Until the 20th century, different states at various times controlled the lands of modern-day Belarus, including
half of its territory to Poland. 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, and were finalized after World War II. During World War II, military operations devastated Belarus, which lost about a quarter of its population and 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
The name Belarus is closely 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 that had been populated mostly by Slavs who had been Christianized early, as opposed to Black Ruthenia, which was predominantly inhabited by pagan Balts. An alternative 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 (i.e., Polotsk, Vitebsk and Mogilev) had been referred to as White Rus'. A fourth theory suggests that the color white was associated with the west, and Belarus was the western part of Rus in the 9th to 13th centuries.
The name Rus is often conflated with its Latin forms Russia and Ruthenia, thus Belarus is often referred to as White Russia or White Ruthenia. The name first appeared in
Jogaila and his mother at "Albae Russiae, Poloczk dicto" in 1381. The first known use of White Russia to refer to Belarus was in the late-16th century by Englishman Sir Jerome Horsey, who was 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 (Russian: Белору́ссия, the latter part similar but spelled and stressed differently from Росси́я, Russia) first rose in the days of the Russian Empire, and the Russian Tsar was usually styled "the Tsar of All the Russias", as Russia or the Russian Empire was formed by three parts of Russia—the Great, Little, and White. This asserted that the territories are all Russian and all the peoples are also Russian; in the case of the Belarusians, they were variants of the Russian people.
Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, the term White Russia caused some confusion, as it was also the name of the military force that opposed the red Bolsheviks. During the period of the Byelorussian SSR, the term Byelorussia was embraced as part of a national consciousness. In western Belarus under Polish control, Byelorussia became commonly used in the regions of Białystok and Grodno during the interwar period.
The term Byelorussia (its names in other languages such as English being based on the Russian form) was only used officially until 1991. Officially, the full name of the country is Republic of Belarus (Рэспубліка Беларусь, Республика Беларусь, Respublika Belarus
help·info)). In Russia, the usage of Belorussia is still very common.
In Lithuanian, besides Baltarusija (White Russia), Belarus is also called Gudija. The etymology of the word Gudija is not clear. By one hypothesis the word derives from the Old Prussian nameGudwa, which, in turn, is related to the form Żudwa, which is a distorted version of Sudwa, Sudovia. Sudovia, in its turn, is one of the names of the Yotvingians. Another hypothesis connects the word with the Gothic Kingdom that occupied parts of the territory of modern Belarus and Ukraine in the 4th and 5th centuries. The self-naming of Goths was Gutans and Gytos, which are close to Gudija. Yet another hypothesis is based on the idea that Gudija in Lithuanian means "the other" and may have been used historically by Lithuanians to refer to any people who did not speak Lithuanian.
In the 9th century the territory of modern Belarus became part of
Yaroslav I the Wise in 1054, the state split into independent principalities. The Battle on the Nemiga River in 1067 was one of the more notable events of the period, the date of which is considered the founding date of Minsk
Many early Rus' principalities were virtually razed or severely affected by a major
The Lithuanian nobles were forced to seek rapprochement with the Poles because of a potential threat from Muscovy. To strengthen their independence within the format of the union, three editions of the Statutes of Lithuania were issued in the second half of the 16th century. The third Article of the Statutes established that all lands of the duchy will be eternally within the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and never enter as a part of other states. The Statutes allowed the right to own land only to noble families of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Anyone from outside the duchy gaining rights to a property would actually own it only after swearing allegiance to the Grand Duke of Lithuania (a title dually held by the King of Poland). These articles were aimed to defend the rights of the Lithuanian nobility within the duchy against Polish and other nobles of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth.
In the years following the union, the process of gradual
In a Russification drive in the 1840s, Nicholas I prohibited use of the Belarusian language in public schools, campaigned against Belarusian publications and tried to pressure those who had converted to Catholicism under the Poles to reconvert to the Orthodox faith. In 1863, economic and cultural pressure exploded in a revolt, led by Konstanty Kalinowski (also known as Kastus). After the failed revolt, the Russian government reintroduced the use of Cyrillic to Belarusian in 1864 and no documents in Belarusian were permitted by the Russian government until 1905.
During the negotiations of the
Belarusian People's Republic. Immediately afterwards, the Polish–Soviet War ignited, and the territory of Belarus was divided between Poland and Soviet Russia. The Rada of the Belarusian Democratic Republic exists as a government in exile ever since then; in fact, it is currently the world's longest serving government in exile.
Bolshevik Red Army. It existed from only 1918 to 1919 but created prerequisites for the formation of a Belarusian state. The choice of name was probably based on the fact that core members of the newly formed government were educated in tsarist universities, with corresponding emphasis on the ideology of West-Russianism.
Vilna (Lithuanian: Vilnius, Polish: Wilno), for 18 months the entity served as a buffer state between Poland, upon which it depended, and Lithuania, which claimed the area. After a variety of delays, a disputed election took place on 8 January 1922, and the territory was annexed to Poland. Żeligowski later in his memoir which was published in London in 1943 condemned the annexation of the Republic by Poland, as well as the policy of closing Belarusian schools and general disregard of Marshal Józef Piłsudski's confederation plans by Polish ally.
Meeting in the Kurapaty woods, 1989, where between 1937 and 1941 from 30,000 to 250,000 people, including Belarusian intelligentsia members, were murdered by the NKVD during the Great Purge
The German occupation in 1941–1944 and war on the Eastern Front devastated Belarus. During that time, 209 out of 290 towns and cities were destroyed, 85% of the republic's industry, and more than one million buildings. After the war, it was estimated that 2.2 million local inhabitants had died and of those some 810,000 were combatants—some foreign. This figure represented a staggering quarter of the prewar population. In the 1990s some raised the estimate even higher, to 2.7 million. The Jewish population of Belarus was devastated during the Holocaust and never recovered. The population of Belarus did not regain its pre-war level until 1971.
occupied Soviet Belarus
After the war, Belarus was among the 51 founding member states of the
United Nations Charter and as such it was allowed an additional vote at the UN, on top of the Soviet Union's vote. Vigorous postwar reconstruction promptly followed the end of the war and the Byelorussian SSR became a major center of manufacturing in the western USSR, creating jobs and attracting ethnic Russians. The borders of the Byelorussian SSR and Poland were redrawn, in accord with the 1919-proposed Curzon Line.
Joseph Stalin implemented a policy of Sovietization to isolate the Byelorussian SSR from Western influences. This policy involved sending Russians from various parts of the Soviet Union and placing them in key positions in the Byelorussian SSR government. After Stalin's death in 1953, Nikita Khrushchev continued his predecessor's cultural hegemony program, stating, "The sooner we all start speaking Russian, the faster we shall build communism."
The 2000s saw a number of economic disputes between Belarus and its primary economic partner, Russia. The first one was the 2004 Russia–Belarus energy dispute when Russian energy giant Gazprom ceased the import of gas into Belarus because of price disagreements. The 2007 Russia–Belarus energy dispute centered on accusations by Gazprom that Belarus was siphoning oil off of the Druzhba pipeline that runs through Belarus. Two years later the so-called Milk War, a trade dispute, started when Russia wanted Belarus to recognize the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and through a series of events ended up banning the import of dairy products from Belarus.
In 2011, Belarus suffered
UN Security Council statement condemning "the apparent terrorist attack" intimating the possibility that the Belarusian government itself was behind the bombing.
invasion of Ukraine. These include not only corporate offices and individual officers of government but also private individuals who work in the state-owned enterprise industrial sector.Norway and Japan have joined the sanctions regime which aims to isolate Belarus from the international supply chain. Most major Belarusian banks are also under restrictions.
above sea level. The climate features mild to cold winters, with January minimum temperatures ranging from −4 °C (24.8 °F) in southwest (Brest) to −8 °C (17.6 °F) in northeast (Vitebsk), and cool and moist summers with an average temperature of 18 °C (64.4 °F). Belarus has an average annual rainfall of 550 to 700 mm (21.7 to 27.6 in). The country is in the transitional zone between continental climates and maritime climates.
Natural resources include peat deposits, small quantities of oil and natural gas, granite, dolomite (limestone), marl, chalk, sand, gravel, and clay. About 70% of the radiation from neighboring Ukraine's 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster entered Belarusian territory, and about a fifth of Belarusian land (principally farmland and forests in the southeastern regions) was affected by radiation fallout. 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 rapeseed cultivation, which are meant to decrease soil levels of caesium-137.
Belarus borders five countries: Latvia to the north, Lithuania to the northwest, Poland to the west, Russia to the north and the east, and Ukraine to the south. Treaties in 1995 and 1996 demarcated Belarus's borders with Latvia and Lithuania, and Belarus ratified a 1997 treaty establishing the Belarus-Ukraine border in 2009. Belarus and Lithuania ratified final border demarcation documents in February 2007.
The House of Representatives has the power to appoint the
vote of confidence on the prime minister, and make suggestions on foreign and domestic policy. The Council of the Republic has the power to select various government officials, conduct an impeachment trial of the president, and accept or reject the bills passed by the House of Representatives. Each chamber has the ability to veto any law passed by local officials if it is contrary to the constitution.
The government includes a Council of Ministers, headed by the prime minister and five deputy prime ministers. The members of this council need not be members of the legislature and are appointed by the president. The judiciary comprises the Supreme Court and specialized courts such as the Constitutional Court, which deals with specific issues related to constitutional and business law. The judges of national courts are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Council of the Republic. For criminal cases, the highest court of appeal is the Supreme Court. The Belarusian Constitution forbids the use of special extrajudicial courts.
Agrarian Party and Republican Party of Labour and Justice, one each. Most non-partisans represent a wide scope of social organizations such as workers' collectives, public associations, and civil society organizations, similar to the composition of the Soviet legislature.
Lukashenko has been frequently described as the "last dictator" in Europe in media.
and then between 1991 and 1995, is widely used as a symbol of opposition to the government of Alexander Lukashenko.
Belarus has often been described as "Europe's last dictatorship" by some media outlets, politicians and authors due to its authoritarian government. The Council of Europe removed Belarus from its observer status since 1997 as a response for election irregularities in the November 1996 constitutional referendum and parliament by-elections. Re-admission of the country into the council is dependent on the completion of benchmarks set by the council, including the improvement of human rights, rule of law, and democracy.
All Belarusian People's Assembly. Lukashenko won the election with 80% of the vote; the Russian Federation and the CIS deemed the vote open and fair while the OSCE and other organizations called the election unfair.
After the December completion of the 2010 presidential election, Lukashenko was elected to a fourth straight term with nearly 80% of the vote in elections. The runner-up opposition leader Andrei Sannikov received less than 3% of the vote; independent observers criticized the election as fraudulent. When opposition protesters took to the streets in Minsk, many people, including some presidential candidates, were beaten and arrested by the riot police. Many of the candidates, including Sannikov, were sentenced to prison or house arrest for terms which are mainly and typically over four years. Six months later amid an unprecedented economic crisis, activists utilized social networking to initiate a fresh round of protests characterized by wordless hand-clapping.
The Byelorussian SSR was one of the two Soviet republics that joined the United Nations along with the Ukrainian SSR as one of the original 51 members in 1945. Belarus and Russia have been close trading partners and diplomatic allies since the breakup of the Soviet Union. Belarus is dependent on Russia for imports of raw materials and for its export market.
union of Russia and Belarus, a supranational confederation, was established in a 1996–99 series of treaties that called for monetary union, equal rights, single citizenship, and a common foreign and defense policy. However, the future of the union has been placed in doubt because of Belarus's repeated delays of monetary union, the lack of a referendum date for the draft constitution, and a dispute over the petroleum trade. Belarus was a founding member of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Belarus has trade agreements with several European Union member states (despite other member states' travel ban on Lukashenko and top officials), including neighboring Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland. Travel bans imposed by the European Union have been lifted in the past in order to allow Lukashenko to attend diplomatic meetings and also to engage his government and opposition groups in dialogue.
, 11–12 February 2015
Bilateral relations with the United States are strained; the United States had not had an ambassador in Minsk since 2007 and Belarus never had an ambassador in Washington since 2008. Diplomatic relations remained tense, and in 2004, the United States passed the Belarus Democracy Act, which authorized funding for anti-government Belarusian NGOs, and prohibited loans to the Belarusian government, except for humanitarian purposes.
Sino-Belarusian relations have improved,
U.S. Helsinki Commission. Belarus is included in the European Union's Eastern Partnership program, part of the EU's European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), which aims to bring the EU and its neighbours closer in economic and geopolitical terms. However, Belarus suspended its participation in the Eastern Partnership program on 28 June 2021, after the EU imposed more sanctions against the country.
Lieutenant General Viktor Khrenin heads the Ministry of Defence, and Alexander Lukashenko (as president) serves as Commander-in-Chief. The armed forces were formed in 1992 using parts of the former Soviet Armed Forces on the new republic's territory. The transformation of the ex-Soviet forces into the Armed Forces of Belarus, which was completed in 1997, reduced the number of its soldiers by 30,000 and restructured its leadership and military formations.
Most of Belarus's service members are conscripts, who serve for 12 months if they have higher education or 18 months if they do not. Demographic decreases in the Belarusians of conscription age have increased the importance of contract soldiers, who numbered 12,000 in 2001. In 2005, about 1.4% of Belarus's gross domestic product was devoted to military expenditure.
Belarus has not expressed a desire to join
Collective Security Treaty Organisation. Tensions between NATO and Belarus peaked after the March 2006 presidential election in Belarus.
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, and in the Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders, Belarus is ranked 153th out of 180 countries for 2022. The Belarusian government is also criticized for human rights violations and its persecution of non-governmental organisations, independent journalists, national minorities, and opposition politicians. Lukashenko announced a new law in 2014 that will prohibit kolkhoz workers (around 9% of total work force) from leaving their jobs at will—a change of job and living location will require permission from governors. The law was compared with serfdom by Lukashenko himself. Similar regulations were introduced for the forestry industry in 2012. Belarus is the only European country still using capital punishment having carried out executions in 2011.
The judicial system in Belarus lacks independence and is subject to political interference. Corrupt practices such as bribery often took place during tender processes, and whistleblower protection and national ombudsman are lacking in Belarus's anti-corruption system.
On 1 September 2020, the
Okrestino prison in Minsk or on the way there. The victims were hospitalized with intramuscular bleeding of the rectum, anal fissure and bleeding, and damage to the mucous membrane of the rectum. In an interview from September 2020 Lukashenko claimed that detainees faked their bruises, saying, "Some of the girls there had their butts painted in blue".
On 23 May 2021, Belarusian authorities
migrants to the European Union.Lithuanian authorities and top European officials Ursula von der Leyen, Josep Borrell condemned the usage of migrants as a weapon and suggested that Belarus could be subject to further sanctions. In August 2021, Belarusian officials, wearing uniforms, riot shields and helmets, were recorded on camera near the Belarus–Lithuania border pushing and urging the migrants to cross the European Union border. Following the granting of humanitarian visas to an Olympic athlete Krystsina Tsimanouskaya and her husband, Poland also accused Belarus for organizing a hybrid warfare as the number of migrants crossing the Belarus–Poland border sharply increased multiple times when compared to the 2020 statistics. Illegal migrants numbers also exceeded the previous annual numbers in Latvia. On 2 December 2021, the United States, European Union, United Kingdom and Canada imposed new sanctions on Belarus.
Belarus is divided into six regions called oblasts (Belarusian: вобласць; Russian: область), which are named after the cities that serve as their administrative centers: Brest, Gomel, Grodno, Mogilev, Minsk, and Vitebsk. Each region has a provincial legislative authority, called a region council (Belarusian: абласны Савет Дэпутатаў; Russian: Областной Совет депутатов), which is elected by its residents, and a provincial executive authority called a region administration (Belarusian: абласны выканаўчы камітэт; Russian: областной исполнительный комитет), whose chairman is appointed by the president. The Regions are further subdivided into 118 raions, commonly translated as districts (Belarusian: раён; Russian: район). Each raion has its own legislative authority, or raion council, (Belarusian: раённы Савет Дэпутатаў; Russian: районный Совет депутатов) elected by its residents, and an executive authority or raion administration appointed by oblast executive powers. The city of Minsk is split into nine districts and enjoys special status as the nation's capital at the same administration level as the oblasts. It is run by an executive committee and has been granted a charter of self-rule.
Local government in Belarus is administered by administrative-territorial units (Belarusian: адміністрацыйна-тэрытарыяльныя адзінкі; Russian: административно-территориальные единицы), and occurs on two levels: basic and primary. At the basic level are 118 raions councils and 10 cities of oblast subordination councils, which are supervised by the governments of the oblasts. At the primary level are 14 cities of raion subordination councils, 8 urban-type settlements councils, and 1,151 village councils. The councils are elected by their residents, and have executive committees appointed by their executive committee chairs. The chairs of executive committees for raions and city of oblast subordinations are appointed by the regional executive committees at the level above; the chairs of executive committees for towns of raion subordination, settlements and villages are appointed by their councils, but upon the recommendation of the raion executive committees. In either case, the councils have the power to approve or reject a nonimee for executive committee chair.
Settlements without their own local council and executive committee are called territorial units (Belarusian: тэрытарыяльныя адзінкі; Russian: территориальные единицы). These territorial units may also be classified as a city of regional or raion subordination, urban-type settlement or rural settlement, but whose government is administered by the council of another primary or basic unit. In October 1995, a presidential decree abolished the local governments of cities of raion subordination and urban-type settlements which served as the administrative center of raions, demoting them from administrative-territorial units to territorial units.
As for 2019, the administrative-territorial and territorial units include 115 cities, 85 urban-type settlements, and 23,075 rural settlements.
Belarus is a developing country. However, its 60th place ranking in the United Nations' Human Development Index places it in the category of states with; "very high" human development. It is one of the most equal countries in the world, with one of the lowest Gini-coefficient measures of national resource distribution, and it’s ranks 82nd in GDP per capita .Belarus has trade relations with over 180 countries. The main trading partners are Russia, which accounts for about 45% of Belarusian exports and 55% of imports, and the EU countries, which account for 25% of exports and 20% of imports.
Change in per capita GDP of Belarus, 1973–2018. Figures are inflation-adjusted to 2011 International dollars.
A graphical depiction of Belarus's product exports in 28 colour-coded categories
In 2019 the share of manufacturing in GDP was 31%, over two-thirds of this amount falls on manufacturing industries. The number of people employed in the industry is 34.7% of the working population. The growth rate is much lower than for the economy as a whole—about 2.2% in 2021. At the time of the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Belarus was one of the world's most industrially developed states by percentage of GDP as well as the richest CIS member-state.
In 2015, 39.3% of Belarusians were employed by state-controlled companies, 57.2% were employed by private companies (in which the government has a 21.1% stake) and 3.5% were employed by foreign companies. The country relies on Russia for various imports, including petroleum. Important agricultural products include potatoes and cattle byproducts, including meat. In 1994, Belarus's main exports included heavy machinery (especially tractors), agricultural products, and energy products.
Economically, Belarus involved itself in the CIS, Eurasian Economic Community, and Union with Russia.
In the 1990s, however, industrial production plunged due to decreases in imports, investment, and demand for Belarusian products from its trading partners. GDP only began to rise in 1996; the country was the fastest-recovering former Soviet republic in the terms of its economy. In 2006, GDP amounted to US$83.1 billion in purchasing power parity (PPP) dollars (estimate), or about $8,100 per capita. In 2005, GDP increased by 9.9%; the inflation rate averaged 9.5%.
Since the disintegration of the Soviet Union, under Lukashenko's leadership, Belarus has maintained government control over key industries and eschewed the large-scale privatizations seen in other former Soviet republics.
Due to its failure to protect labor rights, including passing laws forbidding unemployment or working outside of state-controlled sectors,
The labor force consists of more than four million people, among whom women hold slightly more jobs than men. In 2005, nearly a quarter of the population was employed by industrial factories. Employment is also high in agriculture, manufacturing sales, trading goods, and education. The unemployment rate, according to government statistics, was 1.5% in 2005. There were 679,000 unemployed Belarusians, two-thirds of whom were women. The unemployment rate has been in decline since 2003, and the overall rate of employment is the highest since statistics were first compiled in 1995.
The currency of Belarus is the Belarusian ruble. The currency was introduced in May 1992 to replace the Soviet ruble and it has undergone redenomination twice since then. The first coins of the Republic of Belarus were issued on 27 December 1996. The ruble was reintroduced with new values in 2000 and has been in use ever since. As part of the Union of Russia and Belarus, both states have discussed using a single currency along the same lines as the Euro. This led to a proposal that the Belarusian ruble be discontinued in favor of the Russian ruble (RUB), starting as early as 1 January 2008. The National Bank of Belarus abandoned pegging the Belarusian ruble to the Russian rouble in August 2007.
On 23 May 2011, the ruble depreciated 56% against the United States dollar. The depreciation was even steeper on the black market and financial collapse seemed imminent as citizens rushed to exchange their rubles for dollars, euros, durable goods, and canned goods. On 1 June 2011, Belarus requested an economic rescue package from the International Monetary Fund. A new currency, the new Belarusian ruble (ISO 4217 code: BYN) was introduced in July 2016, replacing the Belarusian ruble in a rate of 1:10,000 (10,000 old ruble = 1 new ruble). From 1 July until 31 December 2016, the old and new currencies were in parallel circulation and series 2000 notes and coins can be exchanged for series 2009 from 1 January 2017 to 31 December 2021. This redenomination can be considered an effort to fight the high inflation rate.
The banking system of Belarus consists of two levels: Central Bank (National Bank of the Republic of Belarus) and 25 commercial banks.
According to the 2019 census the population was 9.41 million with ethnic Belarusians constituting 84.9% of Belarus's total population. Minority groups include: Russians (7.5%), Poles (3.1%), and Ukrainians (1.7%).
Belarus has a population density of about 50 people per square kilometre (127 per sq mi); 70% of its total population is concentrated in urban areas.Minsk, the nation's capital and largest city, was home to 1,937,900 residents in 2015[update].Gomel, with a population of 481,000, is the second-largest city and serves as the capital of the Gomel Region. Other large cities are Mogilev (365,100), Vitebsk (342,400), Grodno (314,800) and Brest (298,300).
Like many other Eastern European countries, Belarus has a negative population growth rate and a negative natural growth rate. In 2007, Belarus's population declined by 0.41% and its
According to the census of November 2011, 58.9% of all Belarusians adhered to some kind of religion; out of those,
Roman Catholicism is practiced mostly in the western regions, and there are also different denominations of Protestantism. Minorities also practice Greek Catholicism, Judaism, Islam and neo-paganism. Overall, 48.3% of the population is Orthodox Christian, 41.1% is not religious, 7.1% is Roman Catholic and 3.3% follows other religions.
Belarus's Catholic minority is concentrated in the western part of the country, especially around
Lithuanian minorities. President Lukashenko has stated that Orthodox and Catholic believers are the "two main confessions in our country".
Belarus was once a major center of European Jews, with 10% of the population being
Holocaust, deportation, and emigration, so that today it is a very small minority of less than one percent. The Lipka Tatars, numbering over 15,000, are predominantly Muslims. According to Article 16 of the Constitution, Belarus has no official religion. While the freedom of worship is granted in the same article, religious organizations deemed harmful to the government or social order can be prohibited.
Belarus's two official languages are Russian and
Eastern Yiddish. Belarusian, although not as widely used as Russian, is the mother tongue of 53.2% of the population, whereas Russian is the mother tongue of only 41.5%.
By the 16th century, Polotsk resident Francysk Skaryna translated the Bible into Belarusian. It was published in Prague and Vilnius sometime between 1517 and 1525, making it the first book printed in Belarus or anywhere in Eastern Europe. The modern era of Belarusian literature began in the late 19th century; one prominent writer was Yanka Kupala. Many Belarusian writers of the time, such as Uładzimir Žyłka, Kazimir Svayak, Yakub Kolas, Źmitrok Biadula, and Maksim Haretski, wrote for Nasha Niva, a Belarusian-language paper published that was previously published in Vilnius but now is published in Minsk.
After Belarus was incorporated into the Soviet Union, the Soviet government took control of the Republic's cultural affairs. At first, a policy of "Belarusianization" was followed in the newly formed Byelorussian SSR. This policy was reversed in the 1930s, and the majority of prominent Belarusian intellectuals and nationalist advocates were either exiled or killed in Stalinist purges. The free development of literature occurred only in Polish-held territory until Soviet occupation in 1939. Several poets and authors went into exile after the Nazi occupation of Belarus and would not return until the 1960s.
Second World War, music focused on the hardships of the Belarusian people or on those who took up arms in defense of the homeland. During this period, Anatoly Bogatyrev, creator of the opera In Polesye Virgin Forest, served as the "tutor" of Belarusian composers. The National Academic Theatre of Ballet in Minsk was awarded the Benois de la Dance Prize in 1996 as the top ballet company in the world. Rock music has become increasingly popular in recent years, though the Belarusian government has attempted to limit the amount of foreign music aired on the radio in favor of traditional Belarusian music. Since 2004, Belarus has been sending artists to the Eurovision Song Contest.
Marc Chagall was born in Liozna (near Vitebsk) in 1887. He spent the World War I years in Soviet Belarus, becoming one of the country's most distinguished artists and a member of the modernist avant-garde and was a founder of the Vitebsk Arts College.
The traditional Belarusian dress originates from the Kievan Rus' period. Due to the cool climate, clothes were designed to conserve body heat and were usually made from flax or wool. They were decorated with ornate patterns influenced by the neighboring cultures: Poles, Lithuanians, Latvians, Russians, and other European nations. Each region of Belarus has developed specific design patterns. One ornamental pattern common in early dresses currently decorates the hoist of the Belarusian national flag, adopted in a disputed referendum in 1995.
stewed. Typically, Belarusians eat a light breakfast and two hearty meals later in the day. Wheat and rye bread are consumed in Belarus, but rye is more plentiful because conditions are too harsh for growing wheat. To show hospitality, a host traditionally presents an offering of bread and salt when greeting a guest or visitor.
^Sofie Bedford (2017). ""The Election Game": Authoritarian Consolidation Processes in Belarus". Demokratizatsiya: The Journal of Post-Soviet Democratization. 25 (4): 381–305. officially the [EU] sanctions were reduced as a 'reward' for the 2015 presidential elections being peaceful and non-violent, despite the fact that these elections were just as non-democratic as any previous election in Belarus
. Retrieved 21 May 2020. unanimous agreement among serious scholars that... Lukashenko's 2015 election occurred within an authoritarian context.
^"Lukashenka vs. democracy: Where is Belarus heading?". AtlanticCouncil. 10 August 2020. Archived from the original on 12 August 2020. However, the vote was marred by allegations of widespread fraud. These suspicions appeared to be confirmed by data from a limited number of polling stations that broke ranks with the government and identified opposition candidate Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya as the clear winner.