|Regions with significant populations|
|Dutch, Sranan Tongo|
|Christianity (Roman Catholic, Protestants), Hinduism, Islam|
Surinamese people are the inhabitants or citizens of Suriname. Suriname had formerly been a Dutch colony which was captured from the English in 1667. Following Suriname's independence in 1975, many Surinamese migrated to the Netherlands. A second wave of migrants relocated to the Netherlands during the 1980s while Suriname was under military regime. But even before the independence there were Surinamese in the Netherlands.
The population of Suriname is a mixture of different ethnic groups:
- Amerindians, the original inhabitants of Suriname, form 3.7% of the population. The main groups being the Akuriyo, Arawak, Carib/Kaliña, Trío (Tiriyó), and Wayana. They live mainly in the districts of Paramaribo, Wanica, Marowijne and Sipaliwini.1
- East Indians form 37% of the population. They are descendants of nineteenth-century contract workers from India. They are from the Indian states of Bihar and Eastern Uttar Pradesh, in Northern India, along the Nepali border.
- Africans form 33% of the population, and are divided into two groups: the Creoles (18%), mixed descendants of West African slaves and Europeans (mostly Dutch), and Maroons (15%), descendants of escaped West African slaves. The two main Maroon groups are the Ndyuka and Saramaccans.
- The Javanese (descendants of contract workers from the former Dutch East Indies on the island of Java, Indonesia),2 form 15% of the population.
- Chinese, mainly descendants of the earliest nineteenth-century contract workers. The 1990s and early 21st century saw renewed immigration on a large scale. In the year 2011 there were over 40,000 Chinese in Suriname, including legal and illegal migrants.3
- Europeans, descendants of Dutch 19th-century immigrant farmers, Portuguese from Madeira and other white people. The descendants of Dutch immigrant farmers are known as "Boeroes" (derived from boer, the Dutch word for "farmer"). Most Boeroes left after independence in 1975.
- Arabs, (primarily Maronites) from the town of Bsharri, Lebanon, but also Syrians and Palestinians.
- Jews, mainly descendants of Sephardic Jews and Ashkenazi Jews. In their history, Jodensavanne plays a major role. Many Jews are mixed with other populations.
- Brazilians, many of them gold miners.4 Most of the nearly 40,000 Brazilians living in Suriname arrived during the past several years.5
The seventh census of Suriname in 2004 reported the following:
- 27.4% East Indian,
- 17.7% Creole
- 14.7% Maroons
- 14.6% Javanese (Southeast Asians)
- 12.5% Mixed descent
- 3.7% Amerindian
- 3% Chinese
- 2% White
Most of the approximate 500,000 inhabitants live in the north of the country, in the districts of Paramaribo, Wanica and Nickerie. The least populated county is Sipaliwini, which covers most of the nation's interior and is sparsely inhabited. More than half of the population lives in and around the capital.
Approximately 350,000 individuals of Surinamese descent live in the Netherlands, having variably arrived following Surinames independence in 1975, after the military coup of 1980 led by Dési Bouterse, or after the December murders of 1982. Surinamese continued to migrate to the Netherlands throughout the 1990s because of the then poor economic situation in Suriname. Most Surinamese people in the Netherlands have a Dutch passport and the majority have been successfully integrated into Dutch society.
During the colonial era there was frequent migration between the Netherlands and Dutch Guiana. Initially this was mainly the colonial elite but expanded during the 1920s and 30s to the less fortunate inhabitants looking for better education, employment, or other opportunity.6
In Suriname there are no fewer than twenty languages spoken. Most Surinamese are multilingual. In terms of numbers of speakers are the main languages in Suriname, successively the Dutch language, Sranan Tongo (Surinamese Creole), Sarnami (Surinamese Hindi), Javanese, different Maroon languages (especially Saramaccan and Ndyuka), and Hakka Chinese. Since most Surinamese people are multilingual (for instance Dutch and Sranan Tongo), it is not easy for people to share in a particular language group.
According to the results of the seventh general population and housing census, which was held in 2004, Dutch is the most spoken home language in Suriname. In over 70% of households Dutch is spoken as the first or second language. Sranan Tongo is spoken primarily as a second language in 46% of households, along with 22% Sarnami Hindustani and 11% Javanese.
|Spoken language per household in Suriname, 2004|
|Language||Most spoken home language||Second home language||Total coverage of the language|
|No second home language||-||-||23.754||19.2|
|Source: Seventh general population and housing census 2004, Algemeen Bureau voor de Statistiek|
Dutch is the official language of Suriname and the first language of at least 60% of the population. As such, Suriname is a member of the Dutch Language Union. It is the official language of government, education, marketing, media, and in everyday communication.
The lingua franca is Sranan Tongo, which literally means "Surinamese language." It was originally the language of the Creole population, but is now widely understood and even spoken by much of the populace (an estimated 90% of the Surinamese population can speak the language). Sranan Tongo is linguistically a creole language, and has mainly been confined to a spoken language throughout its history, though it has grown in literary usage during the last decade.
An overview of the languages spoken in Suriname, with the number of native speakers (rough estimate, double counting by two-or multilingualism):
- Asian languages:
- Sarnami Hindustani (150,000), Surinamese variant of the Caribbean Hindustani, which emerged from and is related to the Indo-Aryan Bihari languages, especially Bhojpuri, spoken in the current Indian states Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
- Javanese (60,000)
- Chinese (12,000)
- Lebanese Arabic (small number of speakers)
- Creole languages:
- Indigenous languages of the Americas, divided into three language families:
- European languages:
The following religious statistics have been reported as of 2010:7
- 48% Christianity (25.2% Protestant and 22.8% Roman Catholic)
- 27.4% Hinduism (Sanatana Dharma and Arya Samaj)
- 19.6% Islam (Sunni and Ahmadiyya)
- 5% Indigenous or animist
- Joshua Project. "Joshuaproject.net". Joshuaproject.net. Retrieved 28 March 2010.
- (Indonesian)Orang Jawa di Suriname (Javanese in Suriname), kompasiana. Access date:26 March 2011
- Romero, Simon. "With Aid and Migrants, China Expands Its Presence in a South American Nation", The New York Times, 10 April 2011.
- "Violence erupts in Surinam". Radio Netherlands Worldwide. December 26, 2009.
- "Guyana: Caught in Brazil's Net?; Small Nation, New to Free Markets, Fears Loss of Its Identity". The New York Times. March 30, 2000.
- Gert Oostindie en Emy Maduro, In het land van de overheerser - II - Antillianen en Surinamers in Nederland 1634/1667-1954 (KITLV; Leiden 1986)
- Suriname: History, Geography, Government, and Culture Infoplease.com