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Countries > Belarus Belarus Flag
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Capital: Minsk
Population: 10,322,000
Description: Belorussian is spoken by about two-thirds of the population. The remaining one-third speaks Russian, which remains the principal working language of the country.
Belarus Map

Geography

Location: Eastern Europe, east of Poland

Geographic coordinates: 53 00 N, 28 00 E

Map references: Commonwealth of Independent States

Area:
total: 207,600 sq km
land: 207,600 sq km
water: 0 sq km

Area - comparative: slightly smaller than Kansas

Land boundaries:
total: 3,098 km
border countries: Latvia 141 km, Lithuania 502 km, Poland 605 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

Land use:
arable land : 29%
permanent crops: 1%
permanent pastures: 15%
forests and woodland: 34%
other: 21% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: 1,000 sq km (1993 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-Sulphur 85, Biodiversity, Environmental Modification, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection
signed, but not ratified: Climate Change, Law of the Sea

Geography - note: landlocked

People

Population: 10,350,194 (July 2001 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 17.93% (male 947,820; female 908,210)
15-64 years : 68.21% (male 3,428,920; female 3,631,290)
65 years and over: 13.86% (male 473,992; female 959,962) (2001 est.)

Population growth rate: -0.15% (2001 est.)

Birth rate: 9.57 births/1,000 population (2001 est.)

Death rate: 13.97 deaths/1,000 population (2001 est.)

Net migration rate: 2.89 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2001 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.94 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.49 male(s)/female
total population: 0.88 male(s)/female (2001 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 14.38 deaths/1,000 live births (2001 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 68.14 years
male: 62.06 years
female: 74.52 years (2001 est.)

Total fertility rate: 1.28 children born/woman (2001 est.)

Nationality:
noun: Belarusian(s)
adjective: Belarusian

Ethnic groups: Byelorussian 81.2%, Russian 11.4%, Polish, Ukrainian, and other 7.4%

Religions: Eastern Orthodox 80%, other (including Roman Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, and Muslim) 20% (1997 est.)

Languages: Byelorussian, Russian, other

Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 98%
male : 99%
female: 97% (1989 est.)

Government

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

Data code: BO

Government type: republic

National capital: Minsk

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: administrative divisions have the same names as their administrative centers (exceptions have the administrative center name following in parentheses)

Independence: 25 August 1991 (from Soviet Union); the Belarusian Supreme Soviet issued a proclamation of independence; on 17 July 1990 Belarus issued a declaration of sovereignty

National holiday: Independence Day, 3 July (1990); note - date set by referendum of November 1996

Constitution: referendum of 27 November 1996 (declared illegitimate by the international community) adopted a new constitution massing power in the hands of the president; signed into law on 28 November 1996

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 Vladimir YERMOSHIN (since 18 February 2000); First Deputy Prime Minister Andrey KOBYAKOV (since 13 March 2000); Deputy Prime Ministers Mikhail DEMCHUK (since 14 July 2000), Mikhail KHORSTOV (since 27 November 2000), Valeriy KOKOREV (since 23 August 1994), Leonid KOZIK (since 4 February 1997), Gennadiy NOVITSKIY (since 11 February 1997), Aleksandr POPKOV (since 10 November 1998)
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; prime minister and deputy prime ministers appointed by the president
election results:Aleksandr LUKASHENKO elected president; percent of vote - Aleksandr LUKASHENKO 75.6%, Vladimir GONCHARIK 15.4%
note: first presidential elections took place in June-July 1994

Legislative branch: bicameral Parliament or Natsionalnoye Sobranie consists of the Council of the Republic or Soviet Respubliki (64 seats) and the Chamber of Representatives or Palata Pretsaviteley (110 seats)
elections: last held October 2000 (next to be held NA)
election results : 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: Agrarian Party or AP [Semyon SHARETSKY, chairman]; 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 or SDBP [Nikolay STATKEVICH, chairman]; Belarusian Social-Democratic Party Hromada [Stanislav SHUSHKEVICH, chairman]; Belarusian Socialist Party [Vyacheslav KUZNETSOV]; Civic Accord Bloc (United Civic Party) or CAB [Stanislav BOGDANKEVICH, chairman]; 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 Nadezhda [Valentina POLEVIKOVA, chairperson]

International organization participation: BIS, CCC, CEI, CIS, EBRD, ECE, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, Inmarsat, Intelsat (nonsignatory user), Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), ISO, ITU, NACC, OSCE, PCA, PFP, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTrO (applicant)

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission : Ambassador-designate Valeriy TSEPKALO
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 Michael KOZAK
embassy: Starovilenskaya #46-220002, Minsk
mailing address: use embassy street address
telephone: [375] (172) 31-50-00
FAX : [375] (172) 34-78-53

Flag description: red horizontal band (top) and green horizontal band one-half the width of the red band; a white vertical stripe of white on the hoist side bears in red the Belarusian national ornament

Economy

Economy - overview: At the time of independence in late 1991, Belarus was one of the most developed of the former Soviet states, inheriting a modern - by Soviet standards - machine building sector and robust agricultural sector. However, the breakup of the Soviet Union and its traditional trade ties in December 1991, as well as the government's failure to embrace market reforms, has resulted in a sharp economic decline. Privatization is virtually nonexistent and the system of state orders and distribution persists. Although President LUKASHENKO pronounces his 1995 macro stabilization policies a success - annual inflation dropped from 2,220% in 1994 to 244% in 1995 - the IMF has criticized his exchange rate policies and suspended Minsk's $300 million standby program in November 1995. The overvalued ruble has especially hurt Belarusian exporters, most of which now operate at a loss. In addition, the January 1995 Customs Union agreement with Russia - which required Minsk to adjust its foreign trade practices to mirror Moscow's - has resulted in higher import tariffs for Belarusian consumers; tariffs rose from 5%-20% to 20%-40%. In general, as of the beginning of 1997, Belarus has badly lagged in moving away from the old centrally planned policies of the former USSR.

GDP: purchasing power parity - $51.9 billion (1996 estimate as extrapolated$78.8 billion (2000 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:4% (2000 est.)

GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $7,500 (2000 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 13%
industry: 46%
services: 41% (1999 est.)

Inflation rate - consumer price index: 200% (2000 est.)

Labor force:
total: 4.8 million (2000)
by occupation: industry and construction 36%, agriculture and forestry 19%, services 45% (1995)

Unemployment rate: 2.1% officially registered unemployed (December 2000); large number of underemployed workers

Budget:
revenues : $4 billion
expenditures: $4.1 billion, including capital expenditures of $180 million (1997 est.)

Industries: tractors, metal-cutting machine tools, off-highway dump trucks up to 110-metric-ton load capacity, wheel-type earth movers for construction and mining, eight-wheel-drive, high-flotation trucks with cargo capacity of 25 metric tons for use in tundra and roadless areas, equipment for animal husbandry and livestock feeding, motorcycles, television sets, chemical fibers, fertilizer, linen fabric, wool fabric, radios, refrigerators, other consumer goods

Industrial production growth rate: 5% (2000 est.)

Electricity - capacity: 7.21 million kW (1994)

Electricity - production: 24.911 billion kWh (1999)

Electricity - consumption per capita:27.647 billion kWh (1999)

Agriculture - products: grain, potatoes, vegetables; meat, milk

Exports:
total value: $7.4 billion (f.o.b., 2000)
commodities: machinery and transport equipment, chemicals, foodstuffs
partners: Russia 66%, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, Lithuania (1998)

Imports:
total value: $8.3 billion (f.o.b., 2000)
commodities: fuel, natural gas, industrial raw materials, textiles, sugar
partners: Russia 54%, Ukraine, Germany, Poland, Lithuania (1998)

Debt - external: $1 billion (2000 est.)

Economic aid:
recipient: $194.3 million (1995)

Currency: Belarusian ruble (BR)

Exchange rates: Belarusian rubles per US$1 - 16,613 (September monthly average 1996),15,500 (yearend 1996), 11,500 (yearend 1995), 10,600 (yearend 1994), 699 (yearend 1993), 15 (yearend 1992)

Fiscal year: calendar year

Communications

Telephones: 2.313 million (1997)

Telephone system: telephone service inadequate for the purposes of either business or the population; about 70% of the telephones are in homes; over 750,000 applications from households for telephones remain unsatisfied (1992 est.); new investment centers on international connections and business needs
domestic : 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: iBelarus 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: 33.02 million (1997)

Television broadcast stations: 2 (47 (plus 27 repeaters) (1995)

Televisions: 2.52 million (1997)

Transportation

Railways:
total: 5,523 km
broad gauge: 55,523 km 1.520-m gauge (875 km electrified) (2000)

Highways:
total: 63,355 km
paved: 60,567 km (these roads are said to be hard-surfaced, and include, in addition to conventionally paved roads, some that are surfaced with gravel or other coarse aggregate, making them trafficable in all weather)
unpaved: 2,788 km (these roads are made of unstabilized earth and are difficult to negotiate in wet weather) (1998)

Waterways: NA km; note - Belarus has extensive and widely used canal and river systems

Pipelines: crude oil 1,470 km; refined products 1,100 km; natural gas 1,980 km (1992)

Ports and harbors: Mazyr

Merchant marine:
note: claims 5% of former Soviet fleet (1995 est.)

Airports: 136 (2000 est.)

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 (2000 est.)

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 (2000 est.)

Military

Military branches: Army, Air Force, Air Defense Force, Interior Ministry Troops, Border Guards

Military manpower - military age: 18 years of age

Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 2,729,956 (2001 est.)

Military manpower - fit for military service:
males: 2,,138,743 (2001 est.)

Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
males: 86,396 (2001 est.)

Military expenditures - dollar figure: $156 million (FY98)

Military expenditures - percent of GDP:1.2% (FY98)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international: treaty with Lithuania defining the border awaits demarcation

Illicit drugs: limited cultivation of opium poppy and cannabis, mostly for the domestic market; transshipment point for illicit drugs to Russia and Western Europe