Republic of Suriname
October 22

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Area 163,820 Northeast coast of South America between Guyana and French Guiana.

Population Ann.Gr. Density
2000 417,130 +0.39% 3 per sq. km.
2010 452,074 +1.13% 3 per sq. km.
2025 524,642 +0.86% 3 per sq. km.

Many Surinamers migrated to the Netherlands around the time of independence.

Capital Paramaribo 210,000. Urbanites 54%.


Startling ethnic diversity – a legacy of colonial importation of indentured labour.

Asians 51%. East Indian (mostly originating from Bihar) 140,000; Indonesian (mainly Javanese) 67,000; Chinese 13,000; Hmong (refugees from Laos) 2,000.

Afro-Caribbean 41%. Creole 140,000; Bush Negro (Saramaccan, Aukaan, Kwinti) 40,000.

Amerindian 7%, in 6 ethnic groups.

Other 1%. Dutch 1,000; Guyanese, Portuguese.

Literacy 93%. Official language Dutch. Trade language Sranang Tongo (Taki-taki). All languages 16. Languages with Scriptures 4Bi 4NT 4por 4w.i.p.


Bauxite, aluminium, rice, forest products and eco-tourism are the main sources of foreign exchange. The 20-year post-independence instability brought severe decline. Suriname is heavily dependent on aid and remittances from emigrant Surinamers. HDI 0.757; 64th/174. Public debt 40% of GNP. Income/person $1,000 (4% of USA).


Independent from the Netherlands in 1975. A leftist military coup in 1980 with Cuban and Libyan help brought instability, repression and suffering to the country. A succession of coups, uprisings and abortive elections followed. An internationally supervised election in 1991 and a peace agreement in 1994 with rebels in the east restored the country to democratic government and peace. There has subsequently been a series of unstable coalition governments, but the former military dictator still exercises much influence.


There is full freedom of religion.

Religions Population % Adherents Ann.Gr.
Christian 46.85 195,425 +0.8%
Hindu 27.00 112,625 +0.1%
Muslim 19.40 80,923 +0.2%
non-Religious/other 2.80 11,680 +0.4%
Traditional ethnic 2.60 10,845 -1.8%
Baha'i 1.20 5,006 +0.4%
Chinese 0.10 417 +0.4%
Jewish 0.05 209 -3.1%

Christians Denom. Affil.% ,000 Ann.Gr.
Protestant 21 18.84 79 +1.8%
Independent 9 0.88 4 +13.2%
Anglican 1 0.19 1 -0.5%
Catholic 1 22.53 94 +0.6%
Marginal 2 1.42 6 +2.3%
Unaffiliated   2.99 12 n.a.

Churches MegaBloc Cong. Members Affiliates
Catholic C 30 48,958 94,000
Moravian P 55 37,956 52,000
Reformed Ch of Suriname P 8 3,799 6,800
Jehovah's Witnesses M 35 1,978 5,500
Evang Lutheran P 7 2,198 4,000
Seventh-day Adventist P 14 2,915 4,000
Evang Ch of W Indies P 16 1,300 2,800
Other Indep Charis [5] I 8 952 2,000
Church of the Nazarene P 11 1,100 1,500
United Baptist P 9 220 620
Wesleyan P 30 300 600
Chr and Miss Alliance P 2 244 549
Assemblies of God P 6 200 475
Other denoms [17]   47 4,300 8,100
Total Christians [34]   278 106,400 183,000

Trans-bloc Groupings pop. % ,000 Ann.Gr.
Evangelical 4.1 17 +5.5%
Charismatic 3.3 14 +5.9%
  Pentecostal 0.7 3 +8.1%

Missionaries from Suriname
P,I,A 8 in 6 agencies: Suriname 5.

Missionaries to Suriname
P,I,A 156 in 28 agencies from 9 countries: USA 102, Netherlands 29.

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Challenges for Prayer

1 Suriname's post-independence experience was disastrous. Pray for continued peace, godly leaders, stable government, economic improvement, and, above all, for spiritual awakening. The young nation is compartmentalized by race and religion, and the potential for further conflict remains.

2 Nearly half the population professes to be Christian, but few know much of a personal faith in Christ and Christian belief is often mixed with spiritism. Both the Moravian and Catholic Churches have large followings. In the Moravian Church are some evangelical leaders, revival prayer groups and also spiritual awakening among young people. Pray for revival to sweep through the traditionalism of the majority of Christians.

3 The evangelical witness has grown significantly from a very small percentage in 1960 through a variety of Pentecostal and charismatic movements in nearly every culture. Pray for the continuance of increasing trans-denominational cooperation in Bible-related ministries, the March for Jesus and in outreach.

4 Christian leaders with a warm personal faith and biblical message are few. Pray for the three small Bible schools (two Pentecostal and one Baptist), and also for the ministry of Christian leaders in re-laying biblical foundations and standards in a nation that has lost its way morally and ethically in the confusion after independence.

5 Most of the six Amerindian peoples are now at least nominally Christian. WT has seen people movements among the Wayana, Akurio and Trio. The coastal Carib and Arawak are more needy. Pray for stability, maturity and indigeneity to be maintained in the tribal churches, the pressures to conform to the missionary and the coastal cultures are overwhelming. Some have reverted to indigenous customs. Pray for the service of two MAF planes that make the ministry of WT practicable.

6 Missions and their ministries have resumed after the years of disruption. The major ministry challenges are for more effective discipling of new leaders, Bible translation (5 NTs are being translated – mainly through the 38 SIL/WBT workers in Suriname) and pioneer outreach to non-Christian peoples. Other larger agencies include: WT (15), Christar (9), SBC (8).

7 Less-reached peoples:

a) The Javanese are predominantly Muslim – but nominally so. Through the work of the Indonesian Missionary Fellowship Christar, CMA and others, at least 10 churches have been planted. The vision is for a church for every Javanese community. The Suriname Javanese NT was published in 2000.

b) The Indian community has shown little response to the gospel. The ministry of Christar, CMA and WT has led to the planting of five congregations largely made up of former Hindus. The Pentecostals have had significant success in church planting. The Muslim community is unreached. Pray for barriers of occultism, prejudice and misunderstanding to be broken down.

c) Chinese are responding to the ministry of two Chinese CMA missionary couples, and there are two growing congregations with a cross-cultural missions vision for Suriname and French Guiana.

d) Bush Negroes are descendants of escaped slaves who formed their own distinctive communities. Six groups and languages have developed. Many of these communities were decimated and scattered in reprisals for local uprisings against the military regime. Bible translation work is in progress in Aukaans and the NT completed in Saramaccan. Witchcraft and fear of spirits is widespread, but there are some strong Christians among them (WT and Baptists). Many communities are only superficially evangelized. Pray for decisive breakthroughs in these peoples bound by the occult.

e) The Laotian Hmong live in several villages. CMA missionaries have planted several congregations among them, but the lack of Hmong pastors limits the work.

8 Specialist Christian ministries for prayer:

a) The Suriname Bible Society (UBS) has played a key role in not only Bible translation and distribution, but also in producing a daily 20-minute TV programme, promoting ministry for families, AIDS issues, etc. Bible distribution has increased since independence.

b) Bible translation continues through the ministry of The Bible Society and SIL. Seven translation projects are being tackled.

c) Student ministry. JSS(IFES) has expanded ministry since the 1980s. There are Christian groups in 18 of the 20 tertiary institutions.

d) The JESUS film has been extensively used in film showings and on TV in the 4 major languages.

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