The Republic of Belarus in figures
The territory of Belarus totals 207.6 thousand sq km. It stretches from west to east for 650 km and from north to south for 560 km. In comparison with other European countries, Belarus is slightly smaller than Great Britain and Rumania, 2.2 times as big as Portugal and Hungary and 5 times as big as the Netherlands and Switzerland. The distance between Minsk and the capitals of neighboring states is as follows: Vilnius - 215 km, Riga - 470 km, Warsaw - 550 km, Kiev – 580 km, Moscow - 700 km.
There are six regions in Belarus. The largest by the territory is Minsk region (40.8 thousand sq. km.). The smallest is Grodno region (25 thousand sq.km.).
The territory of Belarus totals 207.6 thousand sq km. It stretches from west to east for 650 km and from north to south for 560 km. The republic ranks thirteenth in size among the European states and fifth in population among the CIS countries. In comparison with other European countries, Belarus is slightly smaller than Great Britain and Rumania, 2.2 times as big as Portugal and Hungary and 5 times as big as the Netherlands and Switzerland.
The country’s relief is predominantly flat and hilly, with the average height of 160 m over the sea level. The highest point is 345 m. The lowest point is situated in the Neman’s valley- 90 m above the sea level.
The climate of Belarus is moderate continental with mild and humid winters, warm summers and dump autumns. The average January temperature is –6.7ºC, the average July temperature is +17.8ºC. The annual rainfall is 550-650 mm in lowlands and 650-750 mm on plains and uplands. The vegetation period lasts on average about 184-208 days.
In Belarus 30 minerals are explored (about 4,000 fields and beds of mineral wealth). The prospected industrial stock of potash salt deposits exceeds 22 billion tons. The total geological peat stock is estimated at 4.4 billion tons. The volume of minerals which are being extracted at the moment is equal to 600 million tons. Mineral waters are wide spread, 63 springs with the total stock of 155,572 cubic meters a day have been prospected. Another important nature resource is sapropels, which stock is estimated at 3 billion cubic meters.
Agricultural lands occupy 44% of the republic’s territory, including 27% of arable lands. The per capita stock of agricultural lands in Belarus is 0.9 hectares, including 0.6 hectares of arable land.
Nature growth of Belarus covers about 70% of the territory of the republic. There grow about 12 thousand species of plants. The fauna of Belarus numbers about 450 species of vertebrates (including 73 species of mammals, about 290 species of birds and about 60 species of fish) and over 20 thousand species of invertebrates. The hunting species include 22 species of mammals, 31 species of birds and 1 species of reptiles. Over 200 species of plants and about 180 species of animals are included into the Red Book of the Republic of Belarus.
Forests constitute 33 % of the country’s area. The per capita forest ratio is 0.8 hectares and 135 cubic meters of wood stock (forest density), which is twice as much as the average European figures. The forest potential is high with annual wood stock addition of 35 mln cubic meters. Forests contain significant nature resources of food, melliferous, medicinal and industrial plants.
In Belarus there are over 20 thousand rivers and springs with the total length of about 91 thousand km and about 11 thousand lakes, including 470 lakes with the area of over 0.5 sq km. The largest lake is Naroch (79.6 sq km, the deepest point is 25 meters). The navigation is carried out on the rivers Pripiats, Dnieper, Neman, Berezina and Western Dvina as well as on the Dnieper –Bug Canal. 145 water reservoirs are created in Belarus. River water resources amount to 57.9 cubic km a year. The total lake water volume is 6-7 cubic km and the total water volume in artificial reservoirs is 3.1 cubic km. Water consumption for domestic and industrial needs does not exceed on average 5-7% of the annually renewable water resources.
Belarus consists of 6 regions (oblasts’ in Russian, voblasts’ in Belarusian): the Brest, Vitebsk, Gomel, Grodno, Minsk and Mogilev regions, which include 118 political units called districts (rayon in Russian) and the city of Minsk. There are 110 towns and 101 urban-type settlements in the republic. The population of 7 towns numbers from 100 to 200 thousand, 7 cities have the population from 200 to 500 thousand. At present 1.8 million inhabitants live in the capital.
The following priorities were specified in the Program of Socioeconomic Development of the Republic of Belarus for 2006 – 2010:
all-round harmonious development of an individual and formation of an efficient public health system;
innovative development of the national economy and energy/resource saving;
build-up of the country’s export potential;
development of the agribusiness sector, related sectors and rural social sphere; development of small and medium towns; housing construction.
The industrial potential of Belarus includes 20 thermoelectric power stations, 17 metallurgical works, 70 petrochemical plants (the concern “Belneftekhim”), 29 machine-tool construction enterprises, 36 automakers, 37 tractor and agricultural engineering plants, 11 construction, road and municipal engineering plants, 20 food and light industry engineering enterprises, 3 research-and-production associations of electronic industry, 41 enterprises of electrical industry, 36 instrument-makers, 70 research-and-production associations, plants and institutes of radio industry, 1 416 producers of light and textile industries. The share of mechanical engineering and metalworking in the total country’s industrial output constitutes 25%. In 2004 the number of small-scale enterprises exceeded 30 thousand with 290 thousand people employed in the sector. 6 economic zones are established. 2,650 joint ventures and foreign enterprises with foreign investments are registered in the country. They are created with participation of 80 overseas countries.
The financial market is represented by the National bank of Belarus, 29 commercial banks and 10 representative offices of foreign banks.
The country’s agroindustrial complex includes agriculture, processing industry and service sector. The share of agriculture in the country’s economy is 9-10%. The processing industry comprises 4,741 enterprises and manufactures.
The total forest density in Belarus is 1.3 billion cubic meters. The timber industry includes 4,999 enterprises and manufactures of various patterns of ownership.
The building trade produces 8% of gross domestic output; the construction materials industry comprises over 1,400 enterprises, which produce 150 product denominations. Every year over 3 million sq m of dwelling space is placed in operation.
The retail trade is composed of 30 thousand shops and 9 thousand catering enterprises. About 100 exhibitions are held in the republic annually.
Transport services are rendered by railway, automobile, air, river and pipeline modes. The route miles of the Belarusian railway make up 55 thousand km, the proportion of goods turnover is 90%, the proportion of passenger turnover is 60%. The share of motor transport in the goods turnover is 34%. The length of public roads reached over 80 thousand km, including 15 thousand km of roads of republican significance. The air fleet includes 12 types of aircrafts and consists of 80 planes. The extension of domestic waterways makes about 2 thousand km, 10 ports are in operation. The length of oil and gas pipelines is 4,700 km.
Mail service is rendered by 118 town and district post centers and 3,857 post offices.
Education and Science
New research studies and scientific and technical developments are carried out by 300 scientific organizations, higher educational establishments and manufacturing firms. 18.5 scientists are engaged in the sector. About 6 thousand patents for inventions, utility models and industrial designs were registered in the last decade, over 60 new plant species were created. In the republic there are over 4,300 infant schools, 4,400 comprehensive schools, 280 vocational schools and colleges, over 150 technical schools, 44 state and 11 private higher educational establishments, 130 professional perfection (upgrading) courses; the student ratio equals 320 students per every 10 thousand inhabitants.
The architecture of Belarus is the chronicle of the people in wood and stone. The best samples of town architecture, ancient fortresses and castles, town halls and churches, peoples’ dwellings reflect the spirit and the talent of the nation. The architectural legacy of Belarus is an inexhaustible source, which inspired many generations of artists and architects who created the original image of the country. The unique pattern of Belarusian culture is woven of best traditions of the Romanesque and Gothic, Baroque and Classicism, Modernism and Eclecticism.
The development of Belarusian culture was going on under complex historic conditions: in the 14th century Belarus became the center of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and in the 16th century it was incorporated into Rzecz Pospolita. The 18th century was marked by the annexation of Belarus by the Russian Empire. As a result the architecture and culture of Belarus are closely linked to both Western and Eastern cultural traditions.
Throughout the centuries Belarus was a studio for architects, engineers and artists from all over the world: Italians Bernardoni, Parakko, Fontana, Pedetti, Sacco, Spampani; Flemings Nonhart, Van Laer, Vallon, Holland, Donden; Frenchmen Gabriel, Pussie; Germans Bekker, Mezer, Knebel, Pepelman; as well as Belgians, Irishmen, Poles, Lithuanians and Russians. However there remained unique examples of folk architecture that demonstrate the skill and talent of its creators.
Some of historical centers, residential areas and streets in Grodno, Minsk, Vitebsk, Polotsk and some other Belarusian towns managed to retain medieval spirit.
Despite the devastation of the past wars, our country has preserved unique masterpieces of architecture. You can start on a fascinating journey to the land named BELARUS.
There are 27 state theaters, including opera and ballet theaters, 16 drama theaters, a musical comedy theater, 7 puppet theaters, a theater of young viewers. The Ministry of culture has 128 state museums under its supervision. The museum stock numbers over 2.5 million exhibits.
The sports facilities include 228 stadiums, 31 indoor stadiums, 238 swimming pools, 4,825 gymnasiums and 10 thousand outdoor sports grounds. In 2000 all regional centers had Ice palaces and skating rinks. 25 thousand experts in physical training and sports are employed in this sphere.