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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 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 president, Aleksandr LUKASHENKO has steadily consolidated his power through authoritarian means. Government restrictions on freedom of speech and the press, peaceful assembly, and religion remain in place.


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Geography

Location
Eastern Europe, east of Poland

Geographic coordinates
53 00 N, 28 00 E

Map references
Europe

Area World Ranking: 86
Total 207,600 sq km
Land 202,900 sq km
Water 4,700 sq km

Area - comparative
Slightly smaller than Kansas

Land boundaries
Total 3,306 km
Border countries
Latvia 171 km, Lithuania 680 km, Poland 605 km, Russia 959 km, Ukraine 891 km

Coastline
0 km (landlocked)

Maritime claims
None (landlocked)

Climate
Cold winters, cool and moist summers; transitional between continental and maritime

Terrain
Generally flat and contains much marshland

Elevation extremes
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
Arable land 26.77%
Permanent crops 0.6%
Other 72.63% (2005)

Irrigated land
1,310 sq km (2003)

Total renewable water resources
58 cu km (1997)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)
Total 2.79 cu km/yr (23%/47%/30%)
Per capita 286 cu m/yr (2000)

Natural hazards
NA

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


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  Belarus (Minsk):


  GPS points from Belarus (Minsk)

Kudryche Hrodzyenskaya Voblasts'

Step Homyel'skaya Voblasts'

Zales'ye Mahilyowskaya Voblasts'

Wiesnina Mahilyowskaya Voblasts'

Byarozawski Rayon Brestskaya Voblasts'

Drys'vyaty Vitsyebskaya Voblasts'

Lasitsa Vitsyebskaya Voblasts'

Savchonki Vitsyebskaya Voblasts'




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