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  The World Factbook.  2008.
 
Belarus
 
Flag of Belarus                                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. Although Belarus agreed to a framework to carry out the accord, serious implementation has yet to take place. Since his election in July 1994 as the country's first president, Alexandr LUKASHENKO has steadily consolidated his power through authoritarian means. Government restrictions on freedom of speech and the press, peaceful assembly, and religion continue.
  
Geography
  
Location:Eastern Europe, east of Poland
Geographic coordinates:53 00 N, 28 00 E
Map references:Europe
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, granite, dolomitic limestone, marl, chalk, sand, gravel, clay
Land use:arable land: 26.77%
permanent crops: 0.6%
other: 72.63% (2005)
Irrigated land:1,310 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources:58 cu km (1997)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):total: 2.79 cu km/yr (23%/47%/30%)
per capita: 286 cu m/yr (2000)
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-Sulfur 85, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography—note:landlocked; glacial scouring accounts for the flatness of Belarusian terrain and for its 11,000 lakes
  
People
  
Population:9,724,723 (July 2007 est.)
Age structure:0-14 years: 14.7% (male 733,010/female 691,734)
15-64 years: 70.4% (male 3,327,119/female 3,520,690)
65 years and over: 14.9% (male 471,863/female 980,307) (2007 est.)
Median age:total: 38.2 years
male: 35.1 years
female: 41.1 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate:-0.41% (2007 est.)
Birth rate:9.5 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate:13.98 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate:0.38 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio:at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.945 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.481 male(s)/female
total population: 0.873 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate:total: 6.63 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 7.67 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 5.53 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:total population: 70.05 years
male: 64.31 years
female: 76.14 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate:1.22 children born/woman (2007 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.)
Nationality:noun: Belarusian(s)
adjective: Belarusian
Ethnic groups:Belarusian 81.2%, Russian 11.4%, Polish 3.9%, Ukrainian 2.4%, other 1.1% (1999 census)
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: 99.6%
male: 99.8%
female: 99.4% (1999 census)
  
Government
  
Country name:conventional long form: Republic of Belarus
conventional short form: Belarus
local long form: Respublika Byelarus'
local short form: Byelarus'
former: Belorussian (Byelorussian) Soviet Socialist Republic
Government type:republic in name, although in fact a dictatorship
Capital:name: Minsk
geographic coordinates: 53 54 N, 27 34 E
time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October
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
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:15 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; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage:18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:chief of state: President Aleksandr LUKASHENKO (since 20 July 1994)
head of government: Prime Minister Sergey SIDORSKIY (since 19 December 2003); First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir SEMASHKO (since December 2003)
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, Aleksandr LUKASHENKO extended his term to 2001 via a November 1996 referendum; subsequent election held 9 September 2001; an October 2004 referendum ended presidential term limits and allowed the president to run in a third election, which was held on 19 March 2006; prime minister and deputy prime ministers appointed by the president
election results: Aleksandr LUKASHENKO reelected president; percent of vote - Aleksandr LUKASHENKO 82.6%, Aleksandr MILINKEVICH 6%, Aleksandr KOZULIN 2.3%; note - election marred by electoral fraud
Legislative branch:bicameral National Assembly or Natsionalnoye Sobranie consists of the Council of the Republic or Soviet Respubliki (64 seats; 56 members elected by regional councils and eight members appointed by the president, to serve four-year terms) and the Chamber of Representatives or Palata Predstaviteley (110 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 17 and 31 October 2004; international observers widely denounced the 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
election results: Soviet Respubliki - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NA; Palata Predstaviteley - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - 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:pro-government parties: Agrarian Party or AP [Mikhail SHIMANSKY]; Belarusian Communist Party or KPB; Belarusian Patriotic Movement (Belarusian Patriotic Party) or BPR [Nikolay ULAKHOVICH, chairman]; Liberal Democratic Party of Belarus [Sergey GAYDUKEVICH]; Party of Labor and Justice [Viktor SOKOLOV]; Social-Sports Party [Vladimir ALEXANDROVICH]
opposition parties: Belarusian Christian Democracy Party (unregistered) [Pavel SEVERINETS]; Belarusian Party of Communists or PKB [Sergey KALYAKIN]; Belarusian Party of Labor (unregistered) [Aleksandr BUKHVOSTOV, Leonid LEMESHONAK]; Belarusian Popular Front or BPF [Vintsyuk VYACHORKA]; Belarusian Social-Democratic Gramada [Stanislav SHUSHKEVICH]; Belarusian Social Democratic Party Hramada (People's Assembly) or BSDPH [Aleksandr KOZULIN; Anatoliy LEVKOVICH, acting]; Green Party [Oleg GROMYKO]; Party of Freedom and Progress (unregistered) [Vladimir NOVOSYAD]; United Civic Party or UCP [Anatoliy LEBEDKO]; Women's Party "Nadezhda" [Valentina MATUSEVICH, chairperson]
other opposition includes: Christian Conservative BPF [Zyanon PAZNIAK]; Ecological Party of Greens [Mikhail KARTASH]; Party of Popular Accord [Sergey YERMAKK]; Republican Party [Vladimir BELAZOR]
Political pressure groups and leaders:Assembly of Pro-Democratic NGOs [Sergey MATSKEVICH]; Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions [Aleksandr YAROSHUK]; Belarusian Helsinki Committee [Tatiana PROTKO]; Belarusian Organization of Working Women [Irina ZHIKHAR]; Charter 97 [Andrey SANNIKOV]; For Freedom (unregistered) [Aleksandr MILINKEVICH]; Lenin Communist Union of Youth (youth wing of the Belarusian Party of Communists or PKB); National Strike Committee of Entrepreneurs [Aleksandr VASILYEV, Valery LEVONEVSKY]; Partnership NGO [Nikolay ASTREYKA]; Perspektiva kiosk watchdog NGO [Anatol SHUMCHENKO]; Vyasna [Ales BYALATSKY]; Women's Independent Democratic Movement [Ludmila PETINA]; Youth Front (Malady Front) [Dmitriy DASHKEVICH, Sergey BAKHUN]; Zubr youth group [Vladimir KOBETS]
International organization participation:BSEC (observer), CEI, CIS, EAEC, EAPC, EBRD, GCTU, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, NAM, NSG, OPCW, OSCE, PCA, PFP, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO (observer)
Diplomatic representation in the US:chief of mission: Ambassador Mikhail KHVOSTOV
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 Karen B. STEWART
embassy: 46 Starovilenskaya Street, 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 ornamentation in red
  
Economy
  
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 enterprises. Since 2005, the government has re-nationalized a number of private companies. In addition, businesses have been subject to pressure by 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; the Gini coefficient is among the lowest in the world. Because of these restrictive economic policies, Belarus has had trouble attracting foreign investment. Nevertheless, GDP growth has been strong in recent years, reaching nearly 8% in 2007, despite the roadblocks of a tough, centrally directed economy with a high, but decreasing, rate of inflation. Belarus receives heavily discounted oil and natural gas from Russia and much of Belarus' growth can be attributed to the re-export of Russian oil at market prices. Trade with Russia - by far its largest single trade partner - decreased in 2007, largely as a result of a change in the way the Value Added Tax (VAT) on trade was collected. Russia has introduced an export duty on oil shipped to Belarus, which will increase gradually through 2009, and a requirement that Belarusian duties on re-exported Russian oil be shared with Russia - 80% will go to Russia in 2008, and 85% in 2009. Russia also increased Belarusian natural gas prices from $47 per thousand cubic meters (tcm) to $100 per tcm in 2007, and plans to increase prices gradually to world levels by 2011. Russia's recent policy of bringing energy prices for Belarus to world market levels may result in a slowdown in economic growth in Belarus over the next few years. Some policy measures, including tightening of fiscal and monetary policies, improving energy efficiency, and diversifying exports, have been introduced, but external borrowing has been the main mechanism used to manage the growing pressures on the economy.
GDP (purchasing power parity):$104.7 billion (2007 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate):$38.72 billion (2007 est.)
GDP—real growth rate:6.9% (2007 est.)
GDP—per capita (PPP):$10,200 (2007 est.)
GDP—composition by sector:agriculture: 8.7%
industry: 40.6%
services: 50.6% (2007 est.)
Labor force:4.3 million (31 December 2005)
Labor force—by occupation:agriculture: 14%
industry: 34.7%
services: 51.3% (2003 est.)
Unemployment rate:1.6% officially registered unemployed; large number of underemployed workers (2005)
Population below poverty line:27.1% (2003 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:lowest 10%: 3.4%
highest 10%: 23.5% (2002)
Distribution of family income—Gini index:29.7 (2002)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):8.3% (2007 est.)
Investment (gross fixed):29.8% of GDP (2007 est.)
Budget:revenues: $15.35 billion
expenditures: $16.78 billion (2007 est.)
Agriculture—products:grain, potatoes, vegetables, sugar beets, flax; beef, milk
Industries:metal-cutting machine tools, tractors, trucks, earthmovers, motorcycles, televisions, chemical fibers, fertilizer, textiles, radios, refrigerators
Industrial production growth rate:5% (2007 est.)
Electricity—production:29.08 billion kWh (2005)
Electricity—consumption:29.49 billion kWh (2005)
Electricity—exports:5.053 billion kWh (2005)
Electricity—imports:9.091 billion kWh (2005)
Oil—production:33,700 bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil—consumption:156,000 bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil—exports:249,900 bbl/day (2004 est.)
Oil—imports:378,200 bbl/day (2004 est.)
Oil—proved reserves:198 million bbl (1 January 2006 est.)
Natural gas—production:165 million cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas—consumption:19.47 billion cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas—exports:0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas—imports:19.31 billion cu m (2005)
Natural gas—proved reserves:2.716 billion cu m (1 January 2006 est.)
Current account balance:$-3.056 billion (2007 est.)
Exports:$22.91 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Exports—commodities:machinery and equipment, mineral products, chemicals, metals, textiles, foodstuffs
Exports—partners:Russia 34.7%, Netherlands 17.7%, UK 7.5%, Ukraine 6.3%, Poland 5.2% (2006)
Imports:$27.05 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Imports—commodities:mineral products, machinery and equipment, chemicals, foodstuffs, metals
Imports—partners:Russia 58.6%, Germany 7.5%, Ukraine 5.5% (2006)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:$1.474 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Debt—external:$9.272 billion (30 June 2007)
Market value of publicly traded shares:$NA
Economic aid—recipient:$53.76 million (2005)
Currency (code):Belarusian ruble (BYB/BYR)
Exchange rates:Belarusian rubles per US dollar - 2,145 (2007), 2,144.6 (2006), 2,150 (2005), 2,160.26 (2004), 2,051.27 (2003)
Fiscal year:calendar year
  
Communications
  
Telephones—main lines in use:3.368 million (2006)
Telephones—mobile cellular:5.96 million (2006)
Telephone system:general assessment: Belarus lags behind its neighbors in upgrading telecommunications infrastructure; state-owned Beltelcom is the sole provider of fixed-line local and long distance service; fixed-line teledensity of 33 per 100 persons; mobile-cellular telephone density of 58 per 100 persons; modernization of the network progressing with roughly two-thirds of switching equipment now digital
domestic: fixed-line penetration is improving although rural areas continue to be underserved; 4 GSM wireless networks are experiencing rapid growth; strict government controls on telecommunications technologies
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); 3 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 (2007)
Radio broadcast stations:AM 28, FM 37, shortwave 11 (1998)
Television broadcast stations:47 (plus 27 repeaters) (1995)
Internet country code:.by
Internet hosts:20,685 (2007)
Internet users:5.478 million (2006)
  
Transportation
  
Airports:67 (2007)
Airports—with paved runways:total: 36
over 3,047 m: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 22
1,524 to 2,437 m: 4
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 7 (2007)
Airports—with unpaved runways:total: 31
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 27 (2007)
Heliports:1 (2007)
Pipelines:gas 5,250 km; oil 1,528 km; refined products 1,730 km (2007)
Railways:total: 5,512 km
broad gauge: 5,497 km 1.520-m gauge (874 km electrified)
standard gauge: 15 km 1.435 m (2006)
Roadways:total: 93,310 km
paved: 81,180 km
unpaved: 12,130 km (2004)
Waterways:2,500 km (use limited by location on perimeter of country and by shallowness) (2003)
Ports and terminals:Mazyr
  
Military
  
Military branches:Belarus Armed Forces: Land Force, Air and Air Defense Force (2008)
Military service age and obligation:18-27 years of age for compulsory military service; conscript service obligation - 18 months (2005)
Manpower available for military service:males age 18-49: 2,520,644
females age 18-49: 2,564,696 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:males age 18-49: 1,657,984
females age 18-49: 2,102,793 (2005 est.)
Manpower reaching military service age annually:males age 18-49: 85,202
females age 18-49: 82,037 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures—percent of GDP:1.4% (2005 est.)
  
Transnational Issues
  
Disputes—international:as of January 2007, ground demarcations of the boundaries with Latvia and Lithuania were complete and mapped with final ratification documentation in preparation; 1997 boundary delimitation treaty with Ukraine remains unratified over unresolved financial claims, preventing demarcation and diminishing border security
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

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