Belarus Productions

 
FAQ
 
 
  • Where is Belarus?

Belarus is an East European country situated between Poland and Russia. It also borders Lithuania, Latvia and Ukraine. Landlocked

  • Is there Internet in Belarus?

There are plenty of Internet-cafes in all large towns in the country, although it is almost impossible to find one in the countryside

  • Is it difficult to get a visa to Belarus?

It is not difficult. All you need is an official invitation and we can send it to you

  • What is Belarus?

Here are some basic facts:

President: Alyaksandr Lukashenka (1994)

Area: 80,154 sq mi (207,600 sq km)

Population: 10 million (growth rate: 0.1%); birth rate: 10.5/1000; infant mortality rate: 13.6/1000; life expectancy: 68.6; density per sq mi: 129

Capital and largest city (2003 est.): Mensk (Minsk), 2 million

Other large cities: Gomel, 502,200; Mogilyov, 374,000; Vitebsk, 355,800; Grodno, 314,100; Brest, 306,300; Bobruysk, 228,100

Monetary unit: Belarusian ruble

Language: Belarusian, Russian

Ethnicity/race: Belarusian 81.2%, Russian 11.4%, Polish, Ukrainian, and other 7.4%

Religion: Orthodox, Catholic

Literacy rate: 100%

Arable land: 30%.

Agriculture: grain, potatoes, vegetables, sugar beets, flax; beef, milk.

Labor force: 4.5 million;

Industries: metal-cutting machine tools, tractors, trucks, earthmovers, motorcycles, television sets, chemical fibers, fertilizer, textiles, radios, refrigerators.

Natural resources: forests, peat deposits, small quantities of oil and natural gas, granite, dolomitic limestone, marl, chalk, sand, gravel, clay.

Exports: $7.7 billion: machinery and equipment, mineral products, chemicals, metals; textiles, foodstuffs.

Imports: $8.8 billion: mineral products, machinery and equipment, chemicals, foodstuffs, metals.

Major trading partners: Russia, Latvia, Ukraine, Lithuania, Germany.

Geography

Much of Belarus (formerly the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic of the USSR, and then Byelorussia) is a hilly lowland with forests, swamps, and numerous rivers and lakes. There are wide rivers emptying into the Baltic and Black Seas. Its forests cover over one-third of the land and its peat marshes are a valuable natural resource. The largest lake is Narach, 31 sq mi (79.6 sq km).

History

In the 5th century A.D., Belarus (also known as White Russia) was colonized by east Slavic tribes. Kiev dominated it from the 9th to 12th centuries. After the destruction of Kiev by the Mongols in the 13th century, the territory was conquered by the dukes of Lithuania, although it retained a degree of autonomy. Belarus became part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, which merged with Poland in 1569. Following the partitions of Poland in 1772, 1793, and 1795, in which Poland was divided among Russia, Prussia, and Austria, Belarus became part of the Russian empire.

Following World War I, Belarus proclaimed itself a republic, only to find itself occupied by the Red Army soon after its March 1918 announcement. The Polish-Soviet War of 19181921 was fought to decide the fate of Belarus. West Belarus was ceded to Poland; the larger eastern part formed the Belorussian SSR, and was then joined to the USSR in 1922. In 1939, the Soviet Union took back West Belarus from Poland under the secret protocol of the Nazi-Soviet Nonaggression Pact and incorporated it into the Belorussian Soviet Socialist Republic. Occupied by the Nazis in World War II, Belarus was one of the most devastated battlefields.

When the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine exploded in 1986, 70% of its radioactivity fell on Belarus. Cancer and other illnesses have multiplied as a result.

Belarus declared its sovereignty in July 1990 and its independence in Aug. 1991. It became a cofounder of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) in Dec. 1991. In Jan. 1994, the country's Parliament ousted its reform-minded leader, Stanislav Shushkevich, in protest against his support for market economics. He was replaced by Alyaksandr Lukashenka, who over the next two years greatly expanded the powers of the presidency. Lukashenka sought to renew ties with Russia, and, with much fanfare, Belarus and Russia signed a treaty in April 1997 aimed at significantly increasing cooperation between the two states, stopping just short of union.

The Russian financial crisis that began in fall 1998 severely affected Belarus's Soviet-style planned economy. Belarus is almost completely dependent on Russia, which buys 70% of its exports.

Critics continue to denounce the increasingly oppressive political atmosphere and human rights violations in Belarus under the Soviet-style authoritarianism of President Lukashenka. In 1999, the year Lukashenka was to step down, he rigged a national referendum allowing him to cancel the elections and remain president. Lukashenka's government has been accused of running a death squad that has killed dozens, including opposition party members and underworld figures. After harassing the opposition and curtailing their campaign activities, Lukashenka won reelection in the Sept. 9, 2001, presidential race.

WWII

Belarus has suffered the heaviest losses during the World War II. Probably everybody knows about Jewish holocaust. It's hard to imagine a greater tragedy. But there was one. Belarus has lost a quarter of its population, that's more then 2.5 millions. The Belarusian Museum of the Great Patriotic War in Minsk turns out to be a real revelation for foreign visitors. The Museum is the place to learn about it. The Memorial Khatyn is the place to feel it.

Chernobyl Disaster

The greatest catastrophe in the whole history of the nuclear energy use. Belarus, again, has suffered the most of all. About 70% of the radioactive contaminating substances have fallen down on Belarus. 23% of its territory were affected.

Viskuly

A tiny spot on the map of Belarus. The place where the Belavezha Agreement was signed in 1991 and where the Soviet Union was declared to cease to exist. The event might be not so spectacular, but definitely more important then the fall of the Berlin Wall. Probably one of the two most important events of the 20th century. The place is still waiting for recognition, though.

Belarusian Arts

Just one name. Mark Shagal. You might wish to visit Belarusian Museum of Arts for others.

Belarusian Ballet

The Moscow Bolshoi Theatre Ballet, St. Petersburg Mariinskiy Theatre Ballet. Belarusian Ballet is the third in the row.

Belarusian optics

So popular especially in Germany Belarusian night vision goggles is just one and not the most sophisticated example of what Belarusian Optical Amalgamation can produce.

Belarusian Zubr or European Bison

Belarus is the only place in the world where you can see this ancient animal in its natural environment.

Sources:

infoplease.com; The World Factbook 2001; Center for International Research, U.S. Bureau of the Census; The Columbia Encyclopedia; The World Book Encyclopedia; Encyclopaedia Britannica; U.S. State Dept., and various newspapers.

See also:

Ministry of Statistics and Analysis

 
 

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