The Republic of Suriname is a developing nation located on the northern coast of South America. Tourist facilities are widely available in the capital city of Paramaribo, but are less developed and in some cases, non-existent in the rugged jungle interior.
U.S. citizens entering Suriname are required to have a passport, visa, and a return airline ticket. There is a $45 processing fee for business and tourist visas. A business visa requires a letter from the sponsoring company. There is an airport departure charge of $10 and a terminal fee of $5 per person. After eight days in Suriname, all foreigners are required to report to the Office of Foreigner Affairs (Vreemdelingendienst) for an extension-of-stay stamp. For further information, travelers can contact the Embassy of the Republic of Suriname, 4301 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Suite 460, Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 244-7488, or the Consulate in Miami at 7235 NW 19TH St. Miami, Fla. 33126, telephone (305) 593-2163.
Since 1998, demonstrations and disruptive political labor strikes in Paramaribo have become unpredictable and occasionally violent. There is insufficient police authority outside of Paramaribo and the other larger urban areas in the country. Banditry and lawlessness are on the rise in the cities of Albina and Moengo and along the East-West Highway between Paramaribo and Albina. In addition to these places, travelers proceeding to the interior should be aware that they may encounter difficulties due to a lack of government authority. Limited transportation and communications may hamper the ability of the U.S. Embassy to assist in an emergency situation.
As in many capital cities, burglary, armed robbery and violent crime exist in Paramaribo and in outlying areas. Crimes against people and property do occur regularly. Foreigners in general are viewed as targets of opportunity, but there has been no specific targeting of U.S. citizens. While travel to the interior is generally trouble-free, there have been reports of tourists being robbed. Travelers proceeding to the interior are advised to make use of well-established tour companies for safer experiences. While there have been few reports of criminal incidents in the vicinities of the major hotels used by tourists, night walks outside the immediate vicinity of the hotels are not recommended. The U.S. Embassy advises all visitors to avoid the Palm Garden or "Palmentuin" in the Dutch area after dark. It has no police presence and is commonly used for illicit activity.
Pick-pocketing and robbery are on the rise in the major business and shopping districts in Paramaribo. Avoid wearing expensive jewelry or displaying large amounts of money in public. Make every attempt to change currency at hotels, local banks, or official money exchanges or "cambios". Do not exchanging currency on the street, as this is both dangerous and illegal.
Theft from vehicles is infrequent, but does occur, especially in areas near the business district. Drivers are cautioned not to leave packages and other belongings in the vehicle in plain view. When driving, keep windows and doors locked. For safety reasons, use of public mini-buses is strongly discouraged. There is an emergency number, "115", for police, fire and rescue. Fire and rescue services provide a relatively timely response, but police response, especially during night-time hours, is a rarity for all but the most serious of crimes.
The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. U.S. citizens can refer to the Department of State's pamphlet A Safe Trip Abroad for ways to promote a more trouble-free journey. This publication and others, such as Tips for Travelers to Central and South America, are available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.
Medical care, including emergency medical care, is limited and does not meet U.S. standards. Most hospitals are open-air facilities. However, private rooms with air conditioning are available at extra cost. There is one public emergency room in Paramaribo, which in mid-1999 was without a neurosurgeon, and other medical specialists may not always be available. A small ambulance fleet provides emergency transport. Emergency medical care outside of Paramaribo is limited and is virtually non-existent in the interior. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost thousands of dollars or more. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services. Some hospitals require an advance deposit for non-emergency services.
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 may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Safety of Public Transportation: fair
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: poor
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: poor
In Suriname, traffic moves on the left, although left-hand drive cars are allowed on the road. Excessive speed, unpredictable driving habits, poorly maintained roads and the lack of basic safety equipment on many vehicles are daily hazards on Suriname’s roads. Visitors are encouraged to use automobiles equipped with seat belts and to avoid the use of motorcycles or scooters.
Roads in Paramaribo are mostly paved, although upkeep is often a problem. Large potholes are common on city streets, especially during the rainy season. Roads are often not marked with traffic lines. In addition, many main thoroughfares do not have sidewalks, forcing pedestrian, motorcycle and bicycle traffic to share the roads.
The East-West Highway is a paved road, connected by ferry service at major river crossings, which stretches from Nieuw Nickerie in the west to Alvina in the east. Banditry is increasing between Moengo and Albina, and police recommend that travelers check with the police station in Moengo or Albina for the latest safety information. The East-West Highway runs through agricultural areas, and it is not uncommon to see slow-moving farm traffic or animals on the road.
Roads to the interior are sporadically maintained dirt roads that pass through rugged, sparsely populated rain forest. Most roads are passable for sedans only in the dry season. These roads deteriorate rapidly in the rainy season. Interior roads are not lit, nor are there service stations or emergency call boxes. Many bridges in the interior are in various states of repair. Travelers are advised to consult with local sources regarding interior road conditions before proceeding.
For specific information concerning Suriname driver's permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, contact the Embassy of Suriname in Washington, D.C.
U.S. citizens living in or visiting Suriname are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Paramaribo and obtain updated information on travel and security in Suriname. The U.S. Embassy is located at Dr. Sophie Redmondstraat 129 in Paramaribo, telephone 011 (597) 477-881, consular fax number 011 (597) 425-788. Hours of operation for American Citizen Services and inquiries are Monday and Wednesday, 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. or by appointment. For emergency assistance outside these hours telephone the Embassy duty pager at 011 (597) 088-0338.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Suriname’s Civil Aviation Authority as Category 3 -- not in compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Suriname’s air carrier operations. Flights to the U.S. by Suriname’s air carriers are not permitted unless they arrange to have the flights conducted by a carrier from a country meeting international safety standards. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA Internet web site at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/index.htm. 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 618-256-4801.