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"
The Oginski Canal is a canal in Belarus which connects Yaselda River and Shchara River. Its length is 54 km, its construction was started in 1765 by count Michał Kazimierz Ogiński, hence the name
Grand Duchy of Lithuania
The Grand Duchy of Lithuania was a European state that lasted from the 13th century to 1795, when the territory was partitioned among the Russian Empire, the Kingdom of Prussia and Austria. The state was founded by one of the polytheistic Baltic tribes from Aukštaitija; the Grand Duchy expanded to include large portions of the former Kievan Rus' and other Slavic lands, including what is now Belarus and parts of Ukraine and Russia. At its greatest extent, in the 15th century, it was the largest state in Europe, it was a multi-ethnic and multi-confessional state, with great diversity in languages and cultural heritage. Consolidation of the Lithuanian lands began in the late 12th century. Mindaugas, the first ruler of the Grand Duchy, was crowned as Catholic King of Lithuania in 1253; the pagan state was targeted in the religious crusade by the Teutonic Knights and the Livonian Order. The multi-ethnic and multi-confessional state emerged only at the late reign of Gediminas and continued to expand under his son Algirdas.
Algirdas's successor Jogaila signed the Union of Krewo in 1386, bringing two major changes in the history of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania: conversion to Catholicism and establishment of a dynastic union between the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland. The reign of Vytautas the Great marked both the greatest territorial expansion of the Grand Duchy and the defeat of the Teutonic Knights in the Battle of Grunwald in 1410, it marked the rise of the Lithuanian nobility. After Vytautas's death, Lithuania's relationship with the Kingdom of Poland deteriorated. Lithuanian noblemen, including the Radvila family, attempted to break the personal union with Poland. However, unsuccessful wars with the Grand Duchy of Moscow forced the union to remain intact; the Union of Lublin of 1569 created a new state, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. In the federation, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania maintained its political distinctiveness and had separate government, laws and treasury; the federation was terminated by the passing of the Constitution of 3 May 1791, when there was supposed to be now a single country, the Commonwealth of Poland, under one monarch and one parliament.
Shortly afterward, the unitary character of the state was confirmed by adopting the Reciprocal Guarantee of Two Nations. However, the newly-reformed Commonwealth was invaded by Russia in 1792 and partitioned between the neighbours, with a truncated state remaining only nominally independent. After the Kościuszko Uprising, the territory was partitioned among the Russian Empire, the Kingdom of Prussia and Austria in 1795; the Statutes of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania have the complete name of the state as the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and Samogitia. The title of "grand duchy" was applied to Lithuania from the 14th century onward. In other languages, the grand duchy is referred to as: Belarusian: Вялікае Княства Літоўскае German: Großfürstentum Litauen Estonian: Leedu Suurvürstiriik Latin: Magnus Ducatus Lituaniae Latvian: Lieitija or Lietuvas Lielkņaziste Lithuanian: Lietuvos Didžioji Kunigaikštystė Old literary Lithuanian: Didi Kunigystė Lietuvos Polish: Wielkie Księstwo Litewskie Russian: Великое княжество Литовское Ruthenian: Великое князство Литовское Ukrainian: Велике князiвство Литовське The first written reference to Lithuania is found in the Quedlinburg Chronicle, which dates from 1009.
In the 12th century, Slavic chronicles refer to Lithuania as one of the areas attacked by the Rus'. Pagan Lithuanians paid tribute to Polotsk, but they soon grew in strength and organized their own small-scale raids. At some point between 1180 and 1183 the situation began to change, the Lithuanians started to organize sustainable military raids on the Slavic provinces, raiding the Principality of Polotsk as well as Pskov, threatening Novgorod; the sudden spark of military raids marked consolidation of the Lithuanian lands in Aukštaitija. The Livonian Order and Teutonic Knights, crusading military orders, were established in Riga in 1202 and in Prussia in 1226; the Christian orders posed a significant threat to pagan Baltic tribes and further galvanized the formation of the state. The peace treaty with Galicia–Volhynia of 1219 provides evidence of cooperation between Lithuanians and Samogitians; this treaty lists 21 Lithuanian dukes, including five senior Lithuanian dukes from Aukštaitija and several dukes from Žemaitija.
Although they had battled in the past, the Lithuanians and the Žemaičiai now faced a common enemy. Živinbudas had the most authority and at least several dukes were from the same families. The formal acknowledgment of common interests and the establishment of a hierarchy among the signatories of the treaty foreshadowed the emergence of the state. Mindaugas, the duke of southern Lithuania, was among the five senior dukes mentioned in the treaty with Galicia–Volhynia; the Livonian Rhymed Chronicle, reports that by the mid-1230s, Mindaugas had acquired supreme power in the whole of Lithuania. In 1236, the Samogitians, led by Vykintas, defeated the Livonian Order in the Battle of Saule; the Order was forced to become a branch of the Teutonic Knights in Prussia, making Samogitia, a strip of land that separated Livonia from Prussia, the main target of both orders. The battle provided a break in the wars with the Knights, Lithuania exploited this situation, arranging attacks towards the Ruthenian provinces and annexing Navahrudak and Hrodna.
Belarusian historians consider that Mindаugas was invited to rule Navahrudak and that the union was peaceful. In 1248 a civil war broke out be
World War II
World War II known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries; the major participants threw their entire economic and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China, it included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, the only use of nuclear weapons in war. Japan, which aimed to dominate Asia and the Pacific, was at war with China by 1937, though neither side had declared war on the other. World War II is said to have begun on 1 September 1939, with the invasion of Poland by Germany and subsequent declarations of war on Germany by France and the United Kingdom.
From late 1939 to early 1941, in a series of campaigns and treaties, Germany conquered or controlled much of continental Europe, formed the Axis alliance with Italy and Japan. Under the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact of August 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union partitioned and annexed territories of their European neighbours, Finland and the Baltic states. Following the onset of campaigns in North Africa and East Africa, the fall of France in mid 1940, the war continued between the European Axis powers and the British Empire. War in the Balkans, the aerial Battle of Britain, the Blitz, the long Battle of the Atlantic followed. On 22 June 1941, the European Axis powers launched an invasion of the Soviet Union, opening the largest land theatre of war in history; this Eastern Front trapped most crucially the German Wehrmacht, into a war of attrition. In December 1941, Japan launched a surprise attack on the United States as well as European colonies in the Pacific. Following an immediate U. S. declaration of war against Japan, supported by one from Great Britain, the European Axis powers declared war on the U.
S. in solidarity with their Japanese ally. Rapid Japanese conquests over much of the Western Pacific ensued, perceived by many in Asia as liberation from Western dominance and resulting in the support of several armies from defeated territories; the Axis advance in the Pacific halted in 1942. Key setbacks in 1943, which included a series of German defeats on the Eastern Front, the Allied invasions of Sicily and Italy, Allied victories in the Pacific, cost the Axis its initiative and forced it into strategic retreat on all fronts. In 1944, the Western Allies invaded German-occupied France, while the Soviet Union regained its territorial losses and turned toward Germany and its allies. During 1944 and 1945 the Japanese suffered major reverses in mainland Asia in Central China, South China and Burma, while the Allies crippled the Japanese Navy and captured key Western Pacific islands; the war in Europe concluded with an invasion of Germany by the Western Allies and the Soviet Union, culminating in the capture of Berlin by Soviet troops, the suicide of Adolf Hitler and the German unconditional surrender on 8 May 1945.
Following the Potsdam Declaration by the Allies on 26 July 1945 and the refusal of Japan to surrender under its terms, the United States dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6 and 9 August respectively. With an invasion of the Japanese archipelago imminent, the possibility of additional atomic bombings, the Soviet entry into the war against Japan and its invasion of Manchuria, Japan announced its intention to surrender on 15 August 1945, cementing total victory in Asia for the Allies. Tribunals were set up by fiat by the Allies and war crimes trials were conducted in the wake of the war both against the Germans and the Japanese. World War II changed the political social structure of the globe; the United Nations was established to foster international co-operation and prevent future conflicts. The Soviet Union and United States emerged as rival superpowers, setting the stage for the nearly half-century long Cold War. In the wake of European devastation, the influence of its great powers waned, triggering the decolonisation of Africa and Asia.
Most countries whose industries had been damaged moved towards economic expansion. Political integration in Europe, emerged as an effort to end pre-war enmities and create a common identity; the start of the war in Europe is held to be 1 September 1939, beginning with the German invasion of Poland. The dates for the beginning of war in the Pacific include the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War on 7 July 1937, or the Japanese invasion of Manchuria on 19 September 1931. Others follow the British historian A. J. P. Taylor, who held that the Sino-Japanese War and war in Europe and its colonies occurred and the two wars merged in 1941; this article uses the conventional dating. Other starting dates sometimes used for World War II include the Italian invasion of Abyssinia on 3 October 1935; the British historian Antony Beevor views the beginning of World War II as the Battles of Khalkhin Gol fought between Japan and the fo
Yiddish is the historical language of the Ashkenazi Jews. It originated during the 9th century in Central Europe, providing the nascent Ashkenazi community with a High German-based vernacular fused with elements taken from Hebrew and Aramaic as well as from Slavic languages and traces of Romance languages. Yiddish is written with a vocalized version of the Hebrew alphabet; the earliest surviving references date from the 12th century and call the language לשון־אַשכּנז or טײַטש, a variant of tiutsch, the contemporary name for Middle High German. Colloquially, the language is sometimes called מאַמע־לשון, distinguishing it from לשון־קודש, meaning Hebrew and Aramaic; the term "Yiddish", short for Yidish Taitsh, did not become the most used designation in the literature until the 18th century. In the late 19th and into the 20th century the language was more called "Jewish" in non-Jewish contexts, but "Yiddish" is again the more common designation today. Modern Yiddish has two major forms. Eastern Yiddish is far more common today.
It includes Southeastern and Northeastern dialects. Eastern Yiddish differs from Western both by its far greater size and by the extensive inclusion of words of Slavic origin. Western Yiddish is divided into Southwestern and Northwestern dialects. Yiddish is used in a number of Haredi Jewish communities worldwide; the term "Yiddish" is used in the adjectival sense, synonymously with "Jewish", to designate attributes of Yiddishkeit. Prior to the Holocaust, there were 11–13 million speakers of Yiddish among 17 million Jews worldwide. 85% of the 6 million Jews who died in the Holocaust were Yiddish speakers, leading to a massive decline in the use of the language. Assimilation following World War II and aliyah, immigration to Israel, further decreased the use of Yiddish both among survivors and among Yiddish-speakers from other countries. However, the number of speakers is increasing in Hasidic communities; the established view is that, as with other Jewish languages, Jews speaking distinct languages learned new co-territorial vernaculars, which they Judaized.
In the case of Yiddish, this scenario sees it as emerging when speakers of Zarphatic and other Judeo-Romance languages began to acquire varieties of Middle High German, from these groups the Ashkenazi community took shape. What German base lies behind the earliest form of Yiddish is disputed. In Max Weinreich's model, Jewish speakers of Old French or Old Italian who were literate in either liturgical Hebrew or Aramaic, or both, migrated through Southern Europe to settle in the Rhine Valley in an area known as Lotharingia extending over parts of Germany and France. Both Weinreich and Solomon Birnbaum developed this model further in the mid-1950s. In Weinreich's view, this Old Yiddish substrate bifurcated into two distinct versions of the language and Eastern Yiddish, they retained the Semitic vocabulary and constructions needed for religious purposes and created a Judeo-German form of speech, sometimes not accepted as a autonomous language. Linguistic research has finessed the Weinreich model or provided alternative approaches to the language's origins, with points of contention being the characterization of its Germanic base, the source of its Hebrew/Aramaic adstrata, the means and location of this fusion.
Some theorists argue. The two main candidates for the germinal matrix of Yiddish, the Rhineland and Bavaria, are not incompatible. There may have been parallel developments in the two regions, seeding the Western and Eastern dialects of Modern Yiddish. Dovid Katz proposes that Yiddish emerged from contact between speakers of High German and Aramaic-speaking Jews from the Middle East; the lines of development proposed by the different theories do not rule out the others. In more recent work, Wexler has argued that Eastern Yiddish is unrelated genetically to Western Yiddish. Wexler's model has met with little academic support, strong critical challenges among historical linguists. By the 10th century, a distinctive Jewish culture had formed in Central Europe which came to be called אַשכּנזי Ashkenazi, "Ashkenazi Jews, from Hebrew: אַשכּנז Ashkenaz, the medieval Hebrew name for northern Europe and Germany. Ashkenaz was centered on the Rhineland and the Palatinate, in what is now the westernmost part of Germany.
Its geographic extent did not
The Yalta Conference known as the Crimea Conference and code-named the Argonaut Conference, held from 4 to 11 February 1945, was the World War II meeting of the heads of government of the United States, the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union for the purpose of discussing Germany and Europe's postwar reorganization. The three states were represented by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Premier Joseph Stalin, respectively; the conference convened near Yalta in Crimea, Soviet Union, within the Livadia and Vorontsov Palaces. The aim of the conference was to shape a post-war peace that represented not just a collective security order but a plan to give self-determination to the liberated peoples of post-Nazi Europe; the meeting was intended to discuss the re-establishment of the nations of war-torn Europe. However, within a few short years, with the Cold War dividing the continent, Yalta became a subject of intense controversy. Yalta was the second of three major wartime conferences among the Big Three.
It was preceded by the Tehran Conference in November 1943, was followed by the Potsdam Conference in July 1945. It was preceded by a conference in Moscow in October 1944, not attended by President Roosevelt, in which Churchill and Stalin had carved up Europe into Western and Soviet spheres of influence; the Potsdam Conference was to be attended by Stalin and Harry S. Truman, Roosevelt's successor after his death. General Charles de Gaulle was not present at either the Potsdam conferences. De Gaulle attributed his exclusion from Yalta to the longstanding personal antagonism towards him by Roosevelt, although the Soviet Union had objected to his inclusion as a full participant, but the absence of French representation at Yalta meant that extending an invitation for De Gaulle to attend the Potsdam Conference would have been problematic. By the time of the Yalta Conference, the Western forces consisting of the United Kingdom, the United States, Poland and the governments-in-exile of France and Belgium, led by British general Bernard Montgomery and American generals Dwight D. Eisenhower and Omar Bradley, had liberated all of France and Belgium and were advancing into Germany, leading to the Battle of the Bulge.
In the east, Red Army Marshal Georgy Zhukov's forces were 65 km from Berlin, having pushed back the Nazis from Poland, Romania and most of Yugoslavia. By February, Germany only had loose control over the Netherlands, Denmark, Northern Italy, Northern Yugoslavia; the initiative for calling a second'Big Three' conference had come from Roosevelt hoping to meet before the US Presidential elections in November 1944, but subsequently pressing for a meeting early in 1945 at a'neutral' location in the Mediterranean. Stalin, rejected these options, he proposed instead that they meet instead in the Crimea. Stalin's fear of flying was a contributing factor in this decision. Stalin formally deferred to Roosevelt as the'host' for the conference; each of the three leaders liberated Europe. Roosevelt wanted Soviet support in the U. S. Pacific War against Japan for the planned invasion of Japan, as well as Soviet participation in the United Nations. Stalin's position at the conference was one. According to U. S. delegation member and future Secretary of State James F. Byrnes, "it was not a question of what we would let the Russians do, but what we could get the Russians to do."Poland was the first item on the Soviet agenda.
Stalin stated that "For the Soviet government, the question of Poland was one of honor" and security because Poland had served as a historical corridor for forces attempting to invade Russia. In addition, Stalin stated regarding history that "because the Russians had sinned against Poland", "the Soviet government was trying to atone for those sins." Stalin concluded that "Poland must be strong" and that "the Soviet Union is interested in the creation of a mighty and independent Poland." Accordingly, Stalin stipulated that Polish government-in-exile demands were not negotiable: the Soviet Union would keep the territory of eastern Poland they had annexed in 1939, Poland was to be compensated for that by extending its western borders at the expense of Germany. Contrasting with his prior statement, Stalin promised free elections in Poland despite the Soviet sponsored provisional government installed by him in Polish territories occupied by the Red Army. Roosevelt wanted the USSR to enter the Pacific War with the Allies.
One Soviet precondition for a declaration of war against Japan was an American official recognition of Mongolian independence from China (the Mongolian People's Republic had been the Soviet satellite s