The smallest independent country on the South American continent, the Republic of Suriname (in Dutch, Republiek Suriname) is bounded by Guyana, Brazil, French Guyane and the Atlantic Ocean.
The flag of Suriname dates from its 1975 independence. It consists of five horizontal bands of green (top, double width), white, red (quadruple width), white, and green (double width), with a large, yellow, five-pointed star centred in the red band. The colours represent fertility, justice and freedom and renewal respectively. The central gold star symbolises national sacrifice, unity and hope for the nation’s golden future. It echoes a yellow star in the centre of the national arms, dating originally from the 17 th century.
Dutch traders established several colonies in the Guyanas before 1600. They did not, however, gain full control of the then Dutch Guiana until the 1667 Treaty of Breda, signed among Britain, France, The Netherlands and Denmark. The Netherlands traded Manhattan, in the current US state of New York, for the territory. After becoming an autonomous part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in 1954, Suriname gained its independence in 1975. A military regime ruled the country in the 1980s, until democracy was restored in 1987. Democratic rule was briefly interrupted by the military between 1990-1991, but was subsequently restored.
Area: 163,270 sq km
Population: 439,117 (July 2006 est.)
Language: Dutch (official), English (widely spoken), Sranang Tongo (Surinamese, sometimes called Taki-Taki, is the native language of Creoles and much of the younger population and is the lingua franca among others), Hindustani (a dialect of Hindi), Javanese
Currency: Surinamese dollar (Sur$) (US$1=Sur$2.73)
Legal system: Based on the Dutch legal system, incorporating French penal theory. There are Cantonal Courts and an appellate Court of Justice