Capital (and largest city): Minsk
Population (2017): 9,498,600 (93rd)
Total area: 207,595 kilometers (85th)
Official languages: Belarus, Russian
Currency: Belarusian ruble (Br)
Early and middle history During the antiquities, Belarus was first settled by the Baltic people and then by the Slavs. Moving to the Middle Ages, Belarus found itself in the midst of a struggle between powers such as Kyivan Russia, Lithuania and Poland. The Grand Deutsch of Lithuania ruled periodically for the majority.
In 1569 the subsequent union and commonwealth between Lithuania and Poland resulted in the culture and language of Poland being removed from the Belarus language (which remained under its powerful neighbor). Although the Russians fought to regain control of the land, it would be several years before it came to fruition.
When the alliance between Lithuania and Poland broke down in 1795, it was Russia’s powerful empire that claimed Belarus. Just as Belarus’s language and culture were pushed aside in favor of Polish, Russia was the new order of the day. This continued until the First World War, when the country was occupied by Imperial Germany. Although he declared independence at the end of the war, Belarus was divided between the new Soviet Union and Poland.
War and the Soviet Union
In 1919, Belarus was formed from Russia’s part of the Soviet Socialist Republic of Belarus. The period of inwardness was a period of famine and oppression. During WWII, the first Polish part of the country was occupied by the Soviet Union and joined the second half. However, in 1941,
Belarus was occupied by Nazi Germany. The Republic was completely wiped out during the war – leaving industries crippled and a large number of buildings and cities destroyed. The death toll is over one-third of the population (about 2 to 3 million people). Eventually the USSR was able to repel German forces.
After the war, Belarus signed the United Nations Charter – which voted the country separately from the Soviet Union (despite being a major state republic). Belarus was isolated from the West under Stalin, while Belarus’s language and culture were shrinking in favor of a larger ‘Soviet’ identity.
Sovereign and modern era
Belarus announced independence four years later in 1990 with a new constitution and elections. Presided over by Alexander Lukashenko. After the election was successful, he took office and ruled Belarus as an effective dictator. Many observers,
including Belarus, consider it the last dictatorship of Europe (aside from the Russian question). Lukashenko has overcome human rights concerns and lack of independence to maintain power. This government is known for maintaining many Soviet elements – not even military clothing. Recently, tensions with Russia have increased (as well as increasing Belarus’s identity), and it remains to be seen what will happen to Belarus and its late president.
Belarus’s culture is undergoing a lot of climate. There have been periods where a distinct identity (whether through literature, folk music and dance, etc.) has been emphasized, while for the second time, the culture of ruling foreign power is important. Traditional clothing can still be seen in Belarus and is in the era of Cuban Russia.
The current flag design was adopted in 2012 (although it has been in use since 1995). It has a large horizontal red stripe over the little green stripe. On the left is a decorative red and white pattern. Sometimes white and red flags are used (often as a protest against the government), although the government has banned them.
Belarus cuisine is very common with other nearby countries, and it often contains vegetables, meat (especially pork) and bread. Slow cooked or stewed foods are the most common. The traditional bread and salt offerings are used for hospitality of guests. Drinky (a type of potato pancake) is a national dish.
Belarus’ most famous sport is football, followed by ice hockey, after which the government has received huge promotion and funding over the last two decades. The national ice hockey team won a very respectable 4th place at the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002 (beating Sweden in the quarterfinals). While the national football team couldn’t be more successful, the club’s team ‘BAT Borisov’ qualified for the UEFA Champions League group state.
Geography of Belarus
the country is a mostly flatland silk country with large forests and swampy areas. Many rivers and lakes are found all over the landscape, while the highest point of the country is only 346 meters.
Cities and towers
Minsk, the capital, is the largest city in the country. That number is about two million. Gomal is the second largest city in the country with more than half a million homes.
Facts about Belarus
Minsk has been destroyed 8 separate times … though it is older than Moscow!
Birch dream is a favorite of locals
More treasure is found here than anywhere else in Europe
Next door Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine still does not settle 25% of the land
The unemployment rate is the lowest in the world
There is only one privately owned bank in Belarus
People in Belarus drink the most alcohol every year
The people of Belarus also smoke second in the world
In keeping with the Soviet theme, the intelligence service is still called KGB
There is a ‘linen street’ in each town
The last word
Although Soviet-style dictatorships have raised eyebrows all over Europe, Belarus still seems to make a unique identity as the country moves forward.