Belarus is a republic in Eastern Europe that can be found next to Russia and Ukraine, bordered by Poland, Lithuania and Latvia to the west and northwest. The history of this country is rich and tells a long story before the country declared their independence from the Soviet Union in the year 1990 that was received on December 25th 1991. Belarus is a presidential republic that has been run under the government of President Alexander Lukashenko since 1994. This has led to the continuity of a Soviet-era policy regarding the economy of Belarus that has been is still owned by the state. What this means is that the majority of the population works for state-controlled companies. There are however private companies but at a percent of only 47.7%, which is much lower than in other countries. There are only a few foreign owned companies where Belarusians work. The country is dependent on the import of oil from the nearby Russian Federation and exports heavy machinery to other countries, as well as agricultural and energy products. This kind of export has been going on for more than a decade, ever since Lukashenko was pronounced president. Russia and the European Union are the most important trading partners of Belarus, which together account for more than three quarters of the foreign trade. In the past the Belarus economy gained from the textile and wood processing industry. In the beginning of the 1990s industrial production plunged and regained its strength in 1996. Four million people in the country are employed, most of who are women and the larger percentage of these have jobs in industrial factories, agriculture, education, trading goods and manufacturing sales. Unemployment rate is not high and has been decreasing since 2003. There are 30 Belarusian banks owned by the state and one privatized bank. The official currency is the Belarusian ruble, which has been proposed in the past to be changed to the Russian ruble or the euro, but it remained constant. In May 2011 the national currency was devalued against the US dollar and on June 2011 the country requested help from the International Monetary Fund.