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Belarus[Country flag of Belarus]
[Country map of Belarus]

Introduction Belarus
Background:
After seven decades as a constituent republic of the USSR, Belarus attained its independence in 1991. It has retained closer political and economic ties to Russia than any of the other former Soviet republics. Belarus and Russia signed a treaty on a two-state union on 8 December 1999 envisioning greater political and economic integration. Although Belarus agreed to a framework to carry out the accord, serious implementation has yet to take place. Since his election in July 1995 as the country's first president, Alexander LUKASHENKO has steadily consolidated his power through authoritarian means. Government restrictions on freedom of speech and the press, peaceful assembly, and religion continue.
Geography Belarus
Location:
Eastern Europe, east of Poland
Geographic coordinates:
53 00 N, 28 00 E
Map references:
Europe
Area:
total: 207,600 sq km
land: 207,600 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly smaller than Kansas
Land boundaries:
total: 2,900 km
border countries: Latvia 141 km, Lithuania 502 km, Poland 407 km, Russia 959 km, Ukraine 891 km
Coastline:
0 km (landlocked)
Maritime claims:
none (landlocked)
Climate:
cold winters, cool and moist summers; transitional between continental and maritime
Terrain:
generally flat and contains much marshland
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Nyoman River 90 m
highest point: Dzyarzhynskaya Hara 346 m
Natural resources:
forests, peat deposits, small quantities of oil and natural gas, granite, dolomitic limestone, marl, chalk, sand, gravel, clay
Land use:
arable land: 29.55%
permanent crops: 0.6%
other: 69.85% (2001)
Irrigated land:
1,150 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards:
NA
Environment - current issues:
soil pollution from pesticide use; southern part of the country contaminated with fallout from 1986 nuclear reactor accident at Chornobyl' in northern Ukraine
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Sulfur 85, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea
Geography - note:
landlocked; glacial scouring accounts for the flatness of Belarusian terrain and for its 11,000 lakes; the country is geologically well endowed with extensive deposits of granite, dolomitic limestone, marl, chalk, sand, gravel, and clay
People Belarus
Population:
10,300,483 (July 2005 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 16% (male 839,292/female 804,738)
15-64 years: 69.5% (male 3,481,432/female 3,672,991)
65 years and over: 14.6% (male 498,717/female 1,003,313) (2005 est.)
Median age:
total: 37.03 years
male: 34.32 years
female: 39.7 years (2005 est.)
Population growth rate:
-0.09% (2005 est.)
Birth rate:
10.83 births/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Death rate:
14.15 deaths/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Net migration rate:
2.42 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.95 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.5 male(s)/female
total population: 0.88 male(s)/female (2005 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 13.37 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 14.3 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 12.39 deaths/1,000 live births (2005 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 68.72 years
male: 63.03 years
female: 74.69 years (2005 est.)
Total fertility rate:
1.39 children born/woman (2005 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0.3% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
15,000 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
1,000 (2001 est.)
Nationality:
noun: Belarusian(s)
adjective: Belarusian
Ethnic groups:
Belarusian 81.2%, Russian 11.4%, Polish 3.9%, Ukrainian 2.4%, other 1.1% (1999 census)
Religions:
Eastern Orthodox 80%, other (including Roman Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, and Muslim) 20% (1997 est.)
Languages:
Belarusian, Russian, other
Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.6%
male: 99.8%
female: 99.5% (2003 est.)
Government Belarus
Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Belarus
conventional short form: Belarus
local long form: Respublika Byelarus'
local short form: none
former: Belorussian (Byelorussian) Soviet Socialist Republic
Government type:
republic in name, although in fact a dictatorship
Capital:
Minsk
Administrative divisions:
6 provinces (voblastsi, singular - voblasts') and 1 municipality* (horad); Brest, Homyel', Horad Minsk*, Hrodna, Mahilyow, Minsk, Vitsyebsk
note: administrative divisions have the same names as their administrative centers
Independence:
25 August 1991 (from Soviet Union)
National holiday:
Independence Day, 3 July (1944); note - 3 July 1944 was the date Minsk was liberated from German troops, 25 August 1991 was the date of independence from the Soviet Union
Constitution:
15 March 1994; revised by national referendum of 24 November 1996 giving the presidency greatly expanded powers and became effective 27 November 1996; revised again 17 October 2004 removing presidential term limits
Legal system:
based on civil law system
Suffrage:
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Aleksandr LUKASHENKO (since 20 July 1994)
head of government: Prime Minister Sergei SIDORSKY (since 19 December 2003); First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir SEMASHKO (since December 2003)
cabinet: Council of Ministers
elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term; first election took place 23 June and 10 July 1994; according to the 1994 constitution, the next election should have been held in 1999, however LUKASHENKO extended his term to 2001 via a November 1996 referendum; new election held 9 September 2001; October 2004 referendum ended presidential term limits allowing president to run for a third term in September 2006; prime minister and deputy prime ministers appointed by the president
election results: Aleksandr LUKASHENKO reelected president; percent of vote - Aleksandr LUKASHENKO 75.6%, Vladimir GONCHARIK 15.4%
Legislative branch:
bicameral National Assembly or Natsionalnoye Sobranie consists of the Council of the Republic or Soviet Respubliki (64 seats; 56 members elected by regional councils and 8 members appointed by the president, all for 4-year terms) and the Chamber of Representatives or Palata Predstaviteley (110 seats; members elected by universal adult suffrage to serve 4-year terms)
elections: last held 18 March and 1 April 2001 and 17 and 31 October 2004; international observers widely denounced the October 2004 elections as flawed and undemocratic, based on massive government falsification; pro-Lukashenko candidates won every seat, after many opposition candidates were disqualified for technical reasons
election results: Soviet Respubliki - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - NA; Palata Predstaviteley - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - NA
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court (judges are appointed by the president); Constitutional Court (half of the judges appointed by the president and half appointed by the Chamber of Representatives)
Political parties and leaders:
Pro-government parties: Agrarian Party or AP [leader NA]; Belarusian Communist Party or KPB [leader NA]; Belarusian Patriotic Movement (Belarusian Patriotic Party) or BPR [Anatoliy BARANKEVICH, chairman]; Liberal Democratic Party of Belarus [Sergei GAYDUKEVICH]; Social-Sports Party [leader NA]; Opposition parties: Belarusian Popular Front or BNF [Vintsuk VYACHORKA]; Belarusian Social-Democrat Party Narodnaya Gromada or BSDP NG [Nikolay STATKEVICH, chairman]; Belarusian Social-Democratic Party Hromada [Stanislav SHUSHKEVICH, chairman]; United Civic Party or UCP [Anatol LEBEDKO]; Party of Communists Belarusian or PKB [Sergei KALYAKIN, chairman]; Women's Party "Nadezhda" [Valentina MATUSEVICH, chairperson]
note: the opposition Belarusian Party of Labor [Aleksandr BUKHVOSTOV] was liquidated in August 2004, but remains active
Political pressure groups and leaders:
NA
International organization participation:
CEI, CIS, EAPC, EBRD, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, ICRM, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), ISO, ITU, MIGA, NAM, NSG, OPCW, OSCE, PCA, PFP, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO (observer)
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Mikhail KHVOSTOV
chancery: 1619 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20009
telephone: [1] (202) 986-1604
FAX: [1] (202) 986-1805
consulate(s) general: New York
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador George A. KROL
embassy: 46 Starovilenskaya St., Minsk 220002
mailing address: PSC 78, Box B Minsk, APO 09723
telephone: [375] (17) 210-12-83, 217-7347, 217-7348
FAX: [375] (17) 234-7853
Flag description:
red horizontal band (top) and green horizontal band one-half the width of the red band; a white vertical stripe on the hoist side bears Belarusian national ornamention in red
Economy Belarus
Economy - overview:
Belarus's economy in 2003-04 posted 6.1% and 6.4% growth. Still, the economy continues to be hampered by high inflation, persistent trade deficits, and ongoing rocky relations with Russia, Belarus' largest trading partner and energy supplier. Belarus has seen little structural reform since 1995, when President LUKASHENKO launched the country on the path of "market socialism." In keeping with this policy, LUKASHENKO reimposed administrative controls over prices and currency exchange rates and expanded the state's right to intervene in the management of private enterprises. In addition, businesses have been subject to pressure on the part of central and local governments, e.g., arbitrary changes in regulations, numerous rigorous inspections, retroactive application of new business regulations, and arrests of "disruptive" businessmen and factory owners. A wide range of redistributive policies has helped those at the bottom of the ladder; the Gini coefficient is among the lowest in the world. For the time being, Belarus remains self-isolated from the West and its open-market economies. Growth has been strong in recent years, despite the roadblocks in a tough, centrally directed economy and the high, but decreasing, rate of inflation. Growth has been buoyed by increased Russian demand for generally noncompetitive Belarusian goods.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$70.5 billion (2004 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
6.4% (2004 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $6,800 (2004 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 11%
industry: 36.4%
services: 52.6% (2004 est.)
Labor force:
4.305 million (31 December 2003)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture 14%, industry 34.7%, services 51.3% (2003 est.)
Unemployment rate:
2% officially registered unemployed; large number of underemployed workers (2004)
Population below poverty line:
27.1% (2003 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 5.1%
highest 10%: 20% (1998)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
21.7 (1998)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
17.4% (2004 est.)
Investment (gross fixed):
21.8% of GDP (2004 est.)
Budget:
revenues: $3.326 billion
expenditures: $3.564 billion, including capital expenditures of $180 million (2004 est.)
Agriculture - products:
grain, potatoes, vegetables, sugar beets, flax; beef, milk
Industries:
metal-cutting machine tools, tractors, trucks, earthmovers, motorcycles, televisions, chemical fibers, fertilizer, textiles, radios, refrigerators
Industrial production growth rate:
4% (2004 est.)
Electricity - production:
30 billion kWh (2004)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 99.5%
hydro: 0.1%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0.4% (2001)
Electricity - consumption:
34.3 billion kWh (2004)
Electricity - exports:
800 million kWh (2004)
Electricity - imports:
3.2 billion kWh (2003)
Oil - production:
36,000 bbl/day (2004 est.)
Oil - consumption:
285,000 bbl/day (2003 est.)
Oil - exports:
14,500 bbl/day (2003 est.)
Oil - imports:
360,000 bbl/day (2004 est.)
Natural gas - production:
250 million cu m (2004 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
18.8 billion cu m (2004 est.)
Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2004 est.)
Natural gas - imports:
18.5 billion cu m (2004 est.)
Current account balance:
$-1.119 billion (2004 est.)
Exports:
$11.47 billion f.o.b. (2004 est.)
Exports - commodities:
machinery and equipment, mineral products, chemicals, metals; textiles, foodstuffs
Exports - partners:
Russia 47%, UK 8.3%, Netherlands 6.7%, Poland 5.3% (2004)
Imports:
$13.57 billion f.o.b. (2004 est.)
Imports - commodities:
mineral products, machinery and equipment, chemicals, foodstuffs, metals
Imports - partners:
Russia 68.2%, Germany 6.6%, Ukraine 3.3% (2004)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$770.2 million (2004 est.)
Debt - external:
$600 million (2004 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
$194.3 million (1995)
Currency (code):
Belarusian ruble (BYB/BYR)
Currency code:
BYB/BYR
Exchange rates:
Belarusian rubles per US dollar - 2,160.26 (2004), 2,051.27 (2003), 1,790.92 (2002), 1,390 (2001), 876.75 (2000)
Fiscal year:
calendar year
Communications Belarus
Telephones - main lines in use:
3,071,300 (2003)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
1.118 million (2003)
Telephone system:
general assessment: the Ministry of Telecommunications controls all telecommunications through its carrier (a joint stock company) Beltelcom which is a monopoly
domestic: local - Minsk has a digital metropolitan network and a cellular NMT-450 network; waiting lists for telephones are long; local service outside Minsk is neglected and poor; intercity - Belarus has a partly developed fiber-optic backbone system presently serving at least 13 major cities (1998); Belarus' fiber optics form synchronous digital hierarchy rings through other countries' systems; an inadequate analog system remains operational
international: country code - 375; Belarus is a member of the Trans-European Line (TEL), Trans-Asia-Europe (TAE) fiber-optic line, and has access to the Trans-Siberia Line (TSL); three fiber-optic segments provide connectivity to Latvia, Poland, Russia, and Ukraine; worldwide service is available to Belarus through this infrastructure; additional analog lines to Russia; Intelsat, Eutelsat, and Intersputnik earth stations
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 28, FM 37, shortwave 11 (1998)
Radios:
3.02 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
47 (plus 27 repeaters) (1995)
Televisions:
2.52 million (1997)
Internet country code:
.by
Internet hosts:
5,308 (2004)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
23 (2002)
Internet users:
1,391,900 (2003)
Transportation Belarus
Railways:
total: 5,512 km
broad gauge: 5,497 km 1.520-m gauge (874 km electrified)
standard gauge: 15 km 1.435-m (2004)
Highways:
total: 79,990 km
paved: 69,351 km
unpaved: 10,639 km (2002)
Waterways:
2,500 km (use limited by location on perimeter of country and by shallowness) (2003)
Pipelines:
gas 5,223 km; oil 2,443 km; refined products 1,686 km (2004)
Ports and harbors:
Mazyr
Airports:
133 (2004 est.)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 50
over 3,047 m: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 22
1,524 to 2,437 m: 4
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 21 (2004 est.)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 83
over 3,047 m: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 5
914 to 1,523 m: 11
under 914 m: 64 (2004 est.)
Heliports:
1 (2004 est.)
Military Belarus
Military branches:
Army, Air and Air Defense Force
Military service age and obligation:
18-27 years of age for compulsory military service; conscript service obligation - 18 months (May 2004)
Manpower available for military service:
males age 18-49: 2,520,644 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:
males age 18-49: 1,657,984 (2005 est.)
Manpower reaching military service age annually:
males: 85,202 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$176.1 million (FY02)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
1.4% (FY02)
Transnational Issues Belarus
Disputes - international:
1997 boundary treaty with Ukraine remains unratified over unresolved financial claims, preventing demarcation and diminishing border security; boundary with Latvia remains undemarcated but a third of the border with Lithuania was demarcated in 2004
Illicit drugs:
limited cultivation of opium poppy and cannabis, mostly for the domestic market; transshipment point for illicit drugs to and via Russia, and to the Baltics and Western Europe; a small and lightly regulated financial center; new anti-money-laundering legislation does not meet international standards; few investigations or prosecutions of money-laundering activities

This page was last updated on 1 November, 2005


 

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