Flag of Belarus

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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, Alexander LUKASHENKO has steadily consolidated his power through authoritarian means. Government restrictions on freedom of speech and the press, peaceful assembly, and religion continue.


Eastern Europe, east of Poland

Geographic coordinates:

53 00 N, 28 00 E


total: 207,600 sq km
land: 207,600 sq km
water: 0 sq km

Land boundaries:

total: 2,900 km
border countries: Latvia 141 km, Lithuania 502 km, Poland 407 km, Russia 959 km, Ukraine 891 km


0 km (landlocked)

Maritime claims:

none (landlocked)


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:

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)

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

Geography - note:

landlocked; glacial scouring accounts for the flatness of Belarusian terrain and for its 11,000 lakes


10,293,011 (July 2006 est.)

Age structure:

0-14 years: 15.7% (male 825,823/female 791,741)
15-64 years: 69.7% (male 3,490,442/female 3,682,950)
65 years and over: 14.6% (male 498,976/female 1,003,079) (2006 est.)

Median age:

total: 37.2 years
male: 34.5 years
female: 39.9 years (2006 est.)

Population growth rate:

-0.06% (2006 est.)

Birth rate:

11.16 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Death rate:

14.02 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Net migration rate:

2.3 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Sex ratio:

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.95 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.5 male(s)/female
total population: 0.88 male(s)/female (2006 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

total: 13 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 13.92 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 12.03 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 69.08 years
male: 63.47 years
female: 74.98 years (2006 est.)

Total fertility rate:

1.43 children born/woman (2006 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

0.3% (2001 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people with HIV/AIDS:

15,000 (2001 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:

1,000 (2001 est.)


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, Russian, other


definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.6%
male: 99.8%
female: 99.5% (2003 est.)

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

Government type:

republic in name, although in fact a dictatorship



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


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


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


18 years of age; universal

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 8 members appointed by the president, all for four-year terms) and the Chamber of Representatives or Palata Predstaviteley (110 seats; members elected by universal adult suffrage 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)

Economy - overview:

Belarus's economy in 2005 posted 8% growth. The government has succeeded in lowering inflation over the past several years. Trade with Russia - by far its largest single trade partner - decreased in 2005, largely as a result of a change in the way the Value Added Tax (VAT) on trade was collected. Trade with European countries increased. 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. During 2005, the government 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, which remains low. Growth has been strong in recent years, despite the roadblocks in a tough, centrally directed economy with a high, but decreasing, rate of inflation. Belarus continues to receive heavily discounted oil and natural gas from Russia. Much of Belarus' growth can be attributed to the re-export of Russian oil at market prices.

GDP (purchasing power parity):

$79.13 billion (2005 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate):

$26.69 billion (2005 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:

8% (2005 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):

$7,700 (2005 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:

agriculture: 8.9%
industry: 26.8%
services: 64.3% (2005 est.)

Labour force:

4.3 million (31 December 2005)

Labour 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%: 5.1%
highest 10%: 20% (1998)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:

30.4 (2000)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

8% (2005 est.)

Investment (gross fixed):

20.7% of GDP (2005 est.)


revenues: $5.903 billion
expenditures: $6.343 billion; including capital expenditures of $180 million (2005 est.)

Agriculture - products:

grain, potatoes, vegetables, sugar beets, flax; beef, milk


metal-cutting machine tools, tractors, trucks, earthmovers, motorcycles, televisions, chemical fibers, fertilizer, textiles, radios, refrigerators

Industrial production growth rate:

15.6% (2005 est.)

Electricity - production:

30 billion kWh (2004)

Electricity - consumption:

34.3 billion kWh (2004)

Electricity - exports:

800 million kWh (2004)

Electricity - imports:

7 billion kWh (2003)

Oil - production:

36,000 bbl/day (2004 est.)

Oil - consumption:

252,000 bbl/day (2003 est.)

Oil - exports:

14,500 bbl/day (2003 est.)

Oil - imports:

360,000 bbl/day (2004 est.)

Natural gas - production:

250 million cu m (2004 est.)

Natural gas - consumption:

20.5 billion cu m (2005 est.)

Natural gas - imports:

20.5 billion cu m (2005 est.)

Current account balance:

$312.4 million (2005 est.)


$16.14 billion f.o.b. (2005 est.)

Exports - commodities:

machinery and equipment, mineral products, chemicals, metals, textiles, foodstuffs

Exports - partners:

Russia 47%, UK 8.3%, Netherlands 6.7%, Poland 5.3% (2004)


$16.94 billion f.o.b. (2005 est.)

Imports - commodities:

mineral products, machinery and equipment, chemicals, foodstuffs, metals

Imports - partners:

Russia 68.2%, Germany 6.6%, Ukraine 3.3% (2004)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:

$835.4 million (2005 est.)

Debt - external:

$4.662 billion (30 June 2005 est.)

Economic aid - recipient:

$194.3 million (1995)

Currency (code):

Belarusian ruble (BYB/BYR)

Fiscal year:

calendar year

Telephones - main lines in use:

3,175,900 (2004)

Telephones - mobile cellular:

2,239,300 (2004)

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; modernization of the network to digital switching progressing slowly
domestic: fixed line penetration is improving although rural areas continue to be underserved; two 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); 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)

Television broadcast stations:

47 (plus 27 repeaters) (1995)

Internet country code:


Internet hosts:

20,973 (2005)

Internet users:

1.6 million (2005)


101 (2005)

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 44
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: 15 (2005)

Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 57
over 3,047 m: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 5
914 to 1,523 m: 7
under 914 m: 42 (2005)


1 (2005)


gas 5,223 km; oil 2,443 km; refined products 1,686 km (2004)


total: 5,512 km
broad gauge: 5,497 km 1.520-m gauge (874 km electrified)
standard gauge: 15 km 1.435 m (2004)


total: 93,055 km
paved: 93,055 km (2003)


2,500 km (use limited by location on perimeter of country and by shallowness) (2003)

Ports and terminals:


Military branches:

Belarus Armed Forces: Land Force, Air and Air Defense Force (2006)

Disputes - international:

1997 boundary treaty with Ukraine remains unratified over unresolved financial claims, preventing demarcation and diminishing border security; the whole boundary with Latvia and more than half the boundary with Lithuania remains undemarcated; discussions toward economic and political union with Russia proceed slowly

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