• Pray for effective, culturally sensitive Christian witness to the Hindu population
• Pray for increased cooperation and unity among ethnically diverse Christian congregations
• Pray for a tidal wave of mature Christians to commit to discipling young believers
The smallest independent nation on the South American continent, Suriname has a tropical climate with more than 90 percent of the terrain covered by rainforests. Bordering the Atlantic Ocean between French Guiana and Guyana, it is also a multiethnic and multi-religious nation. The unofficial symbol is the mamio, a patchwork quilt that represents all of the many ethnicities and cultures, and Surinamers take pride in being tolerant of different races. Like many other nations in the region, Suriname was founded by the Dutch as a plantation society. When slavery was abolished in 1863, Asian contract workers, including those from Java and India, were brought to replace the Africans. The Dutch sought cultural assimilation, but the Hindustani and Javanese cultures proved too resilient, and ethnic diversity became accepted. Suriname became an autonomous part of the Netherlands in 1954, and gained its independence in 1975. It is governed under the constitution of 1987.
Mining is the most important economic sector in Suriname, and brings in one third of the nation’s GDP. Paramaribo, the capital, is the only city in the nation and is the commercial center on the Suriname River. More than half of the population is employed by the state, yet unemployment is high, and 70% of the population lives below the poverty line. People are divided into classes based primarily on income and sometimes ethnic background. Villages are generally ethnically divided. Surinamers are very relaxed and are known for being hospitable to strangers. The phrase “no span” – ‘stay calm and don’t worry’ – is a theme of the laid back culture.
Suriname gives freedom of religion to all its citizens, and Christianity is the largest (50%), followed by Hinduism (23%) and Islam (17%). The Church is growing and sending missionaries to unreached areas. Unity within the Church continues to grow as well, with prayer networks and cross-denominational cooperation expanding. Syncretism and nominalism have crept into the Church, and although half the population professes Christianity, many practice both spiritism and Christianity or are no longer committed to Christ. Nominal Muslims, mainly the Javanese peoples, need to be reached with the Gospel, and some have already become believers and are ministering to their fellow Javanese.
Continent: N. America
Capital City: Paramaribo
Government: Presidential republic
Major People Groups: 27% Caribbean Hindi; 26% Surinamese Creole; 13% Guyanese; 13% Caribbean Javanese; 6% Saramaccan Black
Religion: Christian 51%, Hindu 20%, Muslim 16%, Agnostic 5%, Spiritist 3%, Ethnic 2%, New religions 1%, Baha'is 1%, Buddhist 1%
Language: Sranan Tongo, Sarnami Hindustani, Guyanese Creole English, Suriname Javanese, Saramaccan
GDP Per Capita: $16,100
Literacy Rate: 94.4%
POPULATION IN UNREACHED PEOPLE GROUPS: 5.4%
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