Suriname Country Facts

Suriname
Capital city Paramaribo
Surface 163,821 km²
Population 567,000
Road network length 4,350 km
Length of highway network 9.6 km
First highway 2020
Motorway name Motorway
Traffic drives Left
License plate code SME

Suriname (Dutch: Republic of Suriname) is a small country in South America. The country has 592,000 inhabitants (2017) and the capital is Paramaribo. The country is about 4 times the size of the Netherlands.

Geography

Suriname is the smallest country in South America and is located on the north coast of the Atlantic Ocean. It borders Guyana to the west, Brazil to the south and France (French Guiana) to the east.). The country measures approximately 450 kilometers from north to south and 450 kilometers from west to east. Much of the country consists of inaccessible tropical rainforest. Most of the land is not much higher than 200 meters above sea level, but in the Wilhelmina Mountains in the southwest there are some isolated higher ridges, of which the 1,280 meter high Julianatop is the highest point. Inland is the large Brokopondo reservoir. Only the northern coastal region has cultivated areas. Suriname has a tropical rainforest climate, it is between 30 and 33°C all year round. There is more than 2,200 mm of rain per year, most precipitation falls from April to August, September and October are the driest months.

Demographics

Suriname has just over half a million inhabitants, it is the least populated country in South America. The Surinamese population is very diverse. The original indigenous population today makes up less than 4% of the population. The largest group are Indians who came to Suriname in the 19th century as contract workers to work on the plantations. They make up more than a quarter of the population. More than 20% of the population are of African descent, their ancestors came from Africa as slaves. About 16% of the population is made up of Creoles, a mix of mainly Africans and Europeans. In addition, Javanese at 14% also form a large population group. Europeans today make up barely 1% of the population.

About 90% of Surinamese live in the coastal region. The capital Paramaribo is the only larger city and counts almost half of all Surinamese. Paramaribo has 224,000 inhabitants, the only other places with more than 10,000 inhabitants are Lelydorp (18,000) and Nieuw Nickerie (13,000). Of the 10 largest places in Suriname, only 4 have more than 5,000 inhabitants. Dutch is the only official language in Suriname. Immigrant languages ​​are often spoken as a second or third language.

Economy

Suriname’s economy is largely based on mining and agriculture. The export of bauxite is an important source of income for the government, in addition, oil and gold are important mining products. The country also exports agricultural products such as bananas and rice. Tourism is playing an increasing role in the Surinamese economy, especially eco-tourism in the tropical rainforest. However, the GDP per inhabitant is relatively low, but higher than neighboring Guyana. Suriname has traditionally been dependent on development aid from the Netherlands. In the 1990s, poor government policies and an unfavorable business climate caused the economy to slump.

History

In the 16th century, European explorers traveled along the coast of this part of South America, establishing plantations from the 17th century. In 1667, the Dutch exchanged the city of Nieuw-Amsterdam (New York City) with the English for Suriname, because Suriname was more valuable at the time. The Dutch colony was very dependent on African slaves to run the plantations. Slavery was abolished in 1863. The shortage of staff for the plantations was then solved with indentured laborers from Indonesia and India. This led to the very diverse demographics of Suriname, where descendants of slaves and indentured servants make up the bulk of the population.

During World War II Suriname was occupied by the United States with the permission of the Dutch government in exile to secure the bauxite mines. In 1954 Suriname became one of the countries within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Suriname became independent in 1975. The uncertain future as an independent country prompted many Surinamese to migrate to the Netherlands before and shortly after independence. In 1980 a coup d’état ensued and a dictatorship under Dési Bouterse arose. Bouterse’s power began to wane in the 1990s, but he returned to power in 2010.

Road Network

The Jules Wijdenbosch Bridge in Paramaribo.

A signpost in Paramaribo.

In Suriname you drive on the left. It is not entirely clear where this custom comes from, in South America everyone drives on the right, except in Suriname and Guyana. It is most likely that Suriname, which had been colonized by the British and Dutch since the 17th century, adopted the unwritten rules for land traffic from the mother countries. Driving on the left was the rule in both the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. During British rule from 1804 to 1815, the British formally introduced left-hand traffic. Legal traffic was not formally introduced in the Netherlands until 1906. The Dutch colonies where left-hand traffic prevailed continued to drive on the left, including both Suriname and the Dutch East Indies. There is no through fixed road connection with the neighboring countries where people drive on the right. This means that there is no need to change the situation of left-hand traffic. Most cars in Suriname are therefore from theUnited Kingdom and Japan imported.

A large part of the population is concentrated in and around Paramaribo, with a very sparsely populated interior. As a result, Suriname’s road network is very limited. There are a number of main roads, of which approximately 1,200 kilometers are paved. There is 1 “motorway” in Suriname, the Dési Delano Bouterse Highway. This highway runs from the Afobakaweg (also known as the Martin Luther King Highway) at Pawakka, via Plantage Hanover to Zanderij Airport. This highway will make the route from Paramaribo to the Airport and inland a lot faster. There are also a number of 2×2 roads in Paramaribo.

The East-West Link (East-West Link) is a crucial east-west route from the border with French Guiana to the border with Guyana, via Paramaribo. The border with French Guiana is formed by the river Marowijne, there is no bridge over it, but there is a ferry service. On the French side, the N1 continues to Cayenne. The east-west connection also has two important bridges: the 1,500 meter long Jules Wijdenbosch Bridge over the Suriname River in Paramaribo, which opened in 2000, and the Coppename Bridge over the Coppename River near Jenny. This bridge opened in 1999. The Corantijn River forms the border with Guyana. There is also no bridge here, but there are ferries from South Drain to Moleson Creek.

A paved road leads from Paramaribo to Paramaribo-Zanderij International Airport, 40 kilometers to the south. This road continues to the southwest, to Lake Brokopondo. Outside the East-West connection, roads around Paramaribo, Nickerie, Moengo and the road to the airport, there are no paved roads in Suriname. There is no road to Brazil.

Speed ​​limits

On unpaved roads outside built-up areas, a maximum speed of 40 km/h usually applies. For vehicles other than passenger cars and motorcycles, 60 km/h applies outside built-up areas. A maximum speed of 30 km/h applies to mopeds within built-up areas and on unpaved roads beyond. On other roads outside the basin they are allowed 40 km/h.

Road numbering

There is no road numbering in Suriname.

Signage

The signage is sparse and often based on the Dutch model. Traffic signs are also after the Dutch model. However, it is now becoming more common for Suriname to develop its own signage. These new signs have no real style or fixed design.

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