|Republic of Belarus
and largest city
|Government||Unitary Dominant Party presidential republic|
|Council of the Republic|
|House of Representatives|
|1 July 1569|
|25 March 1918|
|17 February 1919|
|31 July 1920|
|15 November 1939|
|27 July 1990|
• Independence from the USSR
|25 August 1991|
|8 December 1991|
• Independence recognized
|26 December 1991|
|15 March 1994|
|207,595 km2 (80,153 sq mi) (84th)|
• Water (%)
|1.4% (2.830 km2 or 1.093 sq mi)b|
• 2016 estimate
|9,498,700  (93rd)|
|45.8/km2 (118.6/sq mi) (142nd)|
|GDP (PPP)||2017 estimate|
• Per capita
|GDP (nominal)||2017 estimate|
• Per capita
|Gini (2015)|| 26.7
|HDI (2015)|| 0.796
high · 52nd
|Currency||Belarusian ruble (BYN)|
|Time zone||FET (UTC+3)|
|Drives on the||right|
|ISO 3166 code||BY|
Belarus (// ( listen) be-lə-ROOS; Belarusian: Беларусь, translit. Biełaruś; IPA: [bʲɛlaˈrusʲ]), officially the Republic of Belarus (Belarusian: Рэспубліка Беларусь), formerly known by its Russian name Byelorussia or Belorussia (Russian: Белоруссия), is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe bordered by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital and most populous city is Minsk. Over 40% of its 207,600 square kilometres (80,200 sq mi) is forested. Its major economic sectors are service industries and manufacturing. Until the 20th century, different states at various times controlled the lands of modern-day Belarus, including the Principality of Polotsk (11th to 14th centuries), the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, and the Russian Empire.
In the aftermath of the 1917 Russian Revolution, Belarus declared independence as the Belarusian People's Republic, which was conquered by Soviet Russia. The Socialist Soviet Republic of Byelorussia became a founding constituent republic of the Soviet Union in 1922 and was renamed as the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic (Byelorussian SSR). Belarus lost almost half of its territory to Poland after the Polish–Soviet War of 1919–1921. Much of the borders of Belarus took their modern shape in 1939, when some lands of the Second Polish Republic were reintegrated into it after the Soviet invasion of Poland, and were finalized after World War II. During WWII, military operations devastated Belarus, which lost about a third of its population and more than half of its economic resources. The republic was redeveloped in the post-war years. In 1945 the Byelorussian SSR became a founding member of the United Nations, along with the Soviet Union and the Ukrainian SSR.
The parliament of the republic proclaimed the sovereignty of Belarus on 27 July 1990, and during the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Belarus declared independence on 25 August 1991. Alexander Lukashenko has served as the country's president since 1994. Belarus has been labeled "Europe's last dictatorship" by some Western journalists, on account of Lukashenko's self-described authoritarian style of government. Lukashenko continued a number of Soviet-era policies, such as state ownership of large sections of the economy. Elections under Lukashenko's rule have been widely criticized as unfair; and according to many countries and organizations, political opposition has been violently suppressed. Belarus is also the last country in Europe using the death penalty. Belarus's Democracy Index rating was the lowest in Europe until 2014 (when it was passed by Russia), the country is labelled as "not free" by Freedom House, as "repressed" in the Index of Economic Freedom, and is rated as by far the worst country for press freedom in Europe in the 2013–14 Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders, which ranks Belarus 157th out of 180 nations.
In 2000, Belarus and Russia signed a treaty for greater cooperation, forming the Union State. Over 70% of Belarus's population of 9.49 million resides in urban areas. More than 80% of the population is ethnic Belarusian, with sizable minorities of Russians, Poles and Ukrainians. Since a referendum in 1995, the country has had two official languages: Belarusian and Russian. The Constitution of Belarus does not declare any official religion, although the primary religion in the country is Eastern Orthodox Christianity. The second-most widespread religion, Roman Catholicism, has a much smaller following; nevertheless, Belarus celebrates both Orthodox and Catholic versions of Christmas and Easter as national holidays. Belarus is a member of the United Nations since its founding, the Commonwealth of Independent States, CSTO, EEU, and the Non-Aligned Movement. Belarus has shown no aspirations for joining the European Union but nevertheless maintains a bilateral relationship with the organisation, and likewise participates in two EU projects: the Central European Initiative and the Baku Initiative.
- 1 Etymology
- 2 History
- 3 Geography and climate
- 4 Governance
- 5 Economy
- 6 Demographics
- 7 Culture
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 Further reading
- 11 External links
The name Belarus is closely related with the term Belaya Rus', i.e., White Rus'. There are several claims to the origin of the name White Rus'. An ethno-religious theory suggests that the name used to describe the part of old Ruthenian lands within the Grand Duchy of Lithuania that had been populated mostly by early Christianized Slavs, as opposed to Black Ruthenia, which was predominantly inhabited by pagan Balts.
An alternate explanation for the name comments on the white clothing worn by the local Slavic population. A third theory suggests that the old Rus' lands that were not conquered by the Tatars (i.e., Polatsk, Vitsiebsk and Mahilyow) had been referred to as "White Rus'".
The name Rus' is often conflated with its Latin forms Russia and Ruthenia, thus Belarus is often referred to as White Russia or White Ruthenia. The name first appeared in German and Latin medieval literature; the chronicles of Jan of Czarnków mention the imprisonment of Lithuanian grand duke Jogaila and his mother at "Albae Russiae, Poloczk dicto" in 1381. In some languages, including German and Dutch, the country is generally called "White Russia" to this day (Weißrussland and Wit-Rusland respectively).
The Latin term "Alba Russia" was used again by Pope Pius VI in 1783 to recognize the Society of Jesus there, exclaiming "Approbo Societatem Jesu in Alba Russia degentem, approbo, approbo." The first known use of White Russia to refer to Belarus was in the late-16th century by Englishman Sir Jerome Horsey, who was known for his close contacts with the Russian Royal Court. During the 17th century, the Russian tsars used "White Rus" to describe the lands added from the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.
The term Belorussia (Russian: Белору́ссия, the latter part similar but spelled and stressed differently from Росси́я, Russia) first rose in the days of the Russian Empire, and the Russian Tsar was usually styled "the Tsar of All the Russias", as Russia or the Russian Empire was formed by three parts of Russia—the Great, Little, and White. This asserted that the territories are all Russian and all the peoples are also Russian; in the case of the Belarusians, they were variants of the Russian people.
After the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, the term "White Russia" caused some confusion, as it was also the name of the military force that opposed the red Bolsheviks. During the period of the Byelorussian SSR, the term Byelorussia was embraced as part of a national consciousness. In western Belarus under Polish control, Byelorussia became commonly used in the regions of Białystok and Grodno during the interwar period.
The term Byelorussia (its names in other languages such as English being based on the Russian form) was only used officially until 1991, when the Supreme Soviet of the Byelorussian SSR decreed by law that the new independent republic should be called Republic of Belarus (Республика Беларусь spelled in Russian), as well its abridged form should be "Belarus". The law decreed that all the forms of the new term should be transliterated into other languages from their Belarusian language forms. The use of Byelorussian SSR and any abbreviations thereof were allowed from 1991–93. Conservative forces in the newly independent Belarus did not support the name change and opposed its inclusion in the 1991 draft of the Constitution of Belarus.
Accordingly, the name Byelorussia was replaced by Belarus in English. Likewise, the adjective Belorussian or Byelorussian was replaced by Belarusian in English. Belarusian is closer to the original Russian term of bielaruski. Belarusian intelligentsia in the Stalin era attempted to change the name from Byelorussia to a form of Krivia because of the supposed connection with Russia. Some nationalists object to the name for the same reason. Several local newspapers kept the old name of the country in Russian in their names, for example Komsomolskaya Pravda v Byelorussii, which is the localized publication of a popular Russian newspaper. Also, those who wish for Belarus to be reunited with Russia continue to use Belorussia. Officially, the full name of the country is "Republic of Belarus" (Рэспубліка Беларусь, Республика Беларусь, Respublika Belarus listen (help·info)).
From 5000 to 2000 BC, Bandkeramik cultures predominated. In addition, remains from the Dnieper-Donets culture were found in Belarus and parts of Ukraine. Cimmerians and other pastoralists roamed through the area by 1,000 BC, and by 500 AD, Slavs had taken up residence, which was circumscribed by the Scythians who roamed its outskirts. Invaders from Asia, among whom were the Huns and Avars, swept through c. 400–600 AD, but were unable to dislodge the Slavic presence.
The region that is now Belarus was first settled by Baltic tribes in the 3rd century. Around the 5th century, the area was taken over by Slavic tribes. The takeover was partially due to the lack of military coordination of the Balts but the gradual assimilation of the Balts into Slavic culture was peaceful in nature.
In the 9th century some principalities arose on the territory of modern Belarus. Among them was the Principality of Polatsk that for most of the time was effectively an independent State (apart from about 20 years when it was a Vassal of Kievan Rus'). The Principality of Polatsk was the first nation state to be established on the land of Belarus.
Many early Russian principalities were virtually razed or severely affected by a major Mongol invasion in the 13th century, but the lands of Belarus avoided the brunt of the invasion and were eventually absorbed by the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.
The Grand Duchy of Lithuania developed from Lithuanian Kingdom (King Mindaugas, 1253) which territory started its existence between Nemunas and Neris rivers and existed in the center of Europe in the 13th–18th centuries and comprised entire territories of contemporary Belarus, Ukraine, partially Poland, Lithuania and Latvia and stretched from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea.
Incorporation into The Grand Duchy of Lithuania resulted in an economic, political and ethno-cultural unification of Belarusian lands. Of the principalities held by the Duchy, nine of them were settled by a population that would eventually become Belarusian people. During this time, the Duchy was involved in several military campaigns, including fighting on the side of Poland against the Teutonic Knights at the Battle of Grunwald in 1410; the joint victory allowed the Duchy to control the northwestern borderlands of Eastern Europe.
On 2 February 1386, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Kingdom of Poland were joined in a personal union through a marriage of their rulers. This union set in motion the developments that eventually resulted in the formation of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, created in 1569 by the Union of Lublin.
In the years following the union, the process of gradual Polonization gained steady momentum. In culture and social life, both the Polish language and Catholicism became dominant, and in 1696, Polish replaced Belarusian as the official language—with the Belarusian language being banned from administrative use. However, the local Ruthenian peasants, continued to speak their own language and remained faithful to the Eastern Orthodox church.
Under Polish−Lithuanian rule, power was held by local szlachta (nobility), often of Polish or Lithuanian (Polonized) descent. Trade and commerce was mostly undertaken primarily by Jews, who formed a significant part of the urban population, along with Poles who filled in administrative and government positions.
The union between Poland and Lithuania ended in 1795 with the partitioning of Poland by Imperial Russia, Prussia, and Austria. The Belarusian territories acquired by the Russian Empire under the reign of Catherine II were included into the Belarusian Governorate (Russian: Белорусское генерал-губернаторство) in 1796 and held until their occupation by the German Empire during World War I.
Under Nicholas I and Alexander III the national cultures were repressed due to the policies of de-Polonization and Russification, which included the return to Orthodox Christianity of Belorusian Uniates.
In a Russification drive in the 1840s, Nicholas I prohibited use of the Belarusian language in public schools, campaigned against Belarusian publications and tried to pressure those who had converted to Catholicism under the Poles to reconvert to the Orthodox faith. In 1863, economic and cultural pressure exploded in a revolt, led by Kalinowski. After the failed revolt, the Russian government reintroduced the use of Cyrillic to Belarusian in 1864 and no documents in Belarusian were permitted by the Russian government until 1905.
During the negotiations of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, Belarus first declared independence under German occupation on 25 March 1918, forming the Belarusian People's Republic. Immediately afterwards, the Polish–Soviet War ignited, and the territory of Belarus was divided between Poland and Soviet Russia.
Belorussian Soviet Socialist Republic
A part of Belarus under Russian rule emerged as the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic (Byelorussian SSR) in 1919. Soon thereafter it merged to form the Lithuanian-Byelorussian SSR. The contested lands were divided between Poland and the Soviet Union after the war ended in 1921, and the Byelorussian SSR became a founding member of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in 1922. The western part of modern Belarus remained part of Poland.
In 1939, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union invaded and occupied Poland, marking the beginning of World War II. The Soviets invaded and annexed much of eastern Poland, which had been part of the country since the Peace of Riga two decades earlier. Much of the northern section of this area was added to the Byelorussian SSR, and now constitutes West Belarus. The Soviet-controlled Byelorussian People's Council officially took control of the territories, whose populations consisted of a mixture of Poles, Ukrainians, Belarusians and Jews, on 28 October 1939 in Białystok. Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941. The Brest Fortress, which had been annexed in 1939, at this time was subjected to one of the most destructive onslaughts that happened during the war. Statistically, the Byelorussian SSR was the hardest-hit Soviet republic in World War II; it remained in Nazi hands until 1944. During that time, Germany destroyed 209 out of 290 cities in the republic, 85% of the republic's industry, and more than one million buildings. The Nazi Generalplan Ost called for the extermination, expulsion or enslavement of most or all Belarusians for the purpose of providing more living space in the East for Germans.
Casualties were estimated to be between 2 and 3 million (about a quarter to one-third of the total population), while the Jewish population of Belarus was devastated during the Holocaust and never recovered. The population of Belarus did not regain its pre-war level until 1971. It was also after this conflict that the final borders of Belarus were set by Stalin when parts of Belarusian territory were given to the recently annexed Lithuania.
After the war, Belarus was among the 51 founding countries of the United Nations Charter and as such it was allowed an additional vote at the UN, on top of the Soviet Union's vote. Vigorous postwar reconstruction promptly followed the end of the war and the Byelorussian SSR became a major center of manufacturing in the western USSR, creating jobs and attracting ethnic Russians. The borders of the Byelorussian SSR and Poland were redrawn and became known as the Curzon Line.
Joseph Stalin implemented a policy of Sovietization to isolate the Byelorussian SSR from Western influences. This policy involved sending Russians from various parts of the Soviet Union and placing them in key positions in the Byelorussian SSR government. After Stalin's death in 1953, Nikita Khrushchev continued his predecessor's cultural hegemony program, stating, "The sooner we all start speaking Russian, the faster we shall build communism."
In June 1988, the archaeologist and leader of the Christian Conservative Party of the BPF Zyanon Paznyak discovered mass graves of victims executed in 1937–41 at Kurapaty, near Minsk. Some nationalists contend that this discovery is proof that the Soviet government was trying to erase the Belarusian people, causing Belarusian nationalists to seek independence.
In March 1990, elections for seats in the Supreme Soviet of the Byelorussian SSR took place. Though the pro-independence Belarusian Popular Front took only 10% of the seats, the populace was content with the selection of the delegates. Belarus declared itself sovereign on 27 July 1990 by issuing the Declaration of State Sovereignty of the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic.
With the support of the Communist Party, the country's name was changed to the Republic of Belarus on 25 August 1991. Stanislav Shushkevich, the chairman of the Supreme Soviet of Belarus, met with Boris Yeltsin of Russia and Leonid Kravchuk of Ukraine on 8 December 1991 in Belavezhskaya Pushcha to formally declare the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the formation of the Commonwealth of Independent States.
Two-round elections for the presidency on (24 June 1994 and 10 July 1994) catapulted the formerly unknown Alexander Lukashenko into national prominence. He garnered 45% of the vote in the first round and 80% in the second, defeating Vyacheslav Kebich who received 14% of the vote. Lukashenko was re-elected in 2001, in 2006, in 2010 and again in 2015. Western governments, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch have criticized Lukashenko's authoritarian style of government.
Since 2014, following years of embrace of Russian influence in the country, Lukashenko has pressed a revival of Belarusian identity, following the Russian annexation of Crimea and military intervention in Eastern Ukraine. For the first time, he delivered a speech in Belarusian (rather than Russian, which most people use), in which he said, "We are not Russian—we are Belarusians", and later encouraged the use of Belarusian. Trade disputes, a border dispute, and a much relaxed official attitude to dissident voices are all part of a weakening of the longtime warm relationship with Russia.
Geography and climate
Belarus lies between latitudes 51° and 57° N, and longitudes 23° and 33° E. Its extension from north to south is 560 km (350 mi), from west to east is 650 km (400 mi). It is landlocked, relatively flat, and contains large tracts of marshy land. About 40% of Belarus is covered by forests.
Many streams and 11,000 lakes are found in Belarus. Three major rivers run through the country: the Neman, the Pripyat, and the Dnieper. The Neman flows westward towards the Baltic sea and the Pripyat flows eastward to the Dnieper; the Dnieper flows southward towards the Black Sea.
The highest point is Dzyarzhynskaya Hara (Dzyarzhynsk Hill) at 345 metres (1,132 ft), and the lowest point is on the Neman River at 90 m (295 ft). The average elevation of Belarus is 160 m (525 ft) above sea level. The climate features mild to cold winters, with average January minimum temperatures ranging from −4 °C (24.8 °F) in southwest (Brest) to −8 °C (17.6 °F) in northeast (Vitebsk), and cool and moist summers with an average temperature of 18 °C (64.4 °F). Belarus has an average annual rainfall of 550 to 700 mm (21.7 to 27.6 in). The country is in the transitional zone between continental climates and maritime climates.
Natural resources include peat deposits, small quantities of oil and natural gas, granite, dolomite (limestone), marl, chalk, sand, gravel, and clay. About 70% of the radiation from neighboring Ukraine's 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster entered Belarusian territory, and about a fifth of Belarusian land (principally farmland and forests in the southeastern regions) was affected by radiation fallout. The United Nations and other agencies have aimed to reduce the level of radiation in affected areas, especially through the use of caesium binders and rapeseed cultivation, which are meant to decrease soil levels of caesium-137.
Belarus borders five countries: Latvia to the north, Lithuania to the northwest, Poland to the west, Russia to the north and the east, and Ukraine to the south. Treaties in 1995 and 1996 demarcated Belarus's borders with Latvia and Lithuania, and Belarus ratified a 1997 treaty establishing the Belarus-Ukraine border in 2009. Belarus and Lithuania ratified final border demarcation documents in February 2007.
|Location||July (°C)||July (°F)||January (°C)||January (°F)|
Belarus is a presidential republic, governed by a president and the National Assembly. The term for each presidency is five years. Under the 1994 constitution, the president could serve for only two terms as president, but a change in the constitution in 2004 eliminated term limits. Alexander Lukashenko has been the president of Belarus since 1994. In 1996, Lukashenko called for a controversial vote to extend the presidential term from five to seven years, and as a result the election that was supposed to occur in 1999 was pushed back to 2001. The referendum on the extension was denounced as a "fantastic" fake by the chief electoral officer, Viktar Hanchar, who was removed from the office for official matters only during the campaign. The National Assembly is a bicameral parliament comprising the 110-member House of Representatives (the lower house) and the 64-member Council of the Republic (the upper house).
The House of Representatives has the power to appoint the prime minister, make constitutional amendments, call for a vote of confidence on the prime minister, and make suggestions on foreign and domestic policy. The Council of the Republic has the power to select various government officials, conduct an impeachment trial of the president, and accept or reject the bills passed by the House of Representatives. Each chamber has the ability to veto any law passed by local officials if it is contrary to the constitution.
The government includes a Council of Ministers, headed by the prime minister and five deputy prime ministers. The members of this council need not be members of the legislature and are appointed by the president. The judiciary comprises the Supreme Court and specialized courts such as the Constitutional Court, which deals with specific issues related to constitutional and business law. The judges of national courts are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Council of the Republic. For criminal cases, the highest court of appeal is the Supreme Court. The Belarusian Constitution forbids the use of special extrajudicial courts.
In the 2012 parliamentary election, 105 of the 110 members elected to the House of Representatives were not affiliated with any political party. The Communist Party of Belarus won 3 seats, and the Agrarian Party and Republican Party of Labour and Justice, one each. Most non-partisans represent a wide scope of social organizations such as workers' collectives, public associations, and civil society organizations, similar to the composition of the Soviet legislature.
Neither the pro-Lukashenko parties, such as the Belarusian Socialist Sporting Party and the Republican Party of Labour and Justice, nor the People's Coalition 5 Plus opposition parties, such as the Belarusian People's Front and the United Civil Party of Belarus, won any seats in the 2004 elections. Groups such as the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) declared the election "un-free" because of the opposition parties' poor results and media bias in favor of the government.
In the 2006 presidential election, Lukashenko was opposed by Alaksandar Milinkievič, who represented a coalition of opposition parties, and by Alaksandar Kazulin of the Social Democrats. Kazulin was detained and beaten by police during protests surrounding the All Belarusian People's Assembly. Lukashenko won the election with 80% of the vote; the Russian Federation and the CIS deemed the vote open and fair while the OSCE and other organizations called the election unfair.
After the December completion of the 2010 presidential election, Lukashenko was elected to a fourth straight term with nearly 80% of the vote in elections. The runner-up opposition leader Andrei Sannikov received less than 3% of the vote; independent observers criticized the election as fraudulent. When opposition protesters took to the streets in Minsk, many people, including most rival presidential candidates, were beaten and arrested by the state militia. Many of the candidates, including Sannikov, were sentenced to prison or house arrest for terms which are mainly and typically over four years. Six months later amid an unprecedented economic crisis, activists utilized social networking to initiate a fresh round of protests characterized by wordless hand-clapping.
The judicial system in Belarus lacks independence and is subject to political interference. Corrupt practices such as bribery often took place during tender processes, and whistleblower protection and national ombudsman are lacking in Belarus's anti-corruption system. However, there is a political will to fight against corruption in the government, and the government has made some progress in combating corruption, such as minimizing tax regulations in order to improve transparency in the tax office.
Lukashenko has described himself as having an "authoritarian ruling style". Western countries have described Belarus under Lukashenko as a dictatorship; the government has accused the same Western powers of trying to oust Lukashenko. The Council of Europe has barred Belarus from membership since 1997 for undemocratic voting and election irregularities in the November 1996 constitutional referendum and parliament by-elections.
The Belarusian government is also criticized for human rights violations and its persecution of non-governmental organisations, independent journalists, national minorities, and opposition politicians. In a testimony to the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, former United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice labeled Belarus as one of the world's six "outposts of tyranny". In response, the Belarusian government called the assessment "quite far from reality". The Viasna Human Rights Centre lists 11 political prisoners currently detained in Belarus. Among them is the human rights activist Ales Bialiatski, Vice President of International Federation for Human Rights and head of Viasna.
Lukashenko announced a new law in 2014 that will prohibit kolkhoz workers (around 9% of total work force) from leaving their jobs at will—a change of job and living location will require permission from governors. The law was compared with serfdom by Lukashenko himself. Similar regulations were introduced for the forestry industry in 2012.
The Byelorussian SSR was one of the two Soviet republics that joined the United Nations along with the Ukrainian SSR as one of the original 51 members in 1945. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, under international law, Belarus became the internationally recognized successor state to the Byelorussian SSR, retaining its UN membership.
Belarus and Russia have been close trading partners and diplomatic allies since the breakup of the Soviet Union. Belarus is dependent on Russia for imports of raw materials and for its export market.
The union of Russia and Belarus, a supranational confederation, was established in a 1996–99 series of treaties that called for monetary union, equal rights, single citizenship, and a common foreign and defense policy. However, the future of the union has been placed in doubt because of Belarus's repeated delays of monetary union, the lack of a referendum date for the draft constitution, and a dispute over the petroleum trade.
On 11 December 2007, reports emerged that a framework for the new state was discussed between both countries. On 27 May 2008, Belarusian President Lukashenko said that he had named Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin the "prime minister" of the Russia-Belarus alliance. The significance of this act was not immediately clear; some incorrectly speculated that Putin would become president of a unified state of Russia and Belarus after stepping down as Russian president in May 2008.
Belarus was a founding member of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Belarus has trade agreements with several European Union member states (despite other member states' travel ban on Lukashenko and top officials), including neighboring Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland. Travel bans imposed by the European Union have been lifted in the past in order to allow Lukashenko to attend diplomatic meetings and also to engage his government and opposition groups in dialogue.
Bilateral relations with the United States are strained because the U.S. Department of State supports various anti-Lukashenko non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and also because the Belarusian government has made it increasingly difficult for United States-based organizations to operate within the country. Diplomatic relations remained tense, and in 2004, the United States passed the Belarus Democracy Act, which authorized funding for anti-government Belarusian NGOs, and prohibited loans to the Belarusian government, except for humanitarian purposes. Despite this political friction, the two countries do cooperate on intellectual property protection, prevention of human trafficking, technology crime, and disaster relief.
Sino-Belarusian relations have improved, strengthened by the visit of President Lukashenko to China in October 2005. Belarus also has strong ties with Syria, considered a key partner in the Middle East. In addition to the CIS, Belarus is a member of the Eurasian Economic Community, the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, the international Non-Aligned Movement since 1998, and the Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). As an OSCE member state, Belarus's international commitments are subject to monitoring under the mandate of the U.S. Helsinki Commission.
Belarus is included in the European Union's European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) which aims at bringing the EU and its neighbours closer.
Major General Andrei Ravkov heads the Ministry of Defence, and Alexander Lukashenko (as president) serves as Commander-in-Chief. The armed forces were formed in 1992 using parts of the former Soviet Armed Forces on the new republic's territory. The transformation of the ex-Soviet forces into the Armed Forces of Belarus, which was completed in 1997, reduced the number of its soldiers by 30,000 and restructured its leadership and military formations.
Most of Belarus's service members are conscripts, who serve for 12 months if they have higher education or 18 months if they do not. Demographic decreases in the Belarusians of conscription age have increased the importance of contract soldiers, who numbered 12,000 in 2001. In 2005, about 1.4% of Belarus's gross domestic product was devoted to military expenditure.
Belarus has not expressed a desire to join NATO but has participated in the Individual Partnership Program since 1997, and Belarus provides refueling and airspace support for the ISAF mission in Afghanistan. Belarus first began to cooperate with NATO upon signing documents to participate in their Partnership for Peace Program in 1995. However, Belarus cannot join NATO because it is a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation. Tensions between NATO and Belarus peaked after the March 2006 presidential election in Belarus.
Each region has a provincial legislative authority, called a region council (Belarusian: абласны Савет Дэпутатаў, Russian: областно́й Сове́т Депутатов), which is elected by its residents, and a provincial executive authority called a region administration (Belarusian: абласны выканаўчы камітэт, Russian: областно́й исполнительный комите́т), whose chairman is appointed by the president. Regions are further subdivided into raions, commonly translated as districts (Belarusian: раён, Russian: район).
Each raion has its own legislative authority, or raion council, (Belarusian: раённы Савет Дэпутатаў, Russian: районный Сове́т Депутатов) elected by its residents, and an executive authority or raion administration appointed by higher executive powers. The six regions are divided into 118 raions.
Regions (with administrative centers):
- Brest Region (Brest)
- Gomel Region (Gomel)
- Grodno Region (Grodno)
- Mogilev Region (Mogilev)
- Minsk Region (Minsk)
- Vitebsk Region (Vitebsk)
Special administrative district:
In 2014 the share of manufacturing in GDP was 37%, more than two thirds of this amount falls on manufacturing industries. The number of people employed in industry is 32.7% of the working population. The growth rate is much lower than for the economy as a whole – about 1.9% in 2014.
At the time of the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Belarus was one of the world's most industrially developed states by percentage of GDP as well as the richest CIS member-state. In 2015, 39.3% of Belarusians were employed by state-controlled companies, 57.2% were employed by private companies (in which the government has a 21.1% stake) and 3.5% were employed by foreign companies. The country relies on Russia for various imports, including petroleum. Important agricultural products include potatoes and cattle byproducts, including meat. In 1994, Belarus's main exports included heavy machinery (especially tractors), agricultural products, and energy products. Economically, Belarus involved itself in the CIS, Eurasian Economic Community, and Union with Russia.
In the 1990s, however, industrial production plunged due to decreases in imports, investment, and demand for Belarusian products from its trading partners. GDP only began to rise in 1996; the country was the fastest-recovering former Soviet republic in the terms of its economy. In 2006, GDP amounted to US$83.1 billion in purchasing power parity (PPP) dollars (estimate), or about $8,100 per capita. In 2005, GDP increased by 9.9%; the inflation rate averaged 9.5%.
In 2006, Belarus's largest trading partner was Russia, accounting for nearly half of total trade, with the European Union the next largest trading partner, with nearly a third of foreign trade. As of 2015, 38% of Belarusian exported goods go to Russia and 56% of imported goods come from Russia.
Due to its failure to protect labor rights, including passing laws forbidding unemployment or working outside of state-controlled sectors, Belarus lost its EU Generalized System of Preferences status on 21 June 2007, which raised tariff rates to their prior most favored nation levels. Belarus applied to become a member of the World Trade Organization in 1993.
The labor force consists of more than four million people, among whom women hold slightly more jobs than men. In 2005, nearly a quarter of the population was employed by industrial factories. Employment is also high in agriculture, manufacturing sales, trading goods, and education. The unemployment rate, according to government statistics, was 1.5% in 2005. There were 679,000 unemployed Belarusians, two-thirds of whom were women. The unemployment rate has been in decline since 2003, and the overall rate of employment is the highest since statistics were first compiled in 1995.
Until 1 July 2016, the currency of Belarus was the Belarusian ruble (BYR). The currency was introduced in May 1992, replacing the Soviet ruble. The first coins of the Republic of Belarus were issued on 27 December 1996. The ruble was reintroduced with new values in 2000 and has been in use ever since. As part of the Union of Russia and Belarus, both states have discussed using a single currency along the same lines as the Euro. This led to a proposal that the Belarusian ruble be discontinued in favor of the Russian ruble (RUB), starting as early as 1 January 2008. The National Bank of Belarus abandoned pegging the Belarusian ruble to the Russian ruble in August 2007.
A new currency, the new Belarusian ruble (ISO 4217 code: BYN) was introduced in July 2016, replacing the Belarusian ruble in a rate of 1:10,000 (10,000 old rubles = 1 new ruble). From 1 July until 31 December 2016, the old and new currencies will be in parallel circulation and series 2000 notes and coins can be exchanged for series 2009 from 1 January 2017 to 31 December 2021. This redenomination can be considered an effort to fight the high inflation rate.
The banking system of Belarus consists of two level: Central Bank (National Bank of the Republic of Belarus) and 25 commercial banks. On 23 May 2011, the Belarusian ruble depreciated 56% against the United States dollar. The depreciation was even steeper on the black market and financial collapse seemed imminent as citizens rushed to exchange their rubles for dollars, euros, durable goods, and canned goods. On 1 June 2011, Belarus requested an economic rescue package from the International Monetary Fund.
According to the National Statistical Committee, as of January 2016, the population is 9.49 million people. Ethnic Belarusians constitute 83.7% of Belarus's total population. The next largest ethnic groups are: Russians (8.3%), Poles (3.1%), and Ukrainians (1.7%). Belarus has a population density of about 50 people per square kilometer (127 per sq mi); 70% of its total population is concentrated in urban areas. Minsk, the nation's capital and largest city, was home to 1,937,900 residents in 2015[update]. Gomel, with a population of 481,000, is the second-largest city and serves as the capital of the Homiel Voblast. Other large cities are Mogilev (365,100), Vitebsk (342,400), Hrodna (314,800) and Brest (298,300).
Like many other eastern European countries, Belarus has a negative population growth rate and a negative natural growth rate. In 2007, Belarus's population declined by 0.41% and its fertility rate was 1.22, well below the replacement rate. Its net migration rate is +0.38 per 1,000, indicating that Belarus experiences slightly more immigration than emigration. As of 2015[update], 69.9% of Belarus's population is aged 14 to 64; 15.5% is under 14, and 14.6% is 65 or older. Its population is also aging; the median age of 30–34 is estimated to rise to between 60 and 64 in 2050. There are about 0.87 males per female in Belarus. The average life expectancy is 72.15 (66.53 years for men and 78.1 years for women). Over 99% of Belarusians aged 15 and older are literate.
Largest cities or towns in Belarus
Belarus' two official languages are Russian and Belarusian; Russian is the main language, used by 72% of the population, while Belarusian, the official first language, is spoken by 11.9%. Minorities also speak Polish, Ukrainian and Eastern Yiddish. Belarusian, although not as widely used as Russian, is the mother tongue of 53.2% of the population, whereas Russian is the mother tongue of only 41.5%.
According to the census of as of November 2011[update], 58.9% of all Belarusians adhere to some kind of religion; out of those, Eastern Orthodoxy (Belarusian Exarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church) makes up about 82%. Roman Catholicism is practiced mostly in the western regions, and there are also different denominations of Protestantism. Minorities also practice Greek Catholicism, Judaism, Islam and Neopaganism. Overall, 48.3% of the population is Orthodox Christian, 41.1% is not religious, 7.1% is Catholic and 3.3% follows other religions.
Belarus's Catholic minority is concentrated in the western part of the country, especially around Hrodna, is made up of a mixture of Belarusians and the country's Polish and Lithuanian minorities. In a statement to the media regarding Belarusian-Vatican ties, President Lukashenko stated that Orthodox and Catholic believers are the "two main confessions in our country".
Belarus was once a major center of European Jews, with 10% of the population being Jewish. But since the mid-20th century, the number of Jews has been reduced by the Holocaust, deportation, and emigration, so that today it is a very small minority of less than one percent. The Lipka Tatars, numbering over 15,000, are predominantly Muslims. According to Article 16 of the Constitution, Belarus has no official religion. While the freedom of worship is granted in the same article, religious organizations deemed harmful to the government or social order can be prohibited.
Arts and literature
The Belarusian government sponsors annual cultural festivals such as the Bazaar in Vitebsk, which showcases Belarusian performers, artists, writers, musicians, and actors. Several state holidays, such as Independence Day and Victory Day, draw big crowds and often include displays such as fireworks and military parades, especially in Vitebsk and Minsk. The government's Ministry of Culture finances events promoting Belarusian arts and culture both inside and outside the country.
By the 16th century, Polotsk resident Francysk Skaryna translated the Bible into Belarusian. It was published in Prague and Vilnius sometime between 1517 and 1525, making it the first book printed in Belarus or anywhere in Eastern Europe. The modern era of Belarusian literature began in the late 19th century; one prominent writer was Yanka Kupala. Many Belarusian writers of the time, such as Uładzimir Žyłka, Kazimir Svayak, Yakub Kolas, Źmitrok Biadula, and Maksim Haretski, wrote for Nasha Niva, a Belarusian-language paper published that was previously published in Vilnius but now is published in Minsk.
After Belarus was incorporated into the Soviet Union, the Soviet government took control of the Republic's cultural affairs. At first, a policy of "Belarusianization" was followed in the newly formed Byelorussian SSR. This policy was reversed in the 1930s, and the majority of prominent Belarusian intellectuals and nationalist advocates were either exiled or killed in Stalinist purges. The free development of literature occurred only in Polish-held territory until Soviet occupation in 1939. Several poets and authors went into exile after the Nazi occupation of Belarus and would not return until the 1960s.
The last major revival of Belarusian literature occurred in the 1960s with novels published by Vasil Bykaŭ and Uladzimir Karatkievich. An influential author who devoted his work to awakening the awareness of the catastrophes the country has suffered, was Ales Adamovich. He was named by Svetlana Alexievich, the Belarusian winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature 2015, as "her main teacher, who helped her to find a path of her own".
Music in Belarus largely comprises a rich tradition of folk and religious music. The country's folk music traditions can be traced back to the times of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. In the 19th century, Polish composer Stanisław Moniuszko composed operas and chamber music pieces while living in Minsk. During his stay, he worked with Belarusian poet Vintsent Dunin-Martsinkyevich and created the opera Sialanka (Peasant Woman). At the end of the 19th century, major Belarusian cities formed their own opera and ballet companies. The ballet Nightingale by M. Kroshner was composed during the Soviet era and became the first Belarusian ballet showcased at the National Academic Vialiki Ballet Theatre in Minsk.
After the Second World War, music focused on the hardships of the Belarusian people or on those who took up arms in defense of the homeland. During this period, Anatoly Bogatyrev, creator of the opera In Polesye Virgin Forest, served as the "tutor" of Belarusian composers. The National Academic Theatre of Ballet in Minsk was awarded the Benois de la Dance Prize in 1996 as the top ballet company in the world. Rock music has become increasingly popular in recent years, though the Belarusian government has attempted to limit the amount of foreign music aired on the radio in favor of traditional Belarusian music. Since 2004, Belarus has been sending artists to the Eurovision Song Contest.
Marc Chagall was born in Liozna (near Vitebsk) in 1887. He spent the World War I years in Soviet Belarus, becoming one of the country's most distinguished artists and a member of the modernist avant-garde and was a founder of the Vitebsk Arts College.
The traditional Belarusian dress originates from the Kievan Rus' period. Due to the cool climate, clothes were designed to preserve body heat and were usually made from flax or wool. They were decorated with ornate patterns influenced by the neighboring cultures: Poles, Lithuanians, Latvians, Russians, and other European nations. Each region of Belarus has developed specific design patterns. One ornamental pattern common in early dresses currently decorates the hoist of the Belarusian national flag, adopted in a disputed referendum in 1995.
Belarusian cuisine consists mainly of vegetables, meat (particularly pork), and bread. Foods are usually either slowly cooked or stewed. Typically, Belarusians eat a light breakfast and two hearty meals, with dinner being the largest meal of the day. Wheat and rye breads are consumed in Belarus, but rye is more plentiful because conditions are too harsh for growing wheat. To show hospitality, a host traditionally presents an offering of bread and salt when greeting a guest or visitor.
Receiving heavy sponsorship from the government, ice hockey is the nation's second most popular sport after football. The national football team has never qualified for a major tournament; however, BATE Borisov has played in the Champions League. The national hockey team finished fourth at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics following a memorable upset win over Sweden in the quarterfinals, and regularly competes in the World Championships, often making the quarterfinals. Numerous Belarusian players are present in the Kontinental Hockey League in Eurasia, particularly for Belarusian club HC Dinamo Minsk, and several have also played in the National Hockey League in North America. Darya Domracheva is a leading biathlete whose honours include three gold medals at the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Tennis player Victoria Azarenka became the first Belarusian to win a Grand Slam singles title at the Australian Open in 2012. She also won the gold medal in mixed doubles at the 2012 Summer Olympics with Max Mirnyi, who holds ten Grand Slam titles in doubles.
Other notable Belarusian sportspeople include cyclist Vasil Kiryienka, who won the 2015 Road World Time Trial Championship, and middle distance runner Maryna Arzamasava, who won the gold medal in the 800m at the 2015 World Championships in Athletics.
Belarus is also known for its strong rhythmic gymnasts. Noticeable gymnasts include Inna Zhukova, who earned silver at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Liubov Charkashyna, who earned bronze at the 2012 London Olympics and Melitina Staniouta, Bronze All-Around Medalist of the 2015 World Championships. The Belorussian senior group earned bronze at the 2012 London Olympics.
- Country code: .by
The state telecom monopoly, Beltelecom, holds the exclusive interconnection with Internet providers outside of Belarus. Beltelecom owns all the backbone channels that linked to the Lattelecom, TEO LT, Tata Communications (former Teleglobe), Synterra, Rostelecom, Transtelekom and MTS ISP's. Beltelecom is the only operator licensed to provide commercial VoIP services in Belarus.
World Heritage Sites
Belarus has four UNESCO-designated World Heritage Sites: the Mir Castle Complex, the Nesvizh Castle, the Belovezhskaya Pushcha (shared with Poland), and the Struve Geodetic Arc (shared with nine other countries).
This section does not cite any sources. (May 2017) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
Belarusian literature was formed on the basis of Old Russian literature, and the process of its separation took place in the 14th–15th centuries. The heyday came in the 16th–17th centuries (the so-called "Golden Age"). Old Belarusian language was the official language of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (ON Statutes 1529, 1566 and 1588, polemical religious literature). Since the beginning of the 16th century, the books in Old Belarusian were printed. The first printed book in the Old Belarusian language – "Psalms" – was published in Prague in 1517 by Francysk Skaryna. It was the first book printed in the language of the East Slavic group. In the 16th and 17th centuries there was a Baroque syllabic poetry and drama school under the influence of Polish culture (Symeon of Polotsk). In the 18th century numerous wars caused the decay of scholars. The literature gradually fell into disrepair; its revival began in the last quarter of the 17th century, when a professor of Dominican college Kajetan Marashovski wrote the first untitled comedy that featured Belarusian language. Revitalization process of creativity in the Belarusian language continued at the beginning of the 19th century. (Anonymous satirical poem "Taras on Parnassus", the first romantisty: Paŭluk Bahrym and the Polish language poets Jan Barszczewski, Jan Czeczot, Adam Mickiewicz and Alexander Rypiński. Vintsent Dunin-Martsinkyevich was the first author, who wrote mainly in Belarusian. He created of the first Belarusian comedy "Idyll" in 1846. Books were printed mostly using Latin script. In the second half of the 19th century realism was present the works by Francišak Bahuševič, Adam Hurynowicz, Jan Lucyna. New stage of development of Belarusian literature started after 1905 Russian Revolution. In 1906 the first newspapers in Belarusian language "Nasa Dolia" (Our share) and "Nasha Niva" were issued in Vilnius. They united writers who advocated the strengthening of national identity (Maksim Bahdanovič, Sergei Paluyan, Źmitrok Biadula, Maksim Haretski, Yadvigin Sh, Yanka Kupala, Yakub Kolas, Alés Harun, Andrew Ziazulia and others.). Belarusian literature had a syncretic character, combines elements of romanticism and realism, impressionist and modernist. In particular Maxim Bogdanovich developed impressionism and symbolism in Belarusian poetry, Źmitrok Biadula – in prose, Yanka Kupala developed romanticism and modernism in poetry. Belarusian writer Svetlana Alexievich became the winner of Nobel Prize for Literature 2015. Aleksievich works devoted to the life of the late Soviet and post-Soviet era, imbued with a sense of compassion and humanism.
- "Changes in the populations of the majority ethnic groups". Belstat.gov.by. Archived from the original on 28 July 2016. Retrieved 28 July 2016.
- "Demographic situation in 2015". Belarus Statistical Office. 27 January 2016. Archived from the original on 3 February 2016. Retrieved 27 January 2016.
- "Belarus". International Monetary Fund. 2017. Retrieved 26 October 2017.
- "GINI index (World Bank estimate)". World Bank. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
- "2016 Human Development Report" (PDF). United Nations Development Programme. 2016. Retrieved 14 October 2017.
- "Icann Адобрыла Заяўку Беларусі На Дэлегаванне Дамена Першага Ўзроўню З Падтрымкай Алфавітаў Нацыянальных Моў.Бел". Retrieved 26 August 2014.
- UN Statistics Division (1 April 2010). "Standard Country and Area Codes Classifications (M49)". United Nations Organization. Archived from the original on 17 April 2010. Retrieved 22 April 2010.
- "Contents". Belstat.gov.by. Archived from the original on 18 January 2013. Retrieved 4 October 2012.
- Abdelal, Rawi (2001). National purpose in the world economy: post-Soviet states in comparative perspective. Cornell University Press. ISBN 978-0-8014-3879-0.
- Taylor & Francis Group (2004). Europa World Year, Book 1. Europa publications. ISBN 978-1-85743-254-1.
- Клоков В. Я. Великий освободительный поход Красной Армии. (Освобождение Западной Украины и Западной Белоруссии).-Воронеж, 1940.
- Минаев В. Западная Белоруссия и Западная Украина под гнетом панской Польши.—М., 1939.
- Трайнин И.Национальное и социальное освобождение Западной Украины и Западной Белоруссии.—М., 1939.—80 с.
- Гiсторыя Беларусi. Том пяты.—Мінск, 2006.—с. 449–474
- Axell, Albert (2002). Russia's Heroes, 1941–45. Carroll & Graf Publishers. p. 247. ISBN 0-7867-1011-X.
- "United Nations member States – Growth in United Nations membership, 1945–present". Archived from the original on 12 July 2014.
- "The World Factbook". cia.gov. Retrieved 4 March 2016.
- Rausing, Sigrid (7 October 2012). "Belarus: inside Europe's last dictatorship". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 7 August 2014.
- "Belarus's Lukashenko: "Better a dictator than gay"". Berlin. Reuters. 4 March 2012.
...German Foreign Minister's branding him 'Europe's last dictator'
- "Profile: Alexander Lukashenko". BBC News. BBC. 9 January 2007. Retrieved 7 August 2014.
'..an authoritarian ruling style is characteristic of me [Lukashenko]'
- "Essential Background – Belarus". Human Rights Watch. 2005. Retrieved 26 March 2006.
- "Human rights by country – Belarus". Amnesty International Report 2007. Amnesty International. 2007. Archived from the original on 12 December 2007. Retrieved 22 December 2007.
- "Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights – Elections – Belarus". Retrieved 28 December 2010.
- "Belarus's election: What should the EU do about Belarus?". 27 December 2010. Retrieved 28 December 2010.
- "Foreign Secretary expresses UK concern following Belarus elections". Archived from the original on 13 May 2011. Retrieved 28 December 2010.
- Press Freedom Index 2013/2014, Reporters Without Borders, January 2014, archived from the original on 14 February 2014, retrieved 6 March 2014
- "The official Internet portal of the President of the Republic of Belarus. RusPDAVersion for Visually Impaired People".
- Zaprudnik 1993, p. 2
- Аб паходжанні назваў Белая і Чорная Русь (Eng. "About the Origins of the Names of White and Black Ruthenia"), Язэп Юхо (Joseph Juho), 1956.
- Minahan 1998, p. 35
- Vauchez, Dobson & Lapidge 2001, p. 163
- "Belarus: Reise- und Sicherheitshinweise". Auswärtiges Amt.
- "Reisadvies Belarus (Wit-Rusland)".
- de Courson 1879, p. 281
- Bely, Alies (2000). The chronicle of the White Russia: an essay on the history of one geographical name. Minsk, Belarus: Encyclopedix. ISBN 985-6599-12-1.
- Plokhy 2001, p. 327
- Philip G. Roeder (15 December 2011). Where Nation-States Come From: Institutional Change in the Age of Nationalism. ISBN 978-0-691-13467-3.
- Handbook of Language and Ethnic Identity: The Success-Failure Continuum in Language and Ethnic Identity Efforts. 13 April 2011. ISBN 978-0-19-983799-1.
- Richmond 1995, p. 260
- Ioffe, Grigory (25 February 2008). Understanding Belarus and How Western Foreign Policy Misses the Mark. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. p. 41. ISBN 0-7425-5558-5.
- "Law of the Republic of Belarus—About the name of the Republic of Belarus" (in Russian). Pravo—Law of the Republic of Belarus. 19 September 1991. Retrieved 6 October 2007.
- Ryder 1998, p. 183
- Zaprudnik 1993, pp. 4–5
- Treadgold & Ellison 1999, p. 230
- "Swedish government urged to change Belarus' official name". European Radio for Belarus. 13 July 2009. Retrieved 2 February 2010.
- Levy & Spilling 2009, p. 95
- "Belarus – Government". The World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency. 13 December 2007. Archived from the original on 11 December 2007. Retrieved 22 December 2007.
- Shaw, Ian; Jameson, Robert (2008). A Dictionary of Archaeology. Wiley. pp. 203–04. ISBN 978-0-470-75196-1.
- John Haywood, Historical Atlas, Ancient and Classical World (1998).
- Zaprudnik 1993, p. 7
- Robinson, Charles Henry (1917). The Conversion of Europe. Longmans, Green. pp. 491–92.
- Ermalovich, Mikola (1991). Pa sliadakh adnago mifa (Tracing one Myth). Minsk: Navuka i tekhnika. ISBN 978-5-343-00876-0.
- Zaprudnik 1993, p. 27
- Lerski, George Jan; Aleksander Gieysztor (1996). Historical Dictionary of Poland, 966–1945. Greenwood Press. pp. 181–82. ISBN 0-313-26007-9.
- Nowak, Andrzej (1 January 1997). "The Russo-Polish Historical Confrontation". Sarmatian Review XVII. Rice University. Archived from the original on 18 December 2007. Retrieved 22 December 2007.
- Rowell, S.C. (2005). "Baltic Europe". In Jones, Michael. The New Cambridge Medieval History (Vol. 6). Cambridge University Press. p. 710. ISBN 0-521-36290-3.
- "Belarusian": UCLA Language Materials Project, ucla.edu; accessed 4 March 2016.
- Scheuch, E.K.; David Sciulli (2000). Societies, Corporations and the Nation State. BRILL. p. 187. ISBN 90-04-11664-8.
- Birgerson 2002, p. 101
- Olson, Pappas & Pappas 1994, p. 95
- (in Russian) Воссоединение униатов и исторические судьбы Белорусского народа (Vossoyedineniye uniatov i istoričeskiye sud'bi Belorusskogo naroda), Pravoslavie portal
- Żytko, Russian policy ..., p551.
- D. Marples (1996). Belarus: From Soviet Rule to Nuclear Catastrophe. Palgrave Macmillan UK. p. 26. ISBN 978-0-230-37831-5.
- Birgerson 2002, pp. 105–106
- Ioffe, Grigory (25 February 2008). Understanding Belarus and How Western Foreign Policy Misses the Mark. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. p. 57. ISBN 0-7425-5558-5.
- "The Reconstruction of Nations".
- Marples, David (1999). Belarus: A Denationalized Nation. Routledge. p. 5. ISBN 90-5702-343-1.
- Sorge, Arndt (2005). The global and the local: understanding the dialectics of business systems. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780191535345.
- Minahan, James (1998). Miniature empires: a historical dictionary of the newly independent states. Greenwood Press. ISBN 978-0-313-30610-5.
- Nick Baron; Peter Gatrell (10 August 2004). "War, Population Displacement and State Formation in the Russian Borderlands 1914–1924". Homelands. Anthem Press. p. 19. ISBN 978-1-84331-385-4. Retrieved 18 September 2015.
- "Belarus history". Official website of the Republic of Belarus. Retrieved 17 March 2017.
- Andrew Wilson (2011). Belarus: The Last European Dictatorship. ISBN 978-0-300-13435-3.
- Snyder, Timothy (2010). Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin. Basic Books. p. 160. ISBN 0465002390
- Fedor, Helen (1995). "Belarus – Stalin and Russification". Belarus: A Country Study. Library of Congress. Retrieved 26 March 2006.
- "Belarus History and Culture". iExplore.com. Retrieved 26 March 2006.
- Fedor, Helen (1995). "Belarus- Perestroika". Belarus: A Country Study. Library of Congress. Retrieved 26 March 2007.
- Birgerson 2002, p. 99
- Fedor, Helen (1995). "Belarus – Prelude to Independence". Belarus: A Country Study. Library of Congress. Retrieved 22 December 2007.
- "World Factbook: Belarus" (TXT). Central Intelligence Agency. 20 October 1994. Retrieved 21 December 2007.
- Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (25 September 2012). "Standing up for Free and Fair Elections in Belarus". Government of Canada. Retrieved 7 January 2013.
- The Strange Death of Russia's Closest Alliance, Global Voices, 21 February 2017
- "Coordinates of the extreme points of the state frontier. Main Geographic Characteristics of the Republic of Belarus". Land of Ancestors. the Scientific and Production State Republican Unitary Enterprise "National Cadastre Agency" of the State Property Committee of the Republic of Belarus. 2011. Retrieved 11 September 2013.
- "Belarus – Geography". The World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency. 2007. Archived from the original on 14 November 2007. Retrieved 7 November 2007.
- "Key Facts". Press Service of the President of the Republic of Belarus. 2015.
- "Belarus: Window of Opportunity (see Table 15, page 66)" (PDF). United Nations. Archived (PDF) from the original on 1 October 2008. Retrieved 22 September 2008.
- Bell, Imogen (2002). Eastern Europe, Russia and Central Asia 2003. Taylor & Francis. p. 132. ISBN 1-85743-137-5.
- Zaprudnik 1993, p. xix
- Fedor, Helen (1995). "Belarus – Climate". Belarus: A Country Study. Library of Congress. Retrieved 22 December 2007.
- Rainsford, Sarah (26 April 2005). "Belarus cursed by Chernobyl". BBC News. Archived from the original on 24 April 2006. Retrieved 26 March 2006.
- "The United Nations and Chernobyl – The Republic of Belarus". United Nations. 2004. Archived from the original on 6 May 2008. Retrieved 4 October 2007.
- Smith, Marilyn. "Ecological reservation in Belarus fosters new approaches to soil remediation". International Atomic Energy Agency. Retrieved 19 December 2007.
- Larissa Titarenko (2011). "Country Report: Belarus Borders: Borders and policy in Belarus". University of Eastern Finland. p. 14. Retrieved 9 February 2017.
- "Lithuania's Cooperation with Belarus". Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Retrieved 19 December 2007.
- "Belarus climate information". Weatherbase. Retrieved 2 February 2016.
- "Profile: Alexander Lukashenko". BBC News. British Broadcasting Corporation. 9 January 2007. Archived from the original on 20 April 2010. Retrieved 30 April 2010.
- Jeffries, Ian (2004). The countries of the former Soviet Union at the turn of the twenty-first century: the Baltic and European states in transition. Routledge. p. 274. ISBN 0-415-25230-X.
- Constitution of Belarus Chapter 4, Art. 90 and 91
- "Belarus 1994 (rev. 2004)". Constitute. Retrieved 17 March 2015.
- "Section IV:The President, Parliament, Government, the Courts". Constitution of Belarus. Press Service of the President of the Republic of Belarus. 2004. Archived from the original on 17 December 2007. Retrieved 22 December 2007.
- "Deputy Prime Ministers of the Republic of Belarus". Council of Ministers of the Republic of Belarus. 2010. Archived from the original on 4 March 2010. Retrieved 21 April 2010.
- Wolfram Nordsieck (2012). "Belarus". Parties and Elections in Europe. Retrieved 18 March 2015.
- "SOVIET LOCAL GOVERNMENT". RUSSIA TODAY SOCIETY. Archived from the original on 21 February 2009. Retrieved 18 July 2010.
- "OSCE Report on the October 2004 parliamentary elections" (PDF). Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. December 2004. Retrieved 21 March 2007.
- "Belarus in the aftermath of the Presidential election of 19 March 2006" (PDF). Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. 11 April 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on 11 January 2012. Retrieved 25 May 2010.
- "Belarus rally marred by arrests". BBC News. 2 March 2006. Archived from the original on 13 March 2006. Retrieved 26 March 2006.
- Oliphant, Roland (25 December 2010). "Police guard threatened to rape Belarus Free Theatre director after election protest". The Daily Telegraph. London, UK. Archived from the original on 11 March 2011. Retrieved 22 April 2011.
- Belarus opposition leader Andrei Sannikov jailed, BBC News Online (14 May 2011)
- "Belarus: 7 presidential candidates face 15 years". Kyiv Post. 22 December 2010. Archived from the original on 19 January 2011. Retrieved 23 December 2010.
- Motlagh, Jason (7 July 2011). "Why Belarus' Dictator Is Not Fond of Applause". Time. Retrieved 8 July 2011.
- "2012 Human Rights Reports: Belarus". The US Department of State. The US Department of State. Retrieved 17 November 2013.
- "Snapshot of the Belarus Country Profile". Business Anti-Corruption Portal. GAN Integrity Solutions.
- "Doing Business 2014– Belarus". The World Bank & IFC. The World Bank & IFC.
- Mulvey, Stephen (10 September 2001). "Profile: European's last dictator?". BBC News. British Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 21 December 2007.
- "Belarus suspended from the Council of Europe". Press Service of the Council of Europe. 17 January 1997. Archived from the original on 26 April 2006. Retrieved 26 March 2006.
- "Opening Statement by Dr. Condoleezza Rice, Senate Foreign Relations Committee" (PDF). 18 January 2005. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 March 2006. Retrieved 26 March 2006.
- "At-a-glance: 'Outposts of tyranny'". BBC News. 19 January 2005. Retrieved 26 March 2006.
- "List of political prisoners | The Human Rights Center "Viasna"". Spring96.org. Retrieved 4 March 2016.
- "Why Ales Bialiatski is in jail?". Belarus: Civil Society Under Attack. Archived from the original on 18 March 2015. Retrieved 18 March 2015.
- "Lukashenka promises "serfdom" in villages". Charter '97. 28 May 2014.
- "Pańszczyzna u Łukaszenki. Prezydent Białorusi chce zakazać kołchoźnikom odchodzić z pracy" (in Polish). Gazeta Wyborcza. 2014.
- "In chase of upgrade: serfdom for woodworkers?". Belsat. 2012. Archived from the original on 26 July 2014.
- United States Government (2007). "Background Note: Belarus". United States State Department. Archived from the original on 14 November 2007. Retrieved 7 November 2007.
- AP; Reuters (10 December 2007). "Russia-Belarus Union Presidency Dismissed". The Moscow Times. Retrieved 13 December 2007.
- "Putin named PM of Belarus-Russia alliance". Associated Press. 27 May 2008. Archived from the original on 28 May 2008. Retrieved 4 March 2016.
- Radio Free Europe (2006). "CIS: Foreign Ministers, Heads Of State Gather In Minsk For Summit". Archived from the original on 16 November 2007. Retrieved 7 November 2007.
- "EU imposes Belarus travel ban". BBC News. BBC. 19 November 2002. Retrieved 3 December 2007.
- "Foreign Policy". Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus. 2007. Archived from the original on 17 February 2008. Retrieved 22 December 2007.
- "Belarus president visits Vatican". BBC News. British Broadcasting Corporation. 27 April 2009. Retrieved 30 April 2010.
- "U.S. Government Assistance FY 97 Annual Report". United States Embassy in Minsk, Belarus. 1998. Archived from the original on 18 December 2007. Retrieved 22 December 2007.
- "Belarus Democracy Act Will Help Cause of Freedom, Bush Says". USINO. United States State Department. 22 October 2007. Archived from the original on 16 October 2007. Retrieved 22 December 2007.
- "Relations between Belarus and the United States of America". Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus. 2006. Archived from the original on 5 December 2007. Retrieved 22 December 2007.
- "China's Xi promises Belarus $1 billion in loans". London, UK: Guardian. 7 May 2008. Retrieved 4 March 2016.
- Pan, Letian (6 December 2005). "China, Belarus agree to upgrade economic ties". Xinhua News Agency. Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 22 December 2007.
- "Syria and Belarus agree to promote trade". BBC News. BBC. 13 March 1998. Retrieved 22 December 2007.
- "Belarus-Syria report substantial progress in trade and economic relations". Press Service of the President of the Republic of Belarus. 31 August 2007. Archived from the original on 20 January 2008. Retrieved 22 December 2007.
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the RB (2007). "Membership of the Republic of Belarus in International Organizations". Archived from the original on 5 December 2007. Retrieved 4 November 2007.
- "Growth in United Nations membership, 1945–present". Department of Public Information. United Nations Organization. 3 July 2006. Archived from the original on 16 December 2007. Retrieved 22 December 2007.
- "EU eases sanctions on Belarus—Council of the European Union". tass.ru. 15 February 2016.
- "Leaders". Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Belarus. 2015. Retrieved 18 March 2015.
- "History" (in Russian). Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Belarus. 2006. Archived from the original on 17 December 2007. Retrieved 22 December 2007.
- Routledge, IISS Military Balance 2007, pp. 158–59
- Bykovsky, Pavel; Alexander Vasilevich (May 2001). "Military Development and the Armed Forces of Belarus". Moscow Defense Brief. Retrieved 9 October 2007.
- "Belarus – Military". The World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency. 2005. Archived from the original on 9 October 2007. Retrieved 9 October 2007.
- "Belarus and NATO". Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus. 2002. Archived from the original on 30 November 2007. Retrieved 9 October 2007.
- "North Atlantic Treaty Organization". The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus. 2009. Retrieved 30 April 2010.
- "NATO Council adopted individual partnership program with Belarus". The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus. 11 March 2002. Retrieved 30 April 2010.
- Laurie Walker (21 November 2010). "Nato and Belarus: partnership, past tensions and future possibilities". Archived from the original on 20 October 2013. Retrieved 25 November 2010.
- "Section I: Principles of the Constitutional System. Published 1994, amended in 1996". Constitution of Belarus. Press Service of the President of the Republic of Belarus. 2004. Archived from the original on 17 December 2007. Retrieved 22 December 2007.
- "Section V: Local government and self-government". Constitution of Belarus. Press Service of the President of the Republic of Belarus. 2004. Archived from the original on 5 November 2007. Retrieved 22 December 2007.
- "About Minsk". Minsk City Executive Committee. 16 December 2009. Retrieved 27 April 2010.
- "About Minsk". Minsk City Executive Committee. Retrieved 20 December 2007.
- World Bank. "Belarus: Prices, Markets, and Enterprise Reform," p. 1. World Bank, 1997; ISBN 0-8213-3976-1
- "Belarus in Figures, 2016".
- Kaare Dahl Martinsen (2002). "The Russian-Belarusian Union and the Near Abroad" (PDF). Norwegian Institute for Defence Studies. NATO. Archived (PDF) from the original on 27 November 2007. Retrieved 7 November 2007.
- "Russia may cut oil supplies to ally Belarus – Putin". Reuters. 25 October 2006. Retrieved 8 October 2007.
- "The World Factbook – Belarus – Economy". Central Intelligence Agency. 2006. Archived from the original on 9 October 2007. Retrieved 8 October 2007.
- Library of Congress (1994). "Belarus – Exports". Country Studies. Retrieved 4 November 2007.
- "Belarus – Industry". Country Studies. Library of Congress. 1995. Retrieved 8 October 2007.
- World Bank (2006). "Belarus – Country Brief 2003". Archived from the original on 10 December 2007. Retrieved 9 November 2007.
- Transition: The First Decade.
- Foreign trade in goods and services in Belarus up by 11.5% in January–October, Council of Ministers Archived 4 January 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
- The EU's Relationship With Belarus – Trade Archived 25 March 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
- "No Job? Pay Up. Belarus Imposes Fines for Being Unemployed – News". The Moscow Times.
- "Accessions – Belarus". Wto.org. Retrieved 29 April 2013.
- "Banknotes and Coins of the National Bank of the Republic of Belarus". National Bank of the Republic of Belarus.
- "History of the Belarusian ruble". National Bank of the Republic of Belarus. Retrieved 29 April 2013.
- "Belarus abandons pegging its currency to Russian ruble". English.pravda.ru. 23 August 2007. Retrieved 29 April 2013.
- "ISO 4217 AMENDMENT NUMBER 161" (DOC). Currency-iso.org. Retrieved 31 March 2016.
- "Международное обозначение белорусского рубля меняется на BYN после деноминации – Новости республики – Минский район-Минск-Новости Минска-Новости Минского района-Минский райисполком".
- "Указ Президент РБ 450 О проведении деноминации официальной денежной единицы Республики Беларусь от 04.11.2015 – Законодательство Беларуси 2016 год".
- "Новости – Официальный интернет-портал Президента Республики Беларусь".
- "Heritage Foundation's Index of Economic Freedom – Belarus". Archived from the original on 23 February 2007. Retrieved 18 March 2007.
- YURAS KARMANAU (25 May 2011). "Belarus devaluation spreads panic". Seattle Times. Retrieved 27 May 2011.
- With economy in tatters, Belarus appeals to IMF for rescue loan of up to $8 billion Archived 14 January 2014 at the Wayback Machine., Associated Press, 1 June 2011; retrieved 2 June 2011
- Belarus Appeals To IMF For $8bln Rescue Loan. Archived 7 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine. Associated Press, 1 June 2011; retrieved 2 June 2011
- "About Belarus – Population". United Nations Office in Belarus. 2003. Archived from the original on 17 October 2007. Retrieved 7 October 2007.
- "О демографической ситуации в январе-марте 2015 г" [About demographic situation in January–March 2015] (in Russian). Archived from the original on 4 May 2015.
- "Largest Cities of Belarus (2007)". World-gazetteer.com. Archived from the original on 1 October 2007. Retrieved 29 April 2013.
- "CIA World Factbook (2007) – Belarus – People". Archived from the original on 14 November 2007. Retrieved 7 November 2007.
- "International Programs: International Data Base". U.S. Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 8 February 2017. Retrieved 9 February 2017.
- "Languages across Europe". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 29 April 2013.
- "Tres de cada cuatro bielorrusos emplean en su vida cotidiana el ruso (Three of every four Belarusians use Russian in their daily lives)" (in Spanish). Retrieved 25 October 2009.
According to results announced today from an investigation by The Center for Information and Analysis of the Presidency of Belarus ... [f]or 72% of the population, Russian in the primary language used in everyday life ... According to the study, only 11.9% of inhabitants primarily speaks Belarusian, while the rest uses a mix of Russian and Belarusian. 29.4% ... speaks, reads, and writes in Belarusian, while 52.5% only speaks and reads it ... [O]ne in ten does not understand Belarusian [at all]. (quote translated)
- Gordon, Raymond G., Jr. (ed.), 2005. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Fifteenth edition. Dallas, TX: SIL International. Online version: Ethnologue.com.
- "Population classified by knowledge of the Belarusian and Russian languages by region and Minsk City". Belstat.gov.by. Retrieved 3 August 2017.
- "Religion and denominations in the Republic of Belarus" (PDF). Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus. Retrieved 17 February 2013.
- "Understanding Belarus and how Western Foreign Policy Misses the Mark".
- "Belarusian Religion statistics, definitions and sources". Nationmaster.com. Retrieved 29 April 2013.
- "Belarus – Religion". countrystudies.us.
- "Belarus, Roman Catholic Church may ink cooperation agreement – President". News.belta.by. 25 April 2009. Archived from the original on 26 March 2012. Retrieved 4 October 2012.
- Minsk Jewish Campus Jewish Belarus Archived 24 August 2013 at Archive.is; retrieved 9 July 2007.
- "The Slavianski Bazaar in Vitebsk amazes with its artistic atmosphere, popular artistes, hundreds of events and thousands of reasons to enjoy". sb.by. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
- "Belarusian National Culture". Embassy of the Republic of Belarus in the United States of America. Archived from the original on 10 February 2006. Retrieved 26 March 2006.
- "Belarusian Literature". yivoencyclopedia.org. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
- "Old Belarusian Poetry". Virtual Guide to Belarus. 1994. Archived from the original on 11 October 2007. Retrieved 9 October 2007.
- "Belarus: history", Britannica.com; accessed 4 March 2016.
- "About Nasha Niva newspaper". Nasha Niva.
- Tereshkovich, Pavel; Robert J. Valliere (2001). "The Belarusian Road to Modernity". International Journal of Sociology. Belarus:Between the East and the West (I). 31 (3): 78–89. JSTOR 20628625.
- Svetlana Alexievich: Voices from Big Utopia, alexievich.info; accessed 4 March 2016.
- Zou, Crystal (11 December 2003). "Ballets for Christmas". Shanghai Star. Archived from the original on 25 February 2005. Retrieved 20 December 2007.
- "Classical Music of Belarus". Belarusguide.com. Retrieved 29 April 2013.
- "Eurovision.tv". Eurovision.tv. Archived from the original on 4 May 2013. Retrieved 4 March 2016.
- National State Teleradiocompany"Belarus entry to the 2004 Eurovision Song Contest". Archived from the original on 24 February 2008. Retrieved 25 November 2006.
- "Шагал в Беларуси: игнорируемый, забытый и снова открытый". Archived from the original on 26 March 2016.
- "Атлас мировой живописи".
- "Belarusian traditional clothing". Belarusguide.com. Retrieved 29 April 2013.
- "Belarus – Ornament, Flags of the World". Fotw.fivestarflags.com. Retrieved 29 April 2013.
- Canadian Citizenship and Immigration – Cultures Profile Project – Eating the Belarusian Way Archived 20 March 2007 at the Wayback Machine. (1998); retrieved 21 March 2007.
- "NOC of Belarus".
- "Darya DOMRACHEVA".
- "Queen Victoria takes the throne determined to court further success". The Sydney Morning Herald.
- "ONI Country Profile: Belarus", OpenNet Initiative, 18 November 2010
- "Belarus – UNESCO World Heritage Centre". Archived from the original on 21 April 2006. Retrieved 26 March 2006.
- Birgerson, Susanne Michele (2002). After the Breakup of a Multi-Ethnic Empire. Praeger/Greenwood. ISBN 0-275-96965-7.
- Bennett, Brian M. The last dictatorship in Europe: Belarus under Lukashenko (Columbia University Press, 2011)
- de Courson, Barbara Frances Mary (1879). The Jesuits: their foundation and history, Volume 1. Benziger Brothers.
- Frear, Matthew. Belarus Under Lukashenka: Adaptive Authoritarianism (Routledge, 2015)
- Korosteleva, Elena A. "The European Union and Belarus: democracy promotion by technocratic means?." Democratization (2015): 1–21.
- Levy, Patricia; Spilling, Michael (2009). Belarus. New York: Benchmark Books. ISBN 0-7614-3411-9.
- Marples, David. 'Our Glorious Past': Lukashenka's Belarus and the Great Patriotic War (Columbia University Press, 2014)
- Minahan, James (1998). Miniature Empires: A Historical Dictionary of the Newly Independent States. Greenwood. ISBN 0-313-30610-9.
- Olson, James Stuart; Pappas, Lee Brigance; Pappas, Nicholas C.J. (1994). Ethnohistorical Dictionary of the Russian and Soviet Empires. Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-27497-5.
- Parker, Stewart. The Last Soviet Republic: Alexander Lukashenko's Belarus (Trafford Publishing, 2007)
- Plokhy, Serhii (2001). The Cossacks and Religion in Early Modern Ukraine. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-924739-0.
- Richmond, Yale (1995). From Da to Yes: Understanding the East Europeans. Intercultural Press. ISBN 1-877864-30-7.
- Rudling, Pers Anders. The Rise and Fall of Belarusian Nationalism, 1906–1931 (University of Pittsburgh Press; 2014) 436 pages
- Ryder, Andrew (1998). Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States. Routledge. ISBN 1-85743-058-1.
- Silitski, Vitali & Jan Zaprudnik (2010). The A to Z of Belarus. Scarecrow Press.
- Snyder, Timothy. (2004) The Reconstruction of Nations: Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, Belarus, 1569–1999 excerpt and text search
- Szporluk, Roman (2000). Russia, Ukraine, and the Breakup of the Soviet Union. Hoover Institution Press. ISBN 0-8179-9542-0.
- Treadgold, Donald; Ellison, Herbert J. (1999). Twentieth Century Russia. Westview Press. ISBN 0-8133-3672-4.
- Vauchez, André; Dobson, Richard Barrie; Lapidge, Michael (2001). Encyclopedia of the Middle Ages. Routledge. ISBN 1-57958-282-6.
- Wilson, Andrew. Belarus: The last dictatorship in Europe (Yale University Press, 2011)
- Zaprudnik, Jan (1993). Belarus: At A Crossroads In History. Westview Press. ISBN 0-8133-1794-0. Archived from the original on 2 May 2016.
- President's official site
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- Website of the Republic of Belarus by BelTA news agency
- "Belarus". The World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency.
- Belarus at Curlie (based on DMOZ)
- FAO Country Profiles: Belarus
- Geographic data related to Belarus at OpenStreetMap
- A Visit to Europe’s Last Dictatorship // Dave Hazzan, vice.com