San Marino the Republic of San Marino known as the Most Serene Republic of San Marino, is an enclaved microstate surrounded by Italy, situated on the Italian Peninsula on the northeastern side of the Apennine Mountains. Its size is just over 61 km2, with a population of 33,562, its capital is the City of San Marino and its largest settlement is Dogana in the municipality of Serravalle. San Marino has the smallest population of all the members of the Council of Europe. With Italian being the official language, along with strong financial and ethno-cultural connections, San Marino maintains close ties to its much larger neighbour; the country derives its name from Saint Marinus, a stonemason originating from the Roman colony on the island of Rab, in modern-day Croatia. In AD 257, according to legend, participated in the reconstruction of Rimini's city walls after their destruction by Liburnian pirates. Marinus went on to found an independent monastic community on Monte Titano in AD 301. San Marino is governed by the Constitution of San Marino, a series of six books written in Latin in the late 16th century, that dictate the country's political system, among other matters.
The country is considered to have the earliest written governing documents, or constitution, still in effect. The country's economy relies on finance, industry and tourism, it is among one of the wealthiest countries in the world in terms of GDP, with a figure comparable to the most developed European regions. San Marino is considered to have a stable economy, with one of the lowest unemployment rates in Europe, no national debt and a budget surplus, has the world's highest rate of car ownership, being the only country with more vehicles than people. San Marino is one of the only three countries in the world to be surrounded by a single other country, it is the third smallest country in Europe, with only Vatican Monaco being smaller. It is the fifth smallest country in the world. Saint Marinus left the island of Rab in present-day Croatia with his lifelong friend Leo, went to the city of Rimini as a stonemason. After the Diocletianic Persecution following his Christian sermons, he escaped to the nearby Monte Titano, where he built a small church and thus founded what is now the city and state of San Marino, sometimes still called the "Titanic Republic".
The official date of the founding of what is now known as the Republic is 3 September 301. In 1320 the community of Chiesanuova chose to join the country. In 1463 San Marino was extended with the communities of Faetano, Fiorentino and Serravalle, after which the country's border have remained unchanged. In 1631, its independence was recognized by the Papacy; the advance of Napoleon's army in 1797 presented a brief threat to the independence of San Marino, but the country was saved from losing its liberty thanks to one of its Regents, Antonio Onofri, who managed to gain the respect and friendship of Napoleon. Thanks to his intervention, Napoleon, in a letter delivered to Gaspard Monge and commissary of the French Government for Science and Art, promised to guarantee and protect the independence of the Republic offering to extend its territory according to its needs; the offer was declined by the Regents. During the phase of the Italian unification process in the 19th century, San Marino served as a refuge for many people persecuted because of their support for unification.
In recognition of this support, Giuseppe Garibaldi accepted the wish of San Marino not to be incorporated into the new Italian state. The government of San Marino made United States President Abraham Lincoln an honorary citizen, he wrote in reply, saying that the republic proved that "government founded on republican principles is capable of being so administered as to be secure and enduring."During World War I, when Italy declared war on Austria-Hungary on 23 May 1915, San Marino remained neutral and Italy adopted a hostile view of Sammarinese neutrality, suspecting that San Marino could harbour Austrian spies who could be given access to its new radiotelegraph station. Italy tried to forcibly establish a detachment of Carabinieri in the republic and cut the republic's telephone lines when it did not comply. Two groups of ten volunteers joined Italian forces in the fighting on the Italian front, the first as combatants and the second as a medical corps operating a Red Cross field hospital.
The existence of this hospital caused Austria-Hungary to suspend diplomatic relations with San Marino. Following the conclusion of World War I, San Marino suffered from high rates of unemployment and inflation, leading to increased tensions between the lower and middle classes; the latter, fearing that the moderate government of San Marino would make concessions to the lower class majority, began to show support for the Sammarinese Fascist Party, founded in 1922 and styled off their Italian counterpart. PFS rule lasted from 1923 to 1943, during this time, they sought support from Benito Mussolini's fascist government in Italy. During World War II, San Marino remained neutral, although it was wrongly reported in an article from The New York Times that it had declared war on the United Kingdom on 17 September 19
The Russian ruble or rouble is the currency of the Russian Federation, the two recognised republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and the two unrecognised republics of Donetsk and Luhansk. The ruble is subdivided into 100 kopeks; the ruble was the currency of the Russian Empire and of the Soviet Union. However, today only Russia and Transnistria use currencies with the same name; the ruble was the world's first decimal currency: it was decimalised in 1704 when the ruble became equal to 100 kopeks. In 1992 the Soviet ruble was replaced with the Russian ruble at the rate 1 SUR = 1 RUR. In 1998 preceding the financial crisis, the Russian ruble was redenominated with the new code "RUB" and was exchanged at the rate of 1 RUB = 1,000 RUR; the ruble is the oldest national currency after the Pound sterling, the world's first decimal currency. The ruble has been used in the Russian territories since the 13th century; the modern Russian ruble was created in December 1991 and used in parallel with the Soviet ruble, which remained in circulation until September 1993.
All Soviet coins issued in 1961–1991 as well as 1-, 2- and 3-kopek coins, issued before 1961, formally remained legal tender until 31 December 1998, in 1999–2001 they were exchanged for Russian rubles at the ratio of 1000:1. Following the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Soviet ruble remained the currency of the Russian Federation until 1992. A new set of coins was issued in 1992 and a new set of banknotes was issued in the name of Bank of Russia in 1993; the Russian ruble with the ISO 4217 code RUR and number 810 replaced the Soviet ruble at the rate 1 SUR = 1 RUR. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the Russian Federation introduced new coins in 1992 in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 rubles; the coins depict the double-headed eagle without a crown and globus cruciger above the legend "Банк России". It is the same eagle that the artist Ivan Bilibin painted after the February Revolution as the coat of arms for the Russian Republic; the 1- and 5-ruble coins were minted in brass-clad steel, the 10- and 20-ruble coins in cupro-nickel, the 50- and 100-ruble coins were bimetallic.
In 1993, aluminium-bronze 50-ruble coins and cupro-nickel-zinc 100-ruble coins were issued, the material of 10- and 20-ruble coins was changed to nickel-plated steel. In 1995 the material of 50-ruble coins was changed to brass-plated steel, but the coins were minted with the old date 1993; as high inflation persisted, the lowest denominations disappeared from circulation and the other denominations became used. During this period the commemorative one-ruble coin was issued, it is identical in size and weight to a 5-Swiss franc coin. For this reason, there have been several instances of ruble coins being used on a large scale to defraud automated vending machines in Switzerland. In 1961, new State Treasury notes were introduced for 1, 3 and 5 rubles, along with new State Bank notes worth 10, 25, 50 and 100 rubles. In 1991, the State Bank took over production of 1-, 3- and 5-ruble notes and introduced 200-, 500- and 1,000-ruble notes, although the 25-ruble note was no longer issued. In 1992, a final issue of notes was made bearing the name of the USSR before the Russian Federation introduced 5,000- and 10,000-ruble notes.
These were followed by 50,000-ruble notes in 1993, 100,000 rubles in 1995 and 500,000 rubles in 1997. Since the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russian ruble banknotes and coins have been notable for their lack of portraits, which traditionally were included under both the Tsarist and Communist regimes. With the issue of the 500-ruble note depicting a statue of Peter I and the 1,000-ruble note depicting a statue of Yaroslav, the lack of recognizable faces on the currency has been alleviated. In 1998, following the financial crisis, the Russian ruble was redenominated with the new ISO 4217 code "RUB" and number 643, was exchanged at the rate of 1 RUB = 1,000 RUR; the redenomination was an administrative step that reduced the unwieldiness of the old ruble but occurred on the brink of the 1998 Russian financial crisis. The ruble lost 70% of its value against the US dollar in the six months following this financial crisis. A currency symbol was used for the ruble between the 18th century; the symbol consisted of the Russian letters "Р" and "У".
The symbol was placed over the amount number it belonged to. This symbol, fell into disuse by the mid-19th century. No official symbol was used during the final years of the Empire, nor was one introduced in the Soviet Union; the characters R and руб. were used and remain in use today, though they are not official. In July 2007, the Central Bank of Russia announced that it would decide on a symbol for the ruble and would test 13 symbols; this included the symbol РР. However, one more symbol, a Р with a horizontal stroke below the top similar to the Philippine peso sign, was proposed unofficially. Proponents of the new sign claimed that it is simple and similar to other currency signs; this symbol is similar to the Armenian letter ք or the Latin letter Ꝑ. On 11 December 2013, the official symbol for the ruble became, a Cyrillic letter Er with a single added horizontal stroke, though the abbreviation "руб." is in
Money is any item or verifiable record, accepted as payment for goods and services and repayment of debts, such as taxes, in a particular country or socio-economic context. The main functions of money are distinguished as: a medium of exchange, a unit of account, a store of value and sometimes, a standard of deferred payment. Any item or verifiable record that fulfils these functions can be considered as money. Money is an emergent market phenomenon establishing a commodity money, but nearly all contemporary money systems are based on fiat money. Fiat money, like any note of debt, is without use value as a physical commodity, it derives its value by being declared by a government to be legal tender. Counterfeit money can cause good money to lose its value; the money supply of a country consists of currency and, depending on the particular definition used, one or more types of bank money. Bank money, which consists only of records, forms by far the largest part of broad money in developed countries.
The word "money" is believed to originate from a temple of Juno, on Capitoline, one of Rome's seven hills. In the ancient world Juno was associated with money; the temple of Juno Moneta at Rome was the place. The name "Juno" may derive from the Etruscan goddess Uni and "Moneta" either from the Latin word "monere" or the Greek word "moneres". In the Western world, a prevalent term for coin-money has been specie, stemming from Latin in specie, meaning'in kind'; the use of barter-like methods may date back to at least 100,000 years ago, though there is no evidence of a society or economy that relied on barter. Instead, non-monetary societies operated along the principles of gift economy and debt; when barter did in fact occur, it was between either complete strangers or potential enemies. Many cultures around the world developed the use of commodity money; the Mesopotamian shekel was a unit of weight, relied on the mass of something like 160 grains of barley. The first usage of the term came from Mesopotamia circa 3000 BC.
Societies in the Americas, Asia and Australia used shell money – the shells of the cowry. According to Herodotus, the Lydians were the first people to introduce the use of gold and silver coins, it is thought by modern scholars that these first stamped coins were minted around 650–600 BC. The system of commodity money evolved into a system of representative money; this occurred because gold and silver merchants or banks would issue receipts to their depositors – redeemable for the commodity money deposited. These receipts became accepted as a means of payment and were used as money. Paper money or banknotes were first used in China during the Song dynasty; these banknotes, known as "jiaozi", evolved from promissory notes, used since the 7th century. However, they did not displace commodity money, were used alongside coins. In the 13th century, paper money became known in Europe through the accounts of travelers, such as Marco Polo and William of Rubruck. Marco Polo's account of paper money during the Yuan dynasty is the subject of a chapter of his book, The Travels of Marco Polo, titled "How the Great Kaan Causeth the Bark of Trees, Made Into Something Like Paper, to Pass for Money All Over his Country."
Banknotes were first issued in Europe by Stockholms Banco in 1661, were again used alongside coins. The gold standard, a monetary system where the medium of exchange are paper notes that are convertible into pre-set, fixed quantities of gold, replaced the use of gold coins as currency in the 17th–19th centuries in Europe; these gold standard notes were made legal tender, redemption into gold coins was discouraged. By the beginning of the 20th century all countries had adopted the gold standard, backing their legal tender notes with fixed amounts of gold. After World War II and the Bretton Woods Conference, most countries adopted fiat currencies that were fixed to the U. S. dollar. The U. S. dollar was in turn fixed to gold. In 1971 the U. S. government suspended the convertibility of the U. S. dollar to gold. After this many countries de-pegged their currencies from the U. S. dollar, most of the world's currencies became unbacked by anything except the governments' fiat of legal tender and the ability to convert the money into goods via payment.
According to proponents of modern money theory, fiat money is backed by taxes. By imposing taxes, states create demand for the currency. In Money and the Mechanism of Exchange, William Stanley Jevons famously analyzed money in terms of four functions: a medium of exchange, a common measure of value, a standard of value, a store of value. By 1919, Jevons's four functions of money were summarized in the couplet: Money's a matter of functions four, A Medium, a Measure, a Standard, a Store; this couplet would become popular in macroeconomics textbooks. Most modern textbooks now list only three functions, that of medium of exchange, unit of account, store of value, not considering a standard of deferred payment as a distinguished function, but rather subsuming it in the others. There have been many historical disputes regarding the combination of money's functions, some arguing that they need more separation and that a s
Belgium the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in Western Europe. It is bordered by the Netherlands to the north, Germany to the east, Luxembourg to the southeast, France to the southwest, the North Sea to the northwest, it has a population of more than 11.4 million. The capital and largest city is Brussels; the sovereign state is a federal constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system. Its institutional organisation is structured on both regional and linguistic grounds, it is divided into three autonomous regions: Flanders in the north, Wallonia in the south, the Brussels-Capital Region. Brussels is the smallest and most densely populated region, as well as the richest region in terms of GDP per capita. Belgium is home to two main linguistic groups or Communities: the Dutch-speaking Flemish Community, which constitutes about 59 percent of the population, the French-speaking Community, which comprises about 40 percent of all Belgians. A small German-speaking Community, numbering around one percent, exists in the East Cantons.
The Brussels-Capital Region is bilingual, although French is the dominant language. Belgium's linguistic diversity and related political conflicts are reflected in its political history and complex system of governance, made up of six different governments. Belgium was part of an area known as the Low Countries, a somewhat larger region than the current Benelux group of states that included parts of northern France and western Germany, its name is derived after the Roman province of Gallia Belgica. From the end of the Middle Ages until the 17th century, the area of Belgium was a prosperous and cosmopolitan centre of commerce and culture. Between the 16th and early 19th centuries, Belgium served as the battleground between many European powers, earning the moniker the "Battlefield of Europe", a reputation strengthened by both world wars; the country emerged in 1830 following the Belgian Revolution. Belgium participated in the Industrial Revolution and, during the course of the 20th century, possessed a number of colonies in Africa.
The second half of the 20th century was marked by rising tensions between the Dutch-speaking and the French-speaking citizens fueled by differences in language and culture and the unequal economic development of Flanders and Wallonia. This continuing antagonism has led to several far-reaching reforms, resulting in a transition from a unitary to a federal arrangement during the period from 1970 to 1993. Despite the reforms, tensions between the groups have remained, if not increased. Unemployment in Wallonia is more than double that of Flanders. Belgium is one of the six founding countries of the European Union and hosts the official seats of the European Commission, the Council of the European Union, the European Council, as well as a seat of the European Parliament in the country's capital, Brussels. Belgium is a founding member of the Eurozone, NATO, OECD, WTO, a part of the trilateral Benelux Union and the Schengen Area. Brussels hosts several of the EU's official seats as well as the headquarters of many major international organizations such as NATO.
Belgium is a developed country, with an advanced high-income economy. It has high standards of living, quality of life, education, is categorized as "very high" in the Human Development Index, it ranks as one of the safest or most peaceful countries in the world. The name "Belgium" is derived from Gallia Belgica, a Roman province in the northernmost part of Gaul that before Roman invasion in 100 BC, was inhabited by the Belgae, a mix of Celtic and Germanic peoples. A gradual immigration by Germanic Frankish tribes during the 5th century brought the area under the rule of the Merovingian kings. A gradual shift of power during the 8th century led the kingdom of the Franks to evolve into the Carolingian Empire; the Treaty of Verdun in 843 divided the region into Middle and West Francia and therefore into a set of more or less independent fiefdoms which, during the Middle Ages, were vassals either of the King of France or of the Holy Roman Emperor. Many of these fiefdoms were united in the Burgundian Netherlands of the 15th centuries.
Emperor Charles V extended the personal union of the Seventeen Provinces in the 1540s, making it far more than a personal union by the Pragmatic Sanction of 1549 and increased his influence over the Prince-Bishopric of Liège. The Eighty Years' War divided the Low Countries into the northern United Provinces and the Southern Netherlands; the latter were ruled successively by the Spanish and the Austrian Habsburgs and comprised most of modern Belgium. This was the theatre of most Franco-Spanish and Franco-Austrian wars during the 17th and 18th centuries. Following the campaigns of 1794 in the French Revolutionary Wars, the Low Countries—including territories that were never nominally under Habsburg rule, such as the Prince-Bishopric of Liège—were annexed by the French First Republic, ending Austrian rule in the region; the reunification of the Low Countries as the United Kingdom of the Netherlands occurred at the dissolution of the First French Empire in 1815, after the defeat of Napo
The euro is the official currency of 19 of the 28 member states of the European Union. This group of states is known as the eurozone or euro area, counts about 343 million citizens as of 2019; the euro is the second largest and second most traded currency in the foreign exchange market after the United States dollar. The euro is subdivided into 100 cents; the currency is used by the institutions of the European Union, by four European microstates that are not EU members, as well as unilaterally by Montenegro and Kosovo. Outside Europe, a number of special territories of EU members use the euro as their currency. Additionally, 240 million people worldwide as of 2018 use currencies pegged to the euro; the euro is the second largest reserve currency as well as the second most traded currency in the world after the United States dollar. As of August 2018, with more than €1.2 trillion in circulation, the euro has one of the highest combined values of banknotes and coins in circulation in the world, having surpassed the U.
S. dollar. The name euro was adopted on 16 December 1995 in Madrid; the euro was introduced to world financial markets as an accounting currency on 1 January 1999, replacing the former European Currency Unit at a ratio of 1:1. Physical euro coins and banknotes entered into circulation on 1 January 2002, making it the day-to-day operating currency of its original members, by March 2002 it had replaced the former currencies. While the euro dropped subsequently to US$0.83 within two years, it has traded above the U. S. dollar since the end of 2002, peaking at US$1.60 on 18 July 2008. In late 2009, the euro became immersed in the European sovereign-debt crisis, which led to the creation of the European Financial Stability Facility as well as other reforms aimed at stabilising and strengthening the currency; the euro is managed and administered by the Frankfurt-based European Central Bank and the Eurosystem. As an independent central bank, the ECB has sole authority to set monetary policy; the Eurosystem participates in the printing and distribution of notes and coins in all member states, the operation of the eurozone payment systems.
The 1992 Maastricht Treaty obliges most EU member states to adopt the euro upon meeting certain monetary and budgetary convergence criteria, although not all states have done so. The United Kingdom and Denmark negotiated exemptions, while Sweden turned down the euro in a 2003 referendum, has circumvented the obligation to adopt the euro by not meeting the monetary and budgetary requirements. All nations that have joined the EU since 1993 have pledged to adopt the euro in due course. Since 1 January 2002, the national central banks and the ECB have issued euro banknotes on a joint basis. Euro banknotes do not show. Eurosystem NCBs are required to accept euro banknotes put into circulation by other Eurosystem members and these banknotes are not repatriated; the ECB issues 8% of the total value of banknotes issued by the Eurosystem. In practice, the ECB's banknotes are put into circulation by the NCBs, thereby incurring matching liabilities vis-à-vis the ECB; these liabilities carry interest at the main refinancing rate of the ECB.
The other 92% of euro banknotes are issued by the NCBs in proportion to their respective shares of the ECB capital key, calculated using national share of European Union population and national share of EU GDP weighted. The euro is divided into 100 cents. In Community legislative acts the plural forms of euro and cent are spelled without the s, notwithstanding normal English usage. Otherwise, normal English plurals are sometimes used, with many local variations such as centime in France. All circulating coins have a common side showing the denomination or value, a map in the background. Due to the linguistic plurality in the European Union, the Latin alphabet version of euro is used and Arabic numerals. For the denominations except the 1-, 2- and 5-cent coins, the map only showed the 15 member states which were members when the euro was introduced. Beginning in 2007 or 2008 the old map is being replaced by a map of Europe showing countries outside the Union like Norway, Belarus, Russia or Turkey.
The 1-, 2- and 5-cent coins, keep their old design, showing a geographical map of Europe with the 15 member states of 2002 raised somewhat above the rest of the map. All common sides were designed by Luc Luycx; the coins have a national side showing an image chosen by the country that issued the coin. Euro coins from any member state may be used in any nation that has adopted the euro; the coins are issued in denominations of €2, €1, 50c, 20c, 10c, 5c, 2c, 1c. To avoid the use of the two smallest coins, some cash transactions are rounded to the nearest five cents in the Netherlands and Ireland and in Finland; this practice is discouraged by the Commission, as is the practice of certain shops of refusing to accept high-value euro notes. Commemorative coins with €2 face value have been issued with changes to the design of the national side of the coin; these include both issued coins, such as the €2 commemorative coin for the fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome, nationally i
Monaco the Principality of Monaco, is a sovereign city-state and microstate on the French Riviera in Western Europe. France borders the country on three sides. Monaco has an area of 2.020 km2, making it the second-smallest country in the world after the Vatican. Its population was about 38,400 based on the last census of 2016. With 19,009 inhabitants per km², it is the most densely-populated sovereign state in the world. Monaco has a land border of 5.47 km, a coastline of 3.83 km, a width that varies between 1,700 and 349 m. The highest point in the country is a narrow pathway named Chemin des Révoires on the slopes of Mont Agel, in the Les Révoires Ward, 161 metres above sea level. Monaco's most populous Quartier is Monte Carlo and the most populous Ward is Larvotto/Bas Moulins. Through land reclamation, Monaco's land mass has expanded by 20 percent. Monaco is known as a playground for the famous, due to its tax laws. In 2014, it was noted. Monaco is a principality governed under a form of constitutional monarchy, with Prince Albert II as head of state.
Although Prince Albert II is a constitutional monarch, he wields immense political power. The House of Grimaldi has ruled Monaco, with brief interruptions, since 1297; the official language is French, but Monégasque and English are spoken and understood. The state's sovereignty was recognized by the Franco-Monegasque Treaty of 1861, with Monaco becoming a full United Nations voting member in 1993. Despite Monaco's independence and separate foreign policy, its defense is the responsibility of France. However, Monaco does maintain two small military units. Economic development was spurred in the late 19th century with the opening of the country's first casino, Monte Carlo, a railway connection to Paris. Since Monaco's mild climate and gambling facilities have contributed to the principality's status as a tourist destination and recreation centre for the rich. In more recent years, Monaco has become a major banking centre and has sought to diversify its economy into the services sector and small, high-value-added, non-polluting industries.
The state has no income tax, low business taxes, is well known for being a tax haven. It is the host of the annual street circuit motor race Monaco Grand Prix, one of the original Grands Prix of Formula One; the principality has a club football team. Monaco is not formally a part of the European Union, but it participates in certain EU policies, including customs and border controls. Through its relationship with France, Monaco uses the euro as its sole currency. Monaco joined the Council of Europe in 2004, it is a member of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie. Monaco's name comes from the nearby 6th-century BC Phocaean Greek colony. Referred to by the Ligurians as Monoikos, from the Greek "μόνοικος", "single house", from "μόνος" "alone, single" + "οἶκος" "house", which bears the sense of a people either settled in a "single habitation" or of "living apart" from others. According to an ancient myth, Hercules passed through the Monaco area and turned away the previous gods; as a result, a temple was constructed there, the temple of Hercules Monoikos.
Because the only temple of this area was the "House" of Hercules, the city was called Monoikos. It ended up in the hands of the Holy Roman Empire. An ousted branch of a Genoese family, the Grimaldi, contested it for a hundred years before gaining control. Though the Republic of Genoa would last until the 19th century, they allowed the Grimaldi family to keep Monaco, both France and Spain left it alone for hundreds of years. France did not annex it until the French Revolution, but after the defeat of Napoleon it was put under the care of the Kingdom of Sardinia. In the 19th century, when Sardinia became a part of Italy, the region came under French influence again but France allowed it to remain independent. Like France, Monaco was overrun by the Axis powers during the Second World War and for a short time was administered by Italy the Third Reich, before being liberated. Although the occupation lasted for just a short time, it meant the deportation of the Jewish population and execution of several resistance members from Monaco.
Since Monaco has been independent. It has taken some steps towards integration with the European Union. Following a land grant from Emperor Henry VI in 1191, Monaco was refounded in 1215 as a colony of Genoa. Monaco was first ruled by a member of the House of Grimaldi in 1297, when Francesco Grimaldi, known as "Il Malizia", his men captured the fortress protecting the Rock of Monaco while dressed as Franciscan monks—a monaco in Italian, although this is a coincidence as the area was known by this name. Francesco, was evicted only a few years afterwards by the Genoese forces, the struggle over "the Rock" continued for another century; the Grimaldi family was Genoese and the struggle was something of a family feud. However, the Genoese became engaged in other conflicts, in the late 1300s Genoa became involved in a conflict with the Crown of Aragon over Corsica; the Crown of Aragon became a part of Spain through marriage and other parts drifted into various pieces of other
Belarus the Republic of Belarus known by its Russian name Byelorussia or Belorussia, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe bordered by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital and most populous city is Minsk. Over 40% of its 207,600 square kilometres is forested, its major economic sectors are manufacturing. Until the 20th century, different states at various times controlled the lands of modern-day Belarus, including the Principality of Polotsk, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Russian Empire. In the aftermath of the 1917 Russian Revolution, Belarus declared independence as the Belarusian People's Republic, 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. Belarus lost 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, 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, during the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Belarus declared independence on 25 August 1991. Alexander Lukashenko has served as the country's first 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 criticized as unfair. Belarus is the last country in Europe using the death penalty. Belarus's Democracy Index rating is the lowest in Europe, the country is labelled as "not free" by Freedom House, as "repressed" in the Index of Economic Freedom, 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. 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 and Ukrainians. Since a referendum in 1995, the country has had two official languages: 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.
Belarus is a member of the United Nations since its founding, the Commonwealth of Independent States, CSTO, EEU, the Non-Aligned Movement. Belarus has shown no aspirations for joining the European Union but maintains a bilateral relationship with the organisation, participates in two EU projects: the Eastern Partnership and the Baku Initiative; the name Belarus is 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, populated by Slavs, Christianized early, as opposed to Black Ruthenia, 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 had been referred to as "White Rus'"; the name Rus is conflated with its Latin forms Russia and Ruthenia, thus Belarus is referred to as White Russia or White Ruthenia.
The name first appeared in Latin medieval literature. In some languages, including German and Dutch, the country is called "White Russia" to this day; 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." The first known use of White Russia to refer to Belarus was in the late-16th century by Englishman Sir Jerome Horsey, 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 first rose in the days of the Russian Empire, the Russian Tsar was styled "the Tsar of All the Russias"