Belarus

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Introduction - Belarus:

Country

Belarus

Background

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 countrys 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 continue.

Location - Belarus:

Location

Eastern Europe, east of Poland

Geographic coordinates

53 00 N, 28 00 E

Map references

Europe

Area

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

Area comparative

slightly smaller than Kansas

Land boundaries

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

Coastline

0 km (landlocked)

Maritime claims

none (landlocked)

Climate

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

Terrain

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

NA

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:

Population

9,724,723 (July 2007 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 14.7% (male 733,010/female 691,734)
15-64 years: 70.4% (male 3,327,119/female 3,520,690)
65 years and over: 14.9% (male 471,863/female 980,307) (2007 est.)

Median age

total: 38.2 years
male: 35.1 years
female: 41.1 years (2007 est.)

Population growth rate

-0.41% (2007 est.)

Birth rate

9.5 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)

Death rate

13.98 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)

Net migration rate

0.38 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.945 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.481 male(s)/female
total population: 0.873 male(s)/female (2007 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 6.63 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 7.67 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 5.53 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 70.05 years
male: 64.31 years
female: 76.14 years (2007 est.)

Total fertility rate

1.22 children born/woman (2007 est.)

Hiv aids adult prevalence rate

0.3% (2001 est.)

Hiv aids people living with hiv aids

15,000 (2001 est.)

Hiv aids deaths

1,000 (2001 est.)

Nationality

noun: Belarusian(s)
adjective: Belarusian

Ethnic groups

Belarusian 81.2%, Russian 11.4%, Polish 3.9%, Ukrainian 2.4%, other 1.1% (1999 census)

Religions

Eastern Orthodox 80%, other (including Roman Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, and Muslim) 20% (1997 est.)

Languages

Belarusian, Russian, other

Literacy

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.6%
male: 99.8%
female: 99.4% (1999 census)

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

Capital

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, Horad Minsk*, Hrodna, Mahilyow, Minsk, Vitsyebsk
note: administrative divisions have the same names as their administrative centers

Independence

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

Constitution

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

Suffrage

18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President Aleksandr LUKASHENKO (since 20 July 1994)
head of government: Prime Minister Sergei SIDORSKIY (since 19 December 2003); First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir SEMASHKO (since NA December 2003)
cabinet: Council of Ministers
elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term; first election took place 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 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 Sobranie consists of the Council of the Republic or Soviet Respubliki (64 seats; 56 members elected by regional councils and eight 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: 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)

Political parties and leaders

pro-government parties: Agrarian Party or AP [Mikhail SHIMANSKY]; Belarusian Communist Party or KPB; Belarusian Patriotic Movement (Belarusian Patriotic Party) or BPR [Nikolai ULAKHOVICH, chairman]; Liberal Democratic Party of Belarus [Sergei GAYDUKEVICH]; Party of Labor and Justice [Viktor SOKOLOV]; Social-Sports Party [Vladimir ALEXANDROVICH]
opposition parties: 10 Plus Coalition [Aleksandr MILINKEVICH], includes: Belarusian Party of Communists or PKB [Syarhey KALYAKIN]; Belarusian Party of Labor (unregistered) [Aleksandr BUKHVOSTOV, Leonid LEMESHONAK]; Belarusian Popular Front or BPF [Vintsyuk VYACHORKA]; Belarusian Social-Democratic Gramada [Stanislav SHUSHKEVICH]; Green Party [Oleg GROMYKO]; Party of Freedom and Progress (unregistered) [Vladimir NOVOSYAD]; United Civic Party or UCP [Anatol LYABEDKA]; Womens Party Nadezhda [Valentina MATUSEVICH, chairperson]
other opposition includes: Belarusian Social-Democratic Party (Peoples Assembly) or BSDP NH [Aleksandr KOZULIN]; Christian Conservative BPF [Zyanon PAZNIAK]; Ecological Party of Greens [Mikhail KARTASH]; Party of Popular Accord [Sergei YERMAKK]; Republican Party [Vladimir BELAZOR]

Political pressure groups and leaders

Assembly of Pro-Democratic NGOs [Sergey MATSKEVICH]; Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions [Alyaksandr YAROSHUK]; Belarusian Helsinki Committee [Tatiana PROTKO]; Belarusian Organization of Working Women [Irina ZHIKHAR]; Charter 97 [Andrey SANNIKOV]; Lenin Communist Union of Youth (youth wing of the Belarusian Party of Communists or PKB); National Strike Committee of Entrepreneurs [Aleksandr VASILYEV, Valery LEVONEVSKY]; Partnership NGO [Nikolay ASTREYKA]; Perspektiva kiosk watchdog NGO [Anatol SHUMCHENKO]; Vyasna [Ales BYALATSKY]; Womens Independent Democratic Movement [Ludmila PETINA]; Youth Front (Malady Front) [Dzmitryy DASHKEVICH, Syarhey BAKHUN]; Zubr youth group [Vladimir KOBETS]

International organization participation

BSEC (observer), CEI, CIS, EAEC, EAPC, EBRD, GCTU, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, NAM, NSG, OPCW, OSCE, PCA, PFP, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO (observer)

Diplomatic representation in the us

chief of mission: Ambassador Mikhail KHVOSTOV
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 Karen B. STEWART
embassy: 46 Starovilenskaya Street, Minsk 220002
mailing address: PSC 78, Box B Minsk, APO 09723
telephone: [375] (17) 210-12-83, 217-7347, 217-7348
FAX: [375] (17) 234-7853

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

Economy - Belarus:

Economy overview

Belaruss economy in 2006 posted more than 8% growth. Trade with Russia - by far its largest single trade partner - decreased in 2006, 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 states 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, 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 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. This growth will be threatened in 2007, however, when Russia raises energy prices closer to world market prices for Belarus. Russia is planning to increase Belarusian gas prices from $47 per thousand cubic meters (tcm) to $100 per tcm for 2007, gradually increasing to world prices by 2011. Russia has also 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 - 70% will go to Russia in 2007, 80% in 2008, and 85% in 2009.

Gdp purchasing power parity

$82.94 billion (2006 est.)

Gdp official exchange rate

$28.98 billion (2006 est.)

Gdp real growth rate

9.9% (2006 est.)

Gdp per capita ppp

$8,100 (2006 est.)

Gdp composition by sector

agriculture: 9.3%
industry: 31.6%
services: 59.1% (2005 est.)

Labor force

4.3 million (31 December 2005)

Labor 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

9.5% (2006 est.)

Investment gross fixed

25.9% of GDP (2006 est.)

Budget

revenues: $6.578 billion
expenditures: $7.164 billion; including capital expenditures of $180 million (2006 est.)

Agriculture products

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

Industries

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

29.33 billion kWh (2004)

Electricity consumption

31.05 billion kWh (2004)

Electricity exports

4.723 billion kWh (2004)

Electricity imports

8.5 billion kWh (2004)

Oil production

34,260 bbl/day (2004 est.)

Oil consumption

165,000 bbl/day (2004 est.)

Oil exports

249,900 bbl/day (2004 est.)

Oil imports

378,200 bbl/day (2004 est.)

Oil proved reserves

198 million bbl

Natural gas production

180 million cu m (2004 est.)

Natural gas consumption

20.5 billion cu m (2005 est.)

Natural gas exports

0 cu m (2004 est.)

Natural gas imports

16.22 billion cu m (2004 est.)

Current account balance

-$511.8 million (2006 est.)

Exports

$19.61 billion f.o.b. (2006 est.)

Exports commodities

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

Exports partners

Russia 34.7%, Netherlands 17.7%, UK 7.5%, Ukraine 6.3%, Poland 5.2% (2006)

Imports

$21.12 billion f.o.b. (2006 est.)

Imports commodities

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

Imports partners

Russia 58.6%, Germany 7.5%, Ukraine 5.5% (2006)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$1.329 billion (2006 est.)

Debt external

$5.498 billion (30 June 2006 est.)

Economic aid recipient

$194.3 million (1995)

Currency code

Belarusian ruble (BYB/BYR)

Exchange rates

Belarusian rubles per US dollar - 2,144.6 (2006), 2,150 (2005), 2,160.26 (2004), 2,051.27 (2003), 1,790.92 (2002)

Communications - Belarus:

Fiscal year

calendar year

Telephones main lines in use

3.368 million (2006)

Telephones mobile cellular

5.96 million (2006)

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; 4 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); 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

Radio broadcast stations

AM 28, FM 37, shortwave 11 (1998)

Television broadcast stations

47 (plus 27 repeaters) (1995)

Internet country code

.by

Internet hosts

33,641 (2006)

Internet users

5.478 million (2006)

Transportation - Belarus:

Airports

86 (2006)

Airports with paved runways

total: 41
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: 12 (2006)

Airports with unpaved runways

total: 45
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 6
under 914 m: 35 (2006)

Heliports

1 (2006)

Pipelines

gas 5,223 km; oil 2,321 km; refined products 1,686 km (2006)

Railways

total: 5,512 km
broad gauge: 5,497 km 1.520-m gauge (874 km electrified)
standard gauge: 15 km 1.435 m (2006)

Roadways

total: 93,310 km
paved: 81,180 km
unpaved: 12,130 km (2004)

Waterways

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

Ports and terminals

Mazyr

Military - Belarus:

Military branches

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

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 18-49: 2,520,644
females age 18-49: 2,564,696 (2005 est.)

Manpower fit for military service

males age 18-49: 1,657,984
females age 18-49: 2,102,793 (2005 est.)

Manpower reaching military service age annually

males age 18-49: 85,202
females age 18-49: 82,037 (2005 est.)

Military expenditures percent of gdp

1.4% (2005 est.)

Disputes international

as of January 2007, ground demarcations of the boundaries with Latvia and Lithuania were complete and mapped with final ratification documentation in preparation; 1997 boundary delimitation treaty with Ukraine remains unratified over unresolved financial claims, preventing demarcation and diminishing border security

This page was last updated on 16 September, 2007
Source: CIA >>>


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