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Flag of Belgium

Capital City: Minsk

Other Cities: Brest, Gomel, Grodno (Hrodna), Hrodna

Border countries
: Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, Ukraine  

Internet Links

Official Sites of Belarus
Presidential Administration Belarus

Ministry of Foreign Affaires

National Centre of Legal Information

Permanent Mission of the Republic of Belarus to the United Nations

Embassy of the Republic of Belarus

Journey to Minsk

Minsk In The Fifties

Map of 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;
Belarus has agreed on the framework for implementation of the accord.

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 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

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: 30% permanent crops: 1% other: 69% (1998 est.)

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-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

Population:  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:   74.56 years (2002 est.)  male: 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.)

Nationality:  noun: Belarusian(s) adjective: Belarusian

Ethnic groups:  Belarusian 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:  Belarusian, Russian, other

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

Government Belarus

Country name:   Republic of Belarus conventional short form:  Socialist
Republic local long form: Respublika Byelarus'

Government type:  republic

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 - when using a place name with
the adjectival ending 'skaya' the word voblasts' should be added to the
place name note: 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:  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

Suffrage:  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:  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: 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 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 [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 or "Nadezhda" [Valentina POLEVIKOVA, chairperson]

Political pressure groups and leaders:  NA

International organization participation:  CCC, CEI, CIS, EAPC, EBRD,

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 KOZAK embassy: 46 Starovilenskaya
 use embassy street address telephone:
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.

GDP:  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%: 5.1%
highest 10%: 20% (1998)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:  21.7 (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

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

Industries:  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: 99.51% hydro: 0.08%
other: 0.41% (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

Exports:  $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)

Imports:  $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)

Currency:  Belarusian ruble (BYB/BYR)

Currency code:  BYB/BYR

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)

Radios:  3.02 million (1997)

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

Televisions:  2.52 million (1997)

Internet country code:  .by

Internet Service Providers (ISPs):  23 (2002)

Internet users:  180,000 (2001)

Transportation Belarus

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

Highways:  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)

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

Airports:  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 (2001)

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 (2001)

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

This page was last updated on 1 January 2002

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