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Flag of Belarus
Map of Belarus
Introduction Belarus
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.
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, small 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 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-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 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
10,335,382 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 17.3% (male 914,579; female 876,346)
15-64 years: 68.6% (male 3,443,859; female 3,643,628)
65 years and over: 14.1% (male 482,624; female 974,346) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate:
-0.14% (2002 est.)
Birth rate:
9.86 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate:
13.99 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate:
2.78 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 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 (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
14.12 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 68.28 years
female: 74.56 years (2002 est.)
male: 62.3 years
Total fertility rate:
1.31 children born/woman (2002 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0.28% (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
14,000 (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
400 (1999 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
total population: 98%
male: 99%
female: 97% (1989 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 the adjectival ending 'skaya' the word voblasts' should be added to the place name
note: voblasti have the administrative center name following in parentheses
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
30 March 1994; revised by national referendum of 24 November 1996 giving the 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 Gennadiy NOVITSKIY (since 1 October 2001); Deputy Prime Ministers Andrei KOBYAKOV (since 13 March 2000), Aleksandr POPKOV (since 10 November 1998), Sergei SIDORSKY (since NA September 2001), Vladimir DRAZHIN (since NA September 2001)
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 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 (next election to be held by September 2006); prime minister and deputy prime ministers appointed by the president
Legislative branch:
bicameral Parliament 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 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 the president); Constitutional Court (half of the judges appointed by the president and half appointed by the 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 the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Valeriy V. TSEPAKLO
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 the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Michael G. KOZAK
embassy: 46 Starovilenskaya St., Minsk 220002
mailing address: use embassy street address
telephone: [375] (17) 210-12-83
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 the Belarusian national ornament in red
Economy Belarus
Economy - overview:
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 enterprise. In addition to the burdens imposed by high inflation and persistent trade deficits, 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. Close relations with Russia, possibly leading to reunion, color the pattern of economic developments. For the time being, Belarus remains self-isolated from the West and its open-market economies.
purchasing power parity - $84.8 billion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
4.1% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $8,200 (2001 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 13%
industry: 42%
services: 45% (2000)
Population below poverty line:
22% (1995 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 5%
highest 10%: 20% (1998)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
22 (1998)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
46.1% (2001 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, including 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:
5.4% (2001 est.)
Electricity - production:
24.66 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
other: 0% (2000)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
26.78 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports:
300 million kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports:
4.15 billion kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products:
grain, potatoes, vegetables, sugar beets, flax; beef, milk
$7.5 billion f.o.b. (2001)
Exports - commodities:
machinery and equipment, mineral products, chemicals, textiles, foodstuffs, metals
Exports - partners:
Russia 51%, Ukraine 8%, Poland 4%, Germany 3% (2000)
$8.1 billion f.o.b. (2001)
Imports - commodities:
mineral products, machinery and equipment, chemicals, foodstuffs, metals
Imports - partners:
Russia 65%, Germany 7%, Poland 3% (2000)
Debt - external:
$770 million (2001 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
$194.3 million (1995) (1995)
Belarusian ruble (BYB/BYR)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
Belarusian rubles per US dollar - 1,590 (yearend 2001), 1,531.000 (November 2001), 876.750 (2000), 248.795 (1999), 46.127 (1998), 26.020 (1997); note - on 1 January 2000, the national currency was redenominated at one new ruble to 2,000 old rubles
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: 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's fiber optics form synchronous digital hierarchy rings through other countries' systems; an inadequate analog system remains operational
international: 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)
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) (2000 est.)
total: 98,200 km
paved: 66,100 km (includes some all-weather gravel-surfaced roads)
unpaved: 32,100 km (these roads are made of unstabilized earth and are difficult to negotiate in wet weather) (1990)
NA km; note - Belarus has extensive and widely used canal and river systems
crude oil 1,470 km; refined products 1,100 km; natural gas 1,980 km (1992)
Ports and harbors:
136 (2001)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 33
over 3,047 m: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 19
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
under 914 m: 11 (2002)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 103
over 3,047 m: 3
2,438 to 3,047 m: 10
1,524 to 2,437 m: 11
914 to 1,523 m: 14
under 914 m: 65 (2002)
Military Belarus
Military branches:
Army, Air Force (including air defense), Interior Ministry Troops, Border Guards
Military manpower - military age:
18 years of age (2002 est.)
Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 2,744,267 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 2,149,873 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
males: 86,396 (2002 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$156 million (FY98)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
1% (FY01)
Transnational Issues Belarus
Disputes - international:
boundary demarcation with Latvia and Lithuania is pending European Union funding
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; lax money-laundering and banking regulations

This page was last updated on 19 March 2003