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Belarus: Facts And Figures


Location: Eastern Europe, east of Poland

Geographic coordinates: 53 00 N, 28 00 E

Map references: Commonwealth of Independent States

Area: Total area: 207,600 sq km Land area: 207,600 sq km Comparative area: 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

International disputes: treaty with Lithuania defining the border awaits demarcation

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

Terrain: generally flat and contains much marshland 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% Meadows and pastures: 15% Forest and
woodland: 34% Other: 21% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: 1,000 sq km (1993)

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
Natural hazards: N/A 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

Geographic Note: landlocked


Population: 10,412,219 (July 1997 est.)

Age structure: 0-14 years: 21% (male 1,092,760; female 1,047,992) 15-64 years: 66% (male
3,346,111; female 3,547,352) 65 years and over: 13% (male 452,267; female 925,737) (July
1997 est.)

Population growth rate: -0.01% (1997 est.)

Birth rate: 9.75 births/1,000 population (1997 est.)

Death rate: 13.23 deaths/1,000 population (1997 est.)

Net migration rate: 3.38 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1997 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 All ages: 0.89 male(s)/female (1997 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 13.9 deaths/1,000 live births (1997 est.)

Life expectancy at birth: Total population: 68.4 years Male: 62.48 years Female: 74.61 years
(1997 est.)

Total fertility rate: 1.35 children born/woman (1997 est.)

Nationality: Noun: Belarusian(s) Adjective: Belarusian

Ethnic divisions: Belarusian 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: Belarusian, Russian, other

Literacy: age 15 and over can read and write (1989 est.) Total population: 98% Male: 99%
Female: 97%


Names: Conventional long form: Republic of Belarus Conventional short form: Belarus Local
long form: Respublika Belarus' Local short form: Belarus' Former: Belorussian (Byelorussian)
Soviet Socialist Republic

Digraph: BO, BY

Type: republic

Capital: Minsk

Administrative divisions: 6 voblastsi (singular -- voblasts) and one municipality* (harady, singular
-- horad); Brestskaya (Brest), Homel'skaya (Homel), Horad Minsk*, Hrodzenskaya (Hrodna),
Mahilouskaya (Mahileu), 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 March 1918 (from Bolshevist Russia; reoccupied in December 1918); August
1991 (from Soviet Union); the Belarusian Supreme Soviet issued a proclamation of
independence; on 17 July 1990 Belarus issued a declaration of sovereignty

National holiday: Independence Day, 3 July 1990 (date set by November 1996 referendum;
marks the entry of Soviet troops into Minsk in 1944; 25 March is unofficially celebrated by the

Constitution: referendum of 27 November 1996 (declared illegitimate by the international
community) adopted a new constitution massing power in the hands of the president; signed into
law on 28 November 1996

Legal system: based on civil law system

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Flag: Current version: red horizontal band (top) and green horizontal band one-half the width of
the red band; a vertical stripe of white on the hoist side bears in red the Belarusian national
ornament Previous version: three equal horizontal bands of white-red-white.

Special note about the Belarusian flag: "The current official flag, which is almost identical to the
Soviet era flag, was introduced as the result of a 1995 referendum whose legitimacy is
questioned. The white-red-white flag was adopted upon declaration of Belarus's independence
in 1991. It dates back to 1918 and the initial declaration of Belarusian independence.
Democratic opposition forces continue to recognize this flag." (Source: RFE/RL's Belarusian


Overview: At the time of independence in late 1991, Belarus was one of the most developed of
the former Soviet states, inheriting a modern -- by Soviet standards -- machine building sector
and robust agricultural sector. However, the breakup of the Soviet Union and its traditional trade
ties in December 1991, as well as the government's failure to embrace market reforms, has
resulted in a sharp economic decline. Privatization is virtually nonexistent and the system of
state orders and distribution persists. Although President Alyaksandr Lukashenka pronounces
his 1995 macrostabilization policies a success -- annual inflation dropped from 2,220% in 1994
to 244% in 1995 -- the IMF has criticized his exchange rate policies and suspended Minsk's
$300 million standby program in November 1995. The overvalued ruble has especially hurt
Belarusian exporters, most of which now operate at a loss. In addition, the January 1995
Customs Union agreement with Russia -- which required Minsk to adjust its foreign trade
practices to mirror Moscow's -- has resulted in higher import tariffs for Belarusian consumers;
tariffs rose from 5%-20% to 20%-40%. In general, as of the beginning of 1997, Belarus has
badly lagged in moving away from the old centrally planned policies of the former USSR.

GDP: purchasing power parity -- $51.9 billion (1996 estimate as extrapolated from World Bank
estimate for 1994)

GDP real growth rate: 3% (1996 est.)

GDP per capita: $5,000 (1996 est.)

GDP composition by sector: Agriculture: 21% Industry: 49% Services: 30% (1991 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 33% (1996 est.)

Labor force: 4.731 million By occupation: industry and construction 36%, agriculture and forestry
19%, other 45% (1995)

Unemployment rate: 3.1% officially registered unemployed (December 1996); large numbers of
underemployed workers

Budget: Revenues: N/A Expenditures: N/A

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: 3.2% (1996 est.)

Electricity: Capacity: 7.21 million kW (1994 est.) Production: 23.7 billion kWh (1996 est.)
Consumption per capita: 2,553 kWh (1995)

Agriculture: grain, potatoes, vegetables; meat, milk

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

Exports: $5.2 billion (f.o.b., 1996) Commodities: machinery and transport equipment, chemicals,
foodstuffs Partners: Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Germany

Imports: $6.8 billion (c.i.f., 1996) Commodities: fuel, natural gas, industrial raw materials, textiles,
sugar Partners: Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Germany

External debt: $2 billion (September 1995 est.)

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

Currency: Belarusian ruble (BR)

Exchange rates: Belarusian rubles per $1: 16,613 (September monthly average 1996),15,500
(yearend 1996), 11,500 (yearend 1995), 10,600 (yearend 1994), 699 (yearend 1993), 15
(yearend 1992)

Fiscal year: calendar year


Railroads: Total: 5,488 km Broad gauge: 5,488 km 1.520-m gauge (873 km electrified) (1993)

Highways: Total: 51,547 km Paved: 50,825 km Unpaved: 722 (1995 est.)

Waterways: N/A 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: Mazyr

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

Airports: (1996 est.) 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


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); 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.)


Branches: Army, Air Force, Air Defense Force, Interior Ministry Troops, Border Guards

Manpower availability: males age 15-49: 2,659,236 (1997 est.) males fit for military service:
2,083,696 (1997 est.) males reach military age (18) annually: 77,496 (1997 est.)

Defense expenditures: 2.4 trillion rubles; note: conversion of defense expenditures into US
dollars using the current exchange rate could produce misleading results

Source: Excerpted from the CIA's 1997 World Factbook. If link is out of date, see the CIA's home