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Belarus Info

Belarus Info

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Republic of BelarusРэспубліка БеларусьРеспублика Беларусь
FlagNational emblem
Anthem:
Дзяржаўны гімн Рэспублікі Беларусь
(Belarusian)
 Dziaržaŭny himn Respubliki Biełarus
(transliteration)
State Anthem of the Republic of Belarus
Capital
(and largest city)Minsk 
53°55′N27°33′E
Official language(s)
BelarusianRussian
[1]
Ethnic groups
(2009)
83.7% Belarusians
,8.3% Russians,3.1% Poles,1.7% Ukrainians, 4.2% others and unspecified
[2]
Demonym
Belarusian
Government
Presidential republic-PresidentAlexander Lukashenko-Prime MinisterMikhail Myasnikovich
Legislature
 National Assembly-Upper houseCouncil of the Republic-Lower houseHouse of Representatives
Independence
from the Soviet Union-Declared27 July 1990-Established25 August 1991-Completed25 December 1991
Area
-Total207,595 km
2
(85th)80,155 sq mi-Water (%)negligible (2.830 km
2
)
1
Population
-2009 census9,503,807
[2]
(86th)-Density45.8/km
2
(142nd)120.8/sq mi
GDP
(PPP)2011 estimate-Total$141.771 billion
[3]
-Per capita$15,028
[3]
GDP
(nominal)2011 estimate-Total$55.483 billion
[3]
-Per capita$5,881
[3]
Gini
(2009)27.9
[4]
(low)
HDI
(2011)0.756
[5]
(high) (65th)
Currency
Belarusian ruble(
BYR
)
Time zone
FET
[6]
(UTC+3)
Drives on the
right
ISO 3166 code
BY
Belarus
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Belarus
(
i
/bɛləˈruːs/
bel-ə- 
ROOSS
; Belarusian: Белару ́сь,
Russian pronunciation:
[bʲɛlaˈrusʲ]
Russian: Беларусь, Белоруссия,
 Belarus', Belorussiya
),officially the
Republic of Belarus
, is a landlocked countryin Eastern Europe,
[7]
 bordered by Russiato the northeast, Ukraineto the south, Polandto the west, and LithuaniaandLatviato the northwest. Its capital is Minsk; other major cities include Brest, Grodno(Hrodna), Gomel (Homiel), Mogilev (Mahilyow)and Vitebsk (Vitsebsk). Over forty percent of its 207,600 square kilometres (80,200 sq mi) is forested,
[8]
and its strongesteconomic sectors are agriculture and manufacturing.Until the 20th century, the lands of modern-day Belarus belonged to several countries,including the Principality of Polotsk, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the Polish– Lithuanian Commonwealth, and the Russian Empire. In the aftermath of the RussianRevolution, Belarus became a founding constituent republic of the Soviet Unionand wasrenamed as the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic(BSSR). The borders of Belarustook their modern shape in 1939 when some lands of the Second Polish Republicwereincorporated into it after the Soviet invasion of Poland.
[9][10][11][12][13][14]
The nation and itsterritory were devastated in World War II, during which Belarus lost about a third of its population and more than half of its economic resources.
[15]
The republic wasredeveloped in the post-war years. In 1945 the Belorussian SSR became a foundingmember of the United Nations, along with the Soviet Union and the Ukrainian SSR.The parliament of the republic declared the sovereigntyof Belarus on 27 July1990, andduring the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Belarus declared independence on 25 August1991.
[16]
Alexander Lukashenkohas been the country's president since 1994. Despiteobjections from Western governments, Lukashenko has continued Soviet-era policies,such as state ownership of the economy. According to some organizations and countries,elections have been unfair, and political opponents have been violently suppressed.
[17][18][19]
In 2000, Belarus and Russia signed a treaty for greater cooperation, with some hintsof forming a Union State. Despite its close proximity to the rest of Europe and the West,Belarus' Democracy Indexrating continuously ranks the lowest in Europe, and is labeledas "Not Free" by Freedom House.Over 70% of Belarus's population of 9.49 million reside in urban areas.
[20]
More than80% of the population are ethnic Belarusians, with sizable minorities of Russians, Polesand Ukrainians. Since a referendum in 1995, the country has had two official languages:Belarusianand Russian. The Constitution of Belarusdoes not declare an official religion,although the primary religion in the country is Russian Orthodox Christianity. The secondmost popular, Roman Catholicism, has a much smaller following, although bothOrthodox and Catholic versions of Christmas and Easter are celebrated as nationalholidays. Belarus also has the highestHuman Development Indexamong members of theCommonwealth of Independent States.
Contents
1Etymology2History2.1Prior to First World War 2.2Since initial independence3Geography4Politics4.1Human rights4.2Foreign relations4.3Military4.4Administrative divisions5Economy6Demographics6.1Religion7Culture7.1Literature7.2Music7.3Performances7.4Dress7.5Cuisine7.6World Heritage Sites7.7Telecommunications8See also9Notes10References11External links
Etymology
The name "Belarus" corresponds literally with the term "White Rus'" (White Ruthenia).There are several claims to where the origin of the name "White Rus' " came from.
[21]
Anethno-religious theory suggests that the name used to describe the part of old Ruthenianlands within the Grand Duchy of Lithuaniathat had mostly been populated by earlyChristianized Slavs, as opposed to Black Ruthenia, which was predominantly inhabited by pagan Balts.
[22]
An alternate explanation for the name comments on the white clothingworn by the local Slavic population.
[21][23]
A third theory suggests that the old Ruthenian
Location of 
Belarus
(
green
)in Europe(
dark grey
) [
Legend
]
Page 1 of 12Belarus -Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia07/08/2012htt://en.wikiedia.or/wiki/Belarus
 
Internet TLD
.by
Calling code
375"FAO's Information System on Water andAgriculture"(http://www.fao.org/nr/water/aquastat/countries/belarus/index.stm) .FAO. http://www.fao.org/nr/water/aquastat/countries/belarus/index.stm.Retrieved 4 April 2008.Stamp with the Cross of St.Euphrasynefrom 1992Position of Grand Duchy of Lithuania in Eastern Europe until1434.
lands that were not conquered by the Tatars(i.e., Polatsk, Vitsiebsk and Mahilyow) had been referred to as "white". Other sources claim that before 1267, the land not conquered by the Mongols was considered "White Rus' ".
[21]
In 2008, historian Ales Bely defendedhis PhD thesis,
 Localization of the Choronym of White Rus' in the European Written and  Map Sources of the 13th to mid-18th centuries
,
[24]
which demonstrated that
White Rus' 
originally referred to the area of the Novgorod Republicconquered by the Grand Duchyof Moscowin 1478; in terms of present-day geography, this translates to Eastern Belarusand areas acquired via the westward expansion of Muscovyduring the Livonian Warinthe 17th century.The names "Ruthenia" and "Rus' " are often conflated with Russia, their modern derivative, and thus White Ruthenia is often referred to as "White Russia". Thismisinterpretation has been supported by the Moscovite regents after the fall of Kievan Rus'. The Moskovite dukes, starting with Ivan IV, considered themselves to bethe rightful successors of the Ruthenian grand ducal dynasty, and their use of the name "Russia" as referring to all former Ruthenian (i.e., east Slavic) lands became a political weapon and a casus bellifor claiming the west Ruthenian territories from Lithuania and Poland.
[25]
The name first appeared in Germanand Latinmedievalliterature; the chronicles of Jan of Czarnkówmentions the imprisonment of Lithuanian grand duke Jogailaand his mother at "Albae Russiae, Poloczk dicto" in 1381.
[26]
The Latin term "Alba Russia" was used again by Pope Pius VIto establish a Jesuit society in 1783. His official Papal bullexclaimed "Approbo Societatem Jesu in AlbaRussia degentem, approbo, approbo."
[27]
Historically, this territory was referred to in English as "White Ruthenia". The first known use of "White Russia" to refer toBelarus was in the late-16th century by Englishman Sir Jerome Horsey, who was known for his close contacts with the Russian Royal Court.
[28]
During the 17thcentury, Russian tsarsused "White Rus"" to describe the lands captured from the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.
[29]
Belarus was formally named "Belorussia" (Russian: Белоруссия; the latter part similar, but spelled and stressed differently from Россия, "Russia") in the days of theRussian Empire, and the Russian tsar was usually styled "Tsar of All the Russias", as "Russia" or the "Russian Empire" was formed by all the Russias –the Great, Little,and White. After the Bolshevik Revolutionin 1917, the term White Russia caused some confusion as it was also the name of the military force that opposed the redBolsheviks.
[30]
During the period of the Belorussian SSR, the term "Byelorussia" was embraced as part of a national consciousness. In western Belarus under Polishcontrol, "Byelorussia" became commonly used in the regions of Białystok and Grodno during the interwar period.
[31]
The term "Belorussia" (its names in other languages such as English being based on the Russian form) was only used officially until 1991, when the Supreme Sovietof the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic decreed by law that the new independent republic should be called "Belarus" (Беларусь) in Russian in order to reflect thecorrect Belarusian language forms. The use of Byelorussian SSR and any abbreviations thereof were allowed from 1991 to 1993.
[32]
Conservative forces in the newlyindependent Belarus did not support the name change and opposed its inclusion in the 1991 draft of the Constitution of Belarus.
[33]
Accordingly, the name "Belorussia" was replaced by "Belarus" in English
[34]
and to some extent in Russian (although the traditional name still persists in that languageas well); likewise, the adjective "Belorussian" or "Byelorussian" was replaced by "Belarusian" in English (though Russian has not developed a new adjective)."Belarusian" is closer to the original Russian term of "bielaruski".
[34]
Belarusian intelligentsia in the Stalin era attempted to change the name from "Belorussia" to a formof "Krivia" because of the supposed connection with Russia.
[35]
Some nationalists also object to the name for the same reason.
[36][37]
However, several popular newspapers published locally still retain the old name of the country in Russian in their names, for example
 Komsomolskaya Pravda v Byelorussii
, which is thelocalized publication of a popular Russian newspaper. Also, those who wish for Belarus to be reunited with Russia continue to use "Belorussia".
[37]
Officially, the fullname of the country is "Republic of Belarus" (Рэспубліка Беларусь, Республика Беларусь, Respublika Belarus" listen).
[32][38]
History
 Main article: History of Belarus
Prior to First World War
Both
Homo erectus
and Neanderthalremains have been found in the region. From 5,000 to 2,000 BCE, Bandkeramikcultures predominated. In addition, remains for the Dnieper-Donets culturewere found in Belarus and parts of Ukraine.
[39]
Cimmeriansand other pastoralists roamed through the area by 1,000 BCE, and by 500 BCE,Slavs had taken up residence in the area, which was circumscribed by the Scythianswho roamed its outskirts. Various Asiatic barbarian by the Hunsand Avarssweptthrough c. 400–600 CE, but were unable to dislodge the Slavic presence.
[40]
The region that is now Belarus was first settled by Slavictribes in the 6th century. They gradually came into contact with theVarangians, bands of Scandinavianwarriors and traders.
[41]
Though defeated and briefly exiled by the local population, theVarangians were later asked to return
[41]
and helped to form a polity—commonly referred to as the Kievan Rus'—in exchange for tribute. The state of Kievan Rus' originated in 862 in the vicinity of either Kiev
[42]
or the present-day city of Novgorod.
[42]
Upon the death of Kievan Rus' ruler Yaroslav I the Wise, the state split into independent principalities.
[43]
These Ruthenian principalities were badly affected by a Mongol invasionin the 13th century, and many were later incorporated into the Grand Duchyof Lithuania.
[44]
Of the principalities held by the Duchy, nine were settled by ancestors of the Belarusian people.
[45]
During this timethe Duchy was involved in several military campaigns, including fighting on the side of Poland against the Teutonic Knightsat theBattle of Grunwaldin 1410; the joint victory allowed the Duchy to control the northwestern borderlands of Eastern Europe.
[46]
On 2 February 1386, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Kingdom of Polandwere joined ina personal unionthrough a marriage of their rulers.
[47]
This union set in motion thedevelopments that eventually resulted in the formation of the Polish–LithuanianCommonwealth, created in 1569. The Russians, led by Ivan III of Moscow, began militaryconquests in 1486 in an attempt to reunite the lands of Kievan Rus', specifically the territoriesof Belarus and Ukraine.
[48]
The union between Poland and Lithuania ended in 1795 with the partitioning of PolandbyImperial Russia, Prussia, and Austria.
[49]
During this time the territories of Belarus were acquired by the Russian Empireunder thereign of Catherine II
[50]
and held until their occupation by German Empireduring World War I.
[51]
Since initial independence
During the negotiations of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, Belarus first declared independence under German occupation on 25 March1918, forming the Belarusian People's Republic.
[52][53]
Immediately afterwards, the Polish–Soviet Warignited, and Belarus founditself torn between resurgent Poland and Soviet Russia. A part of Belarus under Russian rule emerged as the Belorussian SovietSocialist Republicin 1919. Soon thereafter it merged to form the Lithuanian–Belorussian Soviet Socialist Republic. The contestedlands were divided between Poland and the Soviet Unionafter the war ended in 1921, and the Belorussian SSR became a foundingmember of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in 1922.
[52][54]
The western part of modern Belarus remained part of Poland.
[55][56][56]
In the 1920s, agricultural reforms that culminated in the Belarusian phase of Soviet collectivizationwas set in motion. In the 1930s,the implementation of the Soviet five-year plans for the national economyled to rapid industrialization.
1
Page 2 of 12Belarus -Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia07/08/2012htt://en.wikiedia.or/wiki/Belarus
 
Map of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Belarus was within its borders.The Brest Fortressto the War MemorialSovietpartisanfighters behindGermanfront linesin Belarus in1943Map of the Belorussian SSR, 1940Strusta Lakein the Vitebsk ProvinceHorses grazing in Minsk Province
In 1939, Nazi Germanyand the Soviet Union invaded and occupied Poland, marking the beginning of World War II. Much of northeastern Poland, which had been part of the countrysince the Peace of Rigatwo decades earlier, was annexed to the Belorussian Soviet SocialistRepublic, and now constitutes West Belarus.
[9][10][11][12][13][14]
The Soviet-controlled BelarusianPeople Council officially took control of the territories, whose populations were predominantlyethnic Belarusians, on 28 October 1939 in Białystok.
[14]
 Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Unionin 1941. The Brest Fortress, which had been annexedin 1939, was subjected to one of the most destructive onslaughts and its notable defensein 1941was memorialized as an act of heroism in countering German aggression. Statistically, BSSR was the hardest-hit Soviet republic in World War II and remained in Nazi handsuntil 1944.During that time, Germany destroyed 209 out of 290 cities in the republic, 85% of the republic'sindustry, and more than one million buildings.
[15]
Casualties were estimated to be between twoand three million (about a quarter to one-third of the total population), while the Jewish population of Belaruswas devastated during the Holocaustand never recovered.
[15][57]
The population of Belarus did not regain its pre-war level until 1971.
[57]
After the war, Belarus was among the 51 founding countries of the United Nations Charterand as such it was allowed an additionalvote at the UN, on top of the Soviet Union's vote. Vigorous postwar reconstruction promptly followed the end of the war andBelorussian SSR became a major center of manufacturing in western USSR, creating jobs and attracting ethnic Russians.
[58]
The borders of Belorussian SSR and Poland were redrawn and became known as the Curzon Line.
[59]
Joseph Stalinimplemented a policy of Sovietizationto isolate the Belorussian SSR fromWestern influences.
[57]
This policy involved sending Russians from various parts of theSoviet Union and placing them in key positions in the Belorussian SSR government. The official use of the Belarusian languageand other cultural aspects were limited by Moscow. After Stalin's death in 1953, Nikita Khrushchevcontinued his predecessor'scultural hegemony program, stating, "The sooner we all start speaking Russian, the faster we shall build communism."
[57]
In 1986, the Belorussian SSR was significantly exposed to nuclear falloutfrom the explosion at the Chernobylpower plant inneighboring Ukrainian SSR.
[60]
In June 1988, archaeologist and leader of the Christian Conservative Party of the BPFZyanon Paznyakdiscovered mass gravesof victims executed in 1937–41 at Kurapaty, near Minsk.
[60]
Some nationalists contend that this discovery is proof that the Sovietgovernment was trying to erase the Belarusian people, causing Belarusian nationalists to seek independence.
[61]
In March 1990, elections for seats in the Supreme Sovietof the Belorussian SSR took place. Though the pro-independence Belarusian Popular Fronttook only 10% of the seats, the populace was content with the selection of the delegates.
[62]
Belarus declared itself sovereign on 27 July1990 by issuing the Declaration of StateSovereignty of the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic. With the support of the Communist Party, the country's name was changed to the Republic of Belarus on25 August1991.
[62]
Stanislav Shushkevich, the chairman of the Supreme Sovietof Belarus, met with Boris Yeltsinof Russia and Leonid Kravchukof Ukraineon8 December1991 in Belavezhskaya Pushchato formally declare the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the formation of the Commonwealth of Independent States.
[62]
A national constitutionwas adopted in March 1994 in which the functions of prime minister were given to the president of Belarus. Two-round elections for the presidency on (24 June1994 and 10 July1994)
[63]
catapulted the formerly unknown Alexander Lukashenkointo national prominence. He garnered 45% of the vote inthe first round and 80%
[62]
in the second, defeating Vyacheslav Kebichwho received 14% of the vote. Lukashenko was re-elected in 2001, in 2006and again in 2010.
Geography
 Main article: Geography of Belarus
Belarus lies between latitudes 51°and 57° N, and longitudes 23°and 33° E. It is landlocked, relatively flat, andcontains large tracts of marshyland.
[64]
According to a 2005 estimate by the United Nations, 40% of Belarus is covered by forests.
[65]
Many streams and 11,000 lakes are found in Belarus.
[64]
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 eastwardto the Dnieper; the Dnieper flows southward towards the Black Sea.
[66]
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 metres (295 ft).
[64]
The average elevation of Belarus is 525 feet (160 m) above sea level.
[67]
Theclimate features cold winters, with average January temperatures at −6 °C(21.2 °F), and cool and moist summers withan average temperature of 18 °C(64.4 °F).
[68]
Belarus has an average annual rainfall of 550 to 700 mm (21.7 to 27.6in).
[68]
The country is in the transitional zone between continental climatesand maritime climates.
[64]
 Natural resources include peatdeposits, small quantities of oil and natural gas, granite, dolomite (limestone), marl, chalk, sand,gravel, and clay.
[64]
About 70% of the radiation from neighboring Ukraine's 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disasterentered Belarusianterritory, and as of 2005 about a fifth of Belarusian land (principally farmland and forests in the southeastern provinces)continues to be affected by radiation fallout.
[69]
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 rapeseedcultivation, which are meant to decreasesoil levels of caesium-137.
[70][71]
Belarus borders five countries—Latviato the north, Lithuaniato the northwest, Poland to the west, Russia to the north and theeast, and Ukraine to the south. Treaties in 1995 and 1996 demarcated Belarus's borders with Latvia and Lithuania, but Belarusfailed to ratify a 1997 treaty establishing the Belarus-Ukraine border.
[72]
Belarus and Lithuania ratified final border demarcationdocuments in February 2007.
[73]
Politics
 Main article: Politics of Belarus
Belarus is a presidentialrepublic, governed by a presidentand the National Assembly. The termfor the president is five years.Under the 1994 constitution, the president could only serve for two terms as president, but a change in the constitution in 2004eliminated term limits.
[74]
Since 1994, Alexander Lukashenkohas been the president of Belarus. In 1996, Lukashenko called for a controversial vote to extend the presidential term from five to seven years, and as a result the electionthat was supposed tooccur in 1999 was pushed back to 2001. The referendum on the extensionwas denounced as a "fantastic" fake by the chief 
Page 3 of 12Belarus -Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia07/08/2012htt://en.wikiedia.or/wiki/Belarus

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