Suriname - Infrastructure, power, and communications

Suriname's poor transportation deteriorated further due to neglect during the period of military rule in the 1980s. The country has 4,530 kilometers (2,814 miles) of road, about 26 percent of which are paved. Although these roads have been joined together into 1 integrated system with the construction of bridges across the Coppename and Suriname Rivers in 1999 and 2000 respectively, they are overwhelmingly concentrated in the northern coastal region. Transportation into the heavily forested and sparsely populated interior is still extremely difficult. The logging and bauxite industries use Suriname's 166 kilometers (103 miles) of railway; others must depend on the river system, whose 1,200 kilometers (746 miles) of navigable waterways are an essential means of travel and transport, and on air transport. Paramaribo, the capital, is the major seaport and handles around 500 to 600 vessels a year. There are about 46 airports throughout the country, but only 5 paved runways. International air links are through Johan Adolf Pengel Airport outside Paramaribo.

Telecommunications are largely the preserve of the state-owned Telesur, though the private-sector operator ICMS is also active, and there are plans to open the industry up to full competition. Services are generally good, and infrastructural development has seen the number of telephones rise from 71 per 1,000 people in 1985 to 152 in 1998. By the late 1990s, there were 18 radio stations, 3 television stations, and 1 Internet service provider.

Suriname is largely self-sufficient in energy production. Three-quarters of its power consumption is supplied by the state-owned hydroelectric stations at Paramaribo and Nickerie and by the Suriname Aluminum Company's station on the Blommestein Meer, whose electricity is bought by the government. Oil production at the Tambaradjo oil field outside Paramaribo is 12,500 barrels per day (more than 300 percent over its 1982 levels), which is enough to meet all of Suriname's own oil needs, and leave about 40 percent for export. The government is planning to develop the industry further but needs an overseas strategic partner to help it with the cost of exploration.

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