Photos of Belarus

Introduction

Background

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 and current negotiations on further integration have been contentious. 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.

Visit the Definitions and Notes page to view a description of each topic.

Geography

Location

Eastern Europe, east of Poland

Geographic coordinates

53 00 N, 28 00 E

Area

total: 207,600 sq km

land: 202,900 sq km

water: 4,700 sq km

country comparison to the world: 86

Area - comparative

slightly less than twice the size of Kentucky; slightly smaller than Kansas

Land boundaries

total: 3,642 km

border countries (5): Latvia 161 km, Lithuania 640 km, Poland 418 km, Russia 1312 km, Ukraine 1111 km

Coastline

0 km (landlocked)

Maritime claims

none (landlocked)

Climate

cold winters, cool and moist summers; transitional between continental and maritime

Terrain

generally flat with much marshland

Elevation

mean elevation: 160 m

lowest point: Nyoman River 90 m

highest point: Dzyarzhynskaya Hara 346 m

Natural resources

timber, peat deposits, small quantities of oil and natural gas, granite, dolomitic limestone, marl, chalk, sand, gravel, clay

Land use

agricultural land: 43.7% (2018 est.)

arable land: 27.2% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 0.6% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 15.9% (2018 est.)

forest: 42.7% (2018 est.)

other: 13.6% (2018 est.)

Irrigated land

1,140 sq km (2012)

Population distribution

a fairly even distribution throughout most of the country, with urban areas attracting larger and denser populations

Natural hazards

large tracts of marshy land

Environment - current issues

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 agreements

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

Geography - note

landlocked; glacial scouring accounts for the flatness of Belarusian terrain and for its 11,000 lakes

People and Society

Nationality

noun: Belarusian(s)

adjective: Belarusian

Ethnic groups

Belarusian 83.7%, Russian 8.3%, Polish 3.1%, Ukrainian 1.7%, other 2.4%, unspecified 0.9% (2009 est.)

Languages

Russian (official) 70.2%, Belarusian (official) 23.4%, other 3.1% (includes small Polish- and Ukrainian-speaking minorities), unspecified 3.3% (2009 est.)

Religions

Orthodox 48.3%, Catholic 7.1%, other 3.5%, non-believers 41.1% (2011 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 16.09% (male 784,231/female 740,373)

15-24 years: 9.59% (male 467,393/female 441,795)

25-54 years: 43.94% (male 2,058,648/female 2,105,910)

55-64 years: 14.45% (male 605,330/female 763,972)

65 years and over: 15.93% (male 493,055/female 1,017,211) (2020 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 48.9

youth dependency ratio: 25.7

elderly dependency ratio: 23.2

potential support ratio: 4.3 (2020 est.)

Median age

total: 40.9 years

male: 38 years

female: 43.9 years (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 48

Birth rate

9.32 births/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 195

Death rate

12.96 deaths/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 157

Net migration rate

0.72 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 114

Population distribution

a fairly even distribution throughout most of the country, with urban areas attracting larger and denser populations

Urbanization

urban population: 79.5% of total population (2020)

rate of urbanization: 0.44% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)

Major urban areas - population

2.028 million MINSK (capital) (2020)

Sex ratio

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: 0.98 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 0.79 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.48 male(s)/female

total population: 0.87 male(s)/female (2020 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth

26.5 years (2017 est.)

Maternal mortality rate

2 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 181

Infant mortality rate

total: 3.31 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 3.76 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 2.83 deaths/1,000 live births (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 44

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 74.01 years

male: 68.6 years

female: 79.74 years (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 175

Contraceptive prevalence rate

72.1% (2017)

note:  percent of women aged 18-49

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 100% of population

rural: 98.3% of population

total: 99.8% of population

unimproved: urban: 0% of population

rural: 1.7% of population

total: 0.2% of population (2017 est.)

Physicians density

5.19 physicians/1,000 population (2015)

Hospital bed density

10.8 beds/1,000 population (2014)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 99.8% of population

rural: 97.9% of population

total: 99.4% of population

unimproved: urban: 0.2% of population

rural: 2.1% of population

total: 0.6% of population (2017 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths

<200 (2019 est.)

Literacy

definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 99.8%

male: 99.8%

female: 99.7% (2018)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 15 years

male: 15 years

female: 16 years (2018)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 10.6%

male: 12.7%

female: 8.4% (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 121

Government

Country name

conventional long form: Republic of Belarus

conventional short form: Belarus

local long form: Respublika Byelarus'/Respublika Belarus'

local short form: Byelarus'/Belarus'

former: Belorussian (Byelorussian) Soviet Socialist Republic

etymology: the name is a compound of the Belarusian words "bel" (white) and "Rus" (the Old East Slavic ethnic designation) to form the meaning White Rusian or White Ruthenian

Government type

presidential republic in name, although in fact a dictatorship

Capital

name: Minsk

geographic coordinates: 53 54 N, 27 34 E

time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

etymology: the origin of the name is disputed; Minsk may originally have been located 16 km to the southwest, on the banks of Menka River; remnants of a 10th-century settlement on the banks of the Menka have been found 

Administrative divisions

6 provinces (voblastsi, singular - voblasts') and 1 municipality* (horad); Brest, Homyel' (Gomel'), Horad Minsk* (Minsk City), Hrodna (Grodno), Mahilyow (Mogilev), Minsk, Vitsyebsk (Vitebsk)

note: administrative divisions have the same names as their administrative centers; Russian spelling provided for reference when different from Belarusian

Independence

25 August 1991 (from the Soviet Union)

National holiday

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: 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

Legal system

civil law system; note - nearly all major codes (civil, civil procedure, criminal, criminal procedure, family, and labor) were revised and came into force in 1999 and 2000

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt

Citizenship

citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Belarus

dual citizenship recognized: no

residency requirement for naturalization: 7 years

Suffrage

18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President Aleksandr LUKASHENKO (since 20 July 1994)

head of government: Prime Minister Roman GOLOVCHENKO (since 4 June 2020); First Deputy Prime Minister Nikolai SNOPKOV (since 4 June 2020); Deputy Prime Ministers Vladimir KUKHAREV, Igor PETRISHENKO (since 18 August 2018), Yury NAZAROV (since 3 March 2020), Aleksander Subbotin (since 4 June 2020)

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 and win in a third (19 March 2006), fourth (19 December 2010), fifth (11 October 2015), and sixth (9 August 2020); next election in 2025; 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) 80.2%, Sviatana TSIKHANOUSKAYA (independent) 9.9%, other 9.9%; note - widespread street protests erupted following announcement of the election results amid allegations of voter fraud

Legislative branch

description: bicameral National Assembly or Natsionalnoye Sobraniye consists of:
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)
House of Representatives or Palata Predstaviteley (110 seats; members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by absolute majority vote in 2 rounds if needed; members serve 4-year terms)

elections:
Council of the Republic - indirect election last held on 7 November 2019
House of Representatives - last held on 17 November 2019 (next to be held in 2023); 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 every seat; international observers determined that the previous elections, on 28 September 2008, 23 September 2012, and 11 September 2016 also fell short of democratic standards, with pro-LUKASHENKO candidates winning every, or virtually every, seat

election results:
Council of the Republic - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NA; composition - NA
House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - KPB 11, Republican Party of Labor and Justice 6, Belarusian Patriotic Party 2, LDP 1, AP 1, independent 89; composition - men 66, women 44, percent of women 40%; note - total National Assembly percent of women - NA

note: the US does not recognize the legitimacy of the National Assembly

Judicial branch

highest courts: Supreme Court (consists of the chairman and 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: oblast courts; Minsk City Court; town courts; Minsk city and oblast economic courts

Political parties and leaders

pro-government parties:
Belarusian Agrarian Party or AP [Mikhail SHIMANSKY]
Belarusian Patriotic Party [Nikolai ULAKHOVICH]
Belarusian Social Sport Party [Vladimir ALEKSANDROVICH]
Communist Party of Belarus or KPB [Aleksei SOKOL]
Liberal Democratic Party or LDP [Sergey GAYDUKEVICH]
Republican Party [Vladimir BELOZOR]
Republican Party of Labor and Justice [Vasiliy ZADNEPRYANIY]
Social Democratic Party of Popular Accord [Sergei YERMAK]
opposition parties:
Belarusian Christian Democracy Party [Paval SEVIARYNETS, Volha KAVALKOVA, Vital RYMASHEWSKI] (unregistered)
Belarusian Party of the Green [Anastasiya DOROFEYEVA]
Belarusian Party of the Left "Just World" [Sergey KALYAKIN]
Belarusian Popular Front or BPF [Ryhor KASTUSEU]
Belarusian Social-Democratic Assembly [Sergei CHERECHEN]
Belarusian Social Democratic Party ("Assembly") or BSDPH [Ihar BARYSAU]
Belarusian Social Democratic Party (People's Assembly) [Mikalay STATKEVICH] (unregistered)
Christian Conservative Party or BPF [Zyanon PAZNYAK]
United Civic Party or UCP [Nikolay KOZLOV]

International organization participation

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 US

chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant; recalled by Belarus in 2008); Charge d'Affaires Dmitriy BASIK (since July 2019)

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 US

chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant; left in 2008 upon insistence of Belarusian Government); Charge d'Affaires Jenifer MOORE (since August 2018)

telephone: [375] (17) 210-1283

embassy: 46 Starovilenskaya Street, Minsk 220002

mailing address: Unit 7010 Box 100, DPO AE 09769

FAX: [375] (17) 234-7853

Flag description

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 symbol(s)

no clearly defined current national symbol, the mounted knight known as Pahonia (the Chaser) is the traditional Belarusian symbol; national colors: green, red, white

National anthem

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)

Economy

Economic overview

As part of the former Soviet Union, Belarus had a relatively well-developed industrial base, but it is now outdated, inefficient, and dependent on subsidized Russian energy and preferential access to Russian markets. The country’s agricultural base is largely dependent on government subsidies. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, an initial burst of economic reforms included privatization of state enterprises, creation of private property rights, and the acceptance of private entrepreneurship, but by 1994 the reform effort dissipated. About 80% of industry remains in state hands, and foreign investment has virtually disappeared. Several businesses have been renationalized. State-owned entities account for 70-75% of GDP, and state banks make up 75% of the banking sector.

Economic output declined for several years following the break-up of the Soviet Union, but revived in the mid-2000s. Belarus has only small reserves of crude oil and imports crude oil and natural gas from Russia at subsidized, below market, prices. Belarus derives export revenue by refining Russian crude and selling it at market prices. Russia and Belarus have had serious disagreements over prices and quantities for Russian energy. Beginning in early 2016, Russia claimed Belarus began accumulating debt – reaching $740 million by April 2017 – for paying below the agreed price for Russian natural gas and Russia cut back 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.

New non-Russian foreign investment has been limited in recent years, largely because of an unfavorable financial climate. In 2011, a financial crisis lead to a nearly three-fold devaluation of the Belarusian ruble. The Belarusian economy has continued to struggle under the weight of high external debt servicing payments and a trade deficit. In mid-December 2014, the devaluation of the Russian ruble triggered a near 40% devaluation of the Belarusian ruble.

Belarus’s economy stagnated between 2012 and 2016, widening productivity and income gaps between Belarus and neighboring countries. Budget revenues dropped because of falling global prices on key Belarusian export commodities. Since 2015, the Belarusian government has tightened its macro-economic policies, allowed more flexibility to its exchange rate, taken some steps towards price liberalization, and reduced subsidized government lending to state-owned enterprises. Belarus returned to modest growth in 2017, largely driven by improvement of external conditions and Belarus issued sovereign debt for the first time since 2011, which provided the country with badly-needed liquidity, and issued $600 million worth of Eurobonds in February 2018, predominantly to US and British investors.

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

5.6% (2019 est.)

4.8% (2018 est.)

6% (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 190

Credit ratings

Fitch rating: B (2018)

Moody's rating: B3 (2018)

Standard & Poors rating: B (2017)

GDP (official exchange rate)

$63.168 billion (2019 est.)

Gross national saving

24.5% of GDP (2017 est.)

23% of GDP (2016 est.)

25.8% of GDP (2015 est.)

country comparison to the world: 64

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 8.1% (2017 est.)

industry: 40.8% (2017 est.)

services: 51.1% (2017 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 54.8% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 14.6% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 24.9% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: 5.7% (2017 est.)

exports of goods and services: 67% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -67% (2017 est.)

Agricultural products

milk, potatoes, sugar beet, wheat, triticale, barley, maize, rye, rapeseed, poultry

Industries

metal-cutting machine tools, tractors, trucks, earthmovers, motorcycles, synthetic fibers, fertilizer, textiles, refrigerators, washing machines and other household appliances

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 9.7%

industry: 23.4%

services: 66.8% (2015 est.)

Unemployment rate

0.8% (2017 est.)

1% (2016 est.)

note: official registered unemployed; large number of underemployed workers

country comparison to the world: 6

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 3.8%

highest 10%: 21.9% (2008)

Budget

revenues: 22.15 billion (2017 est.)

expenditures: 20.57 billion (2017 est.)

Public debt

53.4% of GDP (2017 est.)

53.5% of GDP (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 90

Fiscal year

calendar year

Current account balance

-$931 million (2017 est.)

-$1.669 billion (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 143

Exports

$28.65 billion (2017 est.)

$22.98 billion (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 70

Exports - partners

Russia 43.9%, Ukraine 11.5%, UK 8.2% (2017)

Exports - commodities

machinery and equipment, mineral products, chemicals, metals, textiles, foodstuffs

Imports

$31.58 billion (2017 est.)

$25.61 billion (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 70

Imports - partners

Russia 57.2%, China 8%, Germany 5.1% (2017)

Imports - commodities

mineral products, machinery and equipment, chemicals, foodstuffs, metals

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$7.315 billion (31 December 2017 est.)

$4.927 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 84

Debt - external

$39.92 billion (31 December 2017 est.)

$37.74 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 75

Exchange rates

Belarusian rubles (BYB/BYR) per US dollar -

1.9 (2017 est.)

2 (2016 est.)

2 (2015 est.)

15,926 (2014 est.)

10,224.1 (2013 est.)

Energy

Electricity access

electrification - total population: 100% (2020)

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 4,513,255

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 47.49 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 31

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 11,682,764

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 122.93 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 77

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: govt. and telecom regulator have plans to develop the telecom sector for the migration to 5G; Chinese company Huawei have started 5G trials to deliver data at 2Gb/s; fiber network reaches two million establishments; 10,000km of fiber cabling laid; August 2018 almost two million GPON connections (Gigabit Passive Optical Network, point-to-multi point access mechanism); Belarus launched its first telecoms satellite in 2016; LTE use reaches 75% of mobile subscribers (2020)

domestic: fixed-line teledensity is improving although rural areas continue to be underserved, 48 per 100 fixed-line; mobile-cellular teledensity now approaches 123 telephones per 100 persons (2019)

international: country code - 375; Belarus is landlocked and therefore 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; almost 31,000 base stations in service in 2019 (2020)

note: the COVID-19 outbreak is negatively impacting telecommunications production and supply chains globally; consumer spending on telecom devices and services has also slowed due to the pandemic's effect on economies worldwide; overall progress towards improvements in all facets of the telecom industry - mobile, fixed-line, broadband, submarine cable and satellite - has moderated

Broadcast media

7 state-controlled national TV channels; Polish and Russian TV broadcasts are available in some areas; state-run Belarusian Radio operates 5 national networks and an external service; Russian and Polish radio broadcasts are available (2019)

Internet users

total: 7,539,145

percent of population: 79.13% (July 2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 67

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 3,201,519

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 34 (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 41

Transportation

National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 2 (2020)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 30

annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 2,760,168 (2018)

annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 1.9 million mt-km (2018)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 33 (2017)

over 3,047 m: 1 (2017)

2,438 to 3,047 m: 20 (2017)

1,524 to 2,437 m: 4 (2017)

914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2017)

under 914 m: 7 (2017)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 32 (2013)

over 3,047 m: 1 (2013)

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2013)

914 to 1,523 m: 2 (2013)

under 914 m: 28 (2013)

Heliports

1 (2013)

Pipelines

5386 km gas, 1589 km oil, 1730 km refined products (2013)

Railways

total: 5,528 km (2014)

standard gauge: 25 km 1.435-m gauge (2014)

broad gauge: 5,503 km 1.520-m gauge (874 km electrified) (2014)

country comparison to the world: 35

Waterways

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)

country comparison to the world: 35

Ports and terminals

river port(s): Mazyr (Prypyats')

Military and Security

Military and security forces

Belarus Armed Forces: Army, Air and Air Defense Force, Special Operations Force; Ministry of Interior: State Border Troops, Militia, Internal Troops (2019)

Military expenditures

1.2% of GDP (2019)

1.2% of GDP (2018)

1.2% of GDP (2017)

1.3% of GDP (2016)

1.3% of GDP (2015)

country comparison to the world: 100

Military and security service personnel strengths

the Belarus Armed Forces have approximately 45,000 active troops (29,000 Army, including Special Operations Force; 16,000 Air and Air Defense) (2020 est.)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the inventory of the Belarus Armed Forces is comprised of Russian-origin equipment; Belarus's defense industry manufactures some equipment, including vehicles, guided weapons, and electronic warfare systems (2019 est.)

Military deployments

contributes about 2,000 personnel to CSTO's Rapid Reaction Force (2019 est.)

Military service age and obligation

18-27 years of age for compulsory military or alternative service; conscript service obligation is 12-18 months, depending on academic qualifications, and 24-36 months for alternative service, depending on academic qualifications; 17 year olds are eligible to become cadets at military higher education institutes, where they are classified as military personnel (2017)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

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

Refugees and internally displaced persons

stateless persons: 6,466 (2019)

Trafficking in persons

current situation: Belarus is a source, transit, and destination country for women, men, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor; more victims are exploited within Belarus than abroad; Belarusians exploited abroad are primarily trafficked to Germany, Poland, Russian, and Turkey but also other European countries, the Middle East, Japan, Kazakhstan, and Mexico; Moldovans, Russians, Ukrainians, and Vietnamese are exploited in Belarus; state-sponsored forced labor is a continuing problem; students are forced to do farm labor without pay and military conscripts are forced to perform unpaid non-military work; the government has retained a decree forbidding workers in state-owned wood processing factories from leaving their jobs without their employers’ permission

tier rating: Tier 3 – Belarus does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and was placed on Tier 3 after being on the Tier 2 Watch List for two consecutive years without making progress; government efforts to repeal state-sponsored forced labor policies and domestic trafficking were inadequate; no trafficking offenders were convicted in 2014, and the number of investigations progressively declined from 2005-14; efforts to protect trafficking victims remain insufficient, with no identification and referral mechanism in place; care facilities were not trafficking-specific and were poorly equipped, leading most victims to seek assistance from private shelters (2015)

Illicit drugs

limited cultivation of opium poppy and cannabis, mostly for the domestic market; transshipment point for illicit drugs to and via Russia, and to the Baltics and Western Europe; a small and lightly regulated financial center; anti-money-laundering legislation does not meet international standards and was weakened further when know-your-customer requirements were curtailed in 2008; few investigations or prosecutions of money-laundering activities