Suriname Country Overview
Where is Suriname located? The Atlantic-bordering country of Suriname is located in South America and gained independence from its colonial masters, the Netherlands, in 1975. Suriname is located in the “Suriname Time” zone. This can be seen on the time zone map. In this world time zone there is a time difference of -3 hours to the coordinated world time. This standard difference to the world clock remains year-round, as it is not common to change the time to daylight saving time. This is mainly due to its close proximity to the equator.
As of 2023, the latest population of Suriname is 609,569, based on our calculation of the current data from UN (United Nations).
|Population growth rate||0.95%|
|Birth rate||15.80 births per 1,000 people|
|Overall life expectancy||71.41 years|
|Men life expectancy||69.05 years|
|Women life expectancy||73.88 years|
|65 years and above||6.17%|
|Median age||29.10 years|
|Gender ratio (Male to Female)||1.01|
|Population density||3.72 residents per km²|
|37% Indian (Hindustani), 31% European-African (Creoles), 15% Javanese, 10% African (Maroons), 2% indigenous, 2% Chinese descent and others|
|Hindus 27.4%, Muslims 19.6%, Catholics (Roman Catholic) 22.8%, Protestants 25.2% (mainly Herrnhüter Brothers (Moravian)), indigenous religions 5%|
|Human Development Index (HDI)||0.724|
|HDI ranking||98th out of 194|
People in Suriname
Suriname has 576,000 residents. That is as much as Bremen alone has a population! Most Surinamans live in the coastal region. 240,000 people live in the capital Paramaribo alone! The population in Suriname is very diverse in terms of their origins. This diversity is a result of the colonial era when there were large sugar cane plantations here.
For example, 27.4 percent of Suriname’s residents are descended from Indians who were hired as workers in the 19th century after slavery was abolished in Suriname in 1863. These people of Indian origin are also called Hindustani. In 1870 the Dutch government signed an agreement with Great Britain in which the recruitment of contract workers from British India was agreed. In Suriname, as in British Guiana (now Guyana), many Indians immigrated.
African: Maroons and Creoles
A total of 37.4 percent of Suriname’s residents are descendants of people from Africa. Of these, 21.7 percent are Maroons. This is the term used to describe the descendants of slaves who have fled. They hid in the rainforest and kept many West African traditions there. Most of the Maroons still live in these southern, inaccessible areas of the country.
There are six groups of maroons. The largest groups are the Ndyuka (90,000) and the Saramaccaner (55,000), others are the Matawai, Paramaka, Aluku and Kwinti. 15.7 percent are Creoles, that is, descendants of black slaves or of blacks with Europeans. Most of the Creoles live in Paramaribo.
13.7 percent are descendants of workers from Indonesia who were hired like those in India. At that time Indonesia was a Dutch colony under the name Dutch East Indies. Most of the workers came from the island of Java and belonged to the Javanese ethnic group. You speak Javanese. In 1890 the first of these workers came to Suriname. They wanted to be independent of Great Britain, which could have stopped the influx of workers from British India at any time.
Only 3.7 percent of the population belong to the people who originally lived here. One differentiates between the Arawak (Lokono), Caribs (Kalina), Akurio, Tiriyó and Wayana.
Other groups: Chinese, Brazilians, Boeroes
The Chinese were also brought into the country as workers. More came in the 1990s. Other residents come from Lebanon or are Sephardic Jews who were expelled from Spain and Portugal during the Inquisition. Mostly illegally, Brazilians migrate across the borders in the rainforest to look for gold in Suriname.
And finally, about 1000 descendants of the Dutch farmers still live in Suriname, who settled here from 1845 and hoped for their luck, because most of them came from poor areas in the Netherlands. They are also called Boeroes. Most of the Boeroes left Suriname after it became independent in 1975.
Surinamese in the Netherlands
Because many Surinamans went to the Netherlands when it was a Dutch colony, around 350,000 Surinamans or their descendants live there today.
- Children: Every woman in Suriname has an average of 2.4 children. With us, every woman has an average of 1.4 children.
- Urban and rural: 66 percent of Suriname’s residents live in cities. The largest city is the capital Paramaribo with 240,000 residents, which is 45 percent. Lelydorp (18,600 residents) and Nieuw Nickerie (12,800 residents) are much smaller. The 34 percent of the population in rural areas also includes the Maroons.
Languages in Suriname
The official language in Suriname is Dutch. This makes Suriname the only country in America where Dutch is spoken. The language is also present in everyday life. School lessons are in Dutch, newspapers and television are in Dutch, and so are all official forms. 60 percent of the population state Dutch as their mother tongue, most of the others learn the language as a second language.
Sranan: language of the Creoles
The Creole language Sranantongo, or Sranan for short, or Surinaam in Dutch is also widely used. It is based on English and there are influences from Portuguese, African languages and Dutch. Sranan was and is the language of the Creoles, but is used by large parts of the population as a lingua franca and trade.
Creole languages of the Maroons
Other Creole languages are spoken in Suriname by the respective groups of the Maroons: Saramaccans is the language of the Saramaccans and Aukaans is the language of the Ndyuka. Saramaccans has even more references to the African, for example there are kp and gb, typical sounds of the West African languages. The Aluku, Kwinti and Paramaka also have their own Creole languages, all based on English.
The indigenous peoples have partly preserved their languages. The Lokono speak an Arawak language, the Kalina, Tiriyó and Wayana one of the Caribbean languages. The Akurio language, which is also one of the Caribbean languages, is almost extinct. In 2002 there were only ten speakers.
According to their origin, the Hindustans speak Hindi, the Javanese Javanese and the Chinese speak Chinese. The illegally immigrated Brazilians bring the Brazilian Portuguese with them. Most of the Sephardic Jews also speak Portuguese. A total of 17 languages are spoken in Suriname.
Religions in Suriname
48 percent of the population are Christians. Of these, 23 percent are Catholics and 25 percent Protestants. 22 percent are Hindus and 14 percent Muslim. There is also a small Jewish community. The remaining residents either have no religious affiliation or have given no information.