Title: The Republic of Suriname

Population: 614,749

Population Change: 0.9

National Average Age: 29

Urban Percentage: 65

Christian Population: 262,000

Christian Percentage: 48.4

Introduction: 'Suriname is a small country on the northeastern coast of South America. It''s defined by vast swaths of tropical rainforest Dutch colonial architecture and a melting-pot culture. On its Atlantic coast is the capital Paramaribo where palm gardens grow near Fort Zeelandia a 17th-century trading post. Paramaribo is also home to Saint Peter and Paul Basilica a towering wood cathedral consecrated in 1885.'

Overview: First explored by the Spaniards in the 16th century and then settled by the English in the mid-17th century Suriname became a Dutch colony in 1667. With the abolition of African slavery in 1863 workers were brought in from India and Java. Independence from the Netherlands was granted in 1975. Five years later the civilian government was replaced by a military regime that soon declared a socialist republic. It continued to exert control through a succession of nominally civilian administrations until 1987 when international pressure finally forced a democratic election. In 1990 the military overthrew the civilian leadership but a democratically elected government - a four-party coalition - returned to power in 1991. The coalition expanded to eight parties in 2005 and ruled until August 2010 when voters returned former military leader Desire BOUTERSE and his opposition coalition to power.