Nation at a Glance - Belarus

History

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 have 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 and only directly elected president, Aleksandr LUKASHENKO has steadily consolidated his power through authoritarian means and a centralized economic system. Government restrictions on political and civil freedoms, freedom of speech and the press, peaceful assembly, and religion have remained in place. The situation was somewhat aggravated after security services cracked down on mass protests challenging election results in the capital, Minsk, following the 2010 presidential election, but little protest occurred after the 2015 election.

Location: Eastern Europe, east of Poland

Border Countries: Latvia 161 km, Lithuania 640 km, Poland 418 km, Russia 1,312 km, Ukraine 1,111 km

Total Area: 207,600 sq km Land: 202,900 sq km Water: 4,700 sq km

Climate: Cold winters, cool and moist summers; transitional between continental and maritime

Terrain: Generally flat with much marshland

Natural resources: Timber, peat deposits, small quantities of oil and natural gas, granite, dolomitic limestone, marl, chalk, sand, gravel, clay

Land use: Agricultural land: 43.7% arable land 27.2%; permanent crops 0.6%; permanent pasture 15.9% Forest: 42.7% Other: 13.6% (2011 est.)

Ethnic groups: Belarusian 83.7%, Russian 8.3%, Polish 3.1%, Ukrainian 1.7%, Other 2.4%, Unspecified 0.9% (2009 est.)

Languages: Russian (official) 70.2%, Belarusian (official) 23.4%, Other 3.1% (includes small Polish- and Ukrainian-speaking minorities), Unspecified 3.3% (2009 est.)

Religions: Orthodox 48.3%, Catholic 7.1%, Other 3.5%, Non-believers 41.1% (2011 est.)

Population: 9,570,376 (July 2016 est.)

Literacy: 99.7%; Male: 99.8%; Female: 99.7% (2015 est.)

Administrative divisions: 6 provinces (voblastsi, singular - voblasts') and 1 municipality* (horad); Brest, Homyel' (Gomel'), Horad Minsk* (Minsk City), Hrodna (Grodno), Mahilyow (Mogilev), Minsk, Vitsyebsk (Vitebsk)

Economy: As part of the former Soviet Union, Belarus had a relatively well-developed, though aging industrial base; it retained this industrial base - which is now outdated, energy inefficient, and dependent on subsidized Russian energy and preferential access to Russian markets - following the breakup of the USSR. The country also has a broad agricultural base which is largely inefficient and dependent on government subsidies. After an initial burst of capitalist reform between 1991 and 1994, including privatization of smaller state enterprises and some service sector businesses, creation of institutions of private property, and development of entrepreneurship, Belarus' economic development greatly slowed. About 80% of all industry remains in state hands, and non-Russian foreign investment has been hindered by a reluctance to welcome private investment absent joint ownership or affiliation with the state. A few businesses, which had been privatized after independence, were renationalized. State-owned entities account for 70-75% of GDP, and state banks make up 75% of the banking sector. Economic output declined for several years following the collapse of the Soviet Union, but revived in the mid-2000s due to the boom in oil prices. Belarus has only small reserves of crude oil, though it imports most of its crude oil and natural gas from Russia at prices substantially below world market prices. Belarus then derives export revenue by refining Russian crude and selling it at market prices. In late 2006, Russia began a process of rolling back its subsidies on oil and gas exports to Belarus. Several times since, Russia and Belarus have had serious disagreements over the level and price of Russian energy supplies. At one point in 2010, Russia stopped the export of all subsidized oil to Belarus save for domestic needs before the two countries reached a deal to restart the export of discounted oil to Belarus. Beginning in early 2016, Russia claimed Belarus began accumulating debt – reaching $740 million by April 2017 – for paying below an agreed price for Russian natural gas. Russia decided to sharply reduce its export of crude oil as a result of the debt. In April 2017, Belarus agreed to pay its gas debt and Russia restored the flow of crude. The agreement paved the way for resumption of cheap energy imports and financial assistance from the Eurasian Fund for Stabilization and Development. New non-Russian foreign investment has been limited in recent years. In 2011, a financial crisis began, triggered by government-directed salary hikes, compounded by an increased cost in Russian energy inputs and an overvalued Belarusian ruble that lead to a nearly three-fold devaluation of the Belarusian ruble. In November 2011, Belarus agreed to sell to Russia its remaining shares of Beltransgaz, the Belarusian natural gas pipeline operator, in exchange for reduced prices for Russian natural gas. The situation stabilized in 2012, after Belarus received part of a $3 billion loan from the Russian-dominated Eurasian Economic Community Bailout Fund, a $1 billion loan from the Russian state-owned bank Sberbank, and $2.5 billion from the sale of Beltransgaz to Russian state-owned Gazprom; nevertheless, the Belarusian currency lost more than 60% of its value, as inflation reached new highs in 2011 and 2012, before calming in 2013. In December 2013, Russia announced a new loan for Belarus of up to $2 billion for 2014. Notwithstanding foreign assistance, the Belarusian economy continued to struggle under the weight of high external debt servicing payments and trade deficit. In mid-December 2014, structural economic shortcomings were aggravated by the devaluation of the Russian ruble, which triggered a near 40% devaluation of the Belarusian ruble. Belarus’s economy stagnated between 2012 and 2014 and then went into recession in 2015-2016, which led to widening productivity and income gaps between Belarus and neighboring countries. Since 2015, the Belarusian government has tightened its macro-economic policies, allowed more flexibility to its exchange rate, taken steps towards price liberalization, and reduced subsidized government lending to state-owned industrial and agricultural enterprises, amid a drop in state budget revenues that resulted from falling global prices on key Belarusian export commodities - petroleum products and potash fertilizer. Belarus returned to modest growth in 2017, largely driven by improvement of external conditions that allowed for an increase in manufacturing exports. Belarus also issued sovereign debt for the first time since 2011 for $1.4 billion in June 2017, which provided the country with badly-needed liquidity, and it followed up by issuing $600 million worth of Eurobonds in February 2018 predominantly to US and British investors.

Agriculture - products: Grain, potatoes, vegetables, sugar beets, flax; beef, milk

Industries: Metal-cutting machine tools, tractors, trucks, earthmovers, motorcycles, televisions, synthetic fibers, fertilizer, textiles, radios, refrigerators

Career Scope in Print Media

Print media are lightweight, portable, disposable publications printed on paper and circulated as physical copies in forms we call books, newspapers, magazines and newsletters. They hold informative and entertaining content that is of general or special interest. They are published either once or da →

United Nations Organization (UNO)

History of United Nation The name "United Nations", coined by United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt was first used in the Declaration by United Nations of 1 January 1942. In 1945, representatives of 50 countries met in San Francisco at the United Nations Conference on International Organiza →

What is Bitcoin?

In 2009, an unknown programmer by the name of Satoshi Nakamoto put forward a whitepaper that proposed a creation of new form of digital currency - cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrency functions the same way as regular currencies do in that its used as a means of exchange, unit of account and a store of va →

Medical Council of India (MCI)

Headquarter: New Delhi Function of the Organization: The Medical Council of India was established in 1934 under the Indian Medical Council Act, 1933, now repealed, with the main function of establishing uniform standards of higher qualifications in medicine and recognition of medical qualifications →

  • Contribute to our Site

    If you contribute your content to our site. Please mail us your content to editor@onlinegk.com

Follow us on Social Media

Follow us on Facebook
Follow us on Google Plus
Follow us on Twitter