Facts about Belarus
|Population||9,685,768 (July 2008 est.|
|Time zone||UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begin|
Eastern Europe, east of Poland
General info about 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, Alexandr 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.
Belarusian, Russian, other
What about 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
Belarusian 81.2%, Russian 11.4%, Polish 3.9%, Ukrainian 2.4%, other 1.1% (1999 census)
HIV/AIDS prevalence rate
0.3% (2001 est.)
cold winters, cool and moist summers; transitional between continental and maritime
forests, peat deposits, small quantities of oil and natural gas, granite, dolomitic limestone, marl, chalk, sand, gravel, clay
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. Since 2005, the government has 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. Nevertheless, GDP growth has been strong in recent years, reaching more than 8% in 2008, despite the roadblocks of a tough, centrally directed economy with a high rate of inflation. Belarus receives heavily discounted oil and natural gas from Russia and much of Belarus' growth can be attributed to the re-export of Russian oil at market prices. Trade with Russia - by far its largest single trade partner - decreased in 2007-08, largely as a result of a change in the way the Value Added Tax (VAT) on trade was collected. Russia has introduced an export duty on oil shipped to Belarus, which will increase gradually through 2009, and a requirement that Belarusian duties on re-exported Russian oil be shared with Russia - 80% was slated to go to Russia in 2008, and 85% in 2009. Russia also increased Belarusian natural gas prices from $47 per thousand cubic meters (tcm) to $100 per tcm in 2007, and increased to $128 per tcm in 2008, and plans to increase prices gradually to world levels by 2011. Russia's recent policy of bringing energy prices for Belarus to world market levels may result in a slowdown in economic growth in Belarus over the next few years. Some policy measures, including tightening of fiscal and monetary policies, improving energy efficiency, and diversifying exports, have been introduced, but external borrowing has been the main mechanism used to manage the growing pressures on the economy. Belarus started to feel the effects of the global financial crisis in late 2008 and reached an agreement with Russia for a $2 billion stabilization loan and negotiated with the IMF for a potential loan in December. Belarus's economic growth is likely to slow in 2009 as it faces decreasing global demand for its exports, and will find it difficult to increase external borrowing if the credit markets continue to tighten.
soil pollution from pesticide use; southern part of the country contaminated with fallout from 1986 nuclear reactor accident at Chornobyl' in northern Ukraine
Cities in Belarusbraslav brest disna dzerzhinsk gomel haradok horki hrodna ivanava kleck kobryn lida lyuban malaryta masty mazyr minsk navahrudak orsha pastavy pinsk salihorsk senno slonim stolin vawkavysk zabinka zlobin