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Country Reports

Suriname Country Report

Overview

INTRODUCTION

Prior to traveling to Suriname (population 586,000), individuals should review the following information on local health and security conditions in this small South American country.

CRIME

Crime rates, particularly rates of violent crime, are on the rise, including in the capital Paramaribo. Generally speaking there is a weak police presence nationwide, particularly outside the capital. Residential robberies, carjackings, burglaries, muggings, and other street crime are all relatively common in urban areas. The risk increases after sundown. Travel by foot in Suriname should generally be avoided at night and any nighttime travel in the downtown Paramaribo area as well as the Palmentuin area should be avoided altogether. Foreigners may be targeted due to their presumed affluence.

Be aware that criminals may be armed. In the event of an attempting mugging or theft, never offer resistance or attempt to argue/negotiate, and give up all demanded objects.

There is typically a sharp increase in crime rates around the Christmas/New Year holiday period.

Highway banditry and other illicit activities constitute a significant problem in rural areas. There is a particularly weak police presence, notably in the interior of the country outside of the capital, and police intervention is rare. Driving at night outside of major cities is not advisable.

SOCIAL UNREST

Marches, demonstrations, and strikes (sometimes violent) can occur at any time in the capital or along major highways. Poor economic conditions, border disputes with Guyana, and conflicts among rival political factions can aggravate social tensions. All demonstrations should be avoided as a precautionary measure.

POLITICS

Presidential and legislative elections are currently slated to take place in May 2020.

NATURAL RISKS

Travelers should note that the country's two rainy seasons occur from May to August and from November to February, during which the risk of flooding is high, particularly in the north and center of the country, including in the capital. Surinamese officials are poorly equipped to deal with flood-related emergencies and therefore nonessential travel to the interior of the country is not recommended during those periods. Heavy rains can also disrupt telecommunications.

TRANSPORTATION

Transportation (road) infrastructure remains largely underdeveloped throughout the country and road accident rates are high. In the event of a car accident, drivers by law must remain with their cars (unmoved) until the police arrive. This can result in major traffic congestion.

For safety reasons, public transportation (e.g. minibuses) should be avoided, particularly outside the capital. In cities it is best to use licensed taxi companies.

Suriname's Blue Wing Airlines has been banned from operating in European Union airspace due to poor safety standards. Concerns regarding the safety standards of the airline INSEL Air, which is based out of Curacao and serves Paramaribo-Zanderij International Airport (PBM), have also been raised.

OTHER

While Dutch is the official language, English is widely spoken along with Surinamese Creole (Sranang Tongo).

Relatively few businesses accept credit cards; most purchases must be made in cash. The local currency is the Suriname dollar (SRD).

LEGAL

Be aware that prison sentences for drug possession are severe, even for small quantities. Individuals are advised against leaving baggage unattended when traveling, to avoid becoming an unwitting drug mule.

HEALTH

Medical infrastructure is limited throughout the country. All visitors to the country are advised to subscribe to travel medical insurance that covers emergency repatriation.

Substandard hygienic conditions exacerbate the risk of diarrheal diseases (e.g. traveler's diarrhea); tap water is considered potable in Paramaribo, but only bottled water should be consumed outside the capital.

A number of mosquito-borne diseases are present in the country.

  • Dengue fever is endemic in urban areas. Only six cases were reported to the Pan American Health Organization in 2016, but the real case rate is likely higher.
  • Malaria transmission rates have fallen significantly in recent years but cases of the disease are still reported in Tapanahony municipality (Sipaliwini province), and occasionally in Brokopondo province and Boven Saramacca municipality (Sipaliwini province). There is no risk in the capital Paramaribo.
  • Chikungunya is present although it is unclear how widespread the virus is.
  • The Zika virus is also present. While the virus is usually relatively benign, links between the Zika virus and severe birth defects have been There is a low risk of contracting yellow fever. One case, the first since 1972, was confirmed in March 2017.

Epizootic rabies is present in the country. The main line of defense against rabies is to avoid contact with both domestic and wild animals (e.g. street dogs). If you are scratched or bitten, seek immediate medical attention.

Note that rates of HIV-AIDS are relatively high. Approximately 1 percent of the population is believed to be HIV positive.

Climate

Suriname has a humid tropical climate. There are two rainy seasons: the short rainy season lasts from November until February and the long rainy season from April until August. It is generally hotter and more humid inland than along the coast. Temperatures are constant throughout the year.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +597 Police: 112 or 47 11 11 Police, Fire Dept., Ambulance: 112

Electricity

Voltage: 127 V ~ 60 Hz

Outlets:

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Suriname Country Risk

Low High
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Terrorism
3
Health
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Crime
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Kidnapping
4
Natural Risk
4
Transport
4
Social Risk
3
Lodging
3
Geopolitical