Overview website for Belarus
Belarus is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe. The name “Belarus” means “White Russia”. Read our geographic, economic and travel overview of the …
Belarus is a European country with high human development index. It has a resilient economy and a diversified industrial profile, as well as advanced science …
Belarus Overview (April 2012). Belarus’s economic model is characterized by state-led development and substantial income redistribution. The size of the public …
Belarus tourism and travel information including facts, maps, history, culture, transport … Find popular places to visit in Belarus – Lonely Planet. … Belarus. Belarus Overview. Places in Belarus · When to go & weather · Getting …
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Even today, Belarus’ economy remains an economy in transition, inherited from the former Soviet block. After its independence in 1991, Belarus slowly adopted market-economy reforms, and in particular numerous privatizations. The country has always maintained close relations with Russia. Since 2005 and the accession of Loukachenko to the power, the country, which had adopted a “market socialism”, has re-nationalized many private companies and the pressure from the part of the government has become stronger in the business field: arbitrary changes in regulations, numerous inspections, arrest of businessmen and factory owners.
Belarus obtains gas and oil from Russia at a reduced price and its growth comes largely from the re-exportation of Russian oil at market price which has created a source of tension with Russia. Its trade with Russia, by far its most important partner, diminished in 2007. Russia has introduced a customs duty on petroleum products exported into Belarus. Russia also increased the price of gas from USD 47 per cubic meter to USD 100 in 2007 and it is expecting to sell it at market price by 2011. This recent Russian policy of raising Belarus’ energy prices to world market levels should create, as a consequence, a slowdown in Belarus’ economic growth over the next few years.
Some political decisions, notably the establishment of fiscal measures to improve energy efficiency and to diversify exports, have been implemented. Nonetheless, borrowing has been the primary mechanism used by the government in recent years to limit the growing pressure on the economy. Belarus has been affected by the global economic crisis and even though the country had broken up all connections with the IMF in 2004, it requested a loan at the end of 2008. Thus Belarus obtained this way USD 2.5 billion in financial aid to cope with the effects of the crisis.
Officially, Belarus has experienced a large growth these recent years, attaining a rate of 6% in 2010. But the effects of the global crisis have been severely felt , most of all in the industrial sector. The aid accorded by the IMF provoked a devaluation of the Belarusian ruble by 40% without positive results on the GDP. The GDP reached 10% in 2008, but its growth contracted to 0.2% in 2009.
It is important to note that the Belarus’ official figures are subject to question, such as the unemployment rate which was announced at only 1%.
Agriculture contributes to around 9.2% of the country’s GDP and employs 14% of the active population.
The industry sector accounts for 41.8% of the GDP and employs 34.7% of workers. The main industries of Belarus are machine tools, agricultural equipment, fertilizers, chemical products, prefabricated construction material, motor vehicles, motorcycles, textiles and some consumer products (such as refrigerators, watches, televisions, and radios).
The tertiary sector contributes around 50% to the GDP and employs 51.3% of Belarusian workers.
Foreign trade overview
Between January and June 2008, Belarus’ foreign trade in goods increased by almost 60%, compared to January-June in 2007, and reached more than USD 36 billion.
The export of goods increased to nearly 62%, attaining USD 17.3 billion. However, this trend did not continue in 2009 due to the reduction of global demand. Belarus main clients are Russia (33%), the Netherlands (13%) and Ukraine (8%).
As for imports, they increased by 55%, attaining nearly USD 20 billion. Its main trade import partners are Russia (56%), Germany (8%), Ukraine and China (4%).
Belarus’ trade balance remains highly negative, mainly due to the increase in the price of oil sold by Russia. As a fact, Russia remains Belarus’ main trade partner.
Foreign capital inflow has increased in recent years. More than USD 5 billion in foreign investments came into Belarus between 2003 and 2005, and USD 1.8 billion in 2005 alone. However, FDI flows dropped in 2008-2009, because of the international economic crisis on the one hand, and the country’s strong dependence on Russia, on the other hand.
Nearly 3,000 companies founded with the participation of investors from 77 countries are present in Belarus. Belarus’ five main investors are Russia, Switzerland, Austria, Germany and Latvia. The most attractive sectors to foreign investors are construction and metallurgy, consumer goods, chemical and petro-chemical products, wood, transport and the medical sector.
In order to clean its debts towards international institutions (IMF, Word’s Bank) and Russia, Belarus refuses to obtain new loans and considers to attract investors by proposing the sale of the bank Belinvestbank and its refineries.
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National holidays: New Year (January, 1), Orthodox Christmas (January, 7), Women’s Day (March, 8), Labor Day (May, 1), Victory Day (May, 9), Independence Day (July, 3), October Revolution Day (November, 7), Catholic Christmas (December, 25).
The Republic of Belarus is a new independent state situated in Eastern Europe. The name Belarus means “white Rus” (White Russia). “White” in old Slavic languages meant “free” pointing to the fact that Belarus was never invaded by the Tatars unlike other Russian principalities in the 13–15 centuries.
Situated at the crossroads of trade routes from the East to the West and from the North to the South, Belarus assimilated traditions, culture, and languages of different peoples. Today, it is a modern European country and a member of the world community.
According to the latest UN Human Development Report , Belarus joined countries with high level of development and ranks 65th among 187 countries of the world with regard to human development, its Human Development Index (HDI) being 0.756. According to The 2012 Legatum Prosperity Index survey conducted by the British Legatum Institute analytic center, Belarus ranks 54th among 144 countries with regard to prosperity and wellbeing.
Representatives of approximately 120 nationalities live in Belarus, including Belarusians, Russians, Poles, Ukrainians, and Jews. The spirit of tolerance and the high cultural level of Belarusians favored coexistence among the various nationalities proving that diversity is not an obstacle to good relations.
Belarus is filled with beautiful forests, lakes, rivers, and wildlife. There are more than 20,000 rivers and creeks and about 11,000 lakes in Belarus. The biggest lake is Naroch (about 80 square kilometers). The forests of Belarus are rich in valuable species of trees (pine tree, spruce, oak, birch tree, aspen, and alder) and game (fox, marten, hare, otter, ferret, ermine, elk, and wild boar). There are three National Parks in Belarus, “Belovezhskaya Pushcha” being the largest. In the late Middle Ages, it was a favorite hunting area of Polish kings and Russian czars. Today, more than 400 bison are living there, as well as 300 other species of animals and birds. Photo by Oleg Sivograkov
Belarus, a country of blue lakes and virgin forests, provides great opportunities for leisure and relaxation. You can fish, gather berries, mushrooms or flowers, and swim in any lake or river. Here you might find a perfect way to get lost in nature.