Republic of Belarus
Political Status: Formerly the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic, a constituent republic of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR); declared independence on August 25, 1991; current constitution declared to be in force by the government on November 27, 1996, following approval by national referendum on November 24.
Area: 80,155 sq. mi. (207,600 sq. km.).
Population: 10,045,237 (1999C); 9,654,000 (2007E).
Major Urban Center (2005E): MINSK (Miensk, 1,775,000).
Official Languages: Belarusan and Russian (the latter being the first language of most inhabitants).
Monetary Unit: Belarusan Ruble (official rate November 1, 2008: 2,113.50 rubles = $1US).
President: Alyaksandr LUKASHENKA; elected in popular runoff balloting on July 10, 1994, and inaugurated for a five-year term on July 20, succeeding Mechyslaw HRYB (Mechislav GRIB), who, as chair of the Supreme Council, had theretofore ...