Belarus

Article

May 23, 2022

Belarus or Belarus, in long form the Republic of Belarus or the Republic of Belarus, is a country in eastern Europe without access to the sea, bordered by Latvia to the north, by Russia to the northeast and to the east, by Ukraine to the south, by Poland to the west, and by Lithuania to the northwest. The country, a vast plain with a continental climate, is covered with 40% of forests, including a primary forest sheltering animal species that have disappeared in the rest of Europe. The main resources of the country, with its poor subsoil, are agriculture and industry. In the south of the country is the historic region of Polesie, whose eastern part, difficult to access, especially for foreigners, remains contaminated by radiation from the explosion in 1986 of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, as well as the north from Ukraine. Belarus, with a population of 9,477,918, has one of the lowest population densities on the continent: 46 inhabitants/km2. Most Belarusians live in urban areas; the largest cities in the country are Minsk (the capital), Homiel, Hrodna, Mahiliow, Brest, Vitebsk and Babruisk. The country is part of the original home of Slavic languages. Its territory was once included in great powers: Rus' of kyiv, Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Republic of the Two Nations, Russian Empire and Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Within the latter, Belarus was one of the Soviet republics. It became independent when the USSR broke up in 1991. In 1994, Alexander Lukashenko was elected the first President of the Republic, a position he still holds to this day. Relations with Russia are very close, especially linguistically and economically; the two countries have even considered uniting. In the 1990s, like its Russian neighbour, Belarus adopted a market economy, but limited the privatization of its industry and agriculture, thus avoiding importing its tractors, refrigerators and agricultural products: inequalities are weaker than in Russia. Belarus has thus retained a welfare state system based in particular on free education and health. Since July 2010, Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan have formed a customs union, notably removing controls at their common borders. Most Western governments and media consider Belarus one of the last authoritarian regimes in Europe. The wave of democratization in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe following the fall of the communist regimes in Europe was repressed in 1992, under the presidency of Stanislaw Chouchkievitch. President Lukashenko, as well as the majority of his close collaborators, were banned from visas within the European Union and the United States in February 2011, due to political practices described as dictatorial and repressive. The EU dropped these sanctions in 2016 due to the Ukrainian crisis and the mediating role played by Belarus. From the summer of 2020, due to his re-election with a score of 80% considered to be marred by heavy fraud, Alexander Lukashenko faces the uprising of part of the Belarusian population who regularly and massively demonstrate their discontent. In 2021, Belarus sets up flights and internal travel to facilitate the transit of migrants to the EU, first to Lithuania, then to Latvia and Poland, leading to a border crisis with the European Union . In February 2022, the country serves as a rear base for the Russian army for the military attack on Ukraine through its northern border.

Toponymy

The name of the country is a Slavic adaptation of the Latin form Russia alba, mentioned in Russian from the end of the 15th century as бел�