Currency: Belarusian ruble
President: Alexander Lukashenko
National Anthem : Belarusians
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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:
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