Europe :: Belarus
page last updated on August 3, 2010
Flag of Belarus
Map of Belarus
Introduction ::Belarus
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, Aleksandr LUKASHENKO has steadily consolidated his power through authoritarian means. Government restrictions on freedom of speech and the press, peaceful assembly, and religion remain in place.
Geography ::Belarus
Eastern Europe, east of Poland
Geographic coordinates:
53 00 N, 28 00 E
Map references:
total: 207,600 sq km
country comparison to the world: 85
land: 202,900 sq km
water: 4,700 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly smaller than Kansas
Land boundaries:
total: 3,306 km
border countries: Latvia 171 km, Lithuania 680 km, Poland 605 km, Russia 959 km, Ukraine 891 km
0 km (landlocked)
Maritime claims:
none (landlocked)
Current Weather
cold winters, cool and moist summers; transitional between continental and maritime
generally flat and contains much marshland
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Nyoman River 90 m
highest point: Dzyarzhynskaya Hara 346 m
Natural resources:
timber, 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:
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 ::Belarus
9,612,632 (July 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 87
Age structure:
0-14 years: 14.2% (male 701,436/female 662,077)
15-64 years: 71.6% (male 3,336,400/female 3,545,412)
65 years and over: 14.2% (male 434,955/female 932,352) (2010 est.)
Median age:
total: 38.8 years
male: 35.8 years
female: 41.8 years (2010 est.)
Population growth rate:
-0.368% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 222
Birth rate:
9.76 births/1,000 population (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 196
Death rate:
13.81 deaths/1,000 population (July 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 20
Net migration rate:
0.38 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 62
urban population: 73% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 0% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.062 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.94 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.47 male(s)/female
total population: 0.87 male(s)/female (2010 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 6.34 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 177
male: 7.34 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 5.27 deaths/1,000 live births (2010 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 70.92 years
country comparison to the world: 141
male: 65.26 years
female: 76.93 years (2010 est.)
Total fertility rate:
1.25 children born/woman (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 214
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0.2% (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 94
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
13,000 (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 91
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
1,100 (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 69
noun: Belarusian(s)
adjective: Belarusian
Ethnic groups:
Belarusian 81.2%, Russian 11.4%, Polish 3.9%, Ukrainian 2.4%, other 1.1% (1999 census)
Eastern Orthodox 80%, other (including Roman Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, and Muslim) 20% (1997 est.)
Belarusian (official) 36.7%, Russian (official) 62.8%, other 0.5% (includes small Polish- and Ukrainian-speaking minorities) (1999 census)
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.6%
male: 99.8%
female: 99.4% (1999 census)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 15 years
male: 14 years
female: 15 years (2006)
Education expenditures:
6.1% of GDP (2006)
country comparison to the world: 39
Government ::Belarus
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
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' (Gomel), Horad Minsk* (Minsk City), Hrodna (Grodno), Mahilyow (Mogilev), Minsk, Vitsyebsk (Vitebsk)
note: administrative divisions have the same names as their administrative centers; Russian spelling provided for reference when different from Belarusian
25 August 1991 (from the 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
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
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
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elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term; first election took place on 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 on 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 Sobraniye consists of the Council of the Republic or Sovet Respubliki (64 seats; 56 members elected by regional and Minsk city councils and 8 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: Palata Predstaviteley - last held on 28 September 2008 (next to be held in the spring of 2012); international observers determined that despite minor improvements the election ultimately fell short of democratic standards; pro-LUKASHENKO candidates won every seat
election results: Sovet 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: Belarusian Agrarian Party or AP [Mikhail SHIMANSKY]; Belarusian Patriotic Movement (Belarusian Patriotic Party) or BPR [Nikolay ULAKHOVICH, chairman]; Communist Party of Belarus or KPB [Tatsyana HOLUBEVA]; Liberal Democratic Party or LDP [Sergey GAYDUKEVICH]; Republican Party of Labor and Justice [Vasiliy ZADNEPRYANYY]
opposition parties: Belarusian Christian Democracy Party [Pavel SEVERINETS] (unregistered); Belarusian Party of Communists or PKB [Sergey KALYAKIN]; Belarusian Party of Labor [Aleksandr BUKHVOSTOV] (unregistered); Belarusian Popular Front or BPF [Aleksey YANUKEVICH]; Belarusian Social-Democratic Hramada [Stanislav SHUSHKEVICH]; Belarusian Social Democratic Party Hramada or BSDPH [Anatoliy LEVKOVICH]; Belarusian Social Democratic Party Narodnaya Hramada [Nikolay STATKEVICH] (unregistered); Belarusian Women's Party Nadzeya ("Hope") [Yelena YESKOVA, chairperson]; Christian Conservative Party or BPF [Zyanon PAZNIAK]; Party of Freedom and Progress [Vladimir NOVOSYAD] (unregistered); United Civic Party or UCP [Anatoliy LEBEDKO]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
Assembly of Pro-Democratic NGOs (unregistered) [Sergey MATSKEVICH]; Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions [Aleksandr YAROSHUK]; Belarusian Association of Journalists [Zhana LITVINA]; Belarusian Helsinki Committee [Aleh HULAK]; Belarusian Independence Bloc (unregistered) and For Freedom movement [Aleksandr MILINKEVICH]; Belarusian Organization of Working Women [Irina ZHIKHAR]; BPF-Youth [Andrus KRECHKA]; Charter 97 (unregistered) [Andrey SANNIKOV]; Perspektiva small business association [Anatol SHUMCHENKO]; Nasha Vyasna (unregistered) ("Our Spring") human rights center; Women's Independent Democratic Movement [Ludmila PETINA]; Young Belarus (Malady Belarus) [Zmitser KASPYAROVICH]; Youth Front (Malady Front) [Zmitser DASHKEVICH]
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Oleg KRAVCHENKO
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 (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Michael SCANLAN
embassy: 46 Starovilenskaya Street, Minsk 220002
mailing address: PSC 78, Box B Minsk, APO 09723
telephone: [375] (17) 210-12-83, 217-7347 through 7348
FAX: [375] (17) 334-7853
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; the red band color recalls past struggles from oppression, the green band represents hope and the many forests of the country
Economy ::Belarus
Economy - overview:
Belarus has seen limited 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 subjected to pressure by central and local governments, including arbitrary changes in regulations, numerous rigorous inspections, retroactive application of new business regulations, and arrests of "disruptive" businessmen and factory owners. Continued state control over economic operations hampers market entry for businesses, both domestic and foreign. Government statistics indicate GDP growth was strong, reaching 10% in 2008, despite the roadblocks of a tough, centrally directed economy with a high rate of inflation. However, the global crisis pushed the country into recession in 2009, and GDP fell 0.2%. Slumping foreign demand hit the industrial sector hard. Minsk has depended on a standby-agreement with the IMF to assist with balance of payments shortfalls. In line with IMF conditions, in 2009, Belarus devalued the ruble more than 40% and tightened some fiscal and monetary policies. Nevertheless, Belarus missed its 2009 budget targets with a deficit of less than 1% of GDP. On 1 January 2010, Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus launched a customs union, with unified trade regulations and customs codes still under negotiation. In late January, Russia and Belarus amended their 2007 oil supply agreement. The new terms will raise prices for above quota purchases and increase Belarus' current account deficit.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$116 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 60
$116.2 billion (2008 est.)
$105.6 billion (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars
GDP (official exchange rate):
$46 billion (2009 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
-0.2% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 112
10% (2008 est.)
8.6% (2007 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP):
$11,600 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 95
$12,000 (2008 est.)
$10,900 (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 9.2%
industry: 41.8%
services: 49% (2009 est.)
Labor force:
5 million (2009)
country comparison to the world: 73
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 14%
industry: 34.7%
services: 51.3% (2003 est.)
Unemployment rate:
1% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 4
1.6% (2005)
Population below poverty line:
27.1% (2003 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 3.6%
highest 10%: 22% (2005)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
27.9 (2005)
country comparison to the world: 124
21.7 (1998)
Investment (gross fixed):
36.9% of GDP (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 8
revenues: $22.14 billion
expenditures: $22.48 billion (2009 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
13% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 208
14.8% (2008 est.)
Central bank discount rate:
12% (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 38
10% (31 December 2007)
Commercial bank prime lending rate:
8.55% (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 108
8.58% (31 December 2007)
Stock of money:
$4.872 billion (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 68
$4.065 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of quasi money:
$8.784 billion (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 67
$6.823 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of domestic credit:
$18.42 billion (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 67
$12.16 billion (31 December 2007)
Market value of publicly traded shares:
Agriculture - products:
grain, potatoes, vegetables, sugar beets, flax; beef, milk
metal-cutting machine tools, tractors, trucks, earthmovers, motorcycles, televisions, synthetic fibers, fertilizer, textiles, radios, refrigerators
Industrial production growth rate:
-2.8% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 94
Electricity - production:
29.92 billion kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 63
Electricity - consumption:
30.54 billion kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 58
Electricity - exports:
5.062 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - imports:
9.406 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Oil - production:
31,400 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 70
Oil - consumption:
173,000 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 59
Oil - exports:
303,900 bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 39
Oil - imports:
444,800 bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 28
Oil - proved reserves:
198 million bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 58
Natural gas - production:
152 million cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 77
Natural gas - consumption:
17 billion cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 37
Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2009)
country comparison to the world: 58
Natural gas - imports:
17.6 billion cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 13
Natural gas - proved reserves:
2.832 billion cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 94
Current account balance:
-$6.405 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 172
-$5.209 billion (2008 est.)
$21.34 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 65
$32.8 billion (2008 est.)
Exports - commodities:
machinery and equipment, mineral products, chemicals, metals, textiles, foodstuffs
Exports - partners:
Russia 33.6%, Netherlands 13.78%, Ukraine 8.68%, Latvia 6.32%, Poland 4.19%, Germany 4.17% (2009)
$28.31 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 60
$39.04 billion (2008 est.)
Imports - commodities:
mineral products, machinery and equipment, chemicals, foodstuffs, metals
Imports - partners:
Russia 56.42%, Germany 8.31%, Ukraine 4.79%, China 4.04% (2009)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$4.831 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 83
$2.687 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
Debt - external:
$7.9 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 87
$15.15 billion (31 December 2008)
Exchange rates:
Belarusian rubles (BYB/BYR) per US dollar - 2,850 (2009), 2,130 (2008), 2,145 (2007), 2,144.6 (2006), 2,150 (2005)
Communications ::Belarus
Telephones - main lines in use:
3.718 million (2008)
country comparison to the world: 41
Telephones - mobile cellular:
8.693 million (2008)
country comparison to the world: 66
Telephone system:
general assessment: Belarus lags behind its neighbors in upgrading telecommunications infrastructure; modernization of the network progressing with roughly two-thirds of switching equipment now digital
domestic: state-owned Beltelcom is the sole provider of fixed-line local and long distance service; fixed-line teledensity is improving although rural areas continue to be underserved; multiple GSM mobile-cellular networks are experiencing rapid growth; mobile-cellular teledensity reached about 90 telephones per 100 persons in 2008
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 (2008)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 28, FM 37, shortwave 11 (1998)
Television broadcast stations:
47 (plus 27 repeaters) (1995)
Internet country code:
Internet hosts:
113,115 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 70
Internet users:
3.107 million (2008)
country comparison to the world: 57
Transportation ::Belarus
65 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 75
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 35
over 3,047 m: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 22
1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 7 (2009)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 30
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 25 (2009)
1 (2009)
gas 5,250 km; oil 1,528 km; refined products 1,730 km (2009)
total: 5,537 km
country comparison to the world: 32
broad gauge: 5,512 km 1.520-m gauge (874 km electrified)
standard gauge: 25 km 1.435-m gauge (2008)
total: 94,797 km
country comparison to the world: 50
paved: 84,028 km
unpaved: 10,769 km (2005)
2,500 km (use limited by location on perimeter of country and by shallowness) (2003)
country comparison to the world: 36
Ports and terminals:
Military ::Belarus
Military branches:
Belarus Armed Forces: Land Force, Air and Air Defense Force (2009)
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 16-49: 2,435,318
females age 16-49: 2,466,762 (2010 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:
males age 16-49: 1,708,634
females age 16-49: 2,043,083 (2010 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
male: 55,758
female: 52,572 (2010 est.)
Military expenditures:
1.4% of GDP (2005 est.)
country comparison to the world: 104
Transnational Issues ::Belarus
Disputes - international:
Boundary demarcated with Latvia and Lithuania in 2006; 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; anti-money-laundering legislation does not meet international standards and was weakened further when know-your-customer requirements were curtailed in 2008; few investigations or prosecutions of money-laundering activities (2008)

Source: The World Factbook (CIA)