Suriname (Dutch: Republiek Suriname), formally the Republic of Suriname, is a state in northern South America on the Atlantic Ocean. The country borders Brazil, Guyana and French Guiana and is the smallest independent country in South America (roughly equivalent to the area of Tunisia). A large part of Suriname is overgrown with tropical rainforest and there is a very rich flora and fauna. The country's population was estimated at 585,000 in July 2016. Suriname, along with neighboring Guyana, is the only nation on the American mainland that applies left-hand traffic.
Before independence in 1975, Suriname was a Dutch colony under the name Dutch Guiana and later Dutch Guiana. In the 17th century, Britain and the Netherlands fought for power over what is today Suriname, and it was finally the Dutch who managed to take control of the area and turn it into a colony. During the rest of the 17th century and also the 18th century, slaves were brought from Africa to the colony and used primarily in agriculture. Many of these slaves, however, managed to escape into the jungle and started small separatist movements there which, among other things, attacked the farms where the other slaves were held captive and forced to work. After slavery was abolished in the 1860s and 1870s, labor was instead imported from India and Indonesia, among other places. As a result, about half of the country's current population is descended from these slaves and immigrants, and Suriname is today one of the most multicultural countries in South America.
When Suriname became independent in 1975, a total of 300,000 people moved to the Netherlands, corresponding to more than half of the current population. In 1980, five years after independence, the civilian government was replaced by a military regime declaring the country a socialist republic. The military continued to rule until 1987, although the governments were formally civilian. In 1987, international pressure resulted in a democratic election being held. In 1989, the civilian government was again overthrown by the military, but new democratic elections were held in 1991 and have since been held in 1996, 2000, 2005, 2010 and 2015. Since 2010, the former military dictator Dési Bouterse has been the country's president. In July 2020, the political veteran and former Minister of Justice Chan Santokhi was appointed the new president. Santokhi succeeded the former military dictator Desi Bouterse, who returned to power in 2010. Bouterse was sentenced to prison for a massacre in the 1980s, but the verdict has been appealed.
Geography and nature
Lowest point: Untitled point 2 meters below sea level.
Highest point: Julianatop, 1,280 meters above sea level.
Natural resources: timber, hydropower, fish, kaolin, shrimp, bauxite, gold
Climate and environment
The climate is tropical but is mitigated by trade winds.
Suriname is covered by 94.7 percent of tropical rainforest, which is divided into 16 different forest types. The wooded area is reduced as forests are felled to export timber. Deforestation in Suriname is historically low compared to other countries in the region. Between 2000 and 2009, Surinam's rainforest cover decreased by an average of 0.02 percent per year.
Another environmental problem is that inland watercourses are polluted due to mining. About 75 percent of the electricity is produced from hydropower and the rest from fossil fuels.
Suriname has many national parks, one of which is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. As much as 12 percent of the country's area consists of national parks. Thanks to these and a so far large and relatively untouched amount of forest and rainforest, they have begun to evaluate the possibilities for ecotourism that could provide increased income to the country.
The Republic of Suriname is a constitutional democracy based on a constitution adopted in 1987, which gave the president a strong position with the right to appoint the government. One night