(redirected from Sranang)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus.


(so͝orĭnäm`, –năm`), officially Republic of Suriname, republic (2015 est. pop. 553,000), 63,037 sq mi (163,266 sq km), NE South America, on the Atlantic Ocean. Part of the GuianaGuiana
, region, NE South America. It faces the Atlantic Ocean on the north and east and is enclosed on the west and south within a vast semicircle formed by the linked river systems of the Orinoco, the Río Negro, and the lower Amazon.
..... Click the link for more information.
 region, it is separated from Brazil on the south by the Tumuc-Humac Mts., from Guyana on the west by the Corantijn (Courantyne or Corentyne) River, and from French Guiana on the east by the Maroni River. The capital and largest city is ParamariboParamaribo
, city (1996 pop. 222,843), capital of Suriname, on the Suriname River, c.10 mi (16 km) from the Atlantic Ocean. It exports bauxite, sugarcane, rice, cacao, coffee, rum, and tropical woods. Manufactures include cement, paint, margarine, and beer.
..... Click the link for more information.
, which is situated on the Suriname River.

Land and People

Suriname is mostly rolling highlands covered by tropical rain forests. The relatively small population is concentrated along the flat coastal plain, where the use of dikes makes cultivation possible. The people are largely of South Asian or mixed African and European ancestry; there is a significant Indonesian minority. Dutch is the official language, although English, Sranan Tongo (a creole English), Hindi, Javanese, and Brazilian Portuguese are widely spoken. Hinduism, the Moravian and Roman Catholic churches, and Islam are the predominant faiths.

Economy and Government

Agriculture accounts for about 15% of the country's gross domestic product. Rice is the principal crop, and bananas, palm kernels, coconuts, plantains, and peanuts are also cultivated. The mining industry long dominated the economy, with bauxite as the principal mineral, but bauxite mining and alumina production ended in 2015. Gold remains an important mineral, and crude oil is also extracted. Other industries include lumbering, food processing, and fishing. The main exports are gold, crude oil, lumber, shrimp and fish, rice, and bananas. Capital equipment, petroleum, foodstuffs, cotton, and consumer goods are imported. Fluctuations in world mineral and oil prices have a strong impact on the country's economy. The United States, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates, and the Netherlands are the largest trading partners.

Suriname is governed under the constitution of 1987. Executive power is held by the president, who is both head of state and head of government. The president, who serves a five-year term, is elected by a two-thirds vote of the national legislature, or (after two failed votes) by a majority vote of the United People's Assembly, which includes national, regional, and local representatives. The members of the legislature, the 51-seat National Assembly, are elected by popular vote and also serve five-year terms. Administratively, the country is divided into ten districts.


The first Dutch expeditions to the Guiana region took place in 1597–98, and the first Dutch colony, on Essequibo Island in present-day Guyana, was founded in 1616. The Dutch West India Company was founded in 1621 to exploit the territory. The Dutch hold on the east coast was interrupted by English and French attacks and by a slave insurrection (1762–63). The Treaty of Breda (1667, see Dutch WarsDutch Wars,
series of conflicts between the English and Dutch during the mid to late 17th cent. The wars had their roots in the Anglo-Dutch commercial rivalry, although the last of the three wars was a wider conflict in which French interests played a primary role.
..... Click the link for more information.
) gave all English territory in Guiana to the Dutch, but in 1815 the Congress of Vienna awarded the area that is now Guyana to Britain while reaffirming the Dutch hold on Dutch Guiana (present-day Suriname). Slavery was abolished in 1863, and the Netherlands granted Dutch Guiana a parliament in 1866.

In 1954, Suriname officially became an internally autonomous part of the kingdom of the Netherlands, and in 1975 it became independent. Just prior to independence, some 100,000 Surinamese, mainly of Asian descent, migrated to the Netherlands. In 1980 the government was ousted by a military coup led by Sgt. Major Désiré BouterseBouterse, Désiré Delano,
1945–, Surinamese military and political leader, president of Suriname (2010–20). He received military training in the Netherlands and was stationed at a German military base, returning to Suriname shortly before independence in
..... Click the link for more information.
, and the soldiers' civilian allies were installed in office. Bouterse assumed complete control from 1982 to 1987.

A variety of insurgent guerrilla groups formed in the mid-1980s and did considerable damage to the country's infrastructure and major industries. Democracy was restored in 1988 and guerrilla activity decreased. President Rameswak Shankar, however, was ousted from office in a Dec., 1990, military coup led by Bouterse, who again installed his political allies. New elections (1991) gave his opponents, the four-party New Front for Democracy (NFD) coalition, control of parliament, and NFD leader Ronald Venetiaan became president. He implemented free-market reforms, but inflation soared and the economy continued to contract.

Bouterse resigned as army chief in 1992 amid corruption charges. In 1996, however, a former aide to Bouterse, Jules Wijdenbosch of the National Democratic party (NDP), won the presidency. Bouterse served as an adviser to Wijdenbosch's government until Apr., 1999; three months later he was convicted in absentia in the Netherlands of drug trafficking. Venetiaan's New Front won a resounding victory in the May, 2000, parliamentary elections, and the former president was reelected to the office in Aug., 2000.

In the May, 2005, elections the New Front suffered large losses and surrendered its majority but remained the largest party in parliament. Bouterse's NDP won the second largest number of seats. The New Front formed an alliance with the A-Combination, a party representing the descendants of former slaves, and Venetiaan was subsequently reelected president. In 2007 the disputed sea border with Guyana was arbitrated by a UN Law of the Sea tribunal, but portions of their common land border remained contested.

The May, 2010, parliamentary elections resulted in a victory for Bouterse's NDP-led coalition, which won the largest number of seats but fell short of a majority. Bouterse, who faced trial in connection with the murder of 15 political opponents by the army in 1982, was subsequently elected (July) president with the support of the A-Combination and People's Alliance. In Apr., 2012, the National Assembly voted to amnesty Bouterse and others for crimes committed during his military rule and the guerrilla war.

The NDP won a narrow majority (26 of 51 seats) in the May, 2015, parliamentary elections, and in July Bouterse was reeelcted president. In June, 2016, the courts invalidated the 2012 amnesty law; Bouterse then used his national security powers to halt prosecution of the case against him. The trial resumed in June, 2017, following a court order, and in Nov., 2019, he was convicted of having ordered the 1982 murders but remained free pending appeal. In the May, 2020, parliamentary elections the opposition Progressive Reform party (VHP) and its allies won a majority of the seats. In July, Chandrikapersad SantokhiSantokhi, Chandrikapersad,
1959–, Surinamese political leader. Trained as a police officer in the Netherlands, he worked for the Suriname police force as an inspector, becoming chief inspector (1982), head of the national criminal investigation department (1989), and chief
..... Click the link for more information.
, leader of the VHP, was elected president.


See W. N. Van de Poll, Surinam, the Country and Its People (tr. 1951); M. J. Herskovits and F. J. Herskovits, Suriname Folklore (1937, repr. 1969); R. A. L. Hoefte, Suriname (1990).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.


Official name: Republic of Suriname

Capital city: Paramaribo

Internet country code: .sr

Flag description: Five horizontal bands of green (top, dou­ble width), white, red (quadruple width), white, and green (double width); there is a large, yellow, five-pointed star centered in the red band

National anthem: “Rise country men rise” (first line)

National flower: Fajalobi (“passionate love”; orchid)

National motto: Justitia – Pietas – Fides (Justice-Faith-Loy­alty)

Geographical description: Northern South America, bor­dering the North Atlantic Ocean, between French Guiana and Guyana

Total area: 63,037 sq. mi. (163,194 sq. km.)

Climate: Tropical; moderated by trade winds

Nationality: noun: Surinamer(s); adjective: Surinamese

Population: 470,784 (July 2007 CIA 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%

Languages spoken: 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), Caribbean Hindustani (a dialect of Hindi), Javanese

Religions: Hindu 27.4%, Protestant 25.2% (predominantly Moravian), Roman Catholic 22.8%, Muslim 19.6%, indige­nous religions 5%

Legal Holidays:

Christmas DayDec 25
Emancipation DayJul 1
Good Friday - Easter MondayApr 22, 2011; Apr 6, 2012; Mar 29, 2013; Apr 18, 2014; Apr 3, 2015; Mar 25, 2016; Apr 14, 2017; Mar 30, 2018; Apr 19, 2019; Apr 10, 2020; Apr 2, 2021; Apr 15, 2022; Apr 7, 2023
Independence DayNov 25
Indigenous People's DayAug 9
Labor DayMay 1
New Year's DayJan 1
Second Day of ChristmasDec 26
Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, Fourth Edition. © 2010 by Omnigraphics, Inc.


, Suriname
a republic in NE South America, on the Atlantic: became a self-governing part of the Netherlands in 1954 and fully independent in 1975. Official languages: Dutch; English is also widely spoken. Religion: Hindu, Christian, and Muslim. Currency: guilder. Capital: Paramaribo. Pop.: 439 000 (2004 est.). Area: 163 820 sq. km (63 251 sq. miles)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005