Republic of Belarus
CAPITAL : Minsk
FLAG : Two horizontal bands of red (top) and green, with the red band twice as wide as the green. At the hoist is a vertical band showing a traditional Belarusian ornamental pattern.
ANTHEM : Maladaya Belarus.
MONETARY UNIT : The Belarus ruble ( BR ) circulates along with the Russian rouble ( R ). The government has a varying exchange rate for trade between Belarus and Russia. BR 1 = $0.0004938 (or $1 = BR 2025) as of May 2003.
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES : The metric system is in force.
HOLIDAYS : New Year's Day, 1 January; Orthodox Christmas, 7 January; International Women's Day, 8 March; Labor Day, 1 May; Victory Day, 9 May; Independence Day, 27 July; Day of Commemoration, 2 November; Christmas, 25 December.
TIME : 2 PM = noon GMT.
The topography of Belarus is generally flat and contains much marshland. The Belarussian Ridge (Belorusskya Gryda) stretches across the center of the country from the southwest to the northeast. The highest elevation is at Dzerzhinskaya Gora, 346 m (1,135 ft).
The country's climate is transitional between continental and maritime. July's mean temperature is 19° C (67° F ). January's mean temperature is -5° C (23° F ). Rainfall averages between 57 cm (22.5 in) and 61 cm (26.5 in) annually.
One-third of the country is forest. Some of the mammals in the forest include deer, brown bears, rabbits, and squirrels. The southern region is a swampy expanse. The marshes are home to ducks, frogs, turtles, archons, and muskrats.
In 2002, an estimated 81% of the total population was Belarussian. Russians made up about 11% of the populace; Poles, Ukrainians, and other groups combined to make up about 7% of the population.
Belarus had about 6,319,000 hectares (15,614,000 acres) of arable land (30.4% of the total) in 1998. Agriculture engaged about 14% of the economically active population in 2000 and accounted for 15% of GDP. Production levels (in 1,000 tons) for 1999 include: potatoes, 8,000; barley, 1,250; rye, 1,024; sugar beets, 1,200; oats, 376; and wheat, 600. In 1998, 96,000 and 19,300 tractors and combines, respectively, were in service.
As a landlocked nation, fishing is confined to the system of rivers (Pripyat, Byarezina, Nyoman, Zach Dvina, Sozh, Dnieper) that cross Belarus. The total catch in 2000 was 553 tons, with common carp accounting for 28% of that amount.
About 45% of the total land area was covered by forests in 2000. Radioactive contamination of some forestland from the 1986 Chernobyl disaster has severely restricted output. In 2000, Belarus produced 6.1 million cu m (215 million cu ft) of roundwood, of which 945,000 cu m (33.4 million cu ft) were exported for a value of $21 million.
No recent information about the insurance industry in Belarus is available.
A 1995 customs union with Russia allows goods to flow between the two countries duty-free. However, the union required Belarus to conform its customs rates to those of Russia resulting in a tariff increase from 5–10% to 20–40%. In 1995, Belarus also introduced a 20% import VAT (value-added tax) to be paid at the border on all incoming goods, except certain raw material used by local manufacturers.
Belarus has no territories or colonies.
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