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European Union vs. Belarus

Introduction

European UnionBelarus
Background"Following the two devastating World Wars in the first half of the 20th century, a number of far-sighted European leaders in the late 1940s sought a response to the overwhelming desire for peace and reconciliation on the continent. In 1950, the French Foreign Minister Robert SCHUMAN proposed pooling the production of coal and steel in Western Europe and setting up an organization for that purpose that would bring France and the Federal Republic of Germany together and would be open to other countries as well. The following year, the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) was set up when six members - Belgium, France, West Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands - signed the Treaty of Paris.
The ECSC was so successful that within a few years the decision was made to integrate other elements of the countries' economies. In 1957, envisioning an ""ever closer union,"" the Treaties of Rome created the European Economic Community (EEC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom), and the six member states undertook to eliminate trade barriers among themselves by forming a common market. In 1967, the institutions of all three communities were formally merged into the European Community (EC), creating a single Commission, a single Council of Ministers, and the body known today as the European Parliament. Members of the European Parliament were initially selected by national parliaments, but in 1979 the first direct elections were undertaken and have been held every five years since.
In 1973, the first enlargement of the EC took place with the addition of Denmark, Ireland, and the UK. The 1980s saw further membership expansion with Greece joining in 1981 and Spain and Portugal in 1986. The 1992 Treaty of Maastricht laid the basis for further forms of cooperation in foreign and defense policy, in judicial and internal affairs, and in the creation of an economic and monetary union - including a common currency. This further integration created the European Union (EU), at the time standing alongside the EC. In 1995, Austria, Finland, and Sweden joined the EU/EC, raising the membership total to 15.
A new currency, the euro, was launched in world money markets on 1 January 1999; it became the unit of exchange for all EU member states except Denmark, Sweden, and the UK. In 2002, citizens of those 12 countries began using euro banknotes and coins. Ten new countries joined the EU in 2004 - Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia. Bulgaria and Romania joined in 2007 and Croatia in 2013, bringing the current membership to 28. (Seven of these new countries - Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Slovakia, and Slovenia - have now adopted the euro, bringing total euro-zone membership to 19.)
In an effort to ensure that the EU could function efficiently with an expanded membership, the Treaty of Nice (concluded in 2000; entered into force in 2003) set forth rules to streamline the size and procedures of EU institutions. An effort to establish a ""Constitution for Europe,"" growing out of a Convention held in 2002-2003, foundered when it was rejected in referenda in France and the Netherlands in 2005. A subsequent effort in 2007 incorporated many of the features of the rejected draft Constitutional Treaty while also making a number of substantive and symbolic changes. The new treaty, referred to as the Treaty of Lisbon, sought to amend existing treaties rather than replace them. The treaty was approved at the EU intergovernmental conference of the then 27 member states held in Lisbon in December 2007, after which the process of national ratifications began. In October 2009, an Irish referendum approved the Lisbon Treaty (overturning a previous rejection) and cleared the way for an ultimate unanimous endorsement. Poland and the Czech Republic ratified soon after. The Lisbon Treaty came into force on 1 December 2009 and the EU officially replaced and succeeded the EC. The Treaty's provisions are part of the basic consolidated versions of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) now governing what remains a very specific integration project.
Frustrated by a remote bureaucracy in Brussels and massive migration into the country, UK citizens on 23 June 2016 narrowly voted to leave the EU. The so-called “Brexit” will take years to carry out, but could embolden skeptics of EU membership in other member states.
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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 have any of the 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 take place. 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 in place.

Geography

European UnionBelarus
LocationEurope between the North Atlantic Ocean in the west and Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine to the east
Eastern Europe, east of Poland
Map referencesEurope
Europe
Areatotal: 4,479,968 sq km
rank by area (sq km):
1. France (includes five overseas regions) 643,801
2. Spain 505,370
3. Sweden 450,295
4. Germany 357,022
5. Finland 338,145
6. Poland 312,685
7. Italy 301,340
8. United Kingdom (includes Gibraltar) 243,617
9. Romania 238,391
10. Greece 131,957
11. Bulgaria 110,879
12. Hungary 93,028
13. Portugal 92,090
14. Austria 83,871
15. Czechia 78,867
16. Ireland 70,273
17. Lithuania 65,300
18. Latvia 64,589
19. Croatia 56,594
20. Slovakia 49,035
21. Estonia 45,228
22. Denmark 43,094
23. Netherlands 41,543
24. Belgium 30,528
25. Slovenia 20,273
26. Cyprus 9,251
27. Luxembourg 2,586
28. Malta 316
total: 207,600 sq km
land: 202,900 sq km
water: 4,700 sq km
Area - comparativeless than one-half the size of the US
slightly less than twice the size of Kentucky; slightly smaller than Kansas
Land boundariestotal: 13,271 km
border countries (17): Albania 212 km, Andorra 118 km, Belarus 1,176 km, Bosnia and Herzegovina 956 km, Holy See 3 km, Liechtenstein 34 km, Macedonia 396 km, Moldova 683 km, Monaco 6 km, Montenegro 19 km, Norway 2,375 km, Russia 2,435 km, San Marino 37 km, Serbia 1,353 km, Switzerland 1,729 km, Turkey 415 km, Ukraine 1,324 km
note: data for European continent only
total: 3,642 km
border countries (5): Latvia 161 km, Lithuania 640 km, Poland 418 km, Russia 1,312 km, Ukraine 1,111 km
Coastline65,992.9 km
0 km (landlocked)
Climatecold temperate; potentially subarctic in the north to temperate; mild wet winters; hot dry summers in the south
cold winters, cool and moist summers; transitional between continental and maritime
Terrainfairly flat along Baltic and Atlantic coasts; mountainous in the central and southern areas
generally flat with much marshland
Elevation extremesmean elevation: about 300 m
elevation extremes: lowest point: Lammefjord, Denmark -7 m; Zuidplaspolder, Netherlands -7 m
highest point: Mont Blanc 4,807 m
mean elevation: 160 m
elevation extremes: lowest point: Nyoman River 90 m
highest point: Dzyarzhynskaya Hara 346 m
Natural resourcesiron ore, natural gas, petroleum, coal, copper, lead, zinc, bauxite, uranium, potash, salt, hydropower, arable land, timber, fish
timber, peat deposits, small quantities of oil and natural gas, granite, dolomitic limestone, marl, chalk, sand, gravel, clay
Irrigated land154,539.82 sq km (2011 est.)
1,140 sq km (2012)
Natural hazardsflooding along coasts; avalanches in mountainous area; earthquakes in the south; volcanic eruptions in Italy; periodic droughts in Spain; ice floes in the Baltic
large tracts of marshy land
Environment - current issuesvarious forms of air, soil, and water pollution; see individual country entries
soil pollution from pesticide use; southern part of the country contaminated with fallout from 1986 nuclear reactor accident at Chornobyl' in northern Ukraine
Environment - international agreementsparty to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Sulphur 94, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94
signed but not ratified: Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds
party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Sulfur 85, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Population distributionpopulation distribution varies considerably from country to country, but tends to follow a pattern of coastal and river settlement, with urban agglomerations forming large hubs facilitating large scale housing, industry, and commerce
a fairly even distribution throughout most of the country, with urban areas attracting larger and denser populations

Demographics

European UnionBelarus
Populationtotal: 515,052,778
rank by population:
1. Germany 80,722,792
2. France 66,836,154
3. United Kingdom 64,430,428
4. Italy 62,007,540
5. Spain 48,563,476
6. Poland 38,523,261
7. Romania 21,599,736
8. Netherlands 17,016,967
9. Belgium 11,409,077
10. Portugal 10,833,816
11. Greece 10,773,253
12. Czechia 10,644,842
13. Sweden 9,880,604
14. Hungary 9,874,784
15. Austria 8,711,770
16. Bulgaria 7,144,653
17. Denmark 5,593,785
18. Finland 5,498,211
19. Slovakia 5,445,802
20. Ireland 4,952,473
21. Croatia 4,313,707
22. Lithuania 2,854,235
23. Slovenia 1,978,029
24. Latvia 1,965,686
25. Estonia 1,258,545
26. Cyprus 1,205,575
27. Luxembourg 582,291
28. Malta 415,196 (July 2016 est.)
9,570,376 (July 2016 est.)
Age structure0-14 years: 15.5% (male 40,853,366/female 38,783,889)
15-24 years: 10.9% (male 28,680,885/female 27,396,922)
25-54 years: 41.8% (male 108,312,731/female 106,407,509)
55-64 years: 12.9% (male 32,287,068/female 34,128,099)
65 years and over: 19.1% (male 42,074,448/female 56,127,861) (2016 est.)
0-14 years: 15.65% (male 770,014/female 727,338)
15-24 years: 10.68% (male 525,704/female 496,414)
25-54 years: 45.04% (male 2,118,447/female 2,191,694)
55-64 years: 13.95% (male 589,288/female 745,815)
65 years and over: 14.69% (male 448,135/female 957,527) (2016 est.)
Median agetotal: 42.7 years
male: 41.3 years
female: 44.1 years (2016 est.)
total: 39.8 years
male: 36.8 years
female: 42.9 years (2016 est.)
Population growth rate0.23% (2016 est.)
-0.21% (2016 est.)
Birth rate10.1 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)
10.5 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)
Death rate10.2 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)
13.3 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)
Net migration rate2.5 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2016 est.)
0.7 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2016 est.)
Sex ratioat birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.95 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.75 male(s)/female
total population: 0.96 male(s)/female (2016 est.)
at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 0.97 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.79 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.46 male(s)/female
total population: 0.87 male(s)/female (2016 est.)
Infant mortality ratetotal: 4 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 4.4 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 3.6 deaths/1,000 live births (2016 est.)
total: 3.6 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 4 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 3.2 deaths/1,000 live births (2016 est.)
Life expectancy at birthtotal population: 80.2 years
male: 77.4 years
female: 83.2 years (2016 est.)
total population: 72.7 years
male: 67.2 years
female: 78.6 years (2016 est.)
Total fertility rate1.61 children born/woman (2016 est.)
1.48 children born/woman (2016 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence ratenote - see individual entries of member states
0.64% (2015 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDSnote - see individual entries of member states
35,200 (2015 est.)
ReligionsRoman Catholic 48%, Protestant 12%, Orthodox 8%, other Christian 4%, Muslim 2%, other 1% (includes Jewish, Sikh, Buddhist, Hindu), atheist 7%, non-believer/agnostic 16%, unspecified 2% (2012 est.)
Orthodox 48.3%, Catholic 7.1%, other 3.5%, non-believers 41.1% (2011 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deathsnote - see individual entries of member states
1,000 (2015 est.)
LanguagesBulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Irish, Italian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Maltese, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, Slovene, Spanish, Swedish
note: only the 24 official languages are listed; German, the major language of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, is the most widely spoken mother tongue - about 16% of the EU population; English is the most widely spoken foreign language - about 38% of the EU population is conversant with it (2012)
Russian (official) 70.2%, Belarusian (official) 23.4%, other 3.1% (includes small Polish- and Ukrainian-speaking minorities), unspecified 3.3% (2009 est.)
Hospital bed density5.4 beds/1,000 population (2011)
11.3 beds/1,000 population (2011)

Government

European UnionBelarus
Capitalname: Brussels (Belgium), Strasbourg (France), Luxembourg; note - the European Council, a gathering of the EU heads of state and/or government, and the Council of the European Union, a ministerial-level body of ten formations, meet in Brussels, Belgium, except for Council meetings held in Luxembourg in April, June, and October; the European Parliament meets in Brussels and Strasbourg, France, and has administrative offices in Luxembourg; the Court of Justice of the European Union is located in Luxembourg; and the European Central Bank is located in Frankfurt, Germany
geographic coordinates: (Brussels) 50 50 N, 4 20 E
time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October
name: Minsk
geographic coordinates: 53 54 N, 27 34 E
time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
Independence7 February 1992 (Maastricht Treaty signed establishing the European Union); 1 November 1993 (Maastricht Treaty entered into force)
note: the Treaties of Rome, signed on 25 March 1957 and subsequently entered into force on 1 January 1958, created the European Economic Community and the European Atomic Energy Community; a series of subsequent treaties have been adopted to increase efficiency and transparency, to prepare for new member states, and to introduce new areas of cooperation - such as a single currency; the Treaty of Lisbon, signed on 13 December 2007 and entered into force on 1 December 2009 is the most recent of these treaties and is intended to make the EU more democratic, more efficient, and better able to address global problems with one voice
25 August 1991 (from the Soviet Union)
National holidayEurope Day (also known as Schuman Day), 9 May (1950); note - the day in 1950 that Robert SCHUMAN proposed the creation of what became the European Coal and Steel Community, the progenitor of today's European Union, with the aim of achieving a united Europe
Independence Day, 3 July (1944); note - 3 July 1944 was the date Minsk was liberated from German troops, 25 August 1991 was the date of independence from the Soviet Union
Constitution"history: none; note - the EU legal order relies primarily on two consolidated texts encompassing all provisions as amended from a series of past treaties: the Treaty on European Union (TEU), as modified by the Lisbon Treaty states in Article 1 that ""the HIGH CONTRACTING PARTIES establish among themselves a EUROPEAN UNION ... on which the Member States confer competences to attain objectives they have in common""; Article 1 of the TEU states further that the EU is ""founded on the present Treaty and on the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (hereinafter referred to as 'the Treaties'),"" both possessing the same legal value; Article 6 of the TEU provides that a separately adopted Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union ""shall have the same legal value as the Treaties""
amendments: European Union treaties can be amended in several ways: 1) Ordinary Revision Procedure (for key amendments to the treaties); initiated by an EU country’s government, by the EU Parliament, or by the EU Commission; following adoption of the proposal by the European Council, a convention is formed of national government representatives to review the proposal and subsequently a conference of government representatives also reviews the proposal; passage requires ratification by all EU countries; 2) Simplified Revision Procedure (for amendment of EU internal policies and actions); passage of a proposal requires unanimous European Council vote following European Council consultation with the EU Commission, the European Council, and the European Parliament, and requires ratification by all EU countries; 3) Passerelle Clause (allows the alteration of a legislative procedure without a formal amendment of the treaties); 4) Flexibility Clause (permits the EU to decide in subject areas not covered by the EU treaties); note - the Treaty of Lisbon (signed in December 2007 and effective in December 2009) amended the two treaties that formed the EU - the Maastricht Treaty (1993) and the Treaty of Rome (1958), known in updated form as the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (2007) (2016)
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history: several previous; latest drafted between late 1991 and early 1994, signed 15 March 1994
amendments: proposed by the president of the republic through petition to the National Assembly or by petition of least 150,000 eligible voters; approval required by at least two-thirds majority vote in both chambers or by simple majority of votes cast in a referendum (2016)
Legal system"unique supranational law system in which, according to an interpretive declaration of member-state governments appended to the Treaty of Lisbon, ""the Treaties and the law adopted by the Union on the basis of the Treaties have primacy over the law of Member States"" under conditions laid down in the case law of the Court of Justice; key principles of EU law include fundamental rights as guaranteed by the Charter of Fundamental Rights and as resulting from constitutional traditions common to the EU's states; EU law is divided into 'primary' and 'secondary' legislation; primary legislation is derived from the consolidated versions of the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union) and are the basis for all EU action; secondary legislation - which includes directives, regulations, and decisions - is derived from the principles and objectives set out in the treaties
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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
Suffrage18 years of age (16 years in Austria); universal; voting for the European Parliament is permitted in each member state
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch"under the EU treaties there are three distinct institutions, each of which conducts functions that may be regarded as executive in nature:
the European Council: brings together heads of state and government, along with the president of the European Commission, and meets at least four times a year; its aim is to provide the impetus for the development of the Union and to issue general policy guidelines; the Treaty of Lisbon established the position of ""permanent"" (full-time) president of the European Council; leaders of the EU member states appoint the president for a 2 1/2 year term, renewable once; the president's responsibilities include chairing the EU summits and providing policy and organizational continuity; the current president is Donald TUSK (Poland), since 1 December 2014, succeeding Herman VAN ROMPUY (Belgian; 2009-14)
the Council of the European Union: consists of ministers of each EU member state and meets regularly in 10 different configurations depending on the subject matter; it conducts policymaking and coordinating functions as well as legislative functions; ministers of EU member states chair meetings of the Council of the EU based on a 6-month rotating presidency except for the meetings of EU Foreign Ministers in the Foreign Affairs Council that are chaired by the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
the European Commission: headed by a College of Commissioners comprised of 28 members (one from each member country) including the president; each commissioner is responsible for one or more policy areas; the Commission's main responsibilities include the sole right to initiate EU legislation (except for foreign and security/defense policy), promoting the general interest of the EU, acting as ""guardian of the Treaties"" by monitoring the application of EU law, implementing/executing the EU budget, managing programs, negotiating on the EU's behalf in core policy areas such as trade, and ensuring the Union's external representation in some policy areas; its current president is Jean-Claude JUNCKER (Luxembourg) elected on 15 July 2014 (took office on 1 November 2014); the president of the European Commission is nominated by the European Council and formally ""elected"" by the European Parliament; the Commission president allocates specific responsibilities among the members of the College (appointed by common accord of the member state governments in consultation with the president-elect); the European Parliament confirms the entire Commission for a 5-year term; President JUNCKER reorganized the structure of the College around clusters or project teams coordinated by 7 vice presidents in line with the current Commission's main political priorities and appointed Frans TIMMERMANS (Netherlands) to act as his first vice president; the confirmation process for the next Commission expected be held in the fall of 2019
note: for external representation and foreign policy making, leaders of the EU member states appointed Federica MOGHERINI (Italy) as the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy; MOGHERINI took office on 1 November 2014, succeeding Catherine ASHTON (UK) (2009-14); the High Representative's concurrent appointment as Vice President of the European Commission endows her position with the policymaking influence of the Council of the EU and the budgetary influence (subject to Council's approval) of the Council of the EU and the budgetary/management influence of the European Commission; the High Representative helps develop and implement the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy and Common Security and Defense Policy component, chairs the Foreign Affairs Council, represents and acts for the Union in many international contexts, and oversees the European External Action Service, the diplomatic corps of the EU, established on 1 December 2010
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chief of state: president Aleksandr LUKASHENKO (since 20 July 1994)
head of government: prime minister Andrey KOBYAKOV (since 27 December 2014); first deputy prime minister Vasily MATYUSHEVSKIY (since 27 December 2014)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president
elections/appointments: president directly elected by absolute majority popular vote in 2 rounds if needed for a 5-year term (no term limits); first election took place on 23 June and 10 July 1994; according to the 1994 constitution, the next election should have been held in 1999, however, Aleksandr LUKASHENKO extended his term to 2001 via a November 1996 referendum; subsequent election held on 9 September 2001; an October 2004 referendum ended presidential term limits and allowed the president to run in a third (19 March 2006), fourth (19 December 2010), and fifth election (11 October 2015); next election in 2020; prime minister and deputy prime ministers appointed by the president and approved by the National Assembly
election results: Aleksandr LUKASHENKO reelected president; percent of vote - Aleksandr LUKASHENKO (independent) 83.5%, Tatsiana KARATKEVICH (Tell the Truth) 4.4%, Sergey GAYDUKEVICH (LDP) 3.3%, other 8.8%; note - election marred by electoral fraud
Legislative branchdescription: two legislative bodies consisting of the Council of the European Union (28 seats; ministers representing the 28 member states) and the European Parliament (751 seats; seats allocated among member states roughly in proportion to population size; members elected by proportional representation to serve 5-year terms); note - the European Parliament President, currently Martin SCHULZ (German Socialist) is elected by a majority of fellow members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and represents the Parliament within the EU and internationally; the Council of the EU and the MEPs share responsibilities for adopting the bulk of EU legislation, normally acting in co-decision on Commission proposals (but not in the area of Common Foreign and Security Policy, which is governed by consensus of the EU member state governments)
elections: last held on 22-25 May 2014 (next to be held May-June 2019)
election results: percent of vote - EPP 29.4%, S&D 25.4%, ECR 9.3%, ALDE 8.9%, GUE/NGL 6.9%, Greens/EFA 6.7%, EFD 6.4%, independent 6.9%; seats by party - EPP 221, S&D 191, ECR 70, ALDE 67, GUE/NGL 52, Greens/EFA 50, EFD 48, independent 52
description: bicameral National Assembly or Natsionalnoye Sobraniye consists of the Council of the Republic or Sovet Respubliki (64 seats; 56 members indirectly elected by regional and Minsk city councils and 8 members appointed by the president; members serve 4-year terms) and the House of Representatives or Palata Predstaviteley (110 seats; members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by absolute majority vote with a second round if needed; members serve 4-year terms); note - the US does not recognize the legitimacy of the National Assembly
elections: House of Representatives - last held on 11 September 2016 (next to be held in 2020); OSCE observers determined that the election was neither free nor impartial and that vote counting was problematic in a number of polling stations; pro-LUKASHENKO candidates won virtually every seat with only the UCP member and one independent forming alternative representation in the House; international observers determined that the previous elections, on 28 September 2008 and 23 September 2012, also fell short of democratic standards, with pro-LUKASHENKO candidates winning every seat
election results: Council of the Republic - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NA; House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - KPB 8, Belarusian Patriotic Party 3, Republican Party of Labor and Justice 3, LDP 1, UCP 1, independent 94
Judicial branch"note: the European Court of Justice (ECJ) is the supreme judicial authority of the EU; ECJ ensures that EU law is interpreted and applied uniformly throughout the EU, resolves disputed issues among the EU institutions and with member states, issues opinions on questions of EU law referred by member state courts
highest court(s): European Court of Justice (consists of 28 judges - 1 from each member state); the court may sit as a full court, in a ""Grand Chamber"" of 13 judges in special cases, but usually in chambers of 3 to 5 judges
judge selection and term of office: judges appointed by the common consent of the member states to serve 6-year renewable terms
subordinate courts: General Court; Civil Service Tribunal
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highest court(s): Supreme Court (consists of the chairman, deputy chairman, and organized into several specialized panels including economic and military; number of judges set by the president of the republic and the court chairman); Constitutional Court (consists of 12 judges including a chairman and deputy chairman)
judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court judges appointed by the president with the consent of the Council of the Republic; judges initially appointed for 5 years and evaluated for life appointment; Constitutional Court judges - 6 appointed by the president and 6 elected by the Council of the Republic; the presiding judge directly elected by the president and approved by the Council of the Republic; judges can serve for 11 years with an age limit of 70
subordinate courts: provincial (including Minsk city) courts; first instance (district) courts; economic courts; military courts
Political parties and leadersAlliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe or ALDE [Guy VERHOFSTADT]
Alliance of Socialists and Democrats or S&D [Gianni PITELLA]
European United Left-Nordic Green Left or GUE/NGL [Gabriele ZIMMER]
Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy or EFDD [Nigel FARAGE and David BORRELLI]
Europe of Nations and Freedom or ENF [Marine LE PEN and Marcel DE GRAAFF]
European Conservatives and Reformists or ECR [Syed KAMALL]
European Greens/European Free Alliance or Greens/EFA [Rebecca HARMS and Philippe LAMBERTS]
European People's Party or EPP [Manfred WEBER]
"pro-government parties:
Belarusian Agrarian Party or AP [Mikhail SHIMANSKIY]
Belarusian Patriotic Party [Nikolai ULAKHOVICH]
Belarusian Socialist Sporting Party [Vladimir ALEKSANDROVICH]
Communist Party of Belarus or KPB [Georgi ATAMANOV]
Liberal Democratic Party or LDP [Sergey GAYDUKEVICH]
Republican Party [Vladimir BELOZOR]
Republican Party of Labor and Justice [Vasiliy ZADNEPRYANIY]
opposition parties:
Belarusian Christian Democracy Party [Pavel SEVERINETS] (unregistered)
Belarusian Party of the Green [Anastasiya DOROFEYEVA]
Belarusian Party of the Left ""Just World"" [Sergey KALYAKIN]
Belarusian Popular Front or BPF [Aleksey YANUKEVICH]
Belarusian Social-Democratic Assembly [Stanislav SHUSHKEVICH]
Belarusian Social Democratic Party (""Assembly"") or BSDPH [Irina VESHTARD]
Belarusian Social Democratic Party (People's Assembly) [Nikolay STATKEVICH] (unregistered)
Christian Conservative Party or BPF [Zyanon PAZNYAK]
United Civic Party or UCP [Anatoliy LEBEDKO]
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International organization participationARF, ASEAN (dialogue member), Australian Group, BIS, BSEC (observer), CBSS, CERN, EBRD, FAO, FATF, G-8, G-10, G-20, IDA, IEA, IGAD (partners), LAIA (observer), NSG (observer), OAS (observer), OECD, PIF (partner), SAARC (observer), SICA (observer), UN (observer), UNRWA (observer), WCO, WTO, ZC (observer)
BSEC (observer), CBSS (observer), CEI, CIS, CSTO, EAEC, EAEU, EAPC, EBRD, FAO, GCTU, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (NGOs), ICRM, IDA, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), MIGA, NAM, NSG, OPCW, OSCE, PCA, PFP, SCO (dialogue member), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNIFIL, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO (observer), ZC
Diplomatic representation in the USchief of mission: Ambassador David O'SULLIVAN (since 19 November 2014)
chancery: 2175 K Street, NW, Suite 800, Washington, DC 20037
telephone: [1] (202) 862-9500
FAX: [1] (202) 429-1766
chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant; recalled by Belarus in 2008); Charge d'Affaires Pavel SHIDLOVSKIY (since 23 April 2014)
chancery: 1619 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20009
telephone: [1] (202) 986-1606
FAX: [1] (202) 986-1805
consulate(s) general: New York
Diplomatic representation from the USchief of mission: Ambassador Anthony Luzzatto GARDNER (since 18 March 2014)
embassy: 13 Zinnerstraat/Rue Zinner, B-1000 Brussels
mailing address: use embassy street address
telephone: [32] (2) 811-4100
FAX: [32] (2) 811-5154
chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant; left in 2008 upon insistence of Belarusian Government); Charge d'Affaires Robert RILEY (since 22 August 2016)
embassy: 46 Starovilenskaya Street, Minsk 220002
mailing address: Unit 7010 Box 100, DPO AE 09769
telephone: [375] (17) 210-12-83
FAX: [375] (17) 234-7853
Flag descriptiona blue field with 12 five-pointed gold stars arranged in a circle in the center; blue represents the sky of the Western world, the stars are the peoples of Europe in a circle, a symbol of unity; the number of stars is fixed
red horizontal band (top) and green horizontal band one-half the width of the red band; a white vertical stripe on the hoist side bears Belarusian national ornamentation in red; the red band color recalls past struggles from oppression, the green band represents hope and the many forests of the country
National anthem"name: ""Ode to Joy""
lyrics/music: no lyrics/Ludwig VAN BEETHOVEN, arranged by Herbert VON KARAJAN
note: official EU anthem since 1985; the anthem is meant to represent all of Europe rather than just the organization, conveying ideas of peace, freedom, and unity
"
"name: ""My, Bielarusy"" (We Belarusians)
lyrics/music: Mikhas KLIMKOVICH and Uladzimir KARYZNA/Nester SAKALOUSKI
note: music adopted 1955, lyrics adopted 2002; after the fall of the Soviet Union, Belarus kept the music of its Soviet-era anthem but adopted new lyrics; also known as ""Dziarzauny himn Respubliki Bielarus"" (State Anthem of the Republic of Belarus)
"
National symbol(s)a circle of 12, five-pointed, golden yellow stars on a blue field; union colors: blue, yellow
no clearly defined current national symbol, the mounted knight known as Pahonia (the Chaser) is the traditional Belarusian symbol; national colors: green, red, white

Economy

European UnionBelarus
Economy - overviewInternally, the 28 EU member states have adopted the framework of a single market with free movement of goods, services and capital. Internationally, the EU aims to bolster Europe's trade position and its political and economic weight.

Despite great differences in per capita income among member states (from $13,000 to $82,000) and in national attitudes toward issues like inflation, debt, and foreign trade, the EU has achieved a high degree of coordination of monetary and fiscal policies. A common currency – the euro – circulates among 19 of the member states, under the auspices of the European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). Eleven member states introduced the euro as their common currency on 1 January 1999 (Greece did so two years later). Since 2004, 13 states acceded to the EU. Of the 13, Slovenia (2007), Cyprus and Malta (2008), Slovakia (2009), Estonia (2011), Latvia (2014), and Lithuania (2015) have adopted the euro; 7 other member states - not including the UK nor Denmark, which have formal opt-outs - are required by EU treaties to adopt the common currency upon meeting fiscal and monetary convergence criteria.

The EU economy is still recovering from the 2008-09 global economic crisis and the ensuing sovereign debt crisis in the euro zone in 2011. The bloc posted moderate GDP growth for 2014 through 2016, but the recovery has been uneven. Some EU member states (Czech Republic, Ireland and Spain) have recorded strong growth while others (Finland, Greece) are struggling to shake off recession. Only Greece remains under an EU rescue program, while Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Cyprus have successfully concluded their agreements. Overall, the EU’s recovery has been buoyed by lower commodities prices and accommodative monetary policy, which has lowered interest rates and the euro’s foreign exchange value. However, significant drags on growth remain, including persistently high unemployment in some member states, high levels of public and private debt loads, lackluster investment, and an aging population. These factors - in combination with low oil prices - have subdued inflation in the euro zone despite the European Central Bank’s (ECB) efforts to spur more lending and investment through its asset-buying program, negative interest rates, and long-term loan refinancing programs. The ECB in December 2016 announced it would extend its bond-buying program through 2017 to underpin the euro-zone economy and bring inflation to its statutory target of just under 2%.

Despite its fair performance, the EU economy is vulnerable to a slowdown of global trade and bouts of political and financial turmoil. In June 2016, the UK voted to withdraw from the EU, the first member country ever to attempt to secede. Uncertainty about the timing, scope, and implications of the UK’s exit could hurt consumer and investor confidence and dampen UK and euro-zone growth if trade, investment and demand suffers. Political disagreements between EU members on fiscal and economic policy may impair the EU’s ability to improve its crisis-prevention and resolution mechanisms. Risks also linger of a flareup between Greece and its euro-zone creditors that could be detrimental to a stronger recovery, especially if it damages the euro-zone’s credibility with international investors and sparks renewed fears of a broad dissolution of the single currency area. In addition, portions of the European banking sector, particularly in Italy and Portugal, are still struggling with bad loans, and the potential for mismanagement of ailing banks could lead to localized crises. Externally, the EU’s efforts to expand already large trade and investment flows through ambitious and comprehensive free trade agreement suffered some setbacks in 2016; for example, progress stalled on a US-EU deal and the European Commission’s exclusive competence to negotiate trade deals was curtailed by challenges from member states.
As part of the former Soviet Union, Belarus had a relatively well-developed, though aging 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 largely inefficient and dependent on government subsidies. After an initial burst of capitalist reform from 1991-94, including privatization of smaller state enterprises and some service sector businesses, 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 reluctance to welcome private investment absent joint ownership or affiliation with the state. A few businesses, which had been privatized after independence, were renationalized. State banks account for 75% of the banking sector.

Economic output, which had declined for several years following the collapse of the Soviet Union, revived in the mid-2000s due to the boom in oil prices. Belarus has only small reserves of crude oil, though it imports most of its crude oil and natural gas from Russia at prices substantially below world market prices. Belarus then derives export revenue by refining Russian crude and selling it at market prices. In late 2006, Russia began a process of rolling back its subsidies on oil and gas exports to Belarus. Several times since, Russia and Belarus have had serious disagreements over the level and price of Russian energy supplies. At one point in 2010, Russia stopped the export of all subsidized oil to Belarus save for domestic needs before the two countries reached a deal to restart the export of discounted oil to Belarus. Beginning in early 2016, Russia claims Belarus began accumulating debt – reaching $740 million by April 2017 – for paying below an agreed price for Russian natural gas. Russia decided to reduce 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.

Little new non-Russian foreign investment has occurred in recent years. In 2011, a financial crisis began, triggered by government-directed salary hikes, compounded by an increased cost in Russian energy inputs and an overvalued Belarusian ruble that lead to a nearly three-fold devaluation of the Belarusian ruble. In November 2011, Belarus agreed to sell to Russia its remaining shares of Beltransgaz, the Belarusian natural gas pipeline operator, in exchange for reduced prices for Russian natural gas. The situation stabilized in 2012, after Belarus received part of a $3 billion loan from the Russian-dominated Eurasian Economic Community Bail-out Fund, a $1 billion loan from the Russian state-owned bank Sberbank, and $2.5 billion from the sale of Beltransgaz to Russian state-owned Gazprom; nevertheless, the Belarusian currency lost more than 60% of its value, as inflation reached new highs in 2011 and 2012, before calming in 2013. In December 2013, Russia announced a new loan for Belarus of up to $2 billion for 2014. Notwithstanding foreign assistance, the Belarusian economy continued to struggle under the weight of high external debt servicing payments and trade deficit. In mid-December 2014, structural economic shortcomings were aggravated by the devaluation of the Russian ruble, which triggered a near 40% devaluation of the Belarusian ruble.

Belarus entered 2016 with a contracting economy and minimal hard currency reserves. Since 2012, Belarus’s economy has suffered stagnation, which has led to widening productivity and income gaps between Belarus and neighboring countries. Since 2015, the Belarusian government has tightened its monetary policies (including allowing a more flexible exchange rate regime) and reduced subsidized government lending to state-owned industrial and agricultural enterprises, amid a drop in state budget revenues owing to falling global prices on key Belarusian export commodities - petroleum products and potash fertilizer. In 2016, GDP and foreign trade fell and unemployment rose, while inflation declined and hard currency reserves increased.
GDP (purchasing power parity)$19.97 trillion (2016 est.)
$19.6 trillion (2015 est.)
$18.91 trillion (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars
$166 billion (2016 est.)
$170.5 billion (2015 est.)
$177.4 billion (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars
GDP - real growth rate1.9% (2016 est.)
2.3% (2015 est.)
1.6% (2014 est.)
-2.6% (2016 est.)
-3.9% (2015 est.)
1.7% (2014 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$39,200 (2016 est.)
$38,100 (2015 est.)
$37,000 (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars
$17,500 (2016 est.)
$17,900 (2015 est.)
$18,700 (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars
GDP - composition by sectoragriculture: 1.5%
industry: 24.4%
services: 70.5% (2016 est.)
agriculture: 9.2%
industry: 40.9%
services: 49.8% (2016 est.)
Population below poverty line9.8%
note: see individual country entries of member states (2013 est.)
5.7% (2016 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage sharelowest 10%: 2.8%
highest 10%: 24.1% (2015 est.)
lowest 10%: 3.8%
highest 10%: 21.9% (2008)
Inflation rate (consumer prices)0.1% (2015 est.)
0.5% (2014 est.)
14% (2016 est.)
13.6% (2015 est.)
Labor force233.7 million (2016 est.)
4.381 million (2016 est.)
Labor force - by occupationagriculture: 5%
industry: 21.9%
services: 73.1% (2014 est.)
agriculture: 9.7%
industry: 23.4%
services: 66.8% (2015 est.)
Unemployment rate9.4% (2015 est.)
10.2% (2014 est.)
0.8% (2016 est.)
1% (2015 est.)
note: official registered unemployed; large number of underemployed workers
Distribution of family income - Gini index31 (2015 est.)
30.9 (2014 est.)
26.5 (2011)
21.7 (1998)
Industriesamong the world's largest and most technologically advanced regions, the EU industrial base includes: ferrous and non-ferrous metal production and processing, metal products, petroleum, coal, cement, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, aerospace, rail transportation equipment, passenger and commercial vehicles, construction equipment, industrial equipment, shipbuilding, electrical power equipment, machine tools and automated manufacturing systems, electronics and telecommunications equipment, fishing, food and beverages, furniture, paper, textiles
metal-cutting machine tools, tractors, trucks, earthmovers, motorcycles, , synthetic fibers, fertilizer, textiles, , refrigerators, washing machines and other household appliances
Industrial production growth rate1.4% (2016 est.)
-0.4% (2016 est.)
Agriculture - productswheat, barley, oilseeds, sugar beets, wine, grapes; dairy products, cattle, sheep, pigs, poultry; fish
grain, potatoes, vegetables, sugar beets, flax; beef, milk
Exports$1.9 billion (2015 est.)
$1.808 billion (2014 est.)
note: external exports, excluding intra-EU trade
$22.65 billion (2016 est.)
$26.19 billion (2015 est.)
Exports - commoditiesmachinery, motor vehicles, pharmaceuticals and other chemicals, fuels, aircraft, plastics, iron and steel, wood pulp and paper products, alcoholic beverages, furniture
machinery and equipment, mineral products, chemicals, metals, textiles, foodstuffs
Exports - partnersUnited States 17.1%, China 8.5%, Switzerland 7.8%, Russia 7.2%, Turkey 4.4% (2013 est.)
Russia 39.1%, UK 11.1%, Ukraine 9.5%, Netherlands 4.3%, Germany 4.1% (2015)
Imports$1.727 billion (2015 est.)
$1.692 billion (2014 est.)
note: external imports, excluding intra-EU trade
$25.44 billion (2016 est.)
$28.33 billion (2015 est.)
Imports - commoditiesfuels and crude oil, machinery, vehicles, pharmaceuticals and other chemicals, precious gemstones, textiles, aircraft, plastics, metals, ships
mineral products, machinery and equipment, chemicals, foodstuffs, metals
Imports - partnersChina 16.1%, United States 11.4%, Russia 11%, Switzerland 5.9%, Norway 4.3% (2013 est.)
Russia 56.6%, China 7.9%, Germany 4.6% (2015)
Debt - external$13.05 trillion (31 December 2014 est.)
$14.14 trillion (31 December 2013)
$34.75 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$34.85 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Exchange rateseuros per US dollar -
0.9214 (2016 est.)
0.885 (2015 est.)
0.885 (2014 est.)
0.7634 (2013 est.)
0.7752 (2012 est.)
Belarusian rubles (BYB/BYR) per US dollar -
18,500 (2016 est.)
15,926 (2015 est.)
15,926 (2014 est.)
10,224.1 (2013 est.)
8,336.9 (2012 est.)
Fiscal yearNA
calendar year
Public debt86.8% of GDP (2014)
85.5% of GDP (2013)
60.7% of GDP (2016 est.)
48.5% of GDP (2015 est.)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold$740.9 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
note: $746.9 billion (31 December 2013)
$4.206 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$4.176 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Current Account Balance$387.1 billion (2016 est.)
$365.5 billion (2015 est.)
-$2.118 billion (2016 est.)
-$2.037 billion (2015 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate)$16.52 trillion (2016 est.)
$48.13 billion (2016 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home$NA $5.148 trillion (2012)
$4.828 trillion (2011)
$6.929 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$7.241 billion (31 December 2015)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad$9.121 trillion (2012)
$8.721 trillion (2011)
$3.547 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$4.649 billion (31 December 2015)
Market value of publicly traded shares$7.185 trillion (31 December 2014 est.)
$7.932 trillion (31 December 2013 est.)
$10.4 trillion (31 December 2012 est.)
$NA
Central bank discount rate0.25% (31 December 2016 est.)
0.3% (31 December 2015 est.)
note: this is the European Central Bank's rate on the marginal lending facility, which offers overnight credit to banks in the euro area
14% (19 April 2017)
15% (15 March 2017)
Commercial bank prime lending rate0.32% (31 December 2014 est.)
0.56% (31 December 2013 est.)
18% (31 December 2016 est.)
18.08% (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of domestic credit$16.57 trillion (31 December 2015 est.)
$17.12 trillion (31 December 2014 est.)
note: this figure refers to the euro area only; it excludes credit data for non-euro-area members of the EU
$24.09 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$22.23 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of narrow money$6.613 trillion (31 December 2015 est.)
$5.947 trillion (31 December 2014 est.)
note: this is the quantity of money, M1, for the euro area, converted into US dollars at the exchange rate for the date indicated; it excludes the stock of money carried by non-euro-area members of the European Union, e.g., UK pounds, Danish kroner, and Czech koruny
$2.232 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$2.301 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of broad money$10.84 trillion (31 December 2015 est.)
$10.33 trillion (31 December 2014 est.)
note: this is the quantity of broad money for the euro area, converted into US dollars at the exchange rate for the date indicated; it excludes the stock of broad money carried by non-euro-area members of the European Union
$5.651 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$7.608 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
Taxes and other revenues45.2% of GDP (2014)
44.1% of GDP (2016 est.)
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)-3% of GDP (2014)
0.6% of GDP (2016 est.)
GDP - composition, by end usehousehold consumption: 56.3%
government consumption: 20.5%
investment in fixed capital: 19.5%
investment in inventories: 0.1%
exports of goods and services: 43.9%
imports of goods and services: -40.5% (2013 est.)
household consumption: 54.6%
government consumption: 15.8%
investment in fixed capital: 30.1%
investment in inventories: 2.6%
exports of goods and services: 57.2%
imports of goods and services: -60.3% (2016 est.)
Gross national saving22% of GDP (2016 est.)
21.8% of GDP (2015 est.)
21.3% of GDP (2014 est.)
21.9% of GDP (2016 est.)
30.2% of GDP (2015 est.)
28.5% of GDP (2014 est.)

Energy

European UnionBelarus
Electricity - production3.166 trillion kWh (2014 est.)
34.08 billion kWh (2015 est.)
Electricity - consumption2.771 trillion kWh (2013 est.)
36.7 billion kWh (2015 est.)
Electricity - exports336.2 billion kWh (2013 est.)
194 million kWh (2015 est.)
Electricity - imports349.5 billion kWh (2013 est.)
2.816 billion kWh (2015 est.)
Oil - production1.507 million bbl/day (2015 est.)
32,710 bbl/day (2016 est.)
Oil - proved reserves5.6 billion bbl (1 January 2016 est.)
200 million bbl (1 January 2016 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves1.3 trillion cu m (1 January 2015 es)
2.832 billion cu m (1 January 2016 es)
Natural gas - production120 billion cu m (2015 est.)
0 cu m (2016 est.)
Natural gas - consumption402.1 billion cu m (2015 est.)
20.08 billion cu m (2014 est.)
Natural gas - exports93.75 billion cu m (2010 est.)
0 cu m (2016 est.)
Natural gas - imports420.6 billion cu m (2010 est.)
20.05 billion cu m (2014 est.)
Electricity - installed generating capacity9.47 billion kW (2012 est.)
9.2 million kW (2014 est.)
Electricity - from fossil fuels49% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)
99.7% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)
Electricity - from hydroelectric plants10.7% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)
0.2% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)
Electricity - from nuclear fuels12.9% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)
0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)
Electricity - from other renewable sources22.9% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)
0.1% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)
Refined petroleum products - production11.12 million bbl/day (2014 est.)
444,400 bbl/day (2013 est.)
Refined petroleum products - consumption12.53 million bbl/day (2014 est.)
170,000 bbl/day (2014 est.)
Refined petroleum products - exports2.196 million bbl/day (2015 est.)
284,200 bbl/day (2013 est.)
Refined petroleum products - imports8.613 million bbl/day (2015 est.)
1,334 bbl/day (2013 est.)
Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy3.705 billion Mt (2014 est.)
70 million Mt (2013 est.)

Telecommunications

European UnionBelarus
Telephones - main lines in usetotal: 213.8 million (July 2015 est.)
total subscriptions: 4,540,678
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 47 (July 2015 est.)
Telephones - mobile cellulartotal: 632.5 million (July 2015 est.)
total: 11.448 million
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 119 (July 2015 est.)
Telephone systemnote - see individual country entries of member states
general assessment: Belarus lags behind its neighbors in upgrading telecommunications infrastructure; modernization of the network progressing with over two-thirds of switching equipment now digital
domestic: state-owned Beltelcom is the sole provider of fixed-line local and long distance service; fixed-line teledensity is improving although rural areas continue to be underserved; the country has 3 major GSM mobile-cellular networks; mobile-cellular teledensity now approaches 120 telephones per 100 persons
international: country code - 375; Belarus is a member of the Trans-European Line (TEL), Trans-Asia-Europe (TAE) fiber-optic line, and has access to the Trans-Siberia Line (TSL); 3 fiber-optic segments provide connectivity to Latvia, Poland, Russia, and Ukraine; worldwide service is available to Belarus through this infrastructure; additional analog lines to Russia; Intelsat, Eutelsat, and Intersputnik earth stations (2017)
Internet country code.eu; note - see country entries of member states for individual country codes
.by
Internet userstotal: 398.1 million (July 2015 est.)
total: 5.968 million
percent of population: 62.2% (July 2015 est.)

Transportation

European UnionBelarus
Railwaystotal: 230,548 km (2013)
total: 5,528 km
broad gauge: 5,503 km 1.520-m gauge (874 km electrified)
standard gauge: 25 km 1.435-m gauge (2014)
Roadwaystotal: 10,582,653 km (2013)
total: 86,392 km
paved: 74,651 km
unpaved: 11,741 km (2010)
Waterways53,384 km (2013)
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)
Ports and terminalsmajor port(s): Antwerp (Belgium), Barcelona (Spain), Braila (Romania), Bremen (Germany), Burgas (Bulgaria), Constanta (Romania), Copenhagen (Denmark), Galati (Romania), Gdansk (Poland), Hamburg (Germany), Helsinki (Finland), Las Palmas (Canary Islands, Spain), Le Havre (France), Lisbon (Portugal), London (UK), Marseille (France), Naples (Italy), Peiraiefs or Piraeus (Greece), Riga (Latvia), Rotterdam (Netherlands), Split (Croatia), Stockholm (Sweden), Talinn (Estonia), Tulcea (Romania), Varna (Bulgaria)
river port(s): Mazyr (Prypyats')
Airports3,102 (2013)
65 (2013)
Airports - with paved runwaystotal: 1,882
over 3,047 m: 120
2,438 to 3,047 m: 341
1,524 to 2,437 m: 507
914 to 1,523 m: 425
under 914 m: 489 (2015)
total: 33
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 20
1,524 to 2,437 m: 4
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 7 (2013)
Airports - with unpaved runwaystotal: 1,244
over 3,047 m: 1
2,437 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 15
914 to 1,523 m: 245
under 914 m: 982 (2013)
total: 32
over 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 28 (2013)
Heliports90 (2013)
1 (2013)

Military

European UnionBelarus
Military expenditures - percent of GDP1.65% of GDP (2012)
1.66% of GDP (2011)
1.65% of GDP (2010)
1.2% of GDP (2016)
1.33% of GDP (2015)
1.33% of GDP (2014)
1.33% of GDP (2013)
1.28% of GDP (2012)

Transnational Issues

European UnionBelarus
Disputes - international"as a political union, the EU has no border disputes with neighboring countries, but Estonia has no land boundary agreements with Russia, Slovenia disputes its land and maritime boundaries with Croatia, and Spain has territorial and maritime disputes with Morocco and with the UK over Gibraltar; the EU has set up a Schengen area - consisting of 22 EU member states that have signed the convention implementing the Schengen agreements or ""acquis"" (1985 and 1990) on the free movement of persons and the harmonization of border controls in Europe; these agreements became incorporated into EU law with the implementation of the 1997 Treaty of Amsterdam on 1 May 1999; in addition, non-EU states Iceland and Norway (as part of the Nordic Union) have been included in the Schengen area since 1996 (full members in 2001), Switzerland since 2008, and Liechtenstein since 2011 bringing the total current membership to 26; the UK (since 2000) and Ireland (since 2002) take part in only some aspects of the Schengen area, especially with respect to police and criminal matters; nine of the 13 new member states that joined the EU since 2004 joined Schengen on 21 December 2007; of the four remaining EU states, Romania, Bulgaria, and Croatia are obligated to eventually join, while Cyprus' entry is held up by the ongoing Cyprus dispute
"
boundary demarcated with Latvia and Lithuania; as a member state that forms part of the EU's external border, Poland has implemented strict Schengen border rules to restrict illegal immigration and trade along its border with Belarus

Source: CIA Factbook