Language(s): Dutch (Official)
Area: 163,821 km2
Population: 560,157 (2012)
GDP (PPP): 2011 estimate
Total: $5.060 billion
Per capita: $9,475
The smallest independent country in South America is Suriname. It is in the northern part of South America, between French Guiana and Guyana, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean. Suriname was colonized by the Dutch in the 17th century, and is commonly known as Dutch Guiana or Netherlands Guiana. It gained independence from Netherlands in 1975.
Private property is not well protected. Land is state owned, although the law makes property ownership a basic right, there is always a risk that leased land might be expropriated. Settlement of ownership disputes or damage to property takes a long time. Native people assert their historical land rights.
There are a variety of housing styles in Suriname. Housing ranges from rural to towns to the capital city of Paramaribo. Houses are built of wood or other materials. In the forested interior where only 5 percent of the population lives there are thatch huts. Also the Maroon descendants of escaped slaves live in highly decorated wooden houses. In rural areas houses sometimes are built on stilts. In Paramaribo and in Suriname's towns there are still houses in the Dutch colonial style. So the range is from humble abodes to mansions. There are a variety of housing styles in Suriname. Half of Suriname's population lives in the capital city of Paramaribo. The other half of the population lives in the smaller towns along the coast. Many of the descendants of African slaves live in the forested interior. The range of housing is typical of any tropical climate, from huts to houses on stilts to city dwellings.