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GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT THE STATE




Министерство образования Республики Беларусь

УО «Белорусский государственный экономический университет»

 

 

И.Н. ЧУГАЙ

BELARUS . BELARUSIAN ECONOMY

БЕЛАРУСЬ. БЕЛОРУССКАЯ ЭКОНОМИКА

Минск 2010

Рецензент: зав. кафедрой теории и практики английской речи, кандидат филологических наук, доцент Солонович Т.Ф.

 

Рекомендовано кафедрой теории и практики английской речи БГЭУ

 

 

Чугай И.Н.

Беларусь. Белорусская экономика. = Belarusian Economy: Электронное учеб.-метод. пособие / И.Н. Чугай.– Минск: БГЭУ, 2010. – 32 с. (1,75 усл. печ. л.)

 

 

Учебно-методическое пособие содержит тексты для изучающего и ознакомительного чтения, комплекс упражнений и заданий для формирования англоязычных коммуникативных навыков студентов на материале темы «Беларусь. Белорусская экономика». Предназначено для студентов БГЭУ дневной формы обучения.

 

 

 

BELARUS . BELARUSIAN ECONOMY

GETTING STARTED

Review some background information about the Republic of Belarus.

 

Location Eastern Europe. Borders Russian Federation, Ukraine, Poland, Latvia and Lithuania. The country is completely landlocked.

Size Total state border length 2,969km; area 207,600km2; maximum width west to east 650km; length 560km north to south

Geography Lowland terrain, with a mean elevation above sea level of only 160m, the highest point being 345m. Natural vegetation over nearly 70% of area, of which 38% is forest. Also 20,000 rivers and streams and 11,000 lakes, with significant areas of marsh territory.



Climate Moderately continental, with cold winters and warm summers. Average temperature January -6.7°C, July I7.8°C. Annual rainfall 550-750mm.

Status Republic

Administrative divisions Six regions (oblasts), comprising 118 administrative districts

Capital city Minsk

Other major cities Gomel, Brest, Vitebsk, Grodno and Mogilev

Population 9,480,000 (2009), (density 49/km2)

People Ethnic Belarusians (81%), Russians (I 1%), Poles (4%), Ukrainians (2%) and the remaining 2% comprising Jews, Lithuanians, Tatars, Azerbaijanis, Armenians, Latvians, Koreans, Germans, Georgians, Ossets, Moldavians and traveling people

Life expectancy Male 64 years, female 75 years (2006 estimates)

Languages Belarusian and Russian have equal status as state languages

Religion Russian Orthodox, Roman Catholicism and Judaism

Economy Largely unchanged since Soviet times and currently around 80% state controlled

GDP BYR136 billion in total, BYR14 million per capita (2009 estimates)

National airline/airport Belavia/Minsk International

Currency Belarusian rouble (BYR)

Exchange rate £1 = BYR 5,100, US$ 1 = BYR 2,970, ? 1 = BYR 3,980

(January 2010)

International dialing code +375

Flag Two broad horizontal stripes of red and green, red being double the area of green, with traditional patterning of red on a white border down the left-hand side

National anthem Мы,Беларусы ('We Belarusians')

National flower Flax

National bird/animal Black stork/European bison

National sport Ice hockey

Public holidays I January (New Year's Day), 7 January (Orthodox Christmas), 8 March (Women's Day), Orthodox Easter, Catholic Easter, I May (Labour Day), 9 May (Victory Day, a glorious celebration of the end of the 'Great Patriotic War'), 3 July (Independence Day), 7 November (October Revolution Day), 25 December (Catholic Christmas) and Radunitsa (Ancestors' Remembrance Day) on the ninth day after Orthodox Easter

 

USEFUL VOCABULARY

Use a dictionary to check the meaning and pronunciation of these words.

abundance n account v aggregate v annual a arable a astonishingly adv attach v attributable a average a barely adv boundary n census n comprise v conservation n contribute v deplete v elevate v emerge v encounter v enhance v enterprise n equal a estimate v exclude v extraction n fertilizer n frequently adv involvement n irrelevant a maintain v marshland n measure n notable a peat n performance n personnel n plain n plentiful a potash n potassium n precipitation n private a proficiency n rank v release v reside v resist v robust a share n significant a soil n staple a  steady a subsequent a succeed v sufficiently adv surface n surplus n timber n transition n valley n valuable a vehicle n

    2. Make sure you know the following acronyms and can translate them into Russian:

CIS- Commonwealth of Independent States;

EBRD- European Bank for Reconstruction and Development;

FDI- foreign direct investment;

FEZ- Free Economic Zone;

GDP- Gross Domestic Product;

IMF- International Monetary Fund;

IT- information technology;

JSC- joint-stock company;

LLC- limited liability company;

NBRB- the National Bank of the Republic of Belarus;

OECD- Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development;

VAT- value added tax.

READING

 Answer these questions and discuss them in small groups before you read the texts below.

1. Where is Belarus situated?

2. How does Belarus rank among the countries of the world in population and area?

3. How many nationality groups are there?

4. Can you describe the details of your local folklore?

5. What are the official languages of Belarus?

6. What Belarusian places of interest do you know?

7. Is our country rich in history?

8. When did Belarus proclaim its independence?

9. How is the President elected?

10. What do you know about the government of the country?

11. What are the major problems facing Belarus?

 

Text 1

1. Read the text attentively and explain the meanings of the words in bold type.

GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT THE STATE

The Republic of  Belarus is located in the center of Europe. It consists of six regions with centres in the cities of Minsk, Brest, Vitebsk, Gomel, Grodno, Mogilev, which are further divided into 118 rural districts, 102 towns and over 24 thousand townships and villages. In the capital of the Republic, the city of Minsk, there live around 2 million people.

  The Republic of Belarus is a unitary, democratic, social state with the rule of law. It admits the priority of generally acknowledged principles of international law and assures the conformity of legislation with them.

  The Constitution of the Republic of Belarus is the Fundamental Law of the Republic of Belarus, having supreme legal force. It was adopted in 1994, with the subsequent amendments and additions adopted at the national referenda on November 24,1996, and October 17, 2006. Laws of the Republic of Belarus, ordinances of the President of the Republic of Belarus, decrees of the President of the Republic of Belarus and other acts of state bodies (officials) are adopted and enacted in compliance with the Constitution.

  The state power is exercised on the basis of its division on legislative, executive and judicial. Belarus is a presidential republic. The President of the Republic of Belarus is a head of state, a guarantor of the Constitution, of peoples' rights and freedoms.

  In accordance with the Constitution the representative and legislative body is the Parliament- the National Assembly- consisting of two chambers- the House of Representatives (110 deputies) and the Council of the Republic ( 64 members).

  The executive power in the republic is exercised by the Government - the Council of Ministers being the central body of state administration.
The local administration and self-administration is carried through the system of local executive and administrative bodies ( councils of deputies), bodies of self-administration, referenda, assemblies etc.

  The judicial power in the republic belongs to the courts. Control over accordance of legal acts with the Constitution is exercised by the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Belarus. Supervision of the exact and uniform execution of laws by all bodies of state management, local councils and other legal, and also physical persons is carried out by the General Public Prosecutor of the Republic of Belarus.

  Control over the fulfillment of the republican budget, the utilization of state property, the execution of parliamentary acts, regulating the relations with state property, economic, financial and tax relations, is carried out by the State Control Committee.

 

  2. Select the correct answer.

1. The authority of the President of Belarus is established and defined by

a) the Belarus Constitution

b) the Presidential Act of the Republic of Belarus

C) all of the above

2. The current president of Belarus was elected to the post in

a) 1994 and is now serving his third term

b) 1999 and is now serving his second term

C) none of the above

3. The Belarusian President is directly elected by the people of Belarus

a) for a 4-year term of office

b) for a 5-year term of office

4. Any Belarusian citizen over the age of

a) 21 can vote in the elections

b) 16 can vote in the elections

c)  18 can vote in the elections

5. Presidential candidates must be:

a) over 35 years old

b) resident in Belarus for at least 10 years

c) all of the above

6. As well as being head of state, the President also fulfils a number of other roles including:

a) Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Belarus

b) Head of the Security Council

c) Guarantor of the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus

d) all of the above

7. The President of Belarus has wide-reaching powers. These include:

a) implementing the key principles of domestic and foreign policy

b) representing the State of Belarus on the international stage

c) calling regular and extraordinary Parliament elections

d) appointing the Prime Minister and the Chair of the principal courts in Belarus

e) signing bills

f) granting pardons to convicted prisoners

g) awarding state honours, ranks and titles

h) all of the above

8. The Belarusian Government – or Council of Ministers –is made up of

a) thePrime Minister of Belarus, his deputies and ministers

b) the President of Belarus and his deputies

9. The Prime Minister is

a) proposed by the President and approved by Parliament

b) approved by the President and proposed by Parliament

10. Government powers are determined by

a) the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus

b) the President of Belarus and his deputies

11. Belarus’ Council of Ministers is responsible for the work of public agencies and ministerial bodies including:

a) public administration, ministries, ministerial committees

b) KGB, military industry and front line troops, customs, aviation

c) science and technology

d) all of the above

12. The Government’s mandate covers:

a) national budget control

b) domestic and foreign policy

c) economic and social development programmes

d) national security

E) defence

f) all of the above

    13. Local issues are represented by the locally-elected Councils of Deputies. These local councils operate on 3 levels:

a) primary (villages and towns), basic (towns and regional councils) and regional

b) basic (towns and regional councils), regional and federal

    14. Deputies are elected for a 4-year term to deal with local issues and represent the local population in decisions on issues relating to:

a) health and education

b) social welfare

c) trade and transport

d) all of the above

15. The Parliament of Belarus is known as the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus. It acts as

a) the representative and legislative body of the Republic of Belarus

b) the representative and executive body of the Republic of Belarus

c) none of the above

16. Belarus’ House of Representatives consists of

a) 6 4 deputies, all elected by the people of Belarus

b) 110 deputies, all elected by the people of Belarus

17. Belarus’ Council of the Republic is a regional representative body with

a) 64 members

b) 110 members

c) 8 members in each region and 8 in Minsk

18. The Belarus Constitution centres around 3 key elements:

a) the regulation of rights and freedoms

b) the establishment of a new state mechanism

c) the reworking of new laws and a new justice system

d) all of the above

19. The Belarus Constitution guarantees the following rights to the people of Belarus:

a) the right to health treatment (free in state institutions)

b) the right to social welfare for the elderly, sick, disabled and non-earning households

c)  the right to a free general education for all

d) the right to free professional technical training

E)  all of the above

F)  only a) and c)

Text 2

1. Scan through the text below and entitle it.

Whether you fly over the country or drive across it, the impression you get is always the same; it's very flat and there are lots of trees. The country has no sea borders and it sits in the heart of the mid-European plain between the Baltic Sea to the north and the Black Sea to the south. It borders Poland to the west, Lithuania to the northwest, Latvia to the north, Russia to the northeast and east and finally, Ukraine  to the south. The capital of the republic is Minsk. The country covers a surface area of 207,600km2. It ranks 13th of all Euro­pean countries (excluding Russia) in area size. Those hills that exist here are barely hills at all; the mean elevation above sea level is only 160m, with the highest point being Mount Dzherzhinskaya in Minsk oblast at just 345m, although it is sufficiently elevated for there to be an emerging winter sports resort. The lowest is the valley of the Nieman River in Grodno oblast at just over 80m.Lakes (11,000 of them) and rivers (totalling 91,000km in length) are the major features, with significant areas of marshland in between. The area of the Polyesye, the largest of the marsh territories, runs along the southern boundary of the country and is one of the biggest in Europe. In the north is the country's lakeland area. Five major rivers run through the territory of Belarus, the Nieman, the Dnieper, the Berezhina, the Sozh and the Pripyat. Over a third of the total landscape (38%) is covered by forest, much of it forming part of the vast primeval wood that once covered the whole of central Europe. Not only is it a valuable source of timber, it also performs other ecological functions, such as water conservation and soil protection, as well as being home to a rich variety of wildlife and also shelter for much revered supplies of plants used for medicinal and food purposes (particularly mushrooms and berries). Other natural resources include an abundance of peat fields (although these have been significantly depleted by intensive extraction) and small reserves of oil and natural gas, although production is insignificant. There are also 63 separate sources of mineral water supplying a significant number of sanatoria and spas throughout the country. Farmland accounts for around 44% of the republic's area, with 27.3% being arable. The climate is moderately continental, ranging from unforgiving winters, when the mean January temperature is -6.7°C, to warm summers, when the mean in July is + 17.8°C. The annual level of precipitation is 550-650mm in the low country and 650-750mm at higher elevations. The average vegetation period is 184-208 days. Generally, the climate is favourable for growing cereal crops, vegetables, potato and fruit. Official figures released in July 2007 estimate the population of the country at that time as 9,724,723. The earlier census taken in February 1999 showed the figure to be 10,045,237 at that date, with the subsequent count in December 2005 showing 9,750,500. All of this means that the negative growth rate is currently -0.06%. Government figures suggest that over 130 nationalities call Belarus their home, with by far the largest demographic group being that comprising native Belarusians, who make up 81% of the total population. Russians come next, with 11%, then Poles and Ukrainians, accounting for 4% and 2% respectively. Roughly 80% of the people are classed as belonging to the Russian Orthodox Church and around 10% are believed to be Roman Catholic, with the remaining 10% being Protestant, Jewish or Muslim. Estimates also show that 3-3.5 million native Belarusians reside outside the country's borders, most of them in the United States of America, Russia, Ukraine and Poland. Russian and Belarusian have equal status as formally adopted national languages. Belarusian is one of three historic eastern Slavonic languages and not surprisingly, it shares many vocabulary and grammatical similarities with the language of its state neighbours, especially Russian, Ukrainian and Polish. The Belarusian alphabet is based on the Cyrillic script, from the alphabet of the Old Church Slavonic language. The current form dates from 1918 and has 32 letters. The rules of modern grammar date from the 1959 reform. The system of education in Belarus is state-administered and funded directly from the budgets of local tiers of government, to which schools report. The structure consists of first kindergarten education, then school education and training, vocational and technical education, secondary special education, higher education, training of scientific and scientific pedagogical personnel and the retraining and self-development of adults. In 2002, almost 71% of pre-school children were in full-time education in nurseries and kindergartens. The two state languages of Belarusian and Russian are used equally for teaching and training. The whole process is overseen by the state Ministry of Education, which has developed a curriculum that consists of compulsory and optional disciplines. No student of modern-day Belarus can hope to gain an insight into the mystery and enigma that characterise the national psyche without first engaging in at least a rudimentary study of all that has gone before. But there is very little to be found specifically about the country in Western books, although there is much to read on the subject of Holy Mother Russia and the former Soviet Union, both of which subsumed it at various times as an integral element of their empires. There is one theme in particular that spans the centuries: that of suffering and privation. Whether subjugated to the yoke of Lithuanian, Pole, Tsar, Frenchman, Bolshevik, Communist, Nazi, Communist again or latterly oligarch, heroism and tragedy can be found on most of the pages of the country's history, as drama and melodrama unfold in the never-ending struggle to resist pain, anguish, grief and suffering. For generation after generation, there seems to have been no sanctuary from constant oppression, with the identity of the oppressor being largely irrelevant. Further, the media of oppression are many and varied: fear, dogma, hunger, poverty, lack of education, geography, climate and in recent times, Chernobyl. Each succeeding generation has developed defences to resist every challenge that comes along, such that the people of today are characterised by an astonishingly stoical resilience. The origins of traditional Belarusian dress are as difficult to establish as any area of culture. Primarily made from wool and hand-produced linen, its key features are straight lines and white and red colouring, often with intricate patterns at the edges (as with the national flag), dependent upon the place of origin. There are many subtle variances of design from region to region and even from district to district. Today, national dress is most frequently worn at festivals and special occasions such as weddings. Traditional crafts include pottery, wood engraving and plait work with straw, willow, root and bark. The most notable and uniquely attributable example of Belarusian folk art is the rushnik, or ceremonial towel. Traditional cuisine displays the same diversity of influence as dress and crafts, although it is widely held to mostly resemble that of Lithuania. Travellers in other parts of eastern Europe will encounter much that they have seen before and little that they will not have seen. Great significance has always been attached to bread, both as a staple foodstuff, but also as an important symbol in many rituals. The potato forms the basis for many meals (historically referred to as 'second bread') and the plentiful supply of mushrooms in the forests that extensively cover the land ensures their prominence in many recipes. The most well-known dish is draniki (potato pancakes), usually served with a rich pork stew in pots. Only moderate seasoning is used in cooking.

    Vocabulary notes :

anguish n – сильная боль, bark n – кора дерева, engraving – гравировка, резьба, grief n – горе, holy a – святой, insight n – проницательность, intricate a  – запутанный, oppression n – притеснение, угнетение, primeval a – первобытный, privation n – лишение, нужда, resilience n – упругость, sanctuary n  – убежище, span v – покрывать пространство, straw n – соломка, subjugate v – покорять, подчинять, subtle a – тонкий, suffering n – страдание, unfold v – развёртываться, willow n – ива, yoke n – ярмо.

2. Read the text again and divide it into appropriate paragraphs (about 8); discuss the results in pairs.

3. Make a short plan of the text outlining the main ideas of the paragraphs.

4. Read the text again and say if the following statements are true or false.

1. Belarus borders Poland to the east, Lithuania to the northeast, Latvia to the north, Russia to the northwest and west and finally, Ukraine to the south.

2. The area of the Polyesye, the largest of the hilled territories, runs along the southern boundary of the country and is one of the biggest in Europe.

3. Over a third of the total landscape (38%) is covered by sand, much of it forming part of the vast primeval desert that once covered the whole of central Europe.

4. The climate is favourable for growing cereal crops, vegetables, potato and fruit.

5. News that the population is continuing to grow will come as no surprise to those who know the country.

6. Estimates also show that 3-3.5 million native Belarusians reside outside the country's borders, most of them in Asia.

7. The Belarusian alphabet is based on the Latin script, from the alphabet of the Old Church Slavonic language.

8. The system of education in Belarus is state-administered and funded directly from the budgets of local tiers of government, to which schools report.

9. There are plenty of sources to be found about the country specifically in Western books.

10. There are no subtle variances of design of national dress from region to region and even from district to district.

 

5. Look through the text again searching for the English equivalents of the following collocations.

Пересекать страну на самолёте или машине, находиться в центре среднеевропейской равнины, граничить с, занимать площадь, высота над уровнем моря, горнолыжный курорт, болотистая и озёрная местность, протекать по территории, первобытный лес, быть ценным источником, защита воды и почвы, изобилие запасов торфа, годовой уровень осадков, перепись населения, отрицательный показатель роста, составлять …% от всего населения, жить за пределами страны, создать учебную программу, составной элемент, национальный характер, нескончаемая борьба с бедами, постоянное угнетение, недостаток образования, удивительно стойкое противостояние, в зависимости от места происхождения, гончарное дело, резьба по дереву, лозоплетение, национальная кухня.

 

6. Retell the text using your plan.

Text 3

Read the text below, mind the pronunciation of the geographic names. Fulfil the tasks that follow.

GEOPOLITICAL POSITION

 

    Belarus enjoys a highly favourable and advantageous economic, geographical, and geopolitical position. It lies at the crossroads of major railways and highways, oil, gas, and product pipelines, and communication systems between Western Europe, regions of Russia, and Asian countries, as well as between the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea.

Several important transport corridors cross its territory: Pan-European transport corridor II (Berlin - Warsaw - Minsk - Moscow - Nizhniy Novgorod)Pan-European transport corridor IX (Helsinki - St.Petersburg - Moscow/Pskov - Kiev - Kishinev - Bucharest - Dimitrovgrad - Alexandropoulos) Pan-European transport corridor IXB (Kiev – Minsk - Vilnius - Kaunas - Klaipeda/Kaliningrad).

Belarus borders on Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Russia, and the Ukraine. The total length of the state border comes to 2,969 km.

Distances between Minsk and the capitals of neighbouring states are as follows: Vilnius - 215 km, Riga - 470 km, Warsaw - 550 km, Kiev - 580 km, Moscow -700 km. The Republic of Belarus is also a party to a number of cross-border activities with many other foreign countries.

Agreements on promotion and protection of  investments into cultural and business sectors were concluded with the following countries: Armenia, Austria, Bahrain, the Belgium- Luxembourg Economic Union, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, China, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Denmark, Egypt, Germany, Finland, France, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Libya, Lithuania, Macedonia, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, the Netherlands, Oman, Pakistan, Poland, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Romania, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkey, the Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Yugoslavia.

    1. Can you name the capitals of the above countries?

2. Make a small oral presentation (3-5 min) about the geopolitical position of Belarus in small groups.

3. Complete the following text with the given numbers:

73.4%; 9,689; 60 ; 340; 57; 2008; 55; 99.6%; 28; 10,000; 8; 46.3%

 

PEOPLE

The population of Belarus is___ million people, as of January___. Its urban population constitutes___ of the total.

    According to national statistics,___ of the total population in Belarus is literate. The country possesses ___ higher  educational establishments, including ___ Universities and ___ Academies. The student  resident ratio of ___ per ___stands among the highest in Europe.

The proportion of workforce, or economically active individuals, among the total population is estimated at___.

Retirement age in the country depends on gender: ___ for women, and ___ years for men.

 

Text 4

1. Answer the following questions before you read the text about Belarusian economy.

1. Does the Republic of Belarus offer a favourable geographical position as a transit country?

2. What traditional industries remain a key driver of economic growth of Belarus?

3. Do we operate an open, export-oriented economy?

4. Does the country depend heavily on supplies of Russian natural resources and raw materials?

5. What are some of the leading agricultural products in Belarus?

6. What are the main export items from Belarus to the other countries?

7. Who is the largest trading partner of Belarus? Why?

8. What percentage of national GDP is generated by state enterprises?

9. What is an average salary in our country?

    2. Read the text, underline the key words in each paragraph in order to use them when summarizing the information given.

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