and processed alumina and aluminum. The Suriname Aluminum Company (SURALCO) has estimated bauxite reserves at 575 million tons.
Official gold mine output has been put at 300 kg annually, from 1999 through 2003. Gold has been mined in south and east Suriname since the second half of the 19th century. In addition, the government estimated as much as 30,000 kg of unrecorded production in alluvial deposits, much of it by people from Brazil. Most of the nearly 40,000 Brazilians living in Suriname arrived during the past several years in search of gold. More than 15,000 people (Suriname's population was estimated at 435,449 in 2003) were employed in the gold industry. The government expressed concern about the damage to the environment caused by illegal miners' use of mercury. Gold was produced by numerous small operators and sold to the government. Gold concessions were negotiated with N.V. Grassalco, the state-owned gold company. The Gross Rosebel gold property, south of Paramaribo, was the most advanced gold development. In 2003, Suriname also produced hydraulic cement, common clays, gravel, common sand, and crushed and broken stone. Suriname also had resources of chromium, clay, copper, diamond, iron ore, manganese, nickel, platinum, and tin.
ENERGY AND POWER
Suriname, with only limited reserves of oil and no proven reserves of natural gas or coal is heavily reliant upon imports to meet its hydrocarbon needs.
Suriname in 2004 had proven oil reserves of only 99 million barrels, and no proven reserves of natural gas or coal. In that year, the production and consumption of oil was estimated to average 12,000 barrels per day and 14,000 barrels per day, respectively. Although imports in 2003 averaged 1,644 barrels per day, the country did manage to see oil exports of 1,370 barrels per day. There were no imports or demand for natural gas in 2004.
Suriname's electric power generating capacity in 2002 totaled 0.389 million kW, of which 0.200 million kW of capacity was dedicated to conventional thermal plants. Hydropower capacity accounted for 0.189 million kW. Electric power output in 2002 amounted to 1.984 billion kWh, of which 1.500 million kWh came from hydroelectric sources and 0.484 billion kWh came from fossil fuel-burning plants. Demand for electricity in 2002 totaled 1.845 billion kWh.
The major industries are bauxite and gold mining, alumina and aluminum production, lumber, and food processing. Industry accounted for 22% of GDP in 2001.
The bauxite industry, which accounts for about 15% of GDP and 70% of export revenue, has developed into a complex of factories, workshops, power stations, laboratories, hospitals, recreational facilities, residential areas, and sports grounds. Depressed world prices for bauxite and alumina in the recent past have reduced the industry's development. In 2005, Suriname Aluminum (Suralco), a wholly-owned Alcoa subsidiary, announced it had completed the 250,000-metric-ton-per-year expansion of its alumina refinery in Paranam. The facility now has a capacity of 2.2 million metric tons per year of alumina. Suralco and an affiliate of BHP Billiton own 55% and 45%, respectively, of the Paranam facility.
The long-term future of the mining industry depends on the companies' ability to keep production costs low and competitive, the availability of financing to exploit new reserves, and on the consolidation of peace in the country's interior. Because mineral rights are still vested in the state, exploration rights are granted by the government. The Canadian company Golden Star started mining for gold in Suriname in 1992. Proven and probable oil reserves in Suriname are estimated at 166 billion barrels. The State Oil Company of Suriname, or Staatsolie, produced 12,000 barrels per day in 2005. Staatsolie is actively seeking international joint venture partners. Suriname has one oil refinery.
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
Research centers and scientific societies in Suriname include the Center for Agricultural Research in Suriname (founded in 1965), Geological Mining Service (founded in 1943), and the Agricultural Experiment Station of the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry, and Fisheries (founded in 1903), all in Paramaribo. The University of Suriname, founded in 1968 at Paramaribo, has faculties of medicine and technology.
There are a few supermarkets and department stores, but most urban trade is conducted in small shops. Most trade in rural areas is conducted in open markets. A few American fast-food franchises have opened in the country in recent years. Price controls are applied to a number of goods. Credit cards are not widely accepted.
The ITIFAS trade fair, held in October, serves as an annual showcase for Surinamese products. Suri-Flora, held every April, is a major exhibition for horticulture and agriculture.
Business hours are Monday through Friday, 7:30 am to 4:30 pm and from 7:30 am to 12:30 pm on Saturdays. Banks are open weekdays from 7:30 am to 2 or 3 pm.
In 2005, exports of alumina accounted for more than 70% of export earnings. Other exports include gold, rice, shrimp, wood products, and bananas. On the black market, Suriname is a large exporter of cocaine, especially to the Netherlands.
The US is Suriname's most important trading partner, although Norway is Suriname's largest export market. In 2004, Suriname's