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Belarus



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Introduction

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 but, to date, neither side has actively sought to implement the accord.

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, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
  signed, but not ratified: Climate Change, Law of the Sea

Geography - note: landlocked

People

Population: 10,366,719 (July 2000 est.)

Age structure
  0-14 years: 19% (male 982,959; female 942,062)
  15-64 years: 68% (male 3,411,684; female 3,614,453)
  65 years and over: 13% (male 466,929; female 948,632) (2000 est.)

Population growth rate: -0.17% (2000 est.)

Birth rate: 9.27 births/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Death rate: 13.96 deaths/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Net migration rate: 3.01 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2000 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 (2000 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 14.63 deaths/1,000 live births (2000 est.)

Life expectancy at birth
  total population: 68 years
  male: 61.83 years
  female: 74.48 years (2000 est.)

Total fertility rate: 1.25 children born/woman (2000 est.)

Nationality
  noun: Belarusian(s)
  adjective: Belarusian

Ethnic groups: Byelorussian 77.9%, Russian 13.2%, Polish 4.1%, Ukrainian 2.9%, other 1.9%

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

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: voblasti have the administrative center name following in parentheses)

Independence: 25 August 1991 (Belarusian Supreme Soviet declaration of independence from the Soviet Union)

National holiday: Independence Day, 3 July (1944); note - represents Minsk liberation from German occupation

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 Sergey LING (acting since 18 November 1996, confirmed 19 February 1997); First Deputy Prime Minister Vasiliy DOLGOLEV (since 2 December 1998); Deputy Prime Ministers Vladimir ZAMETALIN (since 15 July 1997), Ural LATYPOV (since 30 December 1997), Gennadiy NOVITSKIY (since 11 February 1997), Leonid KOZIK (since 4 February 1997), Aleksandr POPKOV (since 10 November 1998)
  cabinet: Council of Ministers
  elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term; election last held 24 June and 10 July 1994 (next to be held NA; according to the 1994 constitution, the next election should have been held in 1999, however LUKASHENKO extended his term to 2001 via the November 1996 referendum); prime minister and deputy prime ministers appointed by the president
  election results: Aleksandr LUKASHENKO elected president; percent of vote - Aleksandr LUKASHENKO 85%, Vyacheslav KEBICH 15% (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; eight appointed by the president and 56 indirectly elected by deputies of local councils for four-year terms) and the Chamber of Representatives or Palata Pretsaviteley (110 seats; note - present members came from the former Supreme Soviet which LUKASHENKO disbanded in November 1996)
  elections: last held May and November-December 1995 (two rounds, each with a run-off; disbanded after the November 1996 referendum; next to be held NA)
  election results: after the November 1996 referendum, seats for the Chamber of Representatives were filled by former Supreme Soviet members as follows: PKB 24, Agrarian 14, Party of Peoples Concord 5, LDPB 1, UPNAZ 1, Green World Party 1, Belarusian Social Sports Party 1, Ecological Party 1, Republican Party of Labor and Justice 1, independents 61; 58 of the 64 seats in the Council of the Republic have been appointed/elected

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 [Aleksandr PAVLOV, acting chairman]; Belarusian Communist Party or KPB [Viktor CHIKIN, chairman]; Belarusian Green Party or BPZ [Mikalay KARTASH, chairman]; Belarusian Labor Party or BPP [Aleksandr BUKHVOSTOV, chairman]; Belarusian Patriotic Movement (Belarusian Patriotic Party) or BPR [Anatoliy BARANKEVICH, chairman]; Belarusian Popular Front or BNF [Vintsuk VYACHORKA, chairman]; Belarusian Social-Democrat or SDBP [Nikolay STATKEVICH, chairman]; Belarusian Social-Democratic Party Hramada [Stanislav SHUSHKEVICH, chairman]; Belarusian Social Sports Party or BSSP [Aleksandr ALEKSANDROVICH, chairman]; Belarusian Socialist Party [Vyacheslav KUZNETSOV]; Civic Accord Bloc (United Civic Party) or CAB [Stanislav BOGDANKEVICH, chairman]; Ecological Party or BEP [Liudmila YELIZAROVA, chairperson]; Liberal-Democratic Party or LDPB [Sergei GAYDUKEVICH, chairman]; Party of All-Belarusian Unity and Concord or UPNAZ [Dmitriy BULAKOV, chairman]; Party of Communists Belarusian or PKB [Sergei KALYAKIN, chairman]; Party of Popular Accord or PPA [Leanid SECHKA]; Republican Party of Labor and Justice or RPPS [Anatoliy NETYLKIN, chairman]; Women's Party Nadezhda [Valentina POLEVIKOVA, chairperson]

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

Diplomatic representation in the US
  chief of mission: Ambassador Valery TSEPAKO
  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 Daniel V. SPECKHARD
  embassy: Starovilenskaya #46-220002, Minsk
  mailing address: use embassy street address
  telephone: [375] (17) 231-5000
  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

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 re-imposed 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, businesses have been subject to pressure on the part of central and local governments, e.g., arbitrary changes in regulations, numerous rigorous inspections, and retroactive application of new business regulations prohibiting practices that had been legal. Further economic problems are two consecutive bad harvests, 1998-99, and persistent trade deficits. 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 - $55.2 billion (1999 est.)

GDP - real growth rate: 1.5% (1999 est.)

GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $5,300 (1999 est.)

GDP - composition by sector
  agriculture: 23%
  industry: 28%
  services: 49% (1998 est.)

Population below poverty line: 22% (1995 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share
  lowest 10%: 4.9%
  highest 10%: 19.4% (1993)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 295% (1999 est.)

Labor force: 4.3 million (1998)

Labor force - by occupation: industry and construction NA%, agriculture and forestry NA%, services NA%

Unemployment rate: 2.3% officially registered unemployed (December 1998); 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, earth movers, motorcycles, TV sets, chemical fibers, fertilizer, textiles, radios, refrigerators

Industrial production growth rate: 8% (1999 est.)

Electricity - production: 21.893 billion kWh (1998)

Electricity - production by source
  fossil fuel: 99.89%
  hydro: 0.11%
  nuclear: 0%
  other: 0% (1998)

Electricity - consumption: 28.66 billion kWh (1998)

Electricity - exports: 2.3 billion kWh (1998)

Electricity - imports: 10.6 billion kWh (1998)

Agriculture - products: grain, potatoes, vegetables, sugar beets, flax; beef, milk

Exports: $6 billion (f.o.b., 1999)

Exports - commodities: machinery and equipment, chemicals, metals, textiles, foodstuffs

Exports - partners: Russia 66%, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, Lithuania (1998)

Imports: $6.4 billion (c.i.f., 1999)

Imports - commodities: mineral products, machinery and equipment, metals, chemicals, foodstuffs

Imports - partners: Russia 54%, Ukraine, Germany, Poland, Lithuania (1998)

Debt - external: $1.1 billion (1998 est.)

Economic aid - recipient: $194.3 million (1995)

Currency: Belarusian rubel (BR)

Exchange rates: Belarusian rubels per US$1 - 730,000 (15 December 1999), 139,000 (25 January 1999), 46,080 (2nd qtr 1998), 25,964 (1997), 15,500 (yearend 1996), 11,500 (yearend 1995)

Fiscal year: calendar year

Communications

Telephones - main lines in use: 2.537 million (1997)

Telephones - mobile cellular: 8,000 (1999)

Telephone system: 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 Fiber-Optic Line (TAE) 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: 17 (1997)

Televisions: 2.52 million (1997)

Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 1 (1999)

Transportation

Railways
  total: 5,563 km
  broad gauge: 5,563 km 1.520-m gauge (894 km electrified)

Highways
  total: 63,355 km
  paved: 60,567 km
  unpaved: 2,788 km (1998 est.)

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: 118 (1996 est.)

Airports - with paved runways
  total: 36
  over 3,047 m: 2
  2,438 to 3,047 m: 18
  1,524 to 2,437 m: 5
  under 914 m: 11 (1996 est.)

Airports - with unpaved runways
  total: 82
  over 3,047 m: 1
  2,438 to 3,047 m: 6
  1,524 to 2,437 m: 4
  914 to 1,523 m: 9
  under 914 m: 62 (1996 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: 2,714,420 (2000 est.)

Military manpower - fit for military service
  males age 15-49: 2,126,655 (2000 est.)

Military manpower - reaching military age annually
  males: 82,720 (2000 est.)

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

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

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international: none

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

 

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