Travel Guides: Belarus
The Republic of Belarus is situated in central Europe at the turn of the Baltic Sea and Black Sea waters.
Given the historical name of Ruthenia Alba, the name Belarus was adopted when the country became independent from the USSR. The leaders of the independent country have maintained ties with Moscow, which has led to international isolation of Belarus. Today, most industries remained under state leadership, and foreign investment is limited to an unfavorable business environment. Despite these facts, the Republic of Belarus does not worth the reputation of “transit” country between Russia and Europe. The tourism industry has oriented toward agro-tourism, due to natural strengths – broad plains, picturesque villages, ancient monasteries and castles, dense forests and hundreds of lakes that await nature lovers, culture and sports. A third of the country is covered by forests of birch, oak and fir trees, which teem with animals like bison, elk, deer, wolves, foxes and bears.
There are organized guided tours in nature, which allows you to relax picking mushrooms, strawberries and herbs. You have the opportunity to stay in a traditional village and sit at a table with a peasant family, an experience that represents a foray into the eighteenth century. Another “specialty” of Belarus is the mines and the resorts that offer natural treatments for various ailments. Belarus has a unique history and rich cultural heritage with hundreds of monuments dating from the twelfth century. Most castles are in ruins, but few have been preserved – in Mir, Nyasvizh, Zaslaue, Lida and Kamianec. Orthodox Churches from the thirteenth century can be seen in Hrodna, Mahilyow, Polacak, Navahradak. Main attractions: Capital Minsk, located 340 km north-east of Warsaw and 120 km southeast of Vilnius, was first mentioned in 1067, but apart from several buildings in the seventeenth century, little has survived from the old town.
The city became an important axis of communication that was severely damaged during the Second World War. The modern city has a symmetrically plan arranged on both sides of the river Svisloch.Do not miss the Troitskoye Predmestye suburb. This place can give you a peek into the old city of Minsk – the nineteenth-century houses with colorful facades and excellent examples of Baroque architecture – the Holy Spirit Cathedral, St Peter and Paul Cathedral and the Cathedral Maryinsky, which was rebuilt after its original shape. Belarus of the thirteenth century was the core of the great principality of Lithuania, with the capital at Novogrudok. Here is the fourteenth-century castle, Lida, where was born the great Belarusian poet Adam Mitskevich. Not far from Raubichi is the idyllic lake Minsk, besieged with numerous islands and surrounded by abundant pine trees.
The onion-shaped domes of Russian Orthodox Churches dominate the landscape throughout the country, but especially at Logoysk, and Molodechno Krasnoe. Khatyn Memorial commemorates the destruction of the German armies during the Second World War. Zhirovitsa Village, located 190 km from Minsk, is famous for the beautiful monastery of the Assumption of the fifteenth century. AT 120 km of Minsk is the small town Mir where you can visit the Hebrew Cemetery and the fifteenth-century castle. Nearby, Nesvizh still keeps the historic buildings. The former residence of the Radzivill family is one of the most attractive palaces in the country. It is surrounded by a park with numerous lakes and elaborated gardens. The Catholic Church is located in short distance belonging to the sixteenth century to the Italian architect, Bernardoni. The Christian Center during the first Russian state was in the Slavic town Polotsk. It is the oldest city in Belarus and is founded in 862.
St Sofia Church from the 11th century is an excellent example of architecture from that period. Visit the two castles nearby. At 300 km south of Minsk, Pinsk is the second largest city in the Brest region. Here is a rich combination of historical, architectural and cultural monuments. The city is famous for the beauty of the surrounding nature. In Grodno, the fifth largest city, the main attractions are the historic, old castle and church Kalozh, both from the eleventh century. Minsk city has a diverse cultural scene, maintained by the Belarusian Ballet and museums such as the National Museum of History and Culture, Museum of Art, Museum of the Great Patriotic, War Museum of Old Belarusian Culture. Other museums offer information on great writers like Kolas, Bogdanovich and Brovka. Icons are one of the collections of the National Gallery.
At about 2 km from the capital is Raubichi, a picturesque village, which has an interesting ethnographic museum, inside a disused church. Dudutki Folk Architecture Museum is located at 40 km from the capital and is the only private museum in Belarus that exposes the handicraft items and traditional customs. Sport lovers can ski cross in Raubichy Olympic Sports Complex, located 22 km from Minsk. There are modern alpine ski resorts at Logoysk and Silichy, 30 km from Minsk. Lake District in the Northern Braslav is ideal for boating. Some of the 30 lakes are connected by canals. Accommodation is usually made in small cottages on the waterfront. Balavezha Forest is one of the last places where you can meet animals like bison, wolves and bears in their natural habitat. Hiking trails cross the Berezinsky Nature Reserve from its source to Lake Palik. This region consists of only primary forests, swamps, deep rivers, rich flora and fauna.
Throughout history, the reserve has provided a trade route that connected the Baltic to the Black Sea. At 270 km from Minsk, Vitebsk is the place where was born painter Marc Chag. There is a cultural center that bears his name and his family home, which was turned into a museum. One of the attractions that await you in a tour of the Brest fortress is used to drive out the Germans in the Second World War. Inside is a museum that exhibits historic events since the thirteenth century. This exposure is continued by the exhibits in the Museum of History and Archaeology. Do not miss the White Tower (Belaya Vezha) and the Kamenets Tower, built in the thirteenth century. The landscape around Brest seems that it was stopped in time – 500 years old trees, wild buffalo. Belovezhskaya National Park contains 60 species of animals and 900 plant species. If you are interested in poltical history visit the village Viskouli, the place where leaders of Belarus, Russia and Ukraine signed the famous document that completed the disintegration of the USSR.
The Presidential republic under the Constitution came into force on March 30, 1994, amended in 1996. A referendum held on November 24, 1996 approved the extension of power for the president. Belarus is a member of the CIS. Legislative power is exercised by a bicameral Parliament, National Assembly, composed of the Council of the Republic (64 members, of which 56 are elected by local government bodies, and eight are appointed by the president) and House of Representatives (110 members directly elected for a term of four years). Executive power is exercised by the President together with the Cabinet of Ministers, whose Prime Minister is appointed by the President, with the House of Representatives.
A country that inherited from the Soviet period a balanced economic structure, and excessive dependence on other members of the CIS (especially Russia), Belarus has some underground resources. Manufacturing (more than one third of the active population and GDP) has a strong sector of machine building, plus construction materials industry, chemical, textile, all concentrated in major cities (Minsk, Vicebsk, Homiel, Hrodna, Bobruysk). Currently, the Belarusian industry strongly felt massive decline in military orders (the defense industry was an important sector of the USSR); in mid 1997, only 28% of state enterprises were privatized. To reduce energy dependence is under construction, near Minsk, one atomo-central. Belarus has a high capacity for processing oil (over 40 000 tones annually).
Agriculture, specialized in animal husbandry for milk and meat (about 60% of agricultural products) and cereals (especially rye, 4th in Europe), the flax yarn, potato (5th in Europe) and beet sugar, it still retains ownership of the Soviet period. In addition, 1600 ha are unusable because of radioactive contamination after the Chernobyl accident. Belarus has a network of over 3500 km of inland waterways and is crossed by pipelines through which oil is exported from Russia to Central and Western Europe. In recent years, Belarus is facing difficulties in transition to market economy, given the collapse of the Soviet economic space. Agricultural production has declined steadily and the industry that has long contributed over 60% of GDP, also reduced activity. Energy dependence on Russia – where 85% of Belarus provides the necessary constant deficit in trade with CIS countries, GDP decreased by 20% in 1994 and 10% in 1995, and inflation (2220% in 1994, 344% in 1995, 70% in 1998) were severe austerity measures required and, more widely, leading to increasingly closeness to Russia, talking about a true integration of the two countries.
For foreign tourists (other than those in the ex-Soviet), Belarus remains an unknown territory, the targets of real interest being less accessible due to inadequate tourism infrastructure. Another reason for the apprehension comes from the fact that Belarus was the country most affected by the Chernobyl disaster (April 1986), it being at 12 km from the border. The main areas or objectives: capital city, then the cities Hrodna (Fernoy cathedral, 16th century Bernardine monastery church, recently restored), Homiel (Rumyantsev Palace, 18-19 century), Vicebsk (BlagoveSc’enskaya church, 12th century) and especially Brest / Bierascie, the place of signing the peace treaty between Soviet Russia and Germany (1918), the huge fortress (15 m thick walls) built in the first half of the 19th century, destroyed – for the most part (was kept intact only the north gate). In the summer of 1941 after a siege of six weeks, now a memorial museum vast complex is a unique sightseeing is represented by PN Belovezhkaya Pushcha, the last natural refuge of the European bison.
Belarus’ national specialties include borsch with beets and sour cream, a file of Minsk and Minsk cutlet. Try the “dracheny”, a delicious food made from potatoes and draniky mushrooms and served with pickles. Traditional drinks are biterur Beloveszhskaya made from over 100 different plants and have an interesting flavor. Belarus people are a Slavic people who represent the majority population in the Republic of Belarus to form national minorities in Poland, Russia, Lithuania and Ukraine. A large number of Belarusian emigrated to Canada and the United States of America in the early twentieth century. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, hundreds of thousands of ethnic Belarusian have emigrated to European Union countries. With the advent of the world political map of the new state was brought to the fore the problem of Belarusian ethnicity, with the revival of the Belarusian language.
Currently about 9 – 10 million people admit their membership of the Belarusian ethnicity.
Mother tongue of the majority population of Belarus is really Belarus language, however most people are bilingual, knowing also Russian, many of them using it even daily, especially in big cities and in the capital Minsk. “Bela”-prefix is translated as “white”, so sometimes, Belarusian and Russians are called white, which may create some confusion, all Russians are white and the group called the Bolshevik movement who opposed the Red in the Civil War. In the West, was used in some historical periods the name White Ruthenians or others similar to this one. Using the term “White Russians” may incorrectly lead to the idea that Belarus would be a subset of the Russians. Some of Belarus people consider such an approach as offensive. Belarus believes that their ethnic roots are among the “rusin”people and not of the Russians (who claimed the same ethnic roots).
Belarus people consider their culture the culture of the Kievan Russia, the principality Polaţk and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Most of Belarus people are descendants of East Slavic tribes of Krivic, Radimic and Dregovic. Early East Slavs also mixed with the marsh, especially in western and north-west of Belarus today. In the Middle Ages more Belarus people were known by the name of “Litvin / litvani” (Lithuanian), given their membership of the Lithuanian feudal state (Litvor, Vialikaja Litvor), which was part of White Ruthenia and the Ruthenian language was the official language. Given the dominance of Ruthenian language (which later evolved into the Belarusian language), some of them consider the Grand Duchy of Lithuania as their national state. After the First World War, Belarus people had their own state, which enjoyed varying degrees of independence (from the short lived Belarusian National Republic under German control until the Byelorussian SSR, entered into the USSR in 1922). Belarus gained its full independence after the Soviet Union disintegrated in 1991.
A country with a smooth and low relief, having numerous large lakes and swamps in the north to the south, Belarus became independent from the former Soviet Union in 1991. Belarus mountain chain that crosses the country diagonally divides the country in two regions of low land. Northern Region has a series of gentle hills and many of the more than 11,000 small lakes of the country. In the southern chain extends a marshy plain, which forms the river basin Pripet and its tributaries. This region contains the largest swampy area with no hydro-ameliorate in Europe. In the west, where Belarus is neighboring Poland is the Belovejkaia forest, much of it being the largest protected form of natural reserve in Europe and home of the bison, a rare species of the European bison.
Over two million died in Belarus during the Second World War, which devastated many rural and urban settlements of the country. In 1986, the nuclear plant at Chernobyl in neighboring Ukraine exploded and 70% of the fallout generated by the explosion fell on Belarus territory. Almost 3 million people were affected, and the soil and rivers were contaminated. About 15% of the country’s forests and 20% of its agricultural lands are still too radioactive for their products to be used. Costs of the purification for the region, population displacement and long-term treatment effects of the largest nuclear accident in human history have undergone considerable strain healthcare resources and economy, although some aid of a different nature were received from other states and some charities.
It is estimated that about one fifth of the country’s labor force is employed in agriculture, but industry has the largest contribution to the economy. During the period it was still a part of the former Soviet Union, Belarus and many factories were built for heavy industry and manufacturing, in order to process raw materials drawn from other regions of the Soviet Union, especially Ukraine. After 1991, as an independent nation and almost devoid of natural resources, Belarus took it hard. It kept broadly, old-style economy, the Soviet modernizing privatizing or very little industry to increase competitiveness in the global market. The main industrial area is located in and around the capital Minsk, where it manufactures and assembles agricultural machinery, vehicles, machinery and electrical products. The country retains close links with Russia, which is based on three-fifths of the volume of imports and half of the exports. Russia offered aid to Belarus over a billion US dollars through debt cancellation and cheap supply of oil and natural gas. Currently, the rate of economic growth in Belarus is one of the highest in Europe, reaching steady in recent years by up to 10%.
Belarus is divided into six provinces (“voblast”), named after the cities that serve as administrative centers. Minsk is located in the province of Minsk, but it has special status as being subordinated in a national level as it is not included in any “voblast”. The divisions in “voblast” are inherited from the Soviet era. The voblast are divided, in turn, in districts. Local legislative authorities are elected by district residents, the executive (administrative district) are appointed by higher executive authorities. In the same way, each has its own legislative authority “voblast” (oblsovet), elected by the population, and an executive authority (government of “voblast”), whose leader is appointed by the President. These are: Minsk (capital); Brest (Brest); Gomel (Homiel); Grodna (Hrodna); Moghilau (Mahilou); Minsk (Minsk); Vitebsc (Viciebsk).
Official name: Republic of Belarus: Capital: Minsk. Population: over 10 million people (no. 71). Area: 207,595 sq km (no. 83). Location: in the central-eastern Europe. Neighbors (3098 km): Russia (959 km), Ukraine (891 km), Poland (605 km), Lithuania (502 km), Latvia (141 km). Population density: 49.3 inhab/sq km (no. 113). Administrative divisions: 6 regions and one municipality (Minsk). National Day: July 27 (the anniversary of the proclamation of sovereignty – 1990). Official languages: Belarusian (Belarus) and Russian. Currency: 1 Belarus Rubel = 100 Kopek. GNP (1996): 22452000 $ (60th place). GNP per capita (1996): $ 2,080 (86th place). Minsk is a city located in the central part of the country, on the Svisloch River. Mentioned documentary
for the first time in 1067 under the name Menesk, it became the seat of a Slavic principality, the city belonging to Kiev Russia, Lithuania, then Poland. In 1793, following the second division of Poland, it is set in Imperial Russia and Belarus became the governor’s residence.
Capital of the Belarusian SSR (1921-1991), then after the collapse of the USSR, in 1991 the Republic of Belarus in the years of World War II (1941-44) suffered heavy damage (more than 80% of buildings), but is recovering and develops rapidly in coming decades. Industry appears in the second half of the 19th century, after building railways Moscow – Warsaw and Liepaja – Rovny, but only in the Soviet period became one of the largest industrial centers of the USSR. Today, the industry produces heavy vehicles (Belaz), engines, machine tools, televisions, radios, consumer goods, medicines, food. It is an important railway junction in Europe. Minsk is the most important cultural, educational, sports of the country: two academies – the National Academy of Sciences (founded in 1929) and Academy of Agricultural Sciences – by 55 research institutes attached to the University (founded 1921), another 10 institutes of higher education (from the Polytechnic Academy, founded in 1920, Academy of Music, founded 1932), conservative, opera and ballet, museums (among them the National Museum of History and Culture).
Important monuments in Belarus are: Mariinsky Cathedral (18th century), Bernardine Monastery (17th century, recently restored) obelisk in Victory Square, the Monument of Glory (Kurgan Slavy), Yakub Kolas statue (national poet). A country with no direct acces to the Planet Ocean, Belarus has a typical relief plain, shaped in part by Quaternary ice sheets. Elevation data moraine ridges are higher in North, without passing 350 m altitude in S not exceeding 150 m, is characteristic of the vast marsh areas (among the highest in Europe) in the Polesia. Climate: Transition between the temperate continental climate, typical of Eastern and maritime, with average monthly temperatures between -4 ° C (SW) and -8 ° C (NE) in January and July and from 17 to 18.7 ° C sufficient precipitation (550-650 mm / year).
The hydrographic network is dense and it totals about 50,000 km. The main watercourse is the Dnieper, which traverses the country from north to south, with the major tributaries Byarezina / Berezina and Pripyat, the last draining vast marshy area of the Baltic Sea, headed West Dvina, Neman and Western Bug (on the border with Poland), the latter linked by a canal on Dnieper. There are over 4000 lakes, most in north; the greater are the Narocj, Snudy, Drisviaty, Drivîaty. Vegetation: Forests (1 / 3 of the territory) are broader in Polesia and Berezin basin. Fauna: brown bear, fox, otter, breb, moose, and in PN Belovezhkaya Pushcha (74,000 ha), on the border with Poland, the bison. Birth rate: 8.8%; Mortality: 13.4%; Natural increase: 4.6% (1996); Life expectancy at birth (1996): 63 – 74 years; Urban population 72% (1997); Main cities (thousands inhab – 1998): Homiel / Gomel (501.9), Mahilou / Mogilev (368.9), Vicebsk / Vitebsk (355.8), Hrodna / Grodno (306.9), Bierascie / Brest ( 297.2), Bobruysk / Bobruisk (227.2), Baranova (173.0), Borisov (153.3). Belarusian 77.9%, 13.2% Russians, Poles 4.1%, Ukrainian 2.9%, 1.1% Hebrew, Tatar (1989).
The most populated area is the center (the capital region with 80 inhab/sq km). Much lower values are found both in north (36 inhab/sq km in Vicebsk region) and in south (the Poles). In recent years, it highlights the biggest increases in population and Bierascie and Minsk region (10-17%) and lowest in the region Mahilou and Homiel (less than 2%). Religions: Orthodox 31.6%, Catholic 17.7%, others (for the most part without religion) 50.7%, Uniatism (Greek Catholics), Protestantism and Islam. Simple Passport: it is necessary to obtain visa. Service Passport: there is no need for a visa for a short stay. Diplomatic Passport: no need for a short stay visa. Short period of stay (days): 30. Conditions of entry and residence regime: Citizens, holders of ordinary passports wishing to travel to Belarus, it is necessary to obtain entry visa. Exceptions are the holders of diplomatic and service passports. The period of stay of foreign citizens coincides with the period of visa granted that may not exceed 90 days in a year from the date of entry into its territory.
If the foreign national intends to stay longer than the period specified by the visa, he is obliged to complete the formalities necessary to extend the right of temporary residence. These formalities shall be approved by the Authority for Foreigners in the Belarusian Ministry of Interior (Tel: 375 17 231 3809). This requires certain formalities and paid a fee. The period within which such claims are resolved is 3-6 working days. If necessary, visas for business and personal purposes may be extended over the maximum period of 90 days. The entry conditions in Belarus are under the law on foreign people who entered into force on 5 February 2006. These are: possession of a valid passport and a visa for entry into this country, which can only be obtained at consular offices abroad of the Republic of Belarus. As an exception, it can be obtained only from the Republic of Belarus consular office in Minsk-2 International Airport. Possession of documents proving the stated purpose of the trip (invitation, booking holidays, vouchers, tickets, health insurance, green card).
Possession of the necessary funds to cover expenses during the journey (if the foreigner is more than one month must have at least 25 base units / month, where is less than one month must have at least one basic unit each day stay, and if transit in Belarus must have at least five basic units. A basic unit = 31,000 Belarusian rubles = about 15 USD). The maximum stay for a transit visa is 48 hours from the time of entry, unless contingencies (natural disasters road traffic disturbs the means of transport, health, unless it has been determined by a doctor Republic of Belarus, when needed trans-shipment from one means of transport to another and fortuitous event). To obtain this type of visa, travel document and visa must be valid for a coastal state, to justify transit. The Republic of Belarus using the throughput of vehicles are obliged to use the default route on the arteries of international communications in this country and rest stops can be made only on their course.
The new law regarding the foreigners and the institution of the “Charter of Migration”: This is a document that, with few exceptions, must be completed by all foreign citizens entering the Republic of Belarus, contains information about them and is provided free by border authorities. Migration Charter must be submitted for registration at the Interior Ministry bodies preserved and taught throughout the stay out of this country of the Belarusian border authorities. For instance, provision for handling Migration Charter does not apply, subject to a moratorium until a common agreement on the document with the Russian Federation. A foreign citizen is obliged within three days of entering the Republic of Belarus, except weekends, public holidays and days declared public holiday by the President of the Republic of Belarus, to register with the authorities of the Ministry of Interior.
If the stay exceeds 90 days, the passport stamp will be applied by the competent Belarusian authorities. Foreigners registered at the Ministry of Interior will issue the cards are diplomatic or consular service, except call and heads of foreign diplomatic officials. Registration is for the time indicated in the visa and insurance policy. Belarus legislation is very strict in matters of foreign and administrative or criminal sanctions followed by expulsion from the country. A foreign national may be expelled and if it considers that the Belarusian authorities threatening national security, rule of law, morals, public health, rights and freedoms of citizens of the Republic of Belarus and other countries. Open criticism of the realities of the Republic of Belarus or participation, even unintentional, the actions of the opposition can attract foreigners, where appropriate, refusal of visa or entry permission, that detention, administrative or criminal penalties and expulsion.
Expulsion may be carried out by the alien’s voluntary departure or under escort. To check the special conditions of visa and entry under the laws of the Republic of Belarus, it is recommended consulting official data provided by Belarusian authorities: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus; Embassy of Belarus; Phone: 021-223 1776, 021-223-3510; Fax: 021-223-1763; Emergency Calls: Police: 02, Firefighters: 01, Ambulance: 03. Customs Regulations: Belarus Foreign citizens can get an amount of foreign currency up to $ 3,000, without having to be declared. Amounts between $ 3,000 and $ 10,000 must be declared at the border without justifying the source of origin. It is prohibited export of foreign currency amounts greater than $ 10,000. Quantitative limits for certain products: cigarettes: 200 pieces, one liter of alcoholic beverages, perfumes 50 g.
Belarus is an Eastern European country that gained independence by the separation of the independent states of the Soviet Union in 1991. In terms of relief, the country is a vast plain, with few hills formations that do not exceed 300 m and many swamps in the south. Slow economic progress in Belarus and massive destruction of historic structures in Belarus made it a less attractive tourist country. Progress in Belarus has been slow in comparison with the other independent nations of the former Soviet Union. Travel in this country is difficult, expensive hotels, but visitors will be rewarded by a lot of things they can see or do. In many places, history seems alive and can almost be felt. The remains of war and suffering can be seen throughout the country. In Belarus you can meet a lot of castles dating from the XII-XIV, unfortunately, most of them half-destroyed. Some of them such as Mir, Nyasvizh, Zaslaue, Lida, Kamianec are well preserved. Here you can meet many forests which occupy about one third of the country, hundreds of lakes and rivers.
If you’ve ever wondered what you might find in Belarus outside the statues of Lenin, you must know that Belarus has a lot to offer. You can still find Orthodox churches in the twelfth century in Hrodna, Mahilyow, Polacak, Navahradak, beautiful Catholic churches from the centuries XIV, XVI in Hrodna, Vitebsk, Vidzy. You will be delighted with a lot of small and quiet resort surrounded by lakes, rivers and forests. In Belarus there are three National Parks: Belovezhskaya Pushcha, Braslav Lakes and Narochansky. Flora of Belarus occupies 70% of the territory. Belarus is a hilly terrain with many rivers and lakes treated in some places to find a temperate swampy forest.75% of the population are Russians by 14% following Belarusian, Poles and Ukrainians. Mink is a node point linking Moscow with Ukraine as well as Warsaw. Attractions near the capital Minsk are lakes and forests of the country where the swamps made their homes.
Minsk is the capital and at the same time the largest city in the country. It covers an area of 256 km and has a population of 1.738 million people. The city is located near the center of the country on a tributary of the river Bjaresina. It is the country’s economic and cultural center. Virginia Mary’s Cathedral is the most beautiful and largest cathedral in the country. Situated in the old part of town it belongs to a monastery complex that forms the Jesuits. The city has two major parks: Janka Kupala Park and Maxim Gorky Park (park for children). In the market is a huge Lenin statue of Lenin in front of the palace of the republic. Minsk is not yet very developed network of metro lines but every year the state are building them (so far there are only two). A church built of red brick is also in this part of town. It is a building that was built not long (only in 1910) by Edward Wojnilowitsch in memory of his children who died a few years back (Name of the Church: Church of St. Simon and St. Helena).
Name: Minsk. Geographic coordinates: 53 54 N, 27 34 E. Time difference: UTC + 2. Summer time: 1 hour, begins last Sunday in March, ends last Sunday in October. Ethnic groups: Belarusian 81.2%, Russian 11.4%, 3.9% Poles, Ukrainians 2.4%, other 1.1% (1999 census). Religion: Eastern Orthodox 80%, other (including Roman Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, and Muslim) 20% (1997 estimate). Languages: Belarusian, Russian, other. National holiday: Independence Day, July 3 (1944); on 3 July 1944 in Minsk was given was free of German troops; 25 August 1991 was the date of independence from the Soviet Union. Executive Branch: Chief of state, Head of government: Prime Minister, first vice premier. Cabinet: Council of Ministers; elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year period, the first election held June 23 and July 10, 1994.
The territory of Belarus, populated in the second half of the 1st century AC by East Slavic tribes, is part of Kievan Russia in the 9-11 centuries, now spreading Christianity. Principalities formed after the collapse of Russian Kievan state (Polotsk, Torovsk, Smolensk, etc.) are held in the 13-14 centuries, after the great Mongol invasion, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. After the union with Lithuania in 1569, Belarus is part of the new unified Polish-Lithuanian State, now called Belarus (White Russia, or Russia, Western, for whites being the symbol of the sunset of Slavs). By act of Brest (1596) Orthodox clergy supports union with Rome, giving birth to church together. After the three partitions of Poland (1772-1795), Belarus is annexed by the Russian Empire. During WWI, the territory of Belarus is largely occupied by German troops. It establishes in the Bolshevik movement in November 1917 in Minsk Soviet power, but by the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk (March 3, 1918) Belarus is, by the end of 1918, given to Germany.
On January 1, 1919, is realized the Byelorussian SSR, which is united with Lithuania. Polish Army in the period 1919-1920 deals with Belarus and Russian-Polish Treaty of Riga (March 18, 1921) and Belarus is divided between Soviet Russia (the East) and Poland (western part). On 30 December 1922 Byelorussian SSR becomes constituent part of the USSR, after the occupation of Eastern Poland by Soviet troops (September 1939). In 1941-1944, Belarus was occupied by German troops, over 1300 people lost their lives during this time. In 1945 Byelorussian SSR became a founding member of the UN. After World War II, Belarus is one of the most prosperous republics. On January 26, 1990 Belarusian is declared official language; on 27 July 1990 the Supreme Soviet in Minsk votes the declaration of sovereignty of the republic which proclaimed its independence on 25 August 1991 and adopts on September 19, 1991 the name “Republic of Belarus”.
On December 21, 1991 Belarus is one of 11 republics of the CIS countries that signed the memorandum. The transition is proving particularly difficult for Belarus; it lacks its own energy resources and a conservative parliament. Stanislav Şuşkievici reformist President is dismissed by the Supreme Soviet on 26 January 1994 and his place is occupied by Mecislav Grib. Following the adoption of a new constitution (March 28, 1994), introducing a presidential system, the head of state directly elected by the people, is also chief executive, while maintaining the nominal and function as prime minister. The territories of modern Belarus were occupied by Slavic tribes since the sixth century. In the IX and X centuries there were several main points, the most important being centered on Polatsk. Throughout the dynasties, they have come to be part of the Kievan Russia and were converted to Orthodox Christianity.
After the disintegration of Kievan Russian in the thirteenth century, the lands were incorporated by the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. At first, Belarus has exercised great influence on the pagan Lithuanians, but after the union of Lithuania with the dynasty of Poland in 1386, Orthodox Byelorussians weakened opposition. Belarus bishops have accepted union with Rome in 1596. Most people joined the Eastern Rite, but many of the nobility adopted Roman Catholicism, along with Polish culture and language. During the Partitions of Poland (1772, 1793 and 1795) Russian Empire annexed Belarus. In the nineteenth century, Russians and Poles were competing for the loyalty of the masses in Belarus. Only in the late nineteenth century peasant uprising led by Kastus Kalinouski in 1863, began the birth of Belarusian national identity. This has stimulated the literature, represented by poets like Yakub Kolas and Yank Kupala.
In March 1918, Belarus declared independence after the fall of Russian Empire. After the Soviet-Polish war of 1920, Belarus was occupied western Poland and eastern regions were incorporated to RSS Belarus, who was part of the Soviet Union. In 1939, at the beginning of World War II, was annexed to the USSR and the western territories. As the main battle scene, Belarus has suffered heavy losses, losing almost a quarter of the population. Postwar reconstruction was followed by a rapid growth and industrialization. The reforms begun by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in the mid 80s spurred national revival, including the formation of a popular movement called Adradzhenne in 1989. Riots among workers led to the economic crisis which precipitated the end of the USSR. When the former Soviet republics formed the Commonwealth of Independent States in 1991, Minsk became the capital.
Agriculture and industry are the strongest sectors of the economy. Most of Belarus’ population lives in urban areas surrounding Minsk and provincial residences. Inhabited since ancient times, much of the territory of Belarus (Western Russia), came from the ninth century, from the composition of Kievan Russia. In XI-XII centuries, under the collapse of the feudal territory of Belarus have been more kniezats including: Polotsk-Minsk and Smolensk Turov-Pinsk. In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, the Belarus territories were gradually conquered by Lithuanians and included in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (since 1569, Rzecspospolita). During this period it emerged the name of the “White Ruthenia” (“White Russia”) for the Russia’s western territories. At the end of the eighteenth century, the territory of Belarus was annexed by Russia. The population of Belarus took part in revolutionary events of 1905-1907, as well as those in February and November 1917.
During the First World War, Belarus became the theater of battle of the warring parties, west of the country being occupied by German troops. In November 1917, Soviet power was established in Belarus, and on 1 January 1919, was set up RSS Belarus. Trough the Russo-Polish Treaty of Riga (March 1921), the western part of Belarus went to Poland. On 30 December 1922, Belarus became in the component of the USSR; in November 1939, Western Belarus was included in RSS Belarus. Nazi troops occupied it in 1941 and Belarus has organized a powerful partisan movement. In July 1944, it was occupied by Soviet troops. On August 25, 1991 Belarus declared its independence.11