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 continue.

 

Geography:
Location: Eastern Europe, east of Poland
Geographic coordinates: 53 00 N, 28 00 E
People:
Population: 9,643,566 (July 2012 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years:  14.2% (male 699,048/female 660,130)

15-64 years: 71.7% (male 3,328,548/female 3,542,359)

65 years and over: 14.1% (male 427,086/female 920,381) (2011 est.)

Median age: Total: 39.3 years

male: 36.3 years

female: 42.3 years (2012 est.)

Government:
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

Communications:
Telephones – main lines in use: 4.208 million (2011)
Telephones – mobile cellular: 10.695 million (2011)
Transportation:
Airports: 65 (2012)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 34

over 3,047 m: 2

2,438 to 3,047 m: 20

1,524 to 2,437 m: 4

914 to 1,523 m: 1

under 914 m: 7 (2012)

Military:
Military branches: Belarus Armed Forces: Land Force, Air and Air Defence Force (2011)
Military service age and obligation: 18-27 years of age for compulsory military service; conscript service obligation – 18 months (2010)

Economy:

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.

Transnational Issues:

Disputes – international: 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
Illicit drugs: limited cultivation of opium poppy and cannabis, mostly for the domestic market; transhipment point for illicit drugs to and via Russia, and to the Baltics and Western Europe; a small and lightly regulated financial centre; new anti-money-laundering legislation does not meet international standards; few investigations or prosecutions of money-laundering activities

Map of Belarus