Belarus or Belarus (Russian and Belarusian: Беларусь, transliterated as Belarous; Łacinka: Biełaruś), officially the Republic of Belarus, is an inner state in Eastern Europe. The country borders Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. The capital is Minsk.
Belarus was one of the original Soviet republics along with Russia, Ukraine and Transcaucasia. The country declared independence on August 25, 1991, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
The name Belarus, with the stress on the last syllable, comes from the Russian words Белая (Belaya, meaning white) and Русь (Land of the Rust, Ruthenia), an old historical name for the area where East Slavs lived ( from which Russia is also derived). This area was traditionally subdivided into Belarusian (largely present-day Belarus), Black Ruthenia (an area in southwestern Belarus), and Red Ruthenia (an area in Poland and Ukraine). Later, the name Ruthenia was limited to the present territory of the Transcarpathian Oblast in Ukraine. The Dutch name Belarus is therefore a literal translation of Belarus. In official texts, the name Belarus is used in Dutch. The country itself has been using the name Belarus since 1991. The name Belarus is considered undesirable by a small group because it refers too much to neighboring Russia, which may suggest that the country is part of Russia, although linguistically both names have the same etymological background.
The Belarusian territories had been part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania since the fourteenth century. When that country formed a new state together with Poland in 1569, Belarus became part of this Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. With the division of Poland (1773/1793/1795) the area came to the Russian Empire and in 1922 it became a state of the Soviet Union under the name Belarusian SSR. Belarus was hit very hard in World War II. The percentage of fatalities was higher than in the worst affected independent country, Poland. According to the Russian historian Vadim Erlikman, 2.29 million Belarusians were killed, 25.3% of the population (Poland 17.2%). In 1990/1991 Belarus broke away from the Soviet Union and established the Commonwealth of Independent States together with other former Soviet republics. In 1994, current President Alexander Lukashenko came to power through democratic elections. He was against the disintegration of the Soviet Union and, among other things, is committed to a Eurasian Union.
With an area of 207,600 km², of which 4700 km² is water, Belarus is about five times the size of the Netherlands.
In total, the Belarusian border is 3,098 km long. That consists of 141 km with Latvia, 502 km with Lithuania, 605 km with Poland, 891 km with Ukraine, but the largest part - 959 km - with Russia. It is completely landlocked and thus has no coast or seaports.
It is a flat country, it is on average about 160 meters above sea level and the highest mountain, Dzharzhynskaya hara, has its peak at 345 meters above sea level. More than 40% of the land area is suitable for agricultural purposes and more than 40% of the land is also covered with forest. About 10% of the working population is employed in the primary sector. The country lies on the border of a land and sea climate, with cold winters and cool and wet summers.
Belarus got its current form in 1946 (then called Belarusian SSR).
Some cities in Belarus are:
Rivers in Belarus are:
Belarus is administratively divided into six