Suriname is located in the northern part of South America and is part of Caribbean South America. Historically, Suriname has had a very centralized government structure. Pre-independence, a government regulation of 1955 provided for the establishment of elected local bodies and the government established a Ministry of District Administration and Decentralization in 1969. In practice, however, elected local government structures did not exist prior to the country’s independence from the Netherlands in 1975. In fact, little tangible progress was made towards the establishment of elected local government until the 1980s, when political representative bodies at the district level and the ‘resort’ level (sub-district) were established. These efforts were formalized and given greater standing with the passage of the 1987 Constitution and the Law on Regional Organs, 1989. While greater decentralization has the potential to increase public participation and responsive governance, a number of factors, such as the weak capacity of district administration and limited fiscal space, argue in favor of a cautious and gradual approach to decentralization, particularly with respect to the transfer of responsibilities and resources.

Subnational governance structure

Nature of subnational governance institutions

Functional assignments

LoGICA Assessments

LoGICA Intergovernmental Profile: Suriname 2023 (Excel)

Additional resources

Inter-American Development Bank. 2001. Governance in Suriname.

Ministry of Regional Development. 2011. Bestuurlijke indeling van Suriname. (in Dutch)

Local government country profile: Suriname (UN Women)

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Last updated: November 13, 2023