Belarus [Country Flag of Belarus]
Transnational Issues
[Country map of Belarus]



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Location: Eastern Europe, east of Poland

Geographic coordinates: 53 00 N, 28 00 E

Map references: Commonwealth of Independent States

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


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Population: 10,409,050 (July 1998 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 20% (male 1,062,012; female 1,018,154)
15-64 years: 67% (male 3,365,065; female 3,564,078)
65 years and over: 13% (male 460,633; female 939,108) (July 1998 est.)

Population growth rate: -0.05% (1998 est.)

Birth rate: 9.71 births/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Death rate: 13.47 deaths/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Net migration rate: 3.25 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1998 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 (1998 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 14.16 deaths/1,000 live births (1998 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 68.26 years
male: 62.26 years
female: 74.56 years (1998 est.)

Total fertility rate: 1.34 children born/woman (1998 est.)

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

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


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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)

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

Constitution: referendum of 24 November 1996; became effective on 17 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 Petr PRAKAPOVICH (since 23 December 1996); Deputy Prime Ministers Vladimir GARKUN (since 21 July 1994), Valeriy KOKAREV (since 23 August 1994), Vasiliy DOLGOLEV (since 30 October 1995), Vladimir ZAMETALIN (since 15 July 1997)
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 2001 because of the additional two years provided by the November 1996 referendum); prime minister 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 established by the 27 November Constitution consists of the Council of the Republic or Soviet Republiki (64 seats; 8 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 defunct Supreme Soviet)
elections: last held May and November-December 1995 (two rounds, each with a run-off; next to be held NA 2000)
election results: percent of vote by party—NA; seats by party—KPB 42, Agrarian 33, CAB 9, Party of People's Concord 8, UPNAZ 2, SDPB 2, BPR 1, Green Party 1, Republican Party of Labor and Justice 1, BSP 1, BNF 1, Social and Sports Party 1, Ecological Party 1, independents 95, vacant 62; note—the last election took place to fill seats in the former Supreme Soviet (260 seats); 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: Belarusian Communist Party or KPB [Viktor CHIKIN]; Agrarian Party [Aleksandr PAVLOV, chairman]; Civic Accord Bloc (United Civic Party) or CAB [Stanislav BOGDANKEVICH, chairman]; Party of People's Concord [Leonid SECHKO, chairman]; Party of All-Belarusian Unity and Concord or UPNAZ [Dmitriy BULAKOV, chairman]; Belarusian Social-Democrat Hramada or SDBP [Nikolay STATKEVICH, chairman]; Belarusian Patriotic Movement (Belarusian Patriotic Party) or BPR [Anatoliy BARANKEVICH]; Green Party of Belarus or BPZ [Nikolay KARTASH, chairman]; Republican Party of Labor and Justice or RPPS [Anatol NETYLKIN, chairman]; Belarusian Popular Front or BNF [Levon BARSHEVSKIY, chairman]; Belarusian Social Sports Party or BSSP [Aleksandr ALEKSANDROVICH, chairman]; Ecological Party or BEP [Liudmila YELIZAROVA, chairman]; United Democratic Party of Belarus or ADPB [Aleksandr DOBROVOLSKIY]; Slavic Assembly or SAB [Andrey TSEGALKA]; Liberal-Democratic Party or LDPB [Sergei GAYDUKEVICH, chairman]; Belarusian Christian-Democratic Unity or BKDZ [Petr SILKO]; Polish Democratic Union or PDZ [Eduard AKHREM]; Party of Beer Lovers [Yuriy GONCHAR]; Party of Communists Belarusian or KPB [Sergei KALYAKIN and Vasiliy NOVIKOV, chairmen]; Belarusian Labor Party or BPP [Aleksandr BUKHVOSTOV]

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

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Valeriy V. 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 Daniel SPECKHARD
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


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Economy—overview: The Belarusian government has revived economic output since mid-1996 by pursuing a policy of rapid credit expansion, ending years of cumulative decline. Real GDP increased by 2.6% in 1996 and the growth rate tripled in 1997. Lack of profitability and resurgent inflation—which increased from an average monthly rate of 2.8% in 1996 to 4.4% in 1997—however, have kept enterprises from making much needed capital investments. As a result, infrastructure and equipment stocks have continued to deteriorate. Belarus has seen little structural reform since 1995, when LUKASHENKO launched the country on the path of "market socialism." Privatization of enterprises controlled by the central government virtually ceased in 1996. As of May 1997, only about 10% of all enterprises under central government control had been privatized. In addition, LUKASHENKO has re-imposed administrative control over prices and the national currency's exchange rate, and expanded the state's right to intervene arbitrarily in the management of private enterprise. Lack of structural reform, and a climate hostile to business, have inhibited foreign investment in Belarus in 1995-97. In 1995 Belarus ranked second to last among the 15 former Soviet republics in terms of the average amount of foreign investment it attracted per capita. Although it moved up to 11th place in 1996, this was largely due to inflows from Russia related to the construction of the Yamal natural gas pipeline. Belarus's trade deficit has grown steadily over the past three years - from 8% of total trade turnover in 1995 to 14% in the first quarter of 1997 - despite the government's efforts to promote exports and limit imports. Given Belarus's limited fiscal reserve, a continued growth in the trade deficit will increase vulnerability to a balance of payments crisis.

GDP: purchasing power parity—$50.4 billion (1997 est.)

GDP—real growth rate: 8.5% (1997 est.)

GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$4,800 (1997 est.)

GDP—composition by sector:
agriculture: 20%
industry: 43%
services: 37% (1997 est.)

Inflation rate—consumer price index: 65% (1997 est.)

Labor force:
total: 4.3 million
by occupation: industry and construction 40%, agriculture and forestry 19%, services 41% (1997 est.)

Unemployment rate: 3.3% officially registered unemployed (July 1997); large numbers of underemployed workers

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: 17% (1997 est.)

Electricity—capacity: 7.21 million kW (1997)

Electricity—production: 23.7 billion kWh (1996)

Electricity—consumption per capita: 3,144 kWh (1996)

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

total value: $5.4 billion (f.o.b., 1996)
commodities: machinery and transport equipment, chemicals, foodstuffs
partners: Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Germany

total value: $6.7 billion (c.i.f., 1996)
commodities: fuel, natural gas, industrial raw materials, textiles, sugar
partners: Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Germany

Debt—external: $970 million (December 1997 est.)

Economic aid:
recipient: ODA, $186 million (1993)
note: commitments, $3,930 million ($1,845 million disbursements), 1992-95

Currency: Belarusian rubel (BR)

Exchange rates: Belarusian rubels per US$1—31,030 (19 January 1998 official Belarusian exchange rate), 28,800 (October 1997 end of period),15,500 (yearend 1996), 11,500 (yearend 1995), 10,600 (yearend 1994), 699 (yearend 1993)

Fiscal year: calendar year


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Telephones: 1.849 million (1991 est.)

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: the new NMT-450 analog cellular system is now operating in Minsk
international: international traffic is carried by the Moscow international gateway switch and also by satellite; satellite earth stations—1 Intelsat (through Canada) and 1 Eutelsat (through the UK)

Radio broadcast stations: AM 35, FM 18, shortwave 0

Radios: 3.17 million (1991 est.) (5,615,000 with multiple speaker systems for program diffusion)

Television broadcast stations: 2 (one national and one private; the license of the private station was suspended during the parliamentary elections of 1994)

Televisions: 3.5 million (1992 est.)


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total: 5,488 km
broad gauge: 5,488 km 1.520-m gauge (873 km electrified) (1993)

total: 52,131 km
paved: 36,544 km
unpaved: 15,587 km (1996 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

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

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.)


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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: 2,681,014 (1998 est.)

Military manpower—fit for military service:
males: 2,099,860 (1998 est.)

Military manpower—reaching military age annually:
males: 78,780 (1998 est.)

Military expenditures—dollar figure: 4.5 trillion rubles (1997 est.); note—conversion of defense expenditures into US dollars using the current exchange rate could produce misleading results

Military expenditures—percent of GDP: 1.3% (1997 est.)

Transnational Issues

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Disputes—international: demarcation has begun on border with Lithuania

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