Capital: Minsk
Currency: Belarusian ruble
President: Alexander Lukashenko
Continent: Europe
National Anthem : Belarusians

Country Name

  • Conventional long form: Republic of Belarus
  • Conventional short form: Belarus
  • Local long form: Respublika Byelarus'
  • Local short form: Byelarus'
  • Former: Belorussian (Byelorussian) Soviet Socialist Republic

Etymology :

  • The name “Belarus” has its origins in the term “White Rus".
  • The Latin term for the area was “Russia Alba”
  • In English, the country was referred to as “White Ruthenia” which translates to “White Russia”.
  • The term was first used for Belarus in the 16th century.
  • The Russian Tsars began using the term “White Rus” in the 17th century.
  • During the Russian Imperial rule, the name was changed to “Belorussia”.
  • In 1991, the Supreme Soviet of the Belorussian Soviet Socialist Republic decided that the new independent republic should be called “Belarus”.
  • “Belarus” is the English name for the country.

History :

  • Belarus was colonized by east Slavic tribes in the 5th century.
  • The Kiev dynasty ruled it from the 9th to 12th century.
  • The Mongols defeated the Kiev in the 13th century and took over the territory.
  • Belarus was ruled by the dukes of Lithuania and remained as a partly autonomous state.
  • Along with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Belarus merged with Poland in 1569.
  • Belarus became part of the Russian Empire after the partition of Poland.
  • The country announced its independence after the World War I.
  • It was subsequently taken over by the Red Cross Army in March 1918.
  • The Polish-Soviet War was fought from 1918–1921 to decide the fate of Belarus.
  • West Belarus was ceded to Poland and the eastern part was made part of the USSR in 1922.
  • In 1939, the Soviet Union claimed West Belarus from Poland through a Nazi-Soviet Nonaggression Pact.
  • Belarus was occupied by the Nazis in the World War II.
  • In 1986, Belarus suffered the drastic consequences of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant explosion in Ukraine.
  • Belarus declared its sovereignty in July 1990 and became an independent nation in August 1991.
  • It became a cofounder of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) in 1991 Dec...
  • Belarus and Russia signed a treaty in April 1997 aimed at mutual cooperation.
  • The Russian financial crisis in 1998 had a direct impact on Belarus’s economy.

Belarus Flag

Demographics :

  • Over 80% of the total population is ethnic Belarusian.
  • Other major ethnic groups are Russians, Poles and Ukrainians.
  • Belarusian and Russian are the country’s official languages.
  • Polish, Ukrainian and Eastern Yiddish are also spoken by some communities.
  • Most of the population is concentrated in and around urban areas.
  • Over 90% of Belarusians follow the Russian Orthodox Church.
  • Other prevalent religions are Roman Catholicism and Judaism.
  • Belarus has no official religion.

Government and Politics :

  • Though Belarus’s government is formally a republic, dictatorship is often practiced.
  • Administrative divisions include one municipality (Minsk) and six provinces namely: Brest, Homyel', Horad Minsk,  Hrodna, Mahilyow, Minsk and Vitsyebsk.
  • Administrative divisions are named after their administrative centers.
  • Independence Day (25 August 1991) is observed as a national holiday.
  • The Constitution was founded on 15 March 1994 and revised by national referendum on 24 November 1996.
  • It was brought into effect on 27 November 1996 and revised again on 17 October 2004.
  • The legal system is based on civil law system.
  • Belarus has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction.
  • The president is the chief of state.
  • The prime minister is the head of government.
  • The cabinet consists of a Council of Ministers.
  • The president is elected by popular vote for a five-year term.
  • The prime minister and deputy prime ministers are appointed by the president.
  • The legislative branch is represented by a bicameral National Assembly or Natsionalnoye Sobranie consisting of the Council of the Republic or Soviet Respubliki and the Chamber of Representatives or Palata Predstaviteley.
  • The Council of the Republic consists of 64 members of which 56 are elected by regional councils and eight are appointed by the president to serve four year terms.
  • The Chamber of Representatives consists of 110 members elected by popular vote to serve four year terms.
  • The judicial branch is represented by the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court.

Culture :

  • Belarusian literature has a rich history dating back to 11th century.
  • Belarusian literature in the past consisted of primarily religious texts.
  • The modern period of Belarusian literature started in the late 19th century.
  • Classical musical forms like the ballet and opera have been an integral part of the culture since the 17th century.
  • The Belarusian government sponsors,  annual cultural festivals like the Slavianski Bazaar in Vitebsk.
  • The festival involves cultural events and performances by musicians, singers, writers and actors.
  • The traditional Belarusian dress has its origins in the Kievan Rus' period.
  • The clothing is usually made from warm materials and is intricately patterned.
  • Belarusian cuisine consists mainly of vegetables, breads and meat and Dinner is usually the heaviest meal of the day.
  • A host traditionally offers bread and salt while welcoming a guest or visitor.
  • Popular Belarusian drinks include Russian wheat vodka, kvass and okroshka.

Economy : 

  • Structural reform in Belarus has been slow since 1995.
  • Since 2005, the government has taken over a number of private companies.
  • The private sector faces a lot of interference from the government.
  • Foreign investment is low.
  • Re-export of Russian oil and natural gas obtained at a nominal price contributes largely to the economy.
  • Russia is Belarus’s single largest trade partner.
  • GDP (purchasing power parity) as calculated in 2007 was $105.2 billion.
  • 1.6% of the population is officially unemployed.
  • 27.1% of the population is below poverty line.
  • Agricultural produce includes grain, potatoes, vegetables, sugar beets, flax; beef and milk.
  • Main industries are metal-cutting machine tools, tractors, trucks, earthmovers, motorcycles,  synthetic fibers, fertilizer, textiles, radios, televisions and refrigerators.
  • Export commodities include machinery and equipment, , chemicals, metals, mineral products,  textiles and foodstuffs.
  • Import commodities include mineral products, machinery and equipment, chemicals, foodstuffs and metals.

Infrastructure :

  • Telecommunication service in Belarus is in developmental stage and partially modernized.
  • A government-owned company called Beltelcom is the sole provider of fixed-line local and long distance service.
  • Belarus has 76 radio broadcast stations and 47 television broadcast stations.
  • Internet services are readily available.
  • Belarus has 67 airports of which 36 have paved runways.
  • The railway network spreads over 5,512 km.
  • The roadways span over a distance of 94,797 km.
  • The waterways are 2,500 km long.
  • The main ports and terminals are located in Mazyr.

Education :

  • The government sponsors education at all levels.
  • Students can make a choice between public or private educational institutions.
  • The current structure of the educational system was established by decree in 1994.
  • Over 99% of Belarusians are literate.
  • Education is compulsory for children upto the age of fifteen.
  • After obtaining a certificate in basic education, students are eligible to join the military.
  • Students may pursue higher education or train in a vocational school.

Neighboring Countries:

Belarus is surrounded by:

  • Russia (south and west)
  • Ukraine (north)
  • Poland (east)
  • Lithuania and Latvia (south)

Geographical Settings :

  • Belarus is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe.
  • Its geographical coordinates are 53 00 N, 28 00 E.
  • The country covers a total area of 207,600 sq km.
  • The climate is transitional between continental and maritime with cold winters and cool, moist summers.
  • The terrain is mostly flat and has large areas of marshland.
  • The highest point is Dzyarzhynskaya Hara standing at 346 m.
  • Natural resources include forests, peat deposits, small quantities of oil and granite, natural gas, dolomitic, marl, limestone , chalk, sand, gravel and clay.
  • 26.77% of the land is arable.
  • The country has 11,000 lakes.
  • The flatness of the terrain can be attributed to glacial scouring.


  • Belarus gained independence from the Soviet Union on 25 August 1991.

Notable People :

  • Irving Berlin (composer)
  • Vladimir Dukelsky (composer)
  • Naum Gabo ( sculptor)
  • Guillaume Apollinaire (Belarusian mother)
  • Mendele Mocher Sforim (founder of modern Yiddish and modern Hebrew literature )
  • Michael Savage (commentator, author)
  • Steve Ballmer (CEO of Microsoft)
  • Ralph Lauren (fashion designer)
  • Morris Raphael Cohen (Jewish philosopher)
  • Pyotr Klimuk (cosmonaut)

Belarus Related Topics:

» Colleges and Universities in Belarus » Sports in Belarus » Belarus Travel Agencies

Belarus Tourist Attractions:

  • Bialowieza Forest
  • National Academic Big Opera and Ballet theatre
  • Mir Castle Complex
  • Belarusian Great Patriotic War Museum
  • Church of Saints Simon and Helena
  • Marc Chagall Museum
  • Brest Fortress
  • Gorky Park
  • Braslau Lakes
  • Minsk Zoo