|Regions with significant populations|
|Primarily Dutch and Sranan Tongo (lingua francas)[a]|
numerous minority languages
|Primarily Christianity (Protestant and Roman Catholic), Hinduism, Islam, Winti, Irreligious|
Surinamese people are people identified with the country of Suriname. This connection may be residential, legal, historical or cultural. For most Surinamese, several (or all) of these connections exist and are collectively the source of their being Surinamese.
Suriname is a multiethnic and multilingual society, home to people of various ethnic, racial, religious, and national origins, with the majority of the population made up of Old World immigrants and their descendants. As a result, the Surinamese do not equate their nationality with ethnicity, but with citizenship and allegiance to Suriname. Aside from the indigenous population, nearly all Surinamese or their ancestors arrived since the Age of Discovery and establishment of the colony of Surinam, primarily from Africa, Europe and Asia.
The population of Suriname is made up of various distinguishable ethnic groups:
- Indians form 27% of the population. They are descendants of 19th-century contract workers from British India. They are mostly from the Indian states of Bihar and Eastern Uttar Pradesh, in Northern India, along the Nepali border.
- Afro-Surinamese form about 37% of the population, and are usually divided into two groups: the Creoles (15.7%), mixed descendants of enslaved Africans and European colonists (mostly Dutch), and Maroons (21.7%), descendants of escaped enslaved Africans. The two main Maroon groups are the Ndyuka and Saramaccans.
- Javanese (descendants of contract workers from the Dutch East Indies on the island of Java), form 14% of the population.
- Amerindians, the original inhabitants of Suriname, form 3.7% of the population. The main groups are the Akurio, Arawak, Kalina (Caribs), Tiriyó and Wayana.
- Chinese, mainly descendants of the earliest 19th-century contract workers. The 1990s and early 21st century saw renewed immigration on a large scale. In the year 2011 there were over 40,000 Chinese in Suriname.
- Europeans, descendants of Dutch 19th-century immigrant farmers, known as "Boeroes" (derived from boer, the Dutch word for "farmer"), Portuguese from Madeira and other European groups.
- Levantines, primarily Maronites from Lebanon, and Jews, mainly descendants of Sephardic Jews and Ashkenazi Jews. In their history, Jodensavanne plays a major role. Many Jews are mixed with other populations.
- Multiracial people form 13.4% of the population.
Most of the inhabitants live in the north of the country, in the districts of Paramaribo, Wanica and Nickerie. The least populated county is Sipaliwini, which covers most of the nation's interior and is sparsely inhabited. More than half of the population lives in and around the capital.
Migration to the Netherlands began during the colonial era. Initially this was mainly the colonial elite but expanded during the 1920s and 1930s to the less fortunate inhabitants looking for better education, employment, or other opportunities.
Approximately 350,000 individuals of Surinamese descent now live in the Netherlands, with mass migration beginning in the years leading up to Suriname's independence in 1975, and continuing in the period immediately after independence and during military rule in the 1980s. Surinamese continued to migrate to the Netherlands throughout the 1990s because of the then tough economic situation in Suriname. Other emigration destinations include French Guiana and the United States.
In Suriname, there are no fewer than twenty languages spoken. Most Surinamese are multilingual. In terms of numbers of speakers are the main languages in Suriname, successively the Dutch language, Sranan Tongo (Surinamese Creole), English, Sarnami (Surinamese Hindustani), Javanese, and different Maroon languages (especially Saramaccan and Ndyuka). Since most Surinamese people are multilingual (for instance Dutch and Sranan Tongo), the society functions as a diglossia, where Dutch is the standardized and formal prestige register and Sranan Tongo generally the informal street vernacular. Dutch serves as the language of law, government, business, media and education.
According to the results of the seventh general population and housing census, which was held in 2004, Dutch is the most spoken home language in the country, at around 60% of the population speaking it at home. A further 24% of the population speaks Dutch as a second language. Sranan Tongo, which literally means "Surinamese language", is spoken primarily as a second language in 46% of households, along with 22% Sarnami Hindustani and 11% Javanese.
The following religious statistics have been reported as of 2012:
- 48.4% Christianity (26.8% Protestant and 21.6% Roman Catholic)
- 22.3% Hinduism (Sanatana Dharma, and Arya Samaj)
- 13.9% Islam (Sunnism, Sufism, and Ahmadiyya)
- 4.7% Other
- 10.7% None
- As Surinamese is primarily a national identity made up of various ethnic and religious groups, a large number of mutually unintelligible languages are spoken in the country and by the Surinamese diaspora. Other than Dutch and Sranan Tongo, these are not spoken by the majority but rather only within the racial or ethnic minority group. Dutch, as the language of law, education, media and business, and Sranan Tongo, as the most widely spoken vernacular, are the only two languages spoken fluently by the majority of the Surinamese.
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- Source: Zevende algemene volks- en woningtelling 2004, Algemeen Bureau voor de Statistiek
- 2012 Suriname Census Definitive Results. Algemeen Bureau voor de Statistiek – Suriname.