What Are Suriname Guilders?

The Suriname guilder was the official currency of the South American nation of Suriname until 2004, when it was replaced by the Surinamese dollar, with each new dollar replacing 1,000 guilders.

The cent coins representing fractions of one guilder remain in use, with denominations of one, five, 10, 25, 100, and 250 cents, but instead represent the same fraction of one Surinamese dollar.

Key Takeaways

  • The Suriname guilder was the official currency of the South American nation of Suriname until 2004.
  • In 2004, the Suriname guilder was replaced by the Surinamese dollar, with each new dollar replacing 1,000 guilders.
  • A former colony of the Netherlands, the Suriname guilder was named after Dutch guilders, the Netherlands' currency for almost 500 years before being replaced by the euro.

Understanding Suriname Guilders

Suriname guilders were named for the Dutch guilder, which was the currency of the Netherlands for almost 500 years before being replaced by the euro. A former Dutch colony, Suriname is located on the northern coast of South America and bordered by Brazil in the south, with Guyana in the west and French Guiana in the east.

A relatively poor country, Suriname's economy relies heavily on natural resources such as gold, alumina, and oil, and it can be sensitive to changes in world commodity prices. The country also has suffered from challenges related to inflation, such as a period in 2015 and 2016 when it floating the Surinamese dollar's exchange rate.

The guilder itself experienced high inflation in the early 1990s, which was part of the rationale for the country's decision to replace it with the dollar.

The Surinamese dollar was first introduced in January 2004 as Suriname's official currency, replacing the guilder at a rate of 1,000:1. Old coins based on the former currency stayed in circulation with the new dollar bills, largely for the sake of convenience and cost-savings, but were suddenly worth 1000 times what they were under the guilder.

The ISO currency code forex traders use for the Surinamese dollar is SRD.

Colonial History and Suriname Guilders

Beginning in 1667, Suriname was a colony of the Netherlands for roughly three centuries, governed at first by the Society of Suriname, which comprised equal representation from the city of Amsterdam, the wealthy Van Aerssen van Sommelsdijck family, and the Dutch West India Company.

For many years, it was actual Dutch guilder coins that circulated in Suriname. It wasn't until the early 1940s that the colony began minting new coins in the United States. With the Netherlands under German occupation in World War II, it was decided to tie the Surinamese guilder to the U.S dollar. In the early 1960s, new coins were minted, for the first time imprinted with the name of Suriname.

During the war, Suriname had been occupied by the U.S., in partnership with the exiled Dutch government, as a means of protecting resources for the Allied war effort. Post-war, the South American nation spent two decades as a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, before gaining full independence in 1975. It would be nearly 30 more years before its currency switched from Surinamese guilders to Surinamese dollars.