BELARUS





Republic of Belarus

Respublika 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.


TOPOGRAPHY

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).

CLIMATE

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.

FLORA AND FAUNA

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.

ETHNIC GROUPS

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.

AGRICULTURE

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.

FISHING

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.

FORESTRY

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.

INSURANCE

No recent information about the insurance industry in Belarus is available.

CUSTOMS AND DUTIES

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.

DEPENDENCIES

Belarus has no territories or colonies.

Read about the Culture of Belarus. More about Belarus's Culture.

Read about the Geography of Belarus.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Belarus, Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine: the Foundations of Historical and Cultural Traditions in East Central Europe. Lublin: Institute of East Central Europe, 1994.

Brawer, Moshe. Atlas of Russia and the Independent Republics. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1994.

Buckley, Mary. Redefining Russian Society and Polity. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1993.

Dean, Martin. Collaboration in the Holocaust: Crimes of the Local Police in Belorussia and Ukraine, 1941–44. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2000.

Durgo, A.S. (ed.). Russia Changes: The Events of August 1991 and the Russian Constitution. Commack, N.Y.: Nova Science, 1992.

Khasbulatov, R.I. The Struggle for Russia: Power and Change in the Democratic Revolution. New York: Routledge, 1993.

Kolst, Pal. Russians in the Former Societ Republics. London: Hurst and Company, 1995.

Kusmenkov, M.V. Forest and Forest Products Country Profile: Belarus . New York: United Nations, 1994.

Kuznetsov, A.P. Foreign Investment in Contemporary Russia: Managing Capital Entry. New York: St. Martin's, 1994.

Marples, David R. Belarus: From Soviet Rule to Nuclear Catastrophe. London: Macmillan, 1996.

McElrath, Karen (ed.). HIV and AIDS: A Global View. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2002.

McFaul, Michael. The Troubled Birth of Russian Democracy: Parties, Personalities, and Programs. Stanford, Calif.: Hoover Institution Press, Stanford University, 1993.

Sword, Keith, (ed.) The Soviet Takeover of the Polish Eastern Provinces, 1939–41. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1991.

Tec, Nechama. Defiance: The Bielski Partisans. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.

Williamson, John. Economic Consequences of Soviet Disintegration. Washington, DC: Institute for International Economics, 1993.

Zaprudnik, I.A. Belarus: At a Crossroads in History. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1993.

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