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Flag of Belarus
Map of Belarus
Introduction Belarus
After seven decades as a constituent republic of USSR, Belarus attained its independence in 1991. It has retained closer political and economic ties to Russia than any of 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 accord, serious implementation has yet to take place.
Geography Belarus
Eastern Europe, east of Poland
Geographic coordinates:
53 00 N, 28 00 E
Map references:
total: 207,600 sq km
water: 0 sq km
land: 207,600 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
0 km (landlocked)
Maritime claims:
none (landlocked)
cold winters, cool and moist summers; transitional between continental and maritime
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, limited quantities of oil and natural gas, granite, dolomitic limestone, marl, chalk, sand, gravel, clay
Land use:
arable land: 29.76%
permanent crops: 0.69%
other: 69.55% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
1,150 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards:
Environment - current issues:
soil pollution from pesticide use; southern part of 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-Sulphur 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 Sea
Geography - note:
landlocked; glacial scouring accounts for flatness of Belarusian terrain and for its 11,000 lakes; country is geologically well endowed with extensive deposits of granite, dolomitic limestone, marl, chalk, sand, gravel, and clay
People Belarus
Total Population:
10,322,151 (July 2003 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 16.8% (male 885,265; female 848,516)
15-64 years: 68.9% (male 3,456,769; female 3,652,766)
65 years and over: 14.3% (male 490,529; female 988,306) (2003 est.)
Median age:
total: 36.7 years
male: 34.1 years
female: 39.3 years (2002)
Population growth rate:
-0.12% (2003 est.)
Birth rate:
10.18 births/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Death rate:
14.05 deaths/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Net migration rate:
2.66 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2003 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
Population: 0.88 male(s)/female (2003 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 13.87 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 12.56 deaths/1,000 live births (2003 est.)
male: 15.13 deaths/1,000 live births
Life Expectancy:
Population: 68.43 years
male: 62.54 years
female: 74.6 years (2003 est.)
Total fertility rate:
1.34 children born/woman (2003 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.)
noun: Belarusian(s)
adjective: Belarusian
Ethnic groups:
Belarusian 81.2%, Russian 11.4%, Polish, Ukrainian, and other 7.4%
Eastern Orthodox 80%, other (including Roman Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, and Muslim) 20% (1997 est.)
Belarusian, Russian, other
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
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 short form: none
former: Belorussian (Byelorussian) Soviet Socialist Republic
local long form: Respublika Byelarus'
Government type:
Administrative divisions:
6 voblastsi (singular - voblasts') and one municipality* (harady, singular - horad); Brestskaya (Brest), Homyel'skaya (Homyel'), Horad Minsk*, Hrodzyenskaya (Hrodna), Mahilyowskaya (Mahilyow), Minskaya, Vitsyebskaya (Vitsyebsk); note - when using a place name with adjectival ending 'skaya,' word voblasts' should be added to place name
note: voblasti have administrative center name following in parentheses
25 August 1991 (from Soviet Union)
National holiday:
Independence Day, 3 July (1944); note - 3 July 1944 previously date Minsk previously liberated from German troops, 25 August 1991 previously date of independence from Soviet Union
30 March 1994; revised by national referendum of 24 November 1996 giving presidency greatly expanded powers and became effective 27 November 1996
Legal system:
based on civil law system
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Aleksandr LUKASHENKO (since 20 July 1994)
head of government: Prime Minister Sergei SIDORSKY (acting; since 10 July 2003); Deputy Prime Ministers Andrei KOBYAKOV (since 13 March 2000), Sergei SIDORSKY (since 24 September 2001), Vladimir DRAZHIN (since 24 September 2001), Roman VNUCHKO (since 10 July 2003)
cabinet: Council of Ministers
election results: Aleksandr LUKASHENKO reelected president; percent of vote - Aleksandr LUKASHENKO 75.6%, Vladimir GONCHARIK 15.4%
elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term; first election took place 23 June and 10 July 1994; according to 1994 constitution, 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 (next election to be held by September 2006); prime minister and deputy prime ministers appointed by president
Legislative branch:
bicameral Parliament or Natsionalnoye Sobranie consists of Council of Republic or Soviet Respubliki (64 seats; 56 members elected by regional councils and 8 members appointed by president, all for 4-year terms) and Chamber of Representatives or Palata Pretsaviteley (110 seats; members elected by universal adult suffrage to serve 4-year terms)
election results: party affiliation data unavailable; under present political conditions party designations are meaningless
elections: last held October 2000 (next to be held NA 2004)
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court (judges are appointed by president); Constitutional Court (half of judges appointed by president and half appointed by Chamber of Representatives)
Political parties and leaders:
Agrarian Party or AP [Mikhail SHIMANSKY]; Belarusian Communist Party or KPB [Viktor CHIKIN, chairman]; Belarusian Ecological Green Party (merger of Belarusian Ecological Party and Green Party of Belarus) [leader NA]; Belarusian Patriotic Movement (Belarusian Patriotic Party) or BPR [Anatoliy BARANKEVICH, chairman]; Belarusian Popular Front or BNF [Vintsuk VYACHORKA]; Belarusian Social-Democrat Party or SDBP [Nikolay STATKEVICH, chairman]; Belarusian Social-Democratic Party or Hromada [Stanislav SHUSHKEVICH, chairman]; Belarusian Socialist Party [Vyacheslav KUZNETSOV]; Civic Accord Bloc (United Civic Party) or CAB [Anatol LIABEDZKA]; Liberal Democratic Party or LDPB [Sergei GAYDUKEVICH, chairman]; Party of Communists Belarusian or PKB [Sergei KALYAKIN, chairman]; Republican Party of Labor and Justice or RPPS [Anatoliy NETYLKIN, chairman]; Social-Democrat Party of Popular Accord or PPA [Leanid SECHKA]; Women's Party or "Nadezhda" [Valentina POLEVIKOVA, chairperson]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Mikhail KHVOSTOV
chancery: 1619 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20009
consulate(s) general: New York
FAX: [1] (202) 986-1805
telephone: [1] (202) 986-1604
Diplomatic representation from US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Michael G. KOZAK
embassy: 46 Starovilenskaya St., Minsk 220002
mailing address: PSC 78, Box B Minsk, APO 09723
telephone: [375] (17) 210-12-83
FAX: [375] (17) 234-7853
Flag description:
red horizontal band (top) and green horizontal band one-half width of red band; a white vertical stripe on hoist side bears a Belarusian national ornament in red
Economy Belarus
Economy - overview:
Belarus has seen little structural reform since 1995, when President LUKASHENKO launched country on path of "market socialism." In keeping with this policy, LUKASHENKO reimposed administrative controls over prices and currency exchange rates and expanded state's right to intervene in management of private enterprise. In addition to burdens imposed by high inflation and persistent trade deficits, businesses have been subject to pressure on 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 bottom of ladder. Close relations with Russia, possibly leading to reunion, color pattern of economic developments. For time being, Belarus remains self-isolated from West and its open-market economies.
buying power parity - $90.19 billion (2002 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
4.7% (2002 est.)
GDP - per capita:
buying power parity - $8,700 (2002 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 15%
industry: 40%
services: 45% (2002 est.)
Population below poverty line:
22% (1995 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):
42.8% (2002 est.)
Labor force:
4.8 million (2000)
Labor force - by occupation:
industry and construction NA%, agriculture and forestry NA%, services NA%
Unemployment rate:
2.1% officially registered unemployed (December 2000); large number of underemployed workers
revenues: $4 billion
expenditures: $4.1 billion, includes capital expenditures of $180 million (1997 est.)
metal-cutting machine tools, tractors, trucks, earthmovers, motorcycles, television sets, chemical fibers, fertilizer, textiles, radios, refrigerators
Industrial production growth rate:
2.5% (2002 est.)
Electricity - production:
24.4 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 99.5%
hydro: 0.1%
other: 0.4% (2001)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
26.69 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - exports:
300 million kWh (2001)
Electricity - imports:
4.3 billion kWh (2001)
Oil - production:
37,000 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - consumption:
230,000 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - exports:
NA (2001)
Oil - imports:
NA (2001)
Natural gas - production:
200 million cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
18 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - imports:
17.8 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Agriculture - products:
grain, potatoes, vegetables, sugar beets, flax; beef, milk
$7.7 billion f.o.b. (2002)
Exports - commodities:
machinery and equipment, mineral products, chemicals, metals; textiles, foodstuffs
Exports - partners:
Russia 50.8%, Latvia 7.3%, Ukraine 6.3%, Lithuania 4.1%, Germany 4.1% (2002)
$8.8 billion f.o.b. (2002)
Imports - commodities:
mineral products, machinery and equipment, chemicals, foodstuffs, metals
Imports - partners:
Russia 68.2%, Germany 9.4%, Ukraine 3.2% (2002)
Debt - external:
$851 million (2001 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
$194.3 million (1995)
Belarusian ruble (BYB/BYR)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
Belarusian rubles per US dollar - NA (2002), 1,390 (2001), 876.75 (2000), 248.8 (1999), 46.13 (1998)
Fiscal year:
calendar year
Communications Belarus
Telephones - main lines in use:
2.313 million (1997)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
8,167 (1997)
Telephone system:
general assessment: 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's fiber optics form synchronous digital hierarchy rings through other countries' systems; an inadequate analog system remains operational
international: Belarus is a member of Trans-European Line (TEL), Trans-Asia-Europe (TAE) fiber-optic line, and has access to 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)
3.02 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
47 (plus 27 repeaters) (1995)
2.52 million (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
23 (2002)
Internet users:
422,000 (2002)
Transportation Belarus
total: 5,523 km
broad gauge: 5,523 km 1.520-m gauge (875 km electrified) (2002)
total: 74,385 km
paved: 66,203 km
unpaved: 8,182 km (2000)
NA km; note - Belarus has extensive and widely used canal and river systems
gas 4,519 km; oil 1,811 km; refined products 1,686 km (2003)
Ports and harbors:
124 (2002)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 28
over 3,047 m: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 21
1,524 to 2,437 m: 4
under 914 m: 1 (2002)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 96
over 3,047 m: 3
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 11
914 to 1,523 m: 14
under 914 m: 67 (2002)
Military Belarus
Military branches:
Army, Air Force (including air defense), Interior Ministry Troops, Border Guards
Military manpower - military age:
18 years of age (2003 est.)
Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 2,756,572 (2003 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 2,158,875 (2003 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
males: 86,654 (2003 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 encouraging illegal border crossing; boundaries with Latvia and Lithuania remain undemarcated despite European Union financial support
Illicit drugs:
limited cultivation of opium poppy and cannabis, mostly for domestic market; transshipment point for illicit drugs to and via Russia, and to Baltics and Western Europe; lax money-laundering and banking regulations