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macrohistory & world report

Belarus

Map of Belarus amid neighboring states

Belarus (center) and its capital, Minsk amid neighboring states

Wealth and National Well-Being

World Factbook: "As part of the former Soviet Union, Belarus had a relatively well-developed industrial base; it retained this industrial base - which is now outdated, energy inefficient, and dependent on subsidized Russian energy and preferential access to Russian markets - following the breakup of the USSR.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 inefficient and dependent on government subsidies. After an initial burst of capitalist reform from 1991-94, including privatization of state enterprises, 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 foreign investment has been hindered by a climate hostile to business. A few banks, which had been privatized after independence, were renationalized."

Economic growth
2011: 5.3%
201o: 7.6%
2009: 0.2%

Labor force in agriculture
2005: 9.4%

Unemployment rate
2009: 1%

Exports - commodities
Machinery and equipment, mineral products, chemicals, metals, textiles, foodstuffs

Export partners
2010: Russia 38.9%, Netherlands 11%, Ukraine 10.2%

Import partners
2010: Russia 51.8%, Germany 6.8%, Ukraine 5.4%, China 4.8%

Income Distribution – GINI index
Ranks 127th among 140 countries (lower rank number is less equal) . More equal than Britain, which ranks 94th, and the US, which ranks 45th.

Health expenditures
2009: 5.8% of GDP

Military expenditures as a percentage of GDP
2005: 1.4%

People

Living in an urban area
2010: 75%
2008: 73%

Net migration rate
2012: A net gain of 0.38 persons per 1,000 population.

Ethnic groups
1999 census: Belarusian 81.2%, Russian 11.4%, Polish 3.9%, Ukrainian 2.4%, other 1.1%

Belorussians are ethnically different from the Russians. The country's official language is Belorusian – an Eastern Slavic language with Ruthenian roots.

Religion
1997 estimate: Eastern Orthodox 80%, other (including Roman Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, and Muslim) 20%

Geography

Between Poland and Russia.

Government

The president is elected by popular vote to a five-year term. Belarus is one of the former republics of the Soviet Union. The legislature is bicameral: the Council of the Republic is one house, with 64 seats, with eight members appointed by the president and 56 elected by regional councils. The second house the Chamber of Representatives, has 110 seats and its members are chosen by popular vote.

Belarus is a member of the Commonwealth of Independent States, former republics within the Soviet Union that today are closely associated with Russia economically, in defense and foreign policy.

Capital: Minsk.

Recent History

Recommended Website (not government sponsored) http://www.belarusguide.com/main/index.html

Chernobyl, in the northern Ukraine, is about 16 kilometers (10 miles) from the Belarus border. It is said that because of the winds on April 26, 1986, 70 percent of the radioactive dust from the Chernobyl nuclear mishap fell on Belarus. This fallout is still an issue in Belarus, as is soil pollution from pesticide use.

Independence from the Soviet Union: August 25, 1991.

Alexander Lukashenko begins his political career in 1993 opposed to corruption and favoring "communist principles" – values he grew up with in the Soviet Union.

In 1994, Lukashenko runs as an independent against "the mafia" – those he accuses of corruption. He wins a runoff election, sticking with the socialism of his youth by opposing privatization and market reforms.

October 20, 2004: President Alexander Lukashenko, had been limited to two terms in office. Through a constitutional referendum, held three days ago (the 17th) he overcome a limit to the number of terms he can serve as president. The results were reported 77 percent in his favor. He has been derided in the press of his neighboring former Soviet republics, including Russia. Lukashenko dismisses criticism from abroad, claiming to be the alternative in Belarus to instability. Yesterday some young people marched to the president's residence with banners that read "no to tyranny." They were dispersed by baton-wielding police.

July 7, 2011: Belarus puts itself among those states that do not tolerate peaceful protest. Police attack, beat and arrest "hundreds fo people" across Belarus who are protesting against President Lukashenko.

SOURCES:
http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook

Copyright © 2009-2013 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.