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, Alexandr LUKASHENKO has steadily consolidated his power through authoritarian means. Government restrictions on freedom of speech and the press, peaceful assembly, and religion continue.
Languages & Population
Approximate Population: 9,724,723 (July 2007 est.)
Nationality (Noun): Belarusian(s)
Nationality (Adjective): Belarusian
Country Name (long form): Republic of Belarus
Country Name (short form): Belarus
Country Name (local long form): Respublika Byelarus'
Country Name (local short form): Byelarus'
Name of Capital: Minsk
UTC Time Difference (from capital): UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Land Area: 207600 sq km
Comparative Area: slightly smaller than Kansas
Total Land Boundry: 2,900 km
National Holiday: Independence Day, 3 July (1944)
International Phone Code: 375
Currency Code: Belarusian ruble (BYB/BYR)
Internet Country Code: .by
US Embassy Location: 46 Starovilenskaya Street, Minsk 220002
US Embassy Mailing Address: PSC 78, Box B Minsk, APO 09723
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