The Republic of BelarusРэспубліка БеларусьMap of Belarus:: Preface ::
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 ::
Geographic coordinates are 53 00 N by 28 00 E. Comparative land area is slightly smaller than Kansas. Belarus possesses no sealine, as it is a landlocked nation. The terrain of Belarus is generally flat and contains much marshland, with a climate consisting of cold winters, cool and moist summers; transitional between continental and maritime. National resources include but are not limited to forests, peat deposits, small quantities of oil and natural gas, granite, dolomitic limestone, marl, chalk, sand, gravel, and clay.:: Demographics ::Total Population:
Total population growth rate is at -0.393%, with a birth rate of 9.62 births/1,000 population, and a death rate of 13.92 deaths/1,000 population. Immigration rate exists at 0.38 migrant(s)/1,000 population. Ethnicity is comprised of Belarusian at 81.2%, Russian at 11.4%, Polish at 3.9%, Ukrainian at 2.4%. Religious beliefs are comprised mainly of Eastern Orthodox.
The primary languages are Belorussian and Russian.:: Political Structure ::
The Republic of Belarus is an Administrative Republic
. The conventional long form of the nation is the Republic of Belarus, however the conventional short name is simply Belarus. The capital city is Minsk, and there are six individual administrative provinces in the nation.
The Chief of State is President Aleksandr Lukashenko.
The Head of State is Prime Minister Sergey Sidorskiy.
The Deputy Prime Minister is Vladimir Semashko.
The National Assembly ( Natsionalnoye Sobranie ) is comprised of 64 Seats, 56 members elected by regional councils and eight members appointed by the president, to serve four-year terms.
The Chamber of Representatives ( Palata Predstaviteley ) is comprised of 110 seats, with members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms.:: Economic Briefing ::
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 nearly 7% in 2007, despite the roadblocks of 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.
Trade with Russia - by far its largest single trade partner - decreased in 2007, 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% will 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 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.:: Military Information ::
Conscription is mandatory in the Belarus Land Force, the ages range from 18-27 years, and the term is a mandatory 18 months.
Total males eligible for service is 2,491,643, while the number of fit for service males is at 1,727,974. Military expenditure of GDP is 1.4%.
The main branches of the Belarus Armed Forces are the Land Force, and the Air Defense Forces.