COUNTRY DESCRIPTION ^
The Republic of Suriname is a developing nation located on the northern coast of South America . English is widely used, and most tourist arrangements can be made in English. Tourist facilities are widely available in the capital city of Paramaribo ; they are less developed and in some cases non-existent in the country's rugged jungle interior. The Government of Suriname continues to encourage ecotourism and is expanding tourism facilities in the interior by establishing guesthouses and tour packages. Credit cards are not widely accepted outside the major hotels. Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) are available through local banks and Royal Bank of Trinidad and Tobago (RBTT). Travelers should contact their intended hotel or tour company to confirm that credit cards are accepted.
SAFETY AND SECURITY ^
Land and maritime borders between Suriname and Guyana are in dispute. Talks between the countries are ongoing, but tensions occasionally rise. Travelers near the borders should keep this in mind and exercise due caution.
Demonstrations are rare, but American citizens traveling to or residing in Suriname should take common-sense precautions and avoid large gatherings or other events where crowds have congregated to demonstrate or protest.
Travelers proceeding to the interior may encounter difficulties due to limited government authority and inadequate or nonexistent medical facilities. Limited transportation and communications may hamper the ability of the U.S. Embassy to assist in an emergency situation.
Criminal activity throughout the country is on the rise and foreigners, including Americans, may be viewed as targets of opportunity. Burglary, armed robbery and violent crime occur with some frequency in Paramaribo and in outlying areas. Pickpocketing and robbery are increasingly common in the major business and shopping districts of the capital. Visitors should avoid wearing expensive or flashy jewelry or displaying large amounts of money in public.
Although there are few reports of criminal incidents in the vicinity of the major tourist hotels, night walks outside the immediate vicinity of the hotels are not recommended. Visitors should avoid the Palm Garden area ('Palmentuin' in Dutch) after dark, as there is no police presence and it is commonly the site of criminal activity.
Theft from vehicles is infrequent, but it does occur, especially in areas near the business district. Drivers are cautioned not to leave packages and other belongings in plain view in their vehicles. When driving, car windows should be closed and doors locked. The use of public minibuses is discouraged, due to widespread unsafe driving and poor maintenance.
Travel to the interior is usually trouble-free, but there have been reports of tourists being robbed. Police presence outside Paramaribo is minimal, and banditry and lawlessness continue to be of concern in the cities of Albina and Moengo, as well as along the East-West Highway between Paramaribo and Albina. Travelers proceeding to the interior are advised to make use of well-established tour companies for a safer experience.
The emergency number 115 is used for police, fire and rescue. Fire and rescue services provide a relatively timely response, but police response, especially during nighttime hours, is a rarity for all but the most serious of crimes.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES ^
While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the U.S. for similar offenses. Persons violating Surinamese laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Suriname are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines.
MEDICAL FACILITIES ^
Medical care, including emergency medical care, is limited and does not meet U.S. standards. There is one public emergency room in Paramaribo with only a small ambulance fleet providing emergency transport with limited first response capabilities. The emergency room has no neurosurgeon, and other medical specialists may not always be available. As a rule, hospital facilities are not air-conditioned, although private rooms with individual air-conditioning are available at extra cost. Emergency medical care outside Paramaribo is limited, and is virtually non-existent in the interior of the country.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS ^
While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Suriname is provided for general reference only, and it may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Safety of Public Transportation: Fair
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Fair
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Poor
Traffic moves on the left in Suriname; left-hand-drive cars are allowed on the road. Excessive speed, unpredictable driving habits, poorly maintained roads and a lack of basic safety equipment on many vehicles are daily hazards on Surinamese roads. Visitors are encouraged to use automobiles equipped with seat belts and to avoid the use of motorcycles or scooters. An international driver's license is necessary to rent a car.
The roads in Paramaribo are usually paved, but not always well maintained. Large potholes are common on city streets, especially during the rainy seasons, which last from approximately mid-November to January, and from April to June (rainy seasons can differ from year to year by as much as six weeks). Roads are often not marked with traffic lines. Many main thoroughfares do not have sidewalks, forcing pedestrians, motorcycles and bicycle traffic to share the same space.
The East-West Highway, a paved road that stretches from Nieuw Nickerie in the west to Albina in the east, runs through extensive agriculture areas; it is not uncommon to encounter slow-moving farm traffic or animals on the road. Police recommend that travelers check with the police station in Albina for the latest safety information regarding travel between Paramaribo and
Roads in the interior are sporadically maintained dirt roads that pass through rugged, sparsely populated rain forest. Some roads are passable for sedans in the dry season, but they deteriorate rapidly during the rainy season. Interior roads are not lit, nor are there service stations or emergency call boxes. Bridges in the interior are in various states of repair. Travelers are advised to consult with local sources, including The Foundation for Nature Conservation in Suriname, or STINASU, at telephone (597) 421-683 or 476-579, or with their hotels regarding interior road conditions before proceeding.
For additional general information about road safety, including links to foreign government sites, please see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at
For specific information concerning Suriname driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, please contact the Embassy of Suriname in Washington, D.C. or the Consulate of Suriname in Miami.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT ^
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Suriname's civil aviation authority as Category 1 �- in compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Suriname's air carrier operations.
For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA's Internet website at
The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact DOD at (618) 229-4801.
Visitors can exchange currency at banks, hotels and official exchange houses, which are called "cambios." Exchanging money outside of these locations is illegal and can be dangerous. Telephone service within Suriname can be problematic, especially during periods of heavy rains.
Please also refer to the separate Worldwide Caution Public Announcement.
January 30, 2004