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Belarus. It's Geographic Features, Economy and State System. The Republic of Belarus (Belarus) is located in the Eastern part of Europe. In the west it borders on Poland, in the north-west on Lithuania, in the north on Latvia, in the north-east and east on Russia, in the south on Ukraine. Belarus is divided into six regions (oblast): Brest oblast, Vitebsk oblast, Gomel oblast, Grodno oblast, Minsk oblast and Mogilev oblast. The capital of Belarus is the city of Minsk, which is the biggest political, economic, scientific and cultural centre of the country. The population of Minsk is 1.729 million people.
The Republic of Belarus (Belarus) is located in the Eastern part of Europe. In the west it borders on Poland, in the north-west on Lithuania, in the north on Latvia, in the north-east and east on Russia, in the south on Ukraine. Belarus is divided into six regions (oblast): Brest oblast, Vitebsk oblast, Gomel oblast, Grodno oblast, Minsk oblast and Mogilev oblast. The capital of Belarus is the city of Minsk, which is the biggest political, economic, scientific and cultural centre of the country. The population of Minsk is 1.729 million people.
The territory of Belarus is 207.6 thousand square kilometres. The longest distance, 650 km, is from the West to the East, and 560 km from the North to the South. By the size of its territory, Belarus is bigger than, for instance, the territory of Belgium, Portugal, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Greece, and Austria.
The population of Belarus according to preliminary data of population census on 14 October 2009 constituted 9.489 thousand people. The country's population is twice as big as Finland's or Denmark's. Representatives of more than 100 nationalities live in Belarus. The majority of the population is represented by the indigenous Belarusian nation constituting more than 3/4 of the entire population. Significant numbers of Russians, Poles, Ukrainians and other nationalities live in the Republic along with Belarusians.
The climate of Belarus is moderately continental with mild and humid winter, warm summer and rainy autumn. The average temperature in January is from - 4°C to - 8°C, in July it is from + 17°C to + 19°C. The climatic conditions are favourable for growing grain crops, vegetables, fruit trees and bushes and particularly for cultivating potatoes.
The terrain of Belarus is predominantly low hilly flat land. The average height above the sea level is 160 meters. Agricultural lands occupy 45% of the territory, forests account for 36% of the territory. There are more than 20 thousand rivers and creeks and about 11 thousand lakes in Belarus. The biggest lake is Naroch (about 80 square kilometres).
The plant kingdom .The natural plant kingdom of Belarus occupies about 70% of the Republic's territory. There are about 12 thousand species of plants. The forests of Belarus are rich in valuable species of trees: pine tree, spruce, oak, birch tree, aspen, alder. More than 200 species of plants are protected by the State.
The animal kingdom of Belarus counts 457 species of vertebrates (including 73 species of mammals, 290 species of birds, about 60 species of fish) and more than 20 thousand invertebrates. Such game as fox, marten, hare, otter, ferret, ermine, elk and wild boar have a high economic value. More than 180 species of animals are protected by the State.
Environmental protection. The main directions of the environment policy of the country are determined by the laws "On Environment Protection", "On Protection and Utilisation of the Animal Kingdom" and others. Belarus has acceded to the Convention on Biodiversity and has undertaken commitments to establish a system of protected areas and to actively participate in resolving the tasks of preserving biological diversity.There are three National Parks in Belarus: "Belovezhskaya Pushcha", "Braslav Lakes" and "Narochansky".
Natural resources. About 30 kinds of mineral raw materials have been prospected in Belarus (more than 4 thousand deposits and fields of natural resources).The most significant are potassium salts, the reserves of which in the country occupy one of the leading places in Europe. The reserves of rock salt are virtually inexhaustible. The country is rich in rock products such as granites, dolomites and dolomite limestone, marl, chalk, fusible and refractory clay, loam, sand and gravel. There are vast reserves of peat. The deposits of oil are insignificant. There are more than 60 sources of mineral water on the territory of the Republic.Natural Resources include forests, peat deposits, small quantities of oil and natural gas.
Belarus is a country with a resilient economy and diversified industrial profile. Unfortunately, there are several major factors that have worked against its quick economic growth. They are a lack of natural resources, the effects of the Chernobyl accident, and the world economic crisis.
Nevertheless, Belarus has seen some economic growth lately. The government of the country pursues the strategy of step-by-step reformation. Great concern is shown for social welfare and stability. This model is known as a socially oriented market economy.
The task of the Government is to implement smooth transition from the command economy to market economy. Since the late 1990s, Belarus has achieved progress in economic reform and stabilization.
About 100 major enterprises form the core of the Belarusian industry. Among Belarus' most powerful plants are the Minsk Automobile Plant (MAZ), the Minsk Tractor Plant (MTZ), Atlant (freezer and refrigerator plant), Belaruskaliy (the biggest producer of potassium fertilizers in the world), and oil refineries in Novopolotsk and Mozyr.
Belarusian agriculture specializes in animal farming (milk and meat products), flax, potato, grain and vegetable crops, sugar beets, grapes and fodder crops. Emphasis has been placed on grain production. The task is to achieve self-sufficiency and reduce reliance on expensive grain imports. Yet the agricultural sector still needs substantial capital investment.
Trade, services, and the industrial sector are the main sources of the country's economic development. Belarus’ economy is based on exports and the country has trade links with more than170 countries, which helped to generate international trade worth US $50 billion in 2009. The development of foreign economic activity for the republic is one of the key factors of economic growth which encourages an increase in production effectiveness and ensures people’s welfare.
The EU and the Russian Federation remained the main markets for Belarusian exports. Almost half of exports go to Russia, mostly minerals, chemical products, machinery and food, while more than a third go to EU states in the form of petrochemicals, fertilizers, and textiles. After Russia, Belarus’ leading trade nations are the Netherlands, Germany and Ukraine.
The composition of Belarusian exports by principal type of goods and services remained relatively constant in the period from 2005 to 2009. The main goods and services exported by Belarus in 2009 were: oil-based and other mineral products (37.5 per cent. of the total), chemical products and related industry products (12.5 per cent. of the total), agricultural and food products (10.8 per cent. of the total), machinery and equipment (8 per cent. of the total), non-precious metals (6.9 per cent. of the total) and transportation services (6.7 per cent. of the total)
The composition of Belarusian imports remained relatively constant in the period from 2005 to 2009. The main goods and services imported by Belarus in 2009 were: crude oil and other mineral products (39.5 per cent. of the total), machinery and equipment (15.5 per cent. of the total), non-precious metals (8.8 per cent. of the total), agricultural and food products (8.2 per cent. of the total), chemical and petrochemical products (7.2 per cent. of the total) and transportation services (5.8 per cent. of the total).
The government has developed 47 strategies regarding the increase of exports and joining new markets in Latin America, Asia and Africa. As a result, the country entered 24 new markets in the first six months of 2010.
As regards import substitution, the Government is working hard to reduce imports of over 1,680 commodities. A strategy of foreign economic activity until 2015 has been developed to optimise the foreign trade balance. The Government goal is to reach a positive balance by 2014.
Belarus has sufficient economic potential and human resources to be a proper member of the world community and the Belarusian people strive to make their land prosperous and flourishing.
The Republic of Belarus is a unitary, democratic state based on the rule of law. The Constitution of the Republic of Belarus was adopted in 1994, with the subsequent amendments and additions adopted at the national referenda on November 24, 1996 and October 17, 2006.
The President of the Republic of Belarus is the Head of State. The National Assembly – the Belarusian Parliament – is a representative and legislative body of the Republic of Belarus. The Parliament consists of two chambers, the House of Representatives (110 deputies) and the Council of the Republic (64 members). The House meets for 2 regular sessions every year. Extraordinary sessions can be called by a presidential decree. In Belarus, Parliament serves a 4-year term.
The fundamental law of the country is its Constitution. The Preamble to the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus clearly states the most important aims of the whole society. Here is the beginning of the Preamble.
“We, the People of the Republic of Belarus, (of Belarus), proceeding from the assumption of responsibility for the present and future of Belarus, recognizing ourselves as a full-fledged subject of the international community and conforming our adherence to values common to all mankind, founding ourselves on our inalienable right to self-determination, supported by the centuries-long history of development of Belarusian statehood, striving to assert the rights and freedoms of every citizen of the Republic of Belarus, desiring to maintain civic concord, stable foundations of government by the people and a state based on the rule of law, hereby adopt and enact this Constitution as the Fundamental Law of the Republic of Belarus”.
The Constitution guarantees a broad range of rights and freedoms and creates legal conditions for their realization. The suffrage is universal: all citizens have the right to vote from the age of 18.
Executive power in the Republic of Belarus is exercised by the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Belarus. The Council of Ministers is headed by the Prime Minister. The Government is accountable to the President of the Republic of Belarus and its powers are determined by the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus.
Under the Constitution, judicial power in the country belongs to the court system. The court system is split into 3 main groups: general courts, economic courts and the Constitutional Court. All court proceedings have to follow the established system. Emergency courts cannot be set up under any circumstances.
State bodies are independent within the limits of their powers and they co-operate following the principle of checks and balances.