Located in the northern part of South America, between the countries of Guyana and French Guiana, is the country of Suriname. Although it covers a fairly substantial area, approximately 64,000 square miles, Suriname is the smallest sovereign state in South America. The country has a population of around 470,000 people, most of whom live in the northern part around the capital of Paramaribo. Whereas other Caribbean countries use the East Caribbean Dollar, Suriname uses the Surinamese Dollar, which was introduced in 2004.
Suriname Economy Changes Focus to the Mining Industry
Whilst the country was explored by the French, English and Spanish in the 16th century, it escaped being used for industry by foreign settlers until the 17th century. Both the Dutch and British then introduced plantations along the numerous rivers in the fertile plains of the country. The agricultural industry took off with production, cultivation and exportation of commodities such as sugar cane, coffee, cocoa and cotton. As these industries began to fall away, the Suriname economy became dependent on new products including bananas, rice and citrus fruits. From the end of the First World War, the country was a major player in the mining industry, with almost 75% of the United States of America's bauxite imports coming from Suriname.
The mainstay of the Suriname economy today is still the mining industry. Now, although it still processes bauxite, the country has also moved on to the mining and processing of alumina, gold and some crude oil. Currently the mining industry accounts for 85% of the country's exports and 25% of the country's revenues submitted to the government.
Suriname Economy Attracts Foreign Investors
All of these resources are attracting foreign businesses and investment for several reasons: from cheap electricity costs to large reserves of particular minerals within the borders of the country. Other industries that are small, but have the potential to grow in Suriname, include hardwood lumber processing and the oil sector. There is also talk of potential foreign investment from international companies who are interested in the possibility of diamond mining in Suriname.
The agricultural sector has already shown through the centuries that it can diversify and currently it is in a somewhat stable position. The agricultural industry contributes approximately 10% of the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) rate to the Suriname economy and employs around 8% of the labour workforce (which totals around 166,000). Currently this sector produces the likes of plantains, rice kernels, peanuts, coconuts, beef and shrimps. The country benefits from several large export partners including Canada, The Netherlands, Belgium, the United Arab Emirates and the United States of America.
Although the Suriname economy is quite stable at present and has several new industries in the pipeline for the years to come, it has had to overcome a period of instability in the 1990s. Political factors sent inflation and the fiscal debt of the country through the roof but since 2000 the new government leader has implemented measures to get these factors back down to a manageable level. As long as these practices continue, the economic growth of Suriname should remain at a slow but steady pace.