Belarus

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Source: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/bo.html

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PAGE LAST UPDATED ON NOVEMBER 15, 2011
Flag of Belarus
(CONTAINS DESCRIPTION)
Location of Belarus
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Map of Belarus
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Photos of Belarus
 
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OF BELARUS
 

Introduction

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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, Aleksandr 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.
 
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Geography

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Eastern Europe, east of Poland
 
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53 00 N, 28 00 E
 
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total: 207,600 sq km
country comparison to the world: 86
land: 202,900 sq km
water: 4,700 sq km
 
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slightly smaller than Kansas
 
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total: 3,306 km
border countries: Latvia 171 km, Lithuania 680 km, Poland 605 km, Russia 959 km, Ukraine 891 km
 
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0 km (landlocked)
 
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none (landlocked)
 
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cold winters, cool and moist summers; transitional between continental and maritime
 
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generally flat and contains much marshland
 
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lowest point: Nyoman River 90 m
highest point: Dzyarzhynskaya Hara 346 m
 
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timber, peat deposits, small quantities of oil and natural gas, granite, dolomitic limestone, marl, chalk, sand, gravel, clay
 
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arable land: 26.77%
permanent crops: 0.6%
other: 72.63% (2005)
 
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1,310 sq km (2008)
 
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58 cu km (1997)
 
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total: 2.79 cu km/yr (23%/47%/30%)
per capita: 286 cu m/yr (2000)
 
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NA
 
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soil pollution from pesticide use; southern part of the country contaminated with fallout from 1986 nuclear reactor accident at Chornobyl' in northern Ukraine
 
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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
 
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landlocked; glacial scouring accounts for the flatness of Belarusian terrain and for its 11,000 lakes
 
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People and Society

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noun: Belarusian(s)
adjective: Belarusian
 
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Belarusian 81.2%, Russian 11.4%, Polish 3.9%, Ukrainian 2.4%, other 1.1% (1999 census)
 
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Belarusian (official) 36.7%, Russian (official) 62.8%, other 0.5% (includes small Polish- and Ukrainian-speaking minorities) (1999 census)
 
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Eastern Orthodox 80%, other (including Roman Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, and Muslim) 20% (1997 est.)
 
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9,577,552 (July 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 88
 
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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.)
 
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total: 39 years
male: 36.1 years
female: 42.1 years (2011 est.)
 
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-0.363% (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 219
 
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9.76 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 196
 
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13.77 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 17
 
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0.38 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 66
 
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urban population: 75% of total population (2010)
rate of urbanization: 0.1% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
 
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MINSK (capital) 1.837 million (2009)
 
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at birth: 1.062 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.94 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.47 male(s)/female
total population: 0.87 male(s)/female (2011 est.)
 
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15 deaths/100,000 live births (2008)
country comparison to the world: 132
 
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total: 6.25 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 173
male: 7.24 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 5.19 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.)
 
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total population: 71.2 years
country comparison to the world: 140
male: 65.57 years
female: 77.18 years (2011 est.)
 
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1.26 children born/woman (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 216
 
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5.8% of GDP (2009)
country comparison to the world: 113
 
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4.869 physicians/1,000 population (2007)
country comparison to the world: 5
 
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11.23 beds/1,000 population (2007)
country comparison to the world: 4
 
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improved:
urban: 100% of population
rural: 100% of population
total: 100% of population (2008)
 
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improved:
urban: 91% of population
rural: 97% of population
total: 93% of population
unimproved:
urban: 9% of population
rural: 3% of population
total: 7% of population (2008)
 
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0.3% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 89
 
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17,000 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 82
 
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fewer than 1,000 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 69
 
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1.3% (2005)
country comparison to the world: 117
 
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4.5% of GDP (2009)
country comparison to the world: 83
 
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definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.6%
male: 99.8%
female: 99.4% (1999 census)
 
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total: 15 years
male: 14 years
female: 15 years (2007)
 
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Government

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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
 
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republic in name, although in fact a dictatorship
 
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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 and will continue throughout 2011
 
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6 provinces (voblastsi, singular - voblasts') and 1 municipality* (horad); Brest, Homyel' (Gomel), Horad Minsk* (Minsk City), Hrodna (Grodno), Mahilyow (Mogilev), Minsk, Vitsyebsk (Vitebsk)
note: administrative divisions have the same names as their administrative centers; Russian spelling provided for reference when different from Belarusian
 
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25 August 1991 (from the Soviet Union)
 
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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
 
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15 March 1994; revised by national referendum 24 November 1996 giving the presidency greatly expanded powers; became effective 27 November 1996; revised again 17 October 2004 removing presidential term limits
 
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civil law system; note - nearly all major codes (civil, civil procedure, criminal, criminal procedure, family and labor) have been revised and came into force in 1999 or 2000
 
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has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt
 
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18 years of age; universal
 
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chief of state: President Aleksandr LUKASHENKO (since 20 July 1994)
head of government: Prime Minister Mikhail MYASNIKOVICH (since 28 December 2010); First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir SEMASHKO (since December 2003)
cabinet: Council of Ministers
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elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term; first election took place on 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 on 9 September 2001; an October 2004 referendum ended presidential term limits and allowed the president to run in a third (19 March 2006) and fourth election (19 December 2010); prime minister and deputy prime ministers appointed by the president
election results: Aleksandr LUKASHENKO reelected president; percent of vote - Aleksandr LUKASHENKO 79.7%, Andrey SANNIKAU 2.6%, other candidates 17.7%; note - election marred by electoral fraud
 
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bicameral National Assembly or Natsionalnoye Sobraniye consists of the Council of the Republic or Sovet Respubliki (64 seats; 56 members elected by regional and Minsk city councils and 8 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: Palata Predstaviteley - last held on 28 September 2008 (next to be held in the spring of 2012); international observers determined that despite minor improvements the election ultimately fell short of democratic standards; pro-LUKASHENKO candidates won every seat
election results: Sovet Respubliki - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NA; Palata Predstaviteley - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - KPB 6, AP 1, no affiliation 103
 
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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)
 
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pro-government parties: Belarusian Agrarian Party or AP [Mikhail SHIMANSKY]; Belarusian Patriotic Movement (Belarusian Patriotic Party) or BPR [Nikolay ULAKHOVICH, chairman]; Communist Party of Belarus or KPB [Tatsyana HOLUBEVA]; Liberal Democratic Party or LDP [Sergey GAYDUKEVICH]; Republican Party of Labor and Justice [Vasiliy ZADNEPRYANYY]
opposition parties: Belarusian Christian Democracy Party [Pavel SEVERINETS] (unregistered); Belarusian Party of Communists or PKB [Sergey KALYAKIN]; Belarusian Party of Labor [Aleksandr BUKHVOSTOV] (unregistered); Belarusian Popular Front or BPF [Aleksey YANUKEVICH]; Belarusian Social-Democratic Hramada [Stanislav SHUSHKEVICH]; Belarusian Social Democratic Party Hramada ("Assembly") or BSDPH [Anatoliy LEVKOVICH]; Belarusian Social Democratic Party People's Assembly ("Narodnaya Hramada") [Nikolay STATKEVICH] (unregistered); Belarusian Women's Party Nadzeya ("Hope") [Yelena YESKOVA, chairperson]; Christian Conservative Party or BPF [Zyanon PAZNIAK]; European Belarus Campaign [Andrey SANNIKOV]; Party of Freedom and Progress [Vladimir NOVOSYAD] (unregistered); "Tell the Truth" Campaign [Vladimir NEKLYAYEV]; United Civic Party or UCP [Anatoliy LEBEDKO]
 
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Assembly of Pro-Democratic NGOs (unregistered) [Sergey MATSKEVICH]; Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions [Aleksandr YAROSHUK]; Belarusian Association of Journalists [Zhana LITVINA]; Belarusian Helsinki Committee [Aleh HULAK]; Belarusian Independence Bloc (unregistered) and For Freedom movement [Aleksandr MILINKEVICH]; Belarusian Organization of Working Women [Irina ZHIKHAR]; BPF-Youth [Andrus KRECHKA]; Charter 97 (unregistered) [Andrey SANNIKOV]; Perspektiva small business association [Anatol SHUMCHENKO]; Nasha Vyasna (unregistered) ("Our Spring") human rights center; "Tell the Truth" Movement [Vladimir NEKLYAYEV]; Women's Independent Democratic Movement [Ludmila PETINA]; Young Belarus (Malady Belarus) [Zmitser KASPYAROVICH]; Youth Front (Malady Front) [Zmitser DASHKEVICH]
 
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BSEC (observer), CBSS (observer), CEI, CIS, CSTO, EAEC, EAPC, EBRD, FAO, GCTU, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, NAM, NSG, OPCW, OSCE, PCA, PFP, SCO (dialogue member), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO (observer), ZC
 
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chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Oleg KRAVCHENKO
chancery: 1619 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20009
telephone: [1] (202) 986-1604
FAX: [1] (202) 986-1805
consulate(s) general: New York
 
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chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Michael SCANLAN
embassy: 46 Starovilenskaya Street, Minsk 220002
mailing address: PSC 78, Box B Minsk, APO 09723
telephone: [375] (17) 210-12-83, 217-7347 through 7348
FAX: [375] (17) 334-7853
 
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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; the red band color recalls past struggles from oppression, the green band represents hope and the many forests of the country
 
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mounted knight known as Pahonia (the Chaser)
 
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name: "My, Bielarusy" (We Belarusians)
lyrics/music: Mikhas KLIMKOVICH and Uladzimir KARYZNA/Nester SAKALOUSKI
note: music adopted 1955, lyrics adopted 2002; after the fall of the Soviet Union, Belarus kept the music of its Soviet-era anthem but adopted new lyrics; also known as "Dziarzauny himn Respubliki Bielarus" (State Anthem of the Republic of Belarus)
 
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Economy

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Belarus has seen limited 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 subjected to pressure by central and local governments, including arbitrary changes in regulations, numerous rigorous inspections, retroactive application of new business regulations, and arrests of "disruptive" businessmen and factory owners. Continued state control over economic operations hampers market entry for businesses, both domestic and foreign. Government statistics indicate GDP growth was strong, surpassing 10% in 2008, despite the roadblocks of a tough, centrally directed economy with a high rate of inflation and a low rate of unemployment. However, the global crisis pushed the country into recession in 2009, and GDP grew only 0.2% for the year. Slumping foreign demand hit the industrial sector hard. Minsk has depended on a standby-agreement with the IMF to assist with balance of payments shortfalls. In line with IMF conditions, in 2009, Belarus devalued the ruble more than 40% and tightened some fiscal and monetary policies. On 1 January 2010, Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus launched a customs union, with unified trade regulations and customs codes still under negotiation. In late January, Russia and Belarus amended their 2007 oil supply agreement. The new terms raised prices for above quota purchases, increasing Belarus' current account deficit. GDP grew 4.8% in 2010, in part, on the strength of renewed export growth. In December 2010, Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan signed an agreement to form a Common Economic Space and Russia removed all Belarusian oil duties.
 
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$131.2 billion (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 61
$121.9 billion (2009 est.)
$121.7 billion (2008 est.)
note: data are in 2010 US dollars
 
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$54.71 billion (2010 est.)
 
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7.6% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 25
0.2% (2009 est.)
10.2% (2008 est.)
 
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$13,600 (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 89
$12,600 (2009 est.)
$12,600 (2008 est.)
note: data are in 2010 US dollars
 
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agriculture: 9.5%
industry: 44.8%
services: 45.8% (2010 est.)
 
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5 million (2009)
country comparison to the world: 74
 
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agriculture: 14%
industry: 34.7%
services: 51.3% (2003 est.)
 
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1% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 5
1.6% (2005)
note: official registered unemployed; large number of underemployed workers
 
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27.1% (2003 est.)
 
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lowest 10%: 3.8%
highest 10%: 21.9% (2008)
 
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27.2 (2008)
country comparison to the world: 129
21.7 (1998)
 
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36.6% of GDP (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 12
 
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revenues: $23.59 billion
expenditures: $24.7 billion (2010 est.)
 
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43.1% of GDP (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 31
 
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-2% of GDP (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 76
 
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7.8% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 187
12.9% (2009 est.)
 
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10.5% (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 18
13.5% (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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9.217% (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 88
11.675% (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$4.554 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 93
$3.949 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$16.75 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 89
$13.31 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$25.25 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 73
$16.55 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$NA
 
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grain, potatoes, vegetables, sugar beets, flax; beef, milk
 
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metal-cutting machine tools, tractors, trucks, earthmovers, motorcycles, televisions, synthetic fibers, fertilizer, textiles, radios, refrigerators
 
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10.5% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 24
 
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32.95 billion kWh (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 62
 
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31.07 billion kWh (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 59
 
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5.245 billion kWh (2008 est.)
 
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1.84 billion kWh (2008 est.)
 
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31,010 bbl/day (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 68
 
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163,000 bbl/day (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 63
 
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310,500 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 41
 
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471,400 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 27
 
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198 million bbl (1 January 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 61
 
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150 million cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 77
 
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17.75 billion cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 37
 
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0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 64
 
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17.6 billion cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 15
 
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2.832 billion cu m (1 January 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 95
 
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-$8.5 billion (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 180
-$6.39 billion (2009 est.)
 
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$25.35 billion (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 64
$21.36 billion (2009 est.)
 
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machinery and equipment, mineral products, chemicals, metals, textiles, foodstuffs
 
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Russia 38.9%, Netherlands 11%, Ukraine 10.2% (2010)
 
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$34.47 billion (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 57
$28.32 billion (2009 est.)
 
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mineral products, machinery and equipment, chemicals, foodstuffs, metals
 
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Russia 51.8%, Germany 6.8%, Ukraine 5.4%, China 4.8% (2010)
 
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$3.431 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 99
$4.831 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$33.1 billion (30 June 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 67
$22.13 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
 
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Belarusian rubles (BYB/BYR) per US dollar -
3,019.9 (2010)
2,789.49 (2009)
2,130 (2008)
2,145 (2007)
2,144.6 (2006)
 
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Communications

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4.139 million (2010)
country comparison to the world: 40
 
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10.333 million (2010)
country comparison to the world: 69
 
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general assessment: Belarus lags behind its neighbors in upgrading telecommunications infrastructure; modernization of the network progressing with roughly two-thirds of switching equipment now digital
domestic: state-owned Beltelcom is the sole provider of fixed-line local and long distance service; fixed-line teledensity is improving although rural areas continue to be underserved; multiple GSM mobile-cellular networks are experiencing rapid growth; mobile-cellular teledensity now exceeds 100 telephones per 100 persons
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 (2008)
 
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4 state-controlled national TV channels; Polish and Russian TV broadcasts are available in some areas; state-run Belarusian Radio operates 3 national networks and an external service; Russian and Polish radio broadcasts are available (2007)
 
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.by
 
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147,311 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 71
 
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2.643 million (2009)
country comparison to the world: 69
 
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Transportation

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67 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 74
 
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total: 35
over 3,047 m: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 22
1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 7 (2010)
 
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total: 32
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 27 (2010)
 
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1 (2010)
 
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gas 5,250 km; oil 1,528 km; refined products 1,730 km (2010)
 
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total: 5,537 km
country comparison to the world: 32
broad gauge: 5,512 km 1.520-m gauge (874 km electrified)
standard gauge: 25 km 1.435-m gauge (2010)
 
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total: 94,797 km
country comparison to the world: 47
paved: 84,028 km
unpaved: 10,769 km (2005)
 
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2,500 km (use limited by its location on the perimeter of the country and by its shallowness) (2003)
country comparison to the world: 35
 
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Mazyr
 
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Military

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Belarus Armed Forces: Land Force, Air and Air Defense Force, Special Operations Force (2011)
 
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18-27 years of age for compulsory military service; conscript service obligation - 12-18 months, depending on academic qualifications (2010)
 
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males age 16-49: 2,401,785
females age 16-49: 2,429,653 (2010 est.)
 
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males age 16-49: 1,693,626
females age 16-49: 2,012,401 (2010 est.)
 
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male: 51,855
female: 48,760 (2010 est.)
 
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1.4% of GDP (2005 est.)
country comparison to the world: 104
 
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Transnational Issues

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boundary demarcated with Latvia and Lithuania; Poland seeks enhanced demarcation and security along this Schengen hard border with financial assistance from the EU
 
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current situation: Belarus is a source, destination, and transit country for women, men, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor; women and children are subjected to sex trafficking in Russia, Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Spain, Greece, Belgium, Turkey, Israel, Lebanon, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and within Belarus; Belarusian men, women, and children are found in forced begging, as well as in forced labor in the construction industry and other sectors in Russia and Belarus
tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List - the government did not demonstrate evidence of increasing anti-trafficking efforts; instead, it weakened victim protection efforts and prosecuted and convicted fewer trafficking offenders than in previous years; however, the government did conduct anti-trafficking prevention campaigns jointly with NGOs, identifying a number of victims of trafficking, and providing limited in-kind assistance to anti-trafficking NGOs (2011)
 
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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; anti-money-laundering legislation does not meet international standards and was weakened further when know-your-customer requirements were curtailed in 2008; few investigations or prosecutions of money-laundering activities (2008)
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