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Moving to Suriname

A comprehensive guide to moving to Suriname

Suriname, the smallest independent country in the whole of South America, has a very culturally diverse population, mostly concentrated in the developed north, while the south is covered with the rainforest. In this article, we have collected useful information for expats moving to Suriname, from climate to visas.

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Relocating to Suriname

The Land and Its People

Suriname is split into ten administrative districts, the most heavily populated of which is the capital city of Paramaribo in the far north of the country. 90% of the population lives in the developed north of Suriname.

Once governed by the Dutch, Suriname has been independent since 1975. Prior to this it was known as Dutch Guyana, and it sits between French Guyana and Guyana. To the south is Brazil, and the whole northern border is on the Atlantic coast. Geographically, the country can be split into two regions; north and south. The northern half has been cultivated and this is where the majority of the population lives.

The south consists mainly of rainforest and savanna, and very few people have made it their home. The Central Suriname Nature Reserve was created in 1998 and has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This 16,000 square kilometer tropical rainforest includes the highest peak in the country, Julianatop, which stands at 1,230 m tall. There are approximately half a million people living in Suriname, from a number of ethnic groups. The largest percentage of the population is East Indians, typically descended from 19th century workers from India. There are also Surinamese Maroons, Creoles, Javanese, Chinese, Native Americans, other South Americans, and Europeans. A large number of the Surinamese population also lives in the Netherlands. The official language of Suriname is Dutch, making it the only South American country where Dutch is an official language. A local creole language called Sranan is also spoken and interchanged with Dutch.

The Climate in Suriname

Sitting between two and five degrees north of the equator means that Suriname has a hot, wet, and tropical climate, with very little variation in temperature throughout the year. There are two wet and two dry seasons, and the high humidity can make it feel ever hotter than the average 29–34°C.

Visas for Suriname

Residents of most countries need a visa to enter Suriname. Some countries are exempt, including mostly Caribbean and other South American nations, as well as some Asian countries. There is a list of countries not requiring a visa on the Suriname Embassy website. Those expats who needing a visa for their move to Suriname, this can be obtained by downloading the visa form from the aforementioned website, and submitting is along with a number of other pieces of information, including:

  • a passport, valid for at least six months,
  • a recent passport photo, and
  • a letter from the employer for expats planning on working in Suriname.

There is a charge of between 45–360 USD depending on the applicant’s country of origin, as well as the planned length and purpose of stay.

Getting to Suriname

The Johan Adolf Pengel International Airport is 45 km south of Paramaribo and is also referred to as Zanderij. The flag carrier is Surinam Airways, and KLM, Caribbean Airlines, Dutch Antilles Express, and Insel Air also fly to the country. KLM operates a daily flight to Suriname from Amsterdam.

Regional and domestic flights tend to arrive at to Zorg-en-Hoop, which is also in the capital city. There are no trains in Suriname, but expats can alternatively arrive by car. The typical route in is from Georgetown in Guyana.

Whether you are moving abroad for the first time or relocated multiple times before, the process raises many questions. Our complete guide to relocation will ease your doubts along the way, from the initial preparations to how to negotiate a relocation package, we help you GO! prepared with the key answers.

Updated on: May 12, 2015

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