[Country map of Belarus]



Location: Eastern Europe, east of Poland

Map references: Commonwealth of Independent States - European States

total area: 207,600 sq km
land area: 207,600 sq km
comparative area: slightly smaller than Kansas

Land boundaries: total 3,098 km, Latvia 141 km, Lithuania 502 km, Poland 605 km, Russia 959 km, Ukraine 891 km

Coastline: 0 km (landlocked)

Maritime claims: none; landlocked

International disputes: none

Climate: cold winters, cool and moist summers; transitional between continental and maritime

Terrain: generally flat and contains much marshland

Natural resources: forest land, peat deposits, small quantities of oil and natural gas

Land use:
arable land: 29%
permanent crops: 1%
meadows and pastures: 15%
forest and woodland: 0%
other: 55%

Irrigated land: 1,490 sq km (1990)

current issues: soil pollution from pesticide use; southern part of the country contaminated with fallout from 1986 nuclear reactor accident at Chornobyl'
natural hazards: NA
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

Note: landlocked


Population: 10,437,418 (July 1995 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 22% (female 1,126,062; male 1,166,439)
15-64 years: 65% (female 3,494,891; male 3,293,196)
65 years and over: 13% (female 913,508; male 443,322) (July 1995 est.)

Population growth rate: 0.3% (1995 est.)

Birth rate: 12.98 births/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Death rate: 11.23 deaths/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Net migration rate: 1.27 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 18.6 deaths/1,000 live births (1995 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 71.03 years
male: 66.36 years
female: 75.93 years (1995 est.)

Total fertility rate: 1.87 children born/woman (1995 est.)

noun: Belarusian(s)
adjective: Belarusian

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

Religions: Eastern Orthodox, other

Languages: Byelorussian, Russian, other

Literacy: age 15 and over can read and write (1989)
total population: 97%
male: 99%
female: 96%

Labor force: 4.887 million
by occupation: industry and construction 40%, agriculture and forestry 21%, other 39% (1992)


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

Digraph: BO

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: the administrative centers of the voblastsi are included in parentheses

Independence: 25 August 1991 (from Soviet Union)

National holiday: Independence Day, 27 July (1990)

Constitution: adopted 15 March 1994; replaces constitution of April 1978

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); election held June 24 and 10 July 1994 (next to be held NA 1999); Aleksandr LUKASHENKO 80%, Vyacheslav KEBICH 14%
head of government: Prime Minister Mikhail CHIGIR (since July 1994); Deputy Prime Ministers Vladimir GARKUN, Viktor GONCHAR, Sergey LING, Mikhail MYASNIKOVICH, Valeriy KOKAREV (since NA)
cabinet: Council of Ministers
note: first presidential elections took place in June-July 1994

Legislative branch: unicameral
Supreme Soviet: elections last held 4 April 1990 (next to be held 14 May 1995); results - Communists 87%; seats - (360 total) number of seats by party NA; note - 50 seats are for public bodies; the Communist Party obtained an overwhelming majority

Judicial branch: Supreme Court

Political parties and leaders: Belarusian Popular Front (BPF), Zenon POZNYAK, chairman; Party of Popular Accord, Gennadiy KARPENKO; Union of Belarusian Entreprenuers, V. N. KARYAGIN; Belarusian Party of Communists, Vasiliy NOVIKOV, Viktor CHIKIN, chairmen; Belarus Peasant Party, Yevgeniy LUGIN, chairman; Belarusian Socialist Party, Vyacheslav KUZNETSOV, chairman; Belarusian Social Democrat Party (SDBP), Oleg TRUSOV, Stanislav SHUSHKEVICH, chairmen; Agrarian Party of Belarus, Aleksandr DUBKO; United Democratic Party of Belarus (UDPB), Aleksandr DOBROVOLSKIY, chairman; Independent Trade Unions, Sergey ANTONCHIK, chairman


Diplomatic representation in US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Sergey Nikolayevich MARTYNOV
chancery: 1619 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20009
telephone: [1] (202) 986-1604
FAX: [1] (202) 986-1805
consulate(s) general: New York

US diplomatic representation:
chief of mission: Ambassador Kenneth Spencer YALOWITZ
embassy: Starovilenskaya #46, Minsk
mailing address: use embassy street address
telephone: [7] (0172) 34-65-37

Flag: three horizontal bands of white (top), red, and white


Overview: Belarus ranks among the most developed of the former Soviet states, with a relatively modern - by Soviet standards - and diverse machine building sector and a robust agriculture sector. It also serves as a transport link for Russian oil exports to the Baltic states and Eastern and Western Europe. The breakup of the Soviet Union and its command economy has resulted in a sharp economic contraction as traditional trade ties have collapsed. The Belarusian government has lagged behind the governments of most other former Soviet states in economic reform, with privatization almost nonexistent. The system of state orders and distribution persists. In mid-1994, the Belarusian government embarked on an austerity program with IMF support to slash state credits and consumer subsidies in order to bring down the budget deficit and reduce inflation. However, despite its promising start, the regime's drive to reinvigorate the economy has fallen short, and the IMF has criticized its failure to implement the reforms that the Fund had negotiated. As a result, the IMF has suspended talks on introducing a stand-by arrangement. Economic relations with Russia, which will have an important bearing on the future course of the economy, will be strengthened if Minsk adopts the necessary legislation to implement a customs union agreed to in January 1995.

National product: GDP - purchasing power parity - $53.4 billion (1994 estimate as extrapolated from World Bank estimate for 1992)

National product real growth rate: -20% (1994)

National product per capita: $5,130 (1994 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 29% per month (1994)

Unemployment rate: 1.4% officially registered unemployed (December 1993); large numbers of underemployed workers

revenues: $NA
expenditures: $NA, including capital expenditures of $NA

Exports: $968 million to outside of the FSU countries (f.o.b., 1994)
commodities: machinery and transport equipment, chemicals, foodstuffs
partners: Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Bulgaria

Imports: $534 million from outside the FSU countries (c.i.f., 1994)
commodities: fuel, natural gas, industrial raw materials, textiles, sugar
partners: Russia, Ukraine, Poland

External debt: $1.5 billion (July 1994 est.)

Industrial production: growth rate -19% (1994); accounts for about 40% of GDP (1992)

capacity: 7,010,000 kW
production: 31.4 billion kWh
consumption per capita: 3,010 kWh (1994)

Industries: employ about 40% of labor force and produced a wide variety of products including (in percent share of total output of former Soviet Union): tractors (12%); metal-cutting machine tools (11%); off-highway dump trucks up to 110-metric-ton load capacity (100%); wheel-type earthmovers for construction and mining (100%); eight-wheel-drive, high-flotation trucks with cargo capacity of 25 metric tons for use in tundra and roadless areas (100%); equipment for animal husbandry and livestock feeding (25%); motorcycles (21.3%); television sets (11%); chemical fibers (28%); fertilizer (18%); linen fabric (11%); wool fabric (7%); radios; refrigerators; and other consumer goods

Agriculture: accounts for almost 25% of GDP and 5.7% of total agricultural output of former Soviet Union; employs 21% of the labor force; in 1988 produced the following (in percent of total Soviet production): grain (3.6%), potatoes (12.2%), vegetables (3.0%), meat (6.0%), milk (7.0%); net exporter of meat, milk, eggs, flour, potatoes

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

Economic aid: $NA

Currency: Belarusian rubel (BR)

Exchange rates: Belarusian rubels per US$1 - 10,600 (end December 1994)

Fiscal year: calendar year


total: 5,570 km in common carrier service; does not include industrial lines
broad gauge: 5,570 km 1.520-m gauge (1990)

total: 98,200 km
paved: 66,100 km
unpaved: earth 32,100 km (1990)

Inland waterways: NA km

Pipelines: crude oil 1,470 km; refined products 1,100 km; natural gas 1,980 km (1992)

Ports: Mazyr

Merchant marine:
note: claims 5% of former Soviet fleet

total: 118
with paved runways over 3,047 m: 2
with paved runways 2,438 to 3,047 m: 18
with paved runways 1,524 to 2,437 m: 5
with paved runways under 914 m: 11
with unpaved runways over 3,047 m: 1
with unpaved runways 2,438 to 3,047 m: 6
with unpaved runways 1,524 to 2,438 m: 4
with unpaved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 9
with unpaved runways under 914 m: 62


Telephone system: 1,849,000 telephones (December 1991); 18 telephones/100 persons; 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); new investment centers on international connections and business needs; the new BelCel NMT 450 cellular system (a joint venture) is now operating in Minsk
local: NA
intercity: NA
international: international traffic is carried by the Moscow international gateway switch and also by 2 satellite earth stations near Minsk - INTELSAT (through Canada) and EUTELSAT (through the UK)

broadcast stations: AM NA, FM NA, shortwave 0
radios: 3.14 million (5,615,000 with multiple speaker systems for program diffusion)

broadcast stations: NA
televisions: 3.538 million

Defense Forces

Branches: Army, Air Force, Air Defense Force, Republic Security Forces (internal and border troops)

Manpower availability: males age 15-49 2,550,500; males fit for military service 1,999,138; males reach military age (18) annually 71,808 (1995 est.)

Defense expenditures: 56.5 billion rubles, NA% of GDP (1993 est.); note - conversion of the military budget into US dollars using the current exchange rate could produce misleading results