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Belarus

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BELARUS (Belorussia, Byelorussia), a republic of the former USSR, declared itself independent in 1991. It borders Poland to the west, Ukraine to the south, Latvia and Lithuania to the north, and the Russia to the east. The country consists mainly of a low-lying plain, and forests cover approximately one-third of the country.

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Belarus has a moist, continental climate with warm summers and long, cold winters with abundant rain and snowfall. Although the economy overwhelmingly based on industry, including oil refining, food processing, woodworking, chemicals, textiles and machinery, output has gradually declined since 1991 and problems persist in the supply of raw materials from other republics that previously formed parts of the USSR.

In 1986, large areas of Belarus were contaminated by radioactive fallout following the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in neighboring Ukraine. Agriculture, although seriously affected by contamination from this accident, still accounts for approximately 20 percent of the workforce, the main crops being flax, potatoes, and hemp. The main livestock raised is cattle and pigs. The country's extensive forest areas also contribute to its economy by supplying raw material for the woodwork and paper-making industries. Peat is the fuel used to provide power for industry and the country’s power plants. Belarus has a good transport system for road, rail, navigable rivers and canals.

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