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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: 29.55%
permanent crops: 0.6%
other: 69.85% (2001)
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-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
10,310,520 (July 2004 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 16.3% (male 859,219; female 823,839)
15-64 years: 69.2% (male 3,469,926; female 3,662,203)
65 years and over: 14.5% (male 496,204; female 999,129) (2004 est.)
Median age:
total: 36.9 years
male: 34.2 years
female: 39.5 years (2004 est.)
Population growth rate:
-0.11% (2004 est.)
Birth rate:
10.52 births/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Death rate:
14.1 deaths/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Net migration rate:
2.54 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2004 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 (2004 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 13.62 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 12.47 deaths/1,000 live births (2004 est.)
male: 14.71 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 68.57 years
male: 62.79 years
female: 74.65 years (2004 est.)
Total fertility rate:
1.36 children born/woman (2004 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
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 short form: none
former: Belorussian (Byelorussian) Soviet Socialist Republic
local long form: Respublika Byelarus'
Government type:
republic in name, although in fact a dictatorship
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
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; revised again 17 October 2004 removing presidential term limits
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 (since 19 December 2003); First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir SEMASHKO (since December 2003); Deputy Prime Ministers Andrei KOBYAKOV (since December 2003), Vladimir DRAZHIN (since 24 September 2001), Ivan BAMBIZA (since 25 May 2004), Anatoly TYUTYUNOV (since July 2002)
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; 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
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 Predstaviteliy (110 seats; members elected by universal adult suffrage to serve 4-year terms)
election results: Soviet Respubliki - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - NA; Palata Pretsaviteley - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - NA
elections: last held 18 March and 1 April 2001 and 17 and 31 October 2004 (bi-election will be held March 2005 to fill one unfilled seat in the Palata Predstaviteliy); 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
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; Belarusian Communist Party or KPB; Belarusian Patriotic Movement (Belarusian Patriotic Party) or BPR [Anatoliy BARANKEVICH, chairman]; Liberal Democratic Party of Belarus [Sergei GAYDUKEVICH]; Social-Sports Party; 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:
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Mikhail KHVOSTOV
FAX: [1] (202) 986-1805
consulate(s) general: New York
telephone: [1] (202) 986-1604
chancery: 1619 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20009
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' economy in 2003 posted 6.1 percent growth and is likely to continue expanding through 2004, albeit at a slower growth rate. The Belarusian economy in 2004 is likely 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. For the time being, Belarus remains self-isolated from the West and its open-market economies.
purchasing power parity - $62.56 billion (2003 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
6.8% (2003 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $6,100 (2003 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 11.1%
industry: 36.4%
services: 52.5% (2003 est.)
Investment (gross fixed):
21.7% of GDP (2003)
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):
28.2% (2003 est.)
Labor force:
4.8 million (2000 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
Unemployment rate:
2.1% officially registered unemployed (December 2000); large number of underemployed workers (2003 est.)
revenues: $2.976 billion
expenditures: $3.211 billion, including capital expenditures of $180 million (2003 est.)
Agriculture - products:
grain, potatoes, vegetables, sugar beets, flax; beef, milk
metal-cutting machine tools, tractors, trucks, earthmovers, motorcycles, television sets, chemical fibers, fertilizer, textiles, radios, refrigerators
Industrial production growth rate:
5% (2003 est.)
Electricity - production:
24.4 billion kWh (2001)
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.)
Current account balance:
$-945 million (2003)
$9.413 billion f.o.b. (2003 est.)
Exports - commodities:
machinery and equipment, mineral products, chemicals, metals; textiles, foodstuffs
Exports - partners:
Russia 49.1%, UK 9.4%, Poland 4.4%, Germany 4.2%, Netherlands 4.2% (2003)
$11.09 billion f.o.b. (2003 est.)
Imports - commodities:
mineral products, machinery and equipment, chemicals, foodstuffs, metals
Imports - partners:
Russia 65.8%, Germany 7.1%, Ukraine 3.1% (2003)
Reserves of foreign exchange & gold:
$637 million (2003)
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 - 1,790.92 (2003), 1,920 (2002), 1,390 (2001), 876.75 (2000), 248.795 (1999)
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)
3.02 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
47 (plus 27 repeaters) (1995)
2.52 million (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet hosts:
5,308 (2004)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
23 (2002)
Internet users:
1,391,900 (2003)
Transportation Belarus
total: 5,523 km
broad gauge: 5,523 km 1.520-m gauge (875 km electrified) (2003)
total: 74,385 km
paved: 66,203 km
unpaved: 8,182 km (2000)
2,500 km (use limited by location on perimeter of country and by shallowness) (2003)
gas 5,223 km; oil 2,443 km; refined products 1,686 km (2004)
Ports and harbors:
135 (2003 est.)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 50
over 3,047 m: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 21
under 914 m: 21 (2003 est.)
1,524 to 2,437 m: 6
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 85
under 914 m: 64 (2003 est.)
914 to 1,523 m: 11
over 3,047 m: 3
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 5
1 (2003 est.)
Military Belarus
Military branches:
Army, Air and Air Defense Force
Military manpower - military age and obligation:
18-27 years of age for compulsory military service; conscript service obligation - 18 months (May 2004)
Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 2,764,856 (2004 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 2,164,923 (2004 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
males: 86,716 (2004 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; boundaries with Latvia and Lithuania remain undemarcated despite European Union financial support
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 10 February, 2005