In power since: 1994
Population: 9.4 million
1994 GDP per capita: $3,715
2010 GDP per capita: $13,865
GDP per capita change since 1994: +273.2%
Human Development Index 2010
Transparency International CPI 2010
Alexander Lukashenko is widely considered by the West to be Europe's last communist dictator, due to his iron-fisted Soviet style of rule.
President Lukashenko came to power after Belarus' first democratic presidential elections in July 1994, beating five other candidates. Soon after taking power, Lukashenko changed the country's national symbols and gave himself additional powers including the ability to disband the Supreme Soviet by decree.
Lukashenko also disbanded the original parliament in 1996 — which had been attempting to impeach him for violating the constitution — and put together a new parliament consisting exclusively of hand-picked members.
Despite his authoritarian rule and what critics allege are widespread political oppression and violation of human rights, Lukashenko's supporters credit him with the relative stability Belarus has enjoyed since the fall of the Soviet Union.