Belarus (GPS: 53 00 N, 28 00 E) located in Eastern Europe, east of Poland. The country’s area measurements are total: 207,600 sq km; land: 202,900 sq km, water: 4,700 sq km. This sovereign state is slightly less than twice the size of Kentucky, slightly smaller than Kansas. The total irrigated land is 1,140 sq km (2012).
One of the essential features of Belarus: Landlocked (enclosed or nearly enclosed by land). Glacial scouring accounts for the flatness of Belarusian terrain and its 11,000 lakes.
It’s significant, and at the same time, the principal city, Minsk’s GPS coordinates are 53 54 N 27 34 E. Minsk’s local time is 7 hours ahead of Washington DC during Standard Time. The capital’s time difference: UTC+2.
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 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 occur, and current negotiations on further integration have been contentious.
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.
Belarus’s names conventional long form: the Republic of Belarus, traditional short form: Belarus, local long state: Respublika Byelarus’/Respublika Belarus’, local short form: Byelarus’/Belarus,’ former: Belorussian (Byelorussian) Soviet Socialist Republic, etymology: the name is a compound of the Belarusian words “bel” (white) and “Rus” (the Old East Slavic ethnic designation) to form the meaning White Rusian or White Ruthenian. The name is a compound of the Belarusian words “bel” (white) and “Rus” (the Old East Slavic ethnic designation) to form the meaning White Rusian or White Ruthenian.
Belarus’s terrain is typically generally flat with much marshland. The country’s mean elevation: 160 m, elevation extremes; lowest point: Nyoman River 90 m, highest point: Dzyarzhynskaya Hara 346 m.
The general climate in the country; cold winters, cool and moist summers: transitional between continental and maritime.
The total number of border countries is 5, Latvia 161 km, Lithuania 640 km, Poland 418 km, Russia 1,312 km, Ukraine 1,111 km are the neighboring nations with the indicated border lengths. Belarus’s coastline is 0 km (landlocked country), while its marital claims are: none. Waterways: 2,500 km (major rivers are the west-flowing Western Dvina and Neman rivers and the south-flowing Dnepr River and its tributaries, the Berezina, Sozh, and Pripyat rivers) (2011). 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 estimate).
The population in Belarus 9,527,543 (July 2018 estimate), urban population: 76.7% of total population (2015), major urban area’s population: MINSK (capital) 1.915 million (2015), while Belarus has a fairly even distribution throughout most of the country, with urban areas attracting larger and denser populations. Their spoken languages are Russian (official language) 70.2%, Belarusian (official language) 23.4%, other 3.1% (includes small Polish- and Ukrainian-speaking minorities), unspecified 3.3% (2009 estimate). Main religions in Belarus are Orthodox 48.3%, Catholic 7.1%, other 3.5%, non-believers 41.1% (2011 estimate). The nation uses 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. It is a(n) presidential republic in name, although a dictatorship, National holiday(s) Independence Day, 3 July (1944).
Economic overview for the country: As part of the former Soviet Union, Belarus had a relatively well-developed industrial base, but it is now outdated, inefficient, and dependent on subsidized Russian energy and preferential access to Russian markets. The country’s agricultural base is mainly reliant on government subsidies. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, an initial burst of economic reforms included privatization of state enterprises, creation of private property rights, and the acceptance of private entrepreneurship, but by 1994 the reform effort dissipated. About 80% of industry remains in state hands, and foreign investment has virtually disappeared.
Several businesses have been 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 break-up of the Soviet Union, but revived in the mid-2000s. Belarus has only small crude oil reserves and imports crude oil and natural gas from Russia at subsidized, below-market prices. Belarus derives export revenue by refining Russian crude and selling it at market prices. Russia and Belarus have had serious disagreements over prices and quantities for Russian energy. Beginning in early 2016, Russia claimed Belarus began accumulating debt reaching $740 million by April 2017 for paying below the agreed price for Russian natural gas and Russia cut back 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.
New non-Russian foreign investment has been limited in recent years, primarily because of an unfavorable financial climate. In 2011, a financial crisis lead to a nearly three-fold devaluation of the Belarusian ruble. The Belarusian economy has continued to struggle under the weight of high external debt servicing payments and a trade deficit. In mid-December 2014, the devaluation of the Russian ruble triggered a near 40% devaluation of the Belarusian ruble. Belarus’s economy stagnated between 2012 and 2016, widening productivity and income gaps between Belarus and neighboring countries. Budget revenues dropped because of falling global prices on essential Belarusian export commodities.
Since 2015, the Belarusian government has tightened its macro-economic policies, allowed more flexibility to its exchange rate, taken some steps towards price liberalization, and reduced subsidized government lending to state-owned enterprises. Belarus returned to modest growth in 2017, primarily driven by improvement of external conditions and Belarus issued sovereign debt for the first time since 2011, which provided the country with badly-needed liquidity, and gave $600 million worth of Eurobonds in February 2018, predominantly to US and British investors.
Natural resources of Belarus: timber, peat deposits, small quantities of oil and natural gas, granite, dolomitic limestone, marl, chalk, sand, gravel, clay.
Main export partners for Belarus, Europe are Russia 39%, UK 11.2%, Ukraine 9.5%, Netherlands 4.3%, Germany 4.1% (2015) for machinery and equipment, mineral products, chemicals, metals, textiles, foodstuffs, while the main import partners for the country are: Russia 56.6%, China 7.9%, Germany 4.6% (2015) for mineral products, machinery, and equipment, chemicals, foodstuffs, metals.
When you visit this country in Europe, consider the natural hazards in Belarus: N/A, while infectious diseases are N/A. Also, note that Belarus faces the following environmental issues: Soil pollution from pesticide use, Southern part of the country contaminated with fallout from the 1986 nuclear reactor accident at Chornobyl’ In northern Ukraine.