Belarus 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

Belarus People

Population: 10,401,784 (July 1999 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 19% (male 1,027,974; female 985,342) 15-64 years: 67% (male 3,390,552; female 3,591,245) 65 years and over: 14% (male 463,369; female 943,302) (1999 est.)
Population growth rate: -0.09% (1999 est.)
Birth rate: 9.7 births/1,000 population (1999 est.)
Death rate: 13.71 deaths/1,000 population (1999 est.)
Net migration rate: 3.13 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1999 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 (1999 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 14.39 deaths/1,000 live births (1999 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 68.13 years male: 62.04 years female: 74.52 years (1999 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.32 children born/woman (1999 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.)

Belarus 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: administrative divisions have the same names as their administrative centers (exceptions 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-date set by referendum of 24 November 1996; 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 Ministers Petr PROKOPOVICH (since 23 December 1996) and Vasiliy DOLGOLEV (since 2 December 1998); Deputy Prime Ministers Valeriy KOKOREV (since 23 August 1994), 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 be 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: Party of Communists Belarusian or PKB [Sergei KALYAKIN and Vasiliy NOVIKOV, chairmen]; Belarusian Communist Party or KPB [Yetrem SOKOLOV and Viktor CHIKIN, chairmen]; Agrarian Party [Aleksandr PAVLOV, acting chairman]; Belarusian Popular Front or BNF [Levon BARSHEVSKIY, acting chairman]; Civic Accord Bloc (United Civic Party) or CAB [Stanislav BOGDANKEVICH, chairman]; Liberal-Democratic Party or LDPB [Sergei GAYDUKEVICH, chairman]; Belarusian Patriotic Movement (Belarusian Patriotic Party) or BPR [Anatoliy BARANKEVICH, chairman]; Belarusian Labor Party or BPP [Aleksandr BUKHVOSTOV, chairman]; Party of All-Belarusian Unity and Concord or UPNAZ [Dmitriy BULAKOV, chairman]; Belarusian Social-Democrat Hramada or SDBP [Nikolay STATKEVICH, chairman]; Women's Party Nadezhda [Valentina POLEVIKOVA, chairperson]; Green Party of Belarus or BPZ [Nikolay KARTASH, chairman]; Green World Party [Oleg GROMYKO, chairman]; Republican Party of Labor and Justice or RPPS [Anatoliy NETYLKIN, chairman]; Belarus Peasants [Yevgeniy LUGIN, chairman]; Belarusian Social Sports Party or BSSP [Aleksandr ALEKSANDROVICH, chairman]; Ecological Party or BEP [Liudmila YELIZAROVA, chairperson]; Belarusian Socialist Party [Vyacheslav KUZNETSOV]; Savic Assembly Belaya Rus [Nikolai SERGEEV, chairman]; Belarusian Christian-Democratic Unity or BKDZ [Petr SILKO, chairman]; Christian-Democratic Party [Nikolai KRUKOVSKIY, chairman]; Christian-Democratic Choice [Valeriy SOROKA, chairman]; Party of Common Sense [Ivan KARAVAICHIK, chairman]; Belarusian Humanitarian Party [Yevgeniy NOVIKOV, chairman]; Republican Party [Vladimir BELAZOV, chairman]; National Party [Anatoliy ASTAPENKO, chairman]; National Democratic Party [Viktor NAUMENKO, chairman]; People's Party [Viktor TERESCHENKO, chairman]; Belarusian Social-Democratic Party [Stanislav SHUSHKEVICH, chairman]
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, OPCW, OSCE, PCA, PFP, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTrO (applicant)
Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires CHEREPANSKY 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 (recalled to Washington in June 1998; Charge d'Affaires Randall LE COCQ) 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 of white on the hoist side bears the Belarusian national ornament in red


Belarus 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. This produced a climate hostile to private business, inhibiting domestic and foreign investment. The Government of Belarus has artificially revived economic output since mid-1996 by pursuing a policy of rapid credit expansion. In a vain attempt to keep the rapidly rising inflation in check, the government placed strict price controls on food and consumer products, which resulted in food shortages. Long lines for dairy products, chicken, and pork became common in the closing months of 1998. With the goal of slowing down the devaluation of the Belarusian ruble, LUKASHENKO in 1997 introduced a new, complex system of legal buying/selling hard currencies. The new "command" system proved to be totally unworkable and resulted in galloping devaluation. In addition to the burdens imposed on businesses by high inflation and an artificial currency regime, businesses have also 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. A further economic problem is the sizable trade deficit.
GDP: purchasing power parity-$53.7 billion (1998 est.)
GDP-real growth rate: 7% (1998 est.)
GDP-per capita: purchasing power parity-$5,200 (1998 est.)
GDP-composition by sector: agriculture: 20%; industry: 43%; services: 37% (1997 est.) Population below poverty line: 77% (1997 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 4.9%; highest 10%: 19.4% (1993)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 182% (1998)
Labor force: 4.3 million (1998)
Labor force-by occupation: industry and construction 40%, agriculture and forestry 19%, services 41% (1997 est.)
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: 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: 11% (1998 est.)
Electricity-production: 26.1 billion kWh (1998)
Electricity-production by source: fossil fuel: 99.92%; hydro: 0.08%; nuclear: 0%; other: 0% (1997)
Electricity-consumption: 33.7 billion kWh (1997)
Electricity-exports: 2.7 billion kWh (1997)
Electricity-imports: 10.3 billion kWh (1997)
Agriculture-products: grain, potatoes, vegetables, sugar beets, flax; beef, milk
Exports: $7 billion (f.o.b., 1998)
Exports-commodities: machinery and transport equipment, chemicals, foodstuffs
Exports-partners: Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Germany
Imports: $8.5 billion (c.i.f., 1998)
Imports-commodities: fuel, natural gas, industrial raw materials, textiles, sugar, foodstuffs
Imports-partners: Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Germany
Debt-external: $1.03 billion (1998 est.)
Economic aid-recipient: $194.3 million (1995)
Currency: Belarusian rubel (BR)
Exchange rates: Belarusian rubels per US$1-139,000 (25 January 1999 official Belarusian exchange rate), 46,080 (2nd qtr 1998), 25,964 (1997), 15,500 (yearend 1996), 11,500 (yearend 1995), 10,600 (yearend 1994)
Fiscal year: calendar year

Belarus Communications

Telephones: 2.55 million (October 1998)
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 due to this infrastructure; additional analog lines to Russia; Intelsat, Eutelsat and Intersputnik earth stations
Radio broadcast stations: AM 28, FM 37, shortwave 11 Radios: 3.17 million (1991 est.)
Television broadcast stations: 17 (1997); note-Belarus has a state-run television broadcasting network; independent local television stations exist
Televisions: 9,686,854 (1996)

Belarus Transportation

Railways: total: 5,563 km; broad gauge: 5,563 km 1.520-m gauge (894 km electrified)
Highways: total: 53,407 km; paved: 52,446 km; unpaved: 961 km (1997 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.)

Belarus 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: 2,700,034 (1999 est.)
Military manpower-fit for military service: males age 15-49: 2,115,121 (1999 est.)
Military manpower-reaching military age annually: males: 79,905 (1999 est.)
Military expenditures-dollar figure: $100 million (1998)
Military expenditures-percent of GDP: 2% (1998)

Belarus 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