Language: Russian, Belarussian
Currency: Belarusian ruble (BYR)
Calling Code: 375
Belarus or White Rus is a landlocked, sovereign
country in Eastern Europe that was part of the Union of Soviet
Socialist Republics (USSR) until 1991. It borders Lithuania and
Latvia to the north, with the Russian Federation, to the south with
Ukraine and to the west with Poland. The capital is Minsk. Until the
twentieth century, Belarusians lacked the opportunity to create a
distinctive national identity because for centuries the lands of
present-day Belarus belonged to several ethnically different
countries, including the Principality of Pólatsk, the Grand Duchy of
Lithuania and the Republic of the Two Nations After the brief
existence of the Belarusian National Republic (1918-1919), Belarus
became a constituent republic of the USSR, the Byelorussian Soviet
The definitive unification of Belarus, within its modern frontiers, took place in 1939, when Russian-Belarusian lands held by the Second Polish Republic (1918-1939) were annexed to the Soviet Union under the terms of the Ribbentrop Pact. Molotov: The territory of this country was devastated in the Second World War, during which Belarus lost about a third of its population and more than half of its economic resources.The Republic was rehabilitated in the years after the war .
The Parliament of the Republic declared the sovereignty of Belarus on July 27, 1990, and after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Belarus declared independence on August 25, 1991. Aleksandr Lukashenko has been president of the country since 1994. During his presidency Lukashenko has implemented policies similar to those of the Soviet era, such as state ownership of the economy, despite the objections of Western governments. Since 2000, Belarus and Russia signed a treaty for greater cooperation with some touches of the formation of a State of the Union.
The majority of the population of Belarus (almost 10 million) live in urban areas around Minsk or in the capitals of the other provinces, more than 80% of the population are Belarusian natives, the rest are made up of minorities of Russians, Polish and Ukrainian. Since a referendum in 1995, the country has had two official languages: Belarusian and Russian. The Constitution of Belarus does not declare an official religion, although the main religion in the country is Christianity, mainly Russian Orthodox (the second most popular Christian branch, Catholicism, has a much smaller follow-up in comparison). Belarus is a completely flat country (it does not exceed 300 meters above sea level), divided into three distinct geographical zones: the northern one, populated by lakes; the central wooded plateau and the southern part, very swampy and uninhabited, called Swamps of Prípiat.
1 Minsk Minsk is the largest city in Belarus and also serves as the capital of the country.
Narachanski National Park Narachanski National Park is a nature preserve around lake Narach. It was established on July 28 1999 to protect a biosphere around the lake and its wetlands.
1 Brest (Брест)
2 Baranavičy (Баранавічы)
3 Biaroza (Бяроза)
4 Kamianiec (Каменец)
6 Pinsk (Пинск)
7 Pružhany (Пружаны)
8 Kobryn (Кобрын)
9 Kosava - Kosava is a historic Belarussian town in the Ivatsevichy Raion, Brest Province of Belarus. It is famous birthplace of Tadeusz Kosciuszko, Polish resistance fighter.
Ruzhany Palace The residence was constructed in 1770s by the orders of Aleksander Michał Sapieha. Today it is abandoned and left in ruins.
Nesvizh Castle Nesvizh Castle is an UNESCO World Heritage Site situated near a town of Nesvizh in the Minsk Oblast of Belarus.
12 Zeĺva (Зэльва)
Mir Castle Mir or Mirsky Castle Complex is a medieval castle located in a Hrodna voblast of Belarus. It is one of the largest and best preserved citadels in the country.
Lida Castle Lida Castle was constructed in the 14th century by Grand Duke Gediminas of Lithuania after several successful military campaigns.
Navahrudak Castle Navahrudak Castle was constructed by Grand Duchy of Lithuania as a defense of the Eastern borders from Russian duchies.
Halshany Castle Halshany Castle is yet another residence constructed by the rich family of Sapieha in the 17th century.
Kreva Castle Kreva Castle is a medieval citadel situated in the Kreva village in Belarus. It was constructed in the 14th century by the orders of Lithuanian Grand Duke Gediminas.
Hajciunishki Manor Hajciunishki Manor is a historic private residence situated in a mouth of the river Voishelk in a village of Hajciunishki of Belarus.
2 Asipovičy (Асіповічы)
5 Kryčaǔ (Крычаў)
7 Shkloǔ (Шклоў)
8 Horki (Горкі)
Babruysk Fortress Babruysk Fortress is a historic citadel situated in a Belarus city of Babruysk. It was constructed between 1810 and 1836.
Citizens of the
following countries/territories do not need a visa:
Brazil (90 days) Cuba (30 days),
(30 days), Georgia,
Israel (90 days per 180 days), Kazakhstan,
Kyrgyzstan, Macao (30 days), Macedonia (with a private invitation or
tourist voucher), Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro (30 days with a
private invitation or tourist voucher), Qatar (30 days),
Serbia (30 days), Tajikistan,
Turkey (30 days), United Arab Emirates
(30 days), Ukraine, Uzbekistan, and
Venezuela (90 days).
An up-to-date list of visa-exempt countries and territories can be found on the official website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Citizens of 74 countries, including Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the UK, and the US (see list), do not need a visa for stays in Belarus of up to 30 days, subject to a limit of 90 days per calendar year, provided they meet the following requirements:
they enter and they leave the country via flights to and from Minsk National Airport
they have medical insurance valid in Belarus preferably purchased from a kiosk next to passport control at the airport for €1/day (bring euros or dollars with you to purchase)
they are not flying directly from or to a city in Russia
they have cash or proof of funds of at least 25€ per day of stay (not enforced for travelers from developed countries)
Visa-free entry only applies to visitors entering and leaving through the border checkpoint at Minsk National Airport, and, unless noted elsewhere, visa-free entry does not apply to travelers entering or exiting by train, bus, or car, or entering by plane at a different airport than Minsk. The cheapest flights to/from Minsk National Airport are usually to/from Vilnius.
Visa-free entry is not granted to holders of diplomatic, service or special passports and to travelers flying to Minsk from Russia or flying from Minsk to Russia. These flights are considered domestic because of the absence of border control between Belarus and Russia.
Citizens of Vietnam, Haiti, Gambia, Honduras, India, China, Lebanon, Namibia, Samoa must also have a valid multi-entry visa to one of the EU countries or to the Schengen Area. They also have to produce a stamp that they used this visa to enter the EU as well as return flight tickets from Minsk before the visa-free period expires.
Arrival and departure days are each considered as full days.
Foreigners can also travel visa-free for 10 days to a visa-free zone that includes Brest and Grodno, provided they obtain permission from a travel agency. See this page for details.
Foreigners can also travel visa-free for 3 days to Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park in western Belarus. To do this, you should "book tourism services" in advance and fill in a online form, after which a simplified visa will be sent to you by e-mail. Bring a printout of the visa and a passport and enter the park from Poland through the Pererov-Belovezha border checkpoint.
Whether or not they need a visa, foreigners visiting Belarus must register with the local Migration and Citizenship Department within a period of 5 business days and get a registration card that is held until you leave the country. If you are staying in a hotel, this will be arranged by the hotel and the hotel will provide the registration card at check-in. Do not lose these papers.
Visa on arrival
at Minsk National Airport
Belarusian visas can be obtained at Minsk National Airport (IATA: MSQ) by nationals of countries with no consular offices of the Republic of Belarus for €90 or for €180 for citizens of countries with a Belarusian consulate. Standard documents including a letter of invitation have to be provided in advance. See Particulars of issuance of entry visas at the «National Airport Minsk».
apply for a visa at a Belarusian Consulate or Embassy. The list can
be found on the Foreign Affairs Ministry website.
Visas can be valid for one, two, three, or unlimited entries. They are to be used within the period indicated therein. A visa will take a full page of your passport so make sure you have at least one page free.
Tourist visa fees are
approximately €60 for all categories of visa, for processing in 5
business days, or double the price for a 2 business day turnaround.
Fees change so check with your local embassy for the current costs.
Japanese and Serbian passport holders are exempted from visa fees.
Applying for a Visa for Belarus can be a very customer unfriendly
experience. If you cannot apply for a visa in person, you SHOULD use
the help of a Visa Processing Agency even though it will involve
It is common that someone follows all application protocols for getting a visa but still gets denied due to a small technical error, such as a problem with the form of money order or a slight error in a filling out a form.
Communication with the embassies/consulates in Kensington (London, England), Vilnius (Lithuania), Moscow (Russia) can be poor especially by e-mail, post and via telephone. In addition, there have been reports of e-mail queries going unanswered and express Visa applications not being processed in the 48 hour period. They may call you with an update on an application but the communication can be poor or unclear with the caller not identifying themselves.
In order to get a visa you will also need
a passport and an invitation, other papers depending on the type of
visa you apply for. There is a compulsory state medical insurance
for visitors to Belarus if you do have a policy valid in Belarus.
Insurance costs 1€ a day. Even if you have valid insurance, if your
document does not EXPLICITLY say it works in Belarus, officials in
the airport will ask you to pay.
To get a Belarusian business visa a foreigner has to present an invitation of any Belarusian legal entity officially registered in the Republic of Belarus. The invitation is to be written on letterhead paper and should contain name, personal and passport details as well as purpose and duration of visit. The invitation is to be signed and bear official seal of the inviting organization. Embassies or consulates (with the exception of Consular office at the National airport) can often except invitations received by fax. Multiple business visa is obtainable against payment of USD300 from Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Consular department upon presentation of all required documents (contact phone + 375 17 222 26 61).
To get a short-term visa for private purposes (visiting Belarusian relatives, friends, other private matters) with a validity of 30 days, maximum for 1-, 2- or multiple entries for citizens of the EU as well as nationals of several other countries, such as Australia, Andorra, Argentina, Bahrain, Canada, Croatia, Chile, Iceland, Israel, Norway, Swiss Confederation, Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Uruguay, Republic of South Africa and Japan, no visa support documents shall be required (letter of invitation etc. documents). However, the consulate may decide you do need a letter of invitation anyway. So don't be too confident that you can get a Visa without documents. For example, Canadian citizens are not guaranteed to get a short term visa for private purposes without a letter of invitation. Short term visas are available from Minsk airport, consulates and embassies.
To get a visa for private purposes a foreigner who
is planning to stay in the country for more than 30 days has to
present the invitation issued for a Belarusian resident by his
citizenship and migration office. The original invitation should be
handed over to the embassy/consulate or Consular office at the
National airport in this case, any fax or photocopy is excluded.
Multiple private visa is issued upon presentation of the original
invitation to foreigners, visiting their close relatives. Very often
Belarusian consulates grant private visas to the nationals of
migration secure countries without any invitation papers.
Visas can be valid for one, two, three or multiple entries. They are to be used within the period indicated therein.
Some agencies provide letters of invitation, apartments, airport transfers etc. Any good search engine should provide links. Avoid belarusrent.com, however. Reports have been received of them taking money through paypal, though not delivering on services and refusing refunds.
In case of emergency
such as hospitalization, it is possible to extend a visa or the
visa-free stay upon the request to a local Migration office. An exit
visa should be issued and a traveler will be allowed to leave the
country through any border checkpoint by road, railway, or air.
If needed, private or business visas can be extended up to 90 days by the Minsk city citizenship and migration office (contact phone + 375 17 231-3809) or Regional citizenship and migration office in Hrodna, Brest, Minsk, Mahilyou, Homel upon presentation of all the required documents.
If you have an expired visa, an exit permit will be required to leave the country. They are issued by Minsk city passport and visa office or Regional passport and visa offices in Hrodna, Brest, Minsk, Mogilev, Homel.
European airlines have flights to Minsk National Airport,
approximately 40 km from Minsk, including Belavia, Lufthansa,
Austrian Airlines, Lot Polish Airlines, Air Baltic, and Czech
The only national airline, Belavia offers competitively-priced direct flights. Flights to/from Vilnius costs as low as €40 and little advance purchase is required.
Officially, both Russian and Belarusian are spoken,
but it must be said that Belarusian hardly receives any special support
these days. Russian is spoken and understood in all parts of the
country, with most residents of Belarus speaking Belarusian "Tresyanka":
Russian with Belarusian intonation and Belarusian word sprinkles. Pure
Russian is predominantly spoken in Minsk and some areas where there are
many ethnic Russians and their descendants. Belarusian is the language
of the intelligentsia, the opposition and the peasants in remote
villages and settlements.
In the northwest of the country, the Polish minority makes up about 25% of the population. Here you get further with Polish. Many Belarusians also go to Poland to study, work or shop and speak Polish accordingly, especially since the languages are relatively similar and it is easy for native Belarusian speakers to learn Polish.
Amazing proportions of the older and middle generation have minimal to good knowledge of German; English clearly dominates among the younger generation. However, one has to be aware that Belarus is a relatively isolated country, in which foreign language skills are not given the same status as a country of comparable size, such as Belgium or Greece.
Furthermore, as a foreigner, you have to be aware that you will be approached on the street completely surprisingly (especially outside the capital Minsk and outside the border town of Brest) if you should speak German or English. Many young Belarusians just want to take the opportunity to try out their language skills; one should respond in a polite and accommodating manner, as this is also an excellent opportunity to meet local people and get to know their opinions.
On July 1, 2016, new banknotes and, for the first time, circulation coins were introduced, while banknotes from the previous series were only withdrawn from 2017. There is one special feature to watch out for: four zeros were dropped because of the high inflation. Notes from the new series have a value that is 10,000 times higher than notes from the old series with the same overprint. However, these are no longer approved for use in retail and since 2020 can only be exchanged at the Belarusian central bank. The current banknotes are in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 Br, coins in circulation are in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 kopecks, as well as 1 and 2 rubles. Since the founding of the state, the inflation rate has averaged around 192% with peak values of over 2,220%. It is currently around 5.6% (as of 2020).
Belarusian cuisine is fairly down-to-earth, with potatoes and meat as the main ingredients. Popular dishes include Draniki (potato pancakes), Babka (a type of potato pie) and Kalduni (dumplings similar to Russian pelmeni).
By and large, Belarus is a safe country. Of course,
healthy caution is called for in hotspots such as the major bus stations
and train junctions - as in almost every country in the world.
Corruption is widespread, but the normal traveler is rarely confronted with this form of crime unless he is traveling in Belarus with his own car, which is actually not advisable for many reasons (gross attempts by the police to extort a few dollar bills to get hold of, difficulties with customs up to the arbitrary confiscation of cars, search for guarded parking lots, etc.), especially if you use a Western number plate. Another reason not to travel by car yourself is the fact that in rural areas, especially at night, animals of all kinds are to be expected very often on the road. The number of stray dogs is above average. A wildlife accident with significant damage and hassles with the insurance company, whether Western or Belarusian, are inevitable.
Large cities such as Minsk, Brest or Grodno are largely safer than most major German cities. Only the following peculiarities should be observed, especially as a western foreigner:
Open display of homosexuality can provoke violent reactions from certain groups, but also from drunk youth
It can be dangerous to wear clothing that deviates from the norm, especially at night when many streets are poorly lit. Extravagant, alternative, bizarre clothing or clothing that is immediately recognizable as foreign can still be generally tolerated during the day, although this can change among many adolescents and young male adults at night and when there is a high degree of alcohol consumption. Rastafari curls, punks, a hippie look or other very conspicuous clothing and behavior can be dangerous at night. Belarus is a relatively closed country with relatively uniform codes of conduct and dress,
It is not advisable to visit certain nightclubs and striptease bars in major Belarusian cities unless you are fluent in Russian. Otherwise it could be a very expensive experience
It's best to avoid - especially at night - larger drunken groups of men with pit bulls or other types of attack dogs (particularly in many residential areas of Minsk).
Willful provocations are reacted to much more violently than in Germany. You should always be aware of that! Provocative kissing on the subway or bus can cause loud and uncomfortable to violent reactions; the same applies to any kind of indecent behavior in public.
Adolescents should be aware that penetrating stares or intense "looking into the eye" as well as gross discourtesy (e.g. not offering seats to needy people such as old people or pregnant women) can certainly be punished with a slap in the face. Belarusians are generally relatively calm people, but when a fight breaks out, the reactions are more violent than in Germany. Life is hard and the tolerance limit for wantonness is significantly lower than in Germany; the moral ideas about how to behave in public are also much more traditional than in German-speaking countries.
Never start any heated discussions with the militia! Belarusian law enforcement officers are known for their hands-on manner, which leaves little room for rhetorical games. If there is any kind of dispute with the militia, immediately refer to the status as a German.
The German passport is still worth its weight in gold in Belarus and also offers a certain protective function.
Be careful with taxi rides! Negotiate the price beforehand and never get on a shady driver as a woman traveling alone
Young women are less and less often seen alone on the streets as it gets darker. Usually only accompanied by mother, relatives or male companion. The fear of kidnapping and subsequent rape by car crews cruising around at night is widespread. In my opinion, this fear is greatly exaggerated, but young women should keep this quirk in mind, as it is not common for young and attractive women to wander the streets alone late at night. It could lead to misunderstandings. Point 8 applies in particular to Minsk, to a lesser extent for the larger cities and almost not at all for the villages and small towns
There is drug addiction. Incidentally, drug offenses are punished very harshly, much harsher than in Central Europe. In addition, it should not be forgotten that the Belarusian penal system is extremely sparse and very brutal by German standards. Tuberculosis and other diseases are rampant in prisons; this also applies to violence among prisoners and between prisoners and guards
Driving under the influence of alcohol is theoretically punished severely; The reality is different. Be careful when driving on land! Unlit cars with drunk drivers are not uncommon when driving at night. As a foreigner, however, you should under no circumstances drive a car under the influence of alcohol.
Passport and visa offenses. As a foreign tourist you must register at the local militia station within 5 calendar days; many tourists traveling privately do not do this. But you have to be aware that e.g. For example, in Minsk random raids (e.g. at metro exits or at bus stops) are often held to catch illegal immigrants and foreigners. These raids are mostly aimed at the Caucasians (Azerbaijanis, Chechens, Dagestanis, etc.), Indians and Arabs, who are extremely unpopular with the population. Nevertheless, even a European-looking tourist can be caught in such a raid. If you are found without registration, it can, but does not have to, become uncomfortable. You should also be aware that you can get into trouble when you leave the country if you don't have a registration in your passport.
Since 2005, agriculture has also been practiced again
in the radioactively contaminated area near Chernobyl. Up-to-date
information on radiation exposure is scarce. At the very least, you
should refrain from enjoying local forest fruits (mushrooms, berries of
all kinds), but game should also be avoided.
Belarus remains the only country in Europe where people are sentenced to death and executed. With regard to freedom of the press and freedom of expression, the regime is acting in a similarly repressive manner as in Uzbekistan and Turkey.
The public toilets are mostly in a dilapidated state. Even in public buildings, hygienic restrictions must be expected. A "toilet" is often shown on trunk roads, which then turns out to be a covered latrine without a water connection. At the small rest houses that can be found along the streets, you can usually even find free toilets in a reasonably passable condition. In Minsk, the well-known fast food restaurants are recommended as an emergency place for relieving yourself.
220 V. An adapter is not required.
Drinking water quality
Especially outside of Minsk, the water supply network is outdated. Deposits and discoloration of the drinking water as well as strong chemical treatment (e.g. with chlorine) can be found. Tap water should not be drunk straight from the tap. We recommend buying bottled mineral water for small children.
The name of the state comes from the phrase "Belaya
Rus", known from the middle of the XIII century and used in relation to
various regions of Rus'. Until the end of the 15th century, most
references to "White Rus'" (Alba Russia) come from Western Europe and
refer to the territory of the Novgorod Republic. In relation to a part
of the modern territory of Belarus, namely the Podvinsk land (modern
Vitebsk region), the name "Belaya Rus" first began to be used from the
middle of the XIV century. In the 15th-16th centuries, the term also
referred to the Muscovite state.
There are three main versions of the origin of the name "Belaya Rus". According to one of them, the population living on the territory of present-day Belarus wore clothes made of light canvas fabric. Together with blond hair and eyes, this gave the impression of purity, light, which is why they called this part of Rus' "White". According to another version, the Tatar-Mongol conquerors practically did not reach this land, and the term "Belaya Rus" was used in the meaning of "free". According to the third version, this territory was called "White" because of the wide spread of Christianity compared to the pagan Black Russia.
Since the 1620s, the term began to be assigned to the eastern (Podvinsk-Podneprovsky) lands of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The term "Belarusians" was used to designate the inhabitants of White Rus' during this period; at the same time, the polytonym "Litvins" and the ethnonym "Rusyns" continued to be used.
The first administrative-territorial unit, which contained the term "Belarus" in its official name, was the Belarusian General Government (1796) as part of the Russian Empire. The idea of creating an independent state (not state entities), which would have the title name "Belarus", was put forward at the end of 1915 by Vaclav Lastovsky. The first state to have the name "Belarus" was the Belarusian People's Republic (1918-1919). In 1919, the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic was formed. On September 19, 1991, in connection with the collapse of the USSR and the formation of a sovereign state, the new name was "Republic of Belarus".
At the beginning of the 20th century, during the formation of the Belarusian national movement, other variants of the name of the country were proposed, for example, Kryvia. According to the ethnographer Efim Karsky, the name "Belarus" was not known to the common people of the region.
The total area of Belarus is 207.6 thousand km² (84th
place in terms of area among the countries of the world), of which 202.9
thousand km² are on land. It is almost twice the size of Bulgaria, three
times the size of Ireland. The countries closest in area are Great
Britain and Romania. Belarus occupies a territory that is shaped like a
pentagon. From north to south it extends for 560 km, from west to east -
for 650 km. The depth of the territory of Belarus is 220 km.
The total length of the state border is 3617 km. The country borders on five states: Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania and Latvia. The longest section of the border with Russia is 1283 km. The border with Ukraine is a little shorter - 1084 km. In the west, for 398 km, Belarus borders on Poland, in the northwest - on Lithuania (679 km) and Latvia (173 km).
Belarus is located within the temperate geographical zone between 51 and 56 ° N. sh. The extreme northern point is located in the Verkhnedvinsky district north of Lake Osveisky, and the southern one is in the Braginsky district near the urban-type settlement of Komarin. The extreme western point is located near the city of Vysokoye, Kamenetsky district, the eastern one is not far from Khotimsk. The geographical center of the country is located near the village of Antonovo, Pukhovichi district, and has coordinates 53°32′ N. sh. 28°03′ E d.HGЯO. According to Belarusian scientists, the geographical center of Europe is located on the territory of the country and it is located not far from Polotsk, in which a corresponding memorial sign is installed.
The territory of the country is part of the East
European Plain. Geological history determined the distribution of
accumulative plains within its limits. The average absolute height of
the surface is 160 meters above sea level. The plains of Belarus are
divided into three groups: undulating plains alternate with hilly
uplands and flat lowlands. The ancient glaciations had the greatest
influence on the formation of the country's relief. Thanks to them,
about 80% of the relief of Belarus was formed. The accumulation of
glacial deposits led to the formation of moraine plains and terminal
moraine uplands. The melt waters of the glaciers filled the low areas,
in some places formed near-glacial lakes, and also formed flat and
slightly undulating lowlands and plains.
Hills occupy a little more than a fifth of the country's territory. They are especially characteristic of the central regions, where the Belarusian Ridge extends from west to east. Mostly along it passes the Main European watershed. By river valleys, the Belarusian ridge is divided into separate uplands. Plains with absolute heights from 150 to 200 meters occupy about half of the territory of Belarus. Plains are located between the heights of the Belarusian ridge. Lowlands occupy about 30% of the country's territory, mainly in the valleys of the largest rivers. These include territories with absolute elevations from 80 to 150 meters. They are more widely represented in the south of Belarus, where the Polesskaya and Dnieper lowlands are located. In the northern and central regions, lowlands alternate with plains and uplands. The largest of them are Polotsk and Neman.
Belarus is located within the western part of the East
European platform. It is characterized by a continental-type crust with
a thickness of 43–57 km. The platform has a two-tier structure: a
sedimentary cover is located on the crystalline basement. Belarus is
characterized by slow vertical movements, the amplitude of which does
not exceed two centimeters per year.
The largest tectonic structures of Belarus are the Russian plate, the Volyn-Azov plate and the Ukrainian shield. The central part of the country's territory is occupied by the Belarusian anteclise, within which the foundation lies at depths of 20-100 meters from the surface, the slopes are composed of shallow-marine, mainly carbonate, Paleozoic deposits. In the north, the Belarusian anteclise adjoins the Permian-Mesozoic Polish-Lithuanian syneclise. In the southern part of Belarus, the Pripyat trough, which was laid down in the middle of the Devonian period, extends in the latitudinal direction, filled mainly with salt-bearing deposits of the Upper Devonian. In the northeast, there is the Orsha depression, filled with Upper Proterozoic glacial and volcanic complexes. In the extreme west of the country is the Podlasie-Brest depression, which includes Upper Paleozoic and Mesozoic deposits. The thickness of the sedimentary cover in depressions and troughs reaches 1000-5000 meters. Quaternary glacial and lacustrine-river deposits (partially affected by glaciodislocations) are ubiquitous on the territory of Belarus, overlying older rocks.
On the territory of the country, large Starobinskoye and Petrikovskoye potash salt deposits with raw material reserves of several billion tons and rock salt deposits with raw material reserves of several tens of billions of tons have been explored. Several dozens of small oil fields are known in the Gomel region, where a little more than 1.5 million tons of oil and a small amount of natural gas are produced annually. Deposits of brown coal and oil shale are known in the Pripyat valley. Prospects for shale gas production are still unclear. Rich deposits of peat are located throughout the territory of the republic - about 7 thousand peat bogs are known. There are two significant but deep deposits of iron ore and several small deposits (ore occurrences) of native copper, copper pyrite, rare earth metals, beryllium and uranium ores. Many deposits of raw materials are being developed for the production of building materials and sources of fresh and mineral water.
Approximately 60% of the territory of Belarus is
dominated by soddy-podzolic soils of different mechanical composition
and degree of podzolization; in the western part, soils close to brown
forest soils and gley-podzolic soils are distinguished, in the lowlands
(especially in Polissya) - soddy-marsh, marsh (22.7%) and sandy
soddy-podzolic soils. Alluvial-meadow soils are widespread in the
valleys of large rivers.
Over 1/3 of the territory of Belarus is occupied by swamps and excessively moistened lands, which are especially common in the Polesskaya, Dnieper and other lowlands.
The climate of Belarus is temperate continental, in
the west it is transitional from maritime to continental, formed under
the influence of the air masses of the Atlantic. In winter, thaws are
The average summer temperature ranges from +17°C in the north (July) to +18-19°C in the south, and the winter temperature ranges from -4.5°C in the southwest to -8°C in the northeast (January). ). Precipitation falls evenly, increasing from south to north - from 500 mm in the south to 800 mm in the northwest. The greatest amount of precipitation usually falls in the autumn-winter period. In forest areas, the thickness of the snow cover can be 1–1.2 m.
The main rivers of Belarus are the Dnieper and its tributaries - the Pripyat, Sozh and Berezina, as well as the Western Dvina, the Neman and the Western Bug. These rivers are united by a number of canals, including the obsolete Dnieper-Bug, Dnieper-Neman, Berezinsky, etc. There are more than 10 thousand lakes in Belarus, the largest of which are Naroch (area - 80 km²) and Lake Osveyskoye (53 km²). Polissya (south of Belarus) is the largest region of marshes and wetlands in Europe - the Pripyat marshes alone occupy an area of about 39 thousand km².
Forests cover about 38.8% of the country's territory -
they cover 8064 thousand hectares (2010). 28 species of trees and about
70 species of shrubs grow in the forests. The most common are birch,
pine, spruce, oak, and aspen; there are pine forests in swampy low-lying
areas in the south. Meadows and pastures occupy 20% of the country's
territory. About 1/3 of the territory, mainly the central and
southeastern plains, has been plowed up. About 76 species of mammals can
be found in the forests, rivers and lakes of the country, among which
the most common are elk, deer, wild boar, wolf, beaver, fox, hare, and
about 300 species of birds. Lakes and wetlands are home to many bird
species, including cranes and storks. 63 species of fish (including 16
non-native species) were reliably identified in water bodies, among
which cyprinids predominate.
17 species of mammals, 72 species of birds, 4 species of amphibians, 10 species of fish, 72 species of insects are included in the Red Book of the country. To protect them in their habitats, state reserves and sanctuaries have been created; the most famous is Belovezhskaya Pushcha, where the last relic of the European ancient forest and bison (European bison) are protected.
In Belarus, 2 reserves and 4 national parks have been
Berezinsky Biosphere Reserve,
National Park Belovezhskaya Pushcha,
Braslav Lakes National Park,
Naroch National Park,
Pripyat National Park,
Polessky State Radiation-Ecological Reserve.
Belarus has suffered more than other countries from
the consequences of the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.
The direction of the wind in the first days and weeks after the accident
led to the fact that of the total volume of cesium-137 that fell on the
European continent, about 70% fell on the territory of Belarus. Given
the severity and scale of the defeat of the country as a result of the
accident, in July 1991 the territory of Belarus was declared a zone of
ecological disaster. The Gomel and Mogilev regions were especially
affected. At the same time, by the beginning of the 2010s, the damage to
the environment of the republic from the consequences of the catastrophe
was largely overcome: the number of settlements in the pollution zone
and the population in them were significantly reduced. In 2014, there
were 2393 settlements in the pollution zone, in which 1142.6 thousand
people lived, in 1992 - 3513 and 1852.9 thousand, respectively. By the
beginning of the 2010s, the number of settlements with a high (more than
1 mSv) level of the average effective dose of annual exposure also
sharply decreased: in 1992 there were 1022 of them, in 2004 - 725, in
2010 - 191.
The strong development of the chemical and petrochemical industries, as well as the widespread construction of large livestock complexes without proper technologies for the processing of organic waste, also have a negative impact on the environment.
The sites of Yurovichi and Berdyzh belong to the Upper Paleolithic in Belarus.
The formation of the first political associations in the Belarusian lands dates back to the 6th-9th centuries. This process is closely connected with the settlement of the Slavs. As a result of the merger of the cultures of the newcomer Slavs and local Balts, unions of tribes arose, among them - Krivichi, Dregovichi, Radimichi, Yotvingians, Lithuania.
By the end of the 9th century, the emergence of the state of the
Rurikovichs, known as the Old Russian state or Kievan Rus, is
attributed. An important role in the formation of the state belongs to
the trade route "from the Varangians to the Greeks", part of which also
passed through the territory of modern Belarus. The rulers of Rus' waged
a fierce struggle against the local tribal princely dynasties, and
repeated military campaigns were undertaken.
For about two or three centuries in the 7th-10th centuries, numerous groups of Slavic settlers from the Moravian Danube continued to flow into the various areas of the East European Plain already mastered by the Slavs, which played a significant role in the consolidation of the Slavic population of Eastern Europe and culminated in the formation of the Old Russian people.
In 872, Askold's campaign against Polotsk took place.
Around 988, Grand Duke Vladimir performed the baptism of Rus', already in 992 a diocese was founded in Polotsk, and in 1005 - in Turov.
In the 11th century, the Principality of Polotsk emerged from dependence on Kyiv. The most famous ruler of the principality was Vseslav. By the middle of the XII century, Kievan Rus was finally entrenched in a state of fragmentation and actually broke up into a dozen and a half separate principalities. As a result of the Mongol invasion of 1237-1240, many Russian lands were completely devastated. It is assumed that the invasion slightly affected modern Belarusian lands.
In the 1240s, as a result of the subjugation of a number of
Lithuanian and Russian lands by Prince Mindovg, the Grand Duchy of
Lithuania arose. Its formation took place in difficult military and
political conditions: from the east and south there was a threat from
the Mongols, from the west - the crusaders. In 1251, Mindovg was
baptized, and two years later - the royal crown. After the defeat of the
Crusaders at the Battle of Durba in 1260, Mindovg broke with the
Christian faith, returning to paganism, and resumed the fight against
the Teutonic and Livonian orders.
At the beginning of the XIV century, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was a multi-ethnic multi-confessional state with its capital in Vilna (now Vilnius), which included Lithuania, part of Rus' and Samogitia. The Grand Dukes of Lithuania waged frequent wars with the Crusaders and Tatars. The most successful of the princes were Gedimin, Olgerd and Vitovt, who significantly expanded the territory of the state through conquest and diplomacy. The domestic policy of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania was built on the principles of "do not destroy the old, do not introduce new things."
In 1385, the Union of Kreva was concluded, according to which the
Grand Duke of Lithuania Jagiello also became the king of Poland, while
pledging to baptize the remaining pagan Lithuanian lands. Unable to
retain power in Lithuania, Jagiello ceded it to his cousin Vitovt,
during the almost forty-year reign of which the Grand Duchy of Lithuania
reached its highest power.
In 1529, the Statute of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was published - a code of laws containing the legal basis of the state. In 1566 and 1588 the Statute was published in new editions.
In 1569, during the Livonian War, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was
forced to conclude the Union of Lublin with the Kingdom of Poland. As a
result of the union, a federal state was created, known as the
Commonwealth. At the same time, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was not
liquidated and retained a certain independence. The processes of
Polonization of the local elite, which gradually adopted the Polish
language and culture, intensified. In 1697, Polish finally became the
language of office work, replacing the previously officially used
Western Russian language, referred to in Belarusian historiography as
The state religion of the Commonwealth was Catholicism, while the majority of the population of modern Belarusian territories remained Orthodox. In 1596, the Brest Church Union was concluded, as a result of which the majority of the Orthodox hierarchs of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania recognized the authority of the Pope and Catholic dogmas on the condition that Orthodox rituals be preserved. Although the union provoked active resistance from many Orthodox, by the end of the 18th century, most of the inhabitants of the modern territory of Belarus were Uniates, while representatives of the upper class were mostly Catholics.
In the second half of the XVII-XVIII centuries, the Commonwealth gradually weakened and became politically dependent on the Russian Empire, which eventually led to the division of the state between Russia, Prussia and Austria.
In 1795, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania ceased to exist, and its territory became part of the Russian Empire.
The lands of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania entered the Russian Empire
as the six provinces of the Belarusian Governor General and the
Lithuanian Governor General (often briefly referred to as "Belarus and
Lithuania"), which were sometimes informally called the North-Western
Territory. The territory of modern Belarus suffered during the war of
1812: when comparing the results of two revisions - pre-war 1811 and
post-war 1815 - a decrease in the population on Belarusian lands by 6%
In the early 1820s, severe crop failures were often noted in the modern territory of Belarus, which led to mass famine. Potatoes, which became one of the main field crops, largely saved the peasants from mass death.
After the Polish uprising of 1830, which included the western part of the modern territory of Belarus, the Russian authorities began to pursue a policy of Russification of the region in order to abolish Polish influence. In 1839, the Uniate Church in the Russian Empire was liquidated. In 1840, the Statute of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was abolished. After the Polish uprising of 1863, the policy of Russification in the Belarusian lands was significantly strengthened.
In the middle of the 19th century, the Belarusian national movement began to take shape, and Belarusian literature was born. In the same period, the scientific study of the Belarusian lands began, organized by the Russian authorities. As a result of socio-economic modernization, industry began to develop, and demographic growth was observed.
In 1914, the First World War began, the Russian Empire entered the war on the side of the Entente. From the beginning of the war in Baranovichi, and from August 8, 1915, the Headquarters of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief was located in Mogilev. In August - September 1915, Germany occupied the western part of the Northwestern Territory, and the front in this area stabilized.
In 1917, as a result of the February Revolution, power in Petrograd
passed to the Provisional Government. In March 1917, a congress of
Belarusian national organizations was held in Minsk, which put forward
demands for the state autonomy of Belarus within the Russian Federative
Democratic Republic and elected an executive body - the Belarusian
National Committee (BNK). In July 1917, a congress of Belarusian
organizations and parties was held, instead of the BNK, the Central Rada
of Belarusian Organizations was created, reorganized into the Great
In October-November 1917, as a result of the October Revolution, power in the unoccupied territories passed into the hands of the Soviets, already in November congresses of Soviets were held in Minsk, Soviet executive bodies of the Western Region (Oblast Executive Committee and SNK) were created. On December 7 (20), 1917, the First All-Belarusian Congress began, which, not recognizing the legitimacy of the created bodies, declared the transfer of power to the Executive Committee, after which the Bolsheviks refused to participate in it, and the congress was dispersed by them.
On March 3, 1918, a peace treaty was signed in Brest-Litovsk (now Brest), according to which, in addition to the already occupied territory of western Belarus, most of the rest of the Belarusian ethnic territory was transferred under German control. Under these conditions, on March 25, 1918, the leaders of the Belarusian national movement proclaimed the independence of the Belarusian People's Republic, but it did not receive diplomatic recognition.
After the departure of the German troops, the Red Army occupied most of the territory of Belarus. There was no consensus among the communists about the advisability of creating a separate Belarusian Soviet republic. Representatives of the Regional Executive Committee and the Council of People's Commissars of the Western Region opposed its creation. Their views were formed under the influence of the idea of a world socialist revolution, and they saw the self-determination of peoples and the formation of national states as an obstacle to it. They argued that the Belarusians are not an independent nation, and therefore the principle of self-determination does not suit them. Belarusian communist organizations (Belnatsky and Belarusian sections under the RCP (b)) supported later by the leadership of the RSDLP (b) spoke in favor. In Smolensk, on the night of January 1-2, 1919, the Manifesto was promulgated on the formation of the Soviet Socialist Republic of Belarus as part of the RSFSR. On January 8, the capital of the SSRB was moved to Minsk (occupied without a fight by the Red Army on December 10, 1918). On January 31, 1919, the republic withdrew from the RSFSR, in Minsk on February 2 and 3, 1919, the First All-Belarusian Congress of Soviets was held, where a constitution was adopted.
On February 27, 1919, the SSRB was disbanded: the Smolensk, Vitebsk and Mogilev provinces were included in the RSFSR, and the rest of the territories of Soviet Belarus merged with the Lithuanian Soviet Republic into the Lithuanian-Belarusian SSR (Litbel).
In March 1919, the troops of the Lithuanian Tariba, supported by the German occupation garrisons, began hostilities in Lithuania.
The newly formed Poland also claimed these territories, which led in the spring and summer of 1919 to the formation of the Soviet-Polish front. As a result of the Polish offensive, Litbel was occupied by Polish troops and actually ceased to exist on July 19, 1919.
After the Red Army occupied a significant part of the territory of Belarus on July 31, 1920, the Belarusian Socialist Soviet Republic was again proclaimed in Minsk. Under the terms of the Riga Treaty, which was concluded without the participation of the BSSR, Western Belarus was ceded to the Polish Republic. An attempt to form Belarusian non-Soviet military units (Slutsk uprising), which took place under the slogans of the restoration of the BNR, ended in failure.
In 1922, the BSSR became part of the Soviet Union. In March 1924, the Central Executive Committee of the USSR decided to transfer 15 counties and individual volosts of the Vitebsk, Gomel and Smolensk provinces to the BSSR. The territory of the BSSR increased to 110,584 km², the population - up to 4.2 million people. 70.4% of the population were Belarusians.
In 1926, in Moscow, it was decided to transfer the Gomel and Rechitsa districts to the BSSR. The territory of the BSSR increased by 15,727 km², and the population - by 649 thousand people.
In the 1920s and 1930s, the processes of industrialization were actively going on in Soviet Belarus. By the beginning of industrialization, 3.4% of the population lived in the BSSR and only 1.6% of the industrial output of the USSR was produced. Light, food, woodworking, and chemical industries developed predominantly, and, beginning with the second five-year plan, machine building and the production of building materials. Over the 3 five-year plans, industrial production in the BSSR increased 23 times.
In the mid-1920s, Belarusianization was actively carried out in the BSSR - a set of measures to expand the scope of the Belarusian language and develop Belarusian culture. Until 1936, the official languages of the BSSR, along with Belarusian and Russian, were Polish and Yiddish. In the BSSR in 1932-1938 there was a Polish national autonomy Dzerzhinsky Polish national region.
In the 1930s, the Belarusianization policy was curtailed. In 1933, in order to bring the Belarusian language closer to Russian, a language reform was carried out. The farm development policy of the 1920s was replaced by the active collectivization of the 1930s.
According to a declassified archival document of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, in 1933 there were plans by Adolf Hitler to stage a coup in the USSR and turn Belarus into a German colony.
During the Stalinist repressions, many members of the intelligentsia and wealthy peasants were shot and exiled to Siberia and Central Asia. Of the 540-570 writers who were published in Belarus in the 1920-1930s, at least 440-460 (80%) were repressed. The number of people who passed through the camps is estimated at about 600-700 thousand people, and at least 300 thousand people were shot. A certain part of the repressed were Poles from the Polish National Region, liquidated in 1938, deported to Kazakhstan and Siberia.
The territory of Western Belarus and the adjacent Ukrainian, Lithuanian and Polish territories became part of the four provinces of Poland. After the elections of 1922, 11 deputies and 3 senators from the Western Belarusian lands formed the "Belarusian Deputy Club", the purpose of which was to protect the interests of the Belarusian population of Poland. In October 1923, the Communist Party of Western Belarus (KPZB) was organized as an autonomous organization within the Communist Party of Poland (KPP). In 1925, the Belarusian peasant-working community was formed and soon acquired a massive character. In 1926, an authoritarian sanation regime was established in Poland, after which the leaders of the BCRG, who were deputies of the Polish Sejm, were arrested, and in March the BCRG was banned. In 1928, 10 Belarusian deputies and 2 senators were elected to the Seim from the Belarusian lands, in 1930 - only one Belarusian deputy, and in 1935 and 1938 - not a single one. In 1934, a Polish concentration camp operated in the city of Bereza-Kartuzskaya as a place of extrajudicial internment for up to 3 months of opponents of the ruling regime. In 1938, by the decision of the Comintern, the KPP and the KPZB were dissolved, and later many of the former leaders of the KPZB were repressed by the Soviet authorities.
The Polish government did not comply with the provisions of the Riga Treaty on the equality of all ethnic groups. By March 1923, out of 400 existing Belarusian schools, 37 remained, while the number of Polish schools was growing. In 1938-1939, only 5 general education Belarusian schools remained. 1,300 Orthodox churches were converted to Catholic, often with violence. In the mid-1930s, 43% of Western Belarusians were still illiterate, and there were not even two hundred Belarusian students in all of Poland.
The world economic crisis of 1929-1939 had a severe impact on Western Belarus: many tens of thousands of residents of Western Belarus emigrated to Western Europe and America.
On September 1, 1939, Nazi Germany launched World War II by attacking
Poland from the west. On September 17, acting under the secret protocol
to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, the Soviet Union invaded Poland from the
east. Eastern Poland was occupied and annexed by the USSR, which
transferred the southern part of this territory to the Ukrainian SSR
(Western Ukraine), the rest of the territory, which became part of
Poland after the conclusion of the Riga Treaty in 1921 and was called
Western Belarus in the USSR in the interwar period, was almost
completely annexed to Byelorussian SSR: a small northwestern part of
these territories, about 20% of the Vilna region that was part of them,
together with Vilna (which was also provided for by the secret protocol
of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact) was given to the Republic of Lithuania
in exchange for four Soviet military bases in accordance with Mutual
Assistance Treaty between the Soviet Union and Lithuania. After the
annexation of Western Belarus, 130 thousand inhabitants, mostly ethnic
Poles, were repressed on its territory, of which about 30 thousand were
On June 22, 1941, Germany attacked the Soviet Union and already in the first months of the war, the territory of the BSSR was under German occupation, as a result of which 2.5 to 3 million people died, which amounted to 25-30% of the total population of the country on January 1, 1941. During the occupation, the largest partisan movement in Europe unfolded on the territory of the country. In June-August 1944, as a result of Operation Bagration, the territory of the BSSR was liberated by the Red Army.
In 1945, the BSSR became one of the founding countries of the United
Nations, while the Belarusian delegation coordinated decisions on all
issues with all-Union representatives.
In 1945, the Bialystok region was returned to Poland.
After the end of the war, anti-Soviet partisan groups operated on the territory of Belarus for several more years: both Polish (Home Army) and a few Belarusian ones, Western intelligence services tried to establish contact with some of them. Detachments of the NKVD staged punitive operations against the anti-Soviet underground.
The post-war years were marked by rapid economic recovery. The population grew rapidly, especially in urban areas.
In 1986, the Chernobyl disaster occurred on the border of the Byelorussian and Ukrainian SSRs, a significant part of the territory of the BSSR was exposed to radiation pollution.
On July 27, 1990, the Declaration on State Sovereignty of the Byelorussian SSR was adopted, on August 25, 1991 it was given the status of a constitutional law, and on September 19 the republic acquired its current name. In December, the USSR finally ceased to exist.
After the collapse of the USSR and the acquisition of independence,
Belarus became a parliamentary republic. Legislative power was vested in
the Supreme Soviet, whose first chairman was the Social Democrat
Stanislav Shushkevich. Executive power, including control over law
enforcement agencies, was in the hands of the Council of Ministers,
which was headed by Vyacheslav Kebich, who has retained his post since
1990. In 1992, the Belarusian ruble was introduced, and the formation of
its own armed forces began. In 1993, Belarus ratified the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
In 1994, the Constitution was adopted, and the first presidential elections were held. Alexander Lukashenko was elected president, and Belarus was transformed from a parliamentary republic into a parliamentary-presidential one. In 1995, he initiated a referendum, as a result of which the Russian language received the status of a state language on a par with Belarusian, the emblem and flag were changed, the president received the right to dissolve parliament in the event of a systematic or gross violation of the constitution. The President pursued a course aimed at economic integration with Russia.
By 1996, contradictions between the president and parliament intensified in Belarus, and the country entered a period of political crisis. At the initiative of the president, a second referendum was held, as a result of which changes were made to the constitution that significantly expanded the rights of the president and turned the republic from a parliamentary-presidential into a presidential one. The President received the opportunity to issue decrees having the force of law, the right to early dissolution of parliament, the ability to form the main composition of the Constitutional Court and other powers. The Supreme Council was dissolved, and a bicameral National Assembly was formed from the deputies loyal and neutral to the president. Some states and international bodies, such as the OSCE, the Council of Europe and the European Union, have not officially recognized the results of the referendum, arguing that the referendum was held with serious procedural violations.
In 1997, Belarus completed the removal of 72 SS-25 intercontinental missiles with nuclear warheads from its territory. Belarus received the status of a nuclear-free state.
After the referendum in 1996, the countdown of the 5-year term of the presidency was restarted, so that the next elections did not take place until 2001. Alexander Lukashenko won in the first round. Before and after the elections, strikes and rallies in memory of the missing politicians took place in the country.
In 2004, a new referendum was held, as a result of which restrictions on the number of presidential terms were removed from the Constitution and, thus, Alexander Lukashenko received the right to participate in subsequent presidential elections. On March 19, 2006, he was elected President of Belarus for the third time. After that, the opposition organized mass protests. On December 19, 2010, the fourth presidential election took place, as a result of which Alexander Lukashenko was re-elected for a fourth term. Meanwhile, these elections, like the elections of 2001 and 2006, were not recognized by the OSCE, the US and the European Union, and were also accompanied by a protest.
In 2008, 2011 and 2014, Belarus experienced financial crises associated with external shocks (mainly in the Russian economy), the country's chronic negative foreign trade balance, and shortcomings in economic policy.
In October 2015, the fifth presidential election was held. Alexander Lukashenko was declared the winner with a record score of 83.49%. Due to the lack of mass demonstrations, EU sanctions imposed after the 2010 elections were suspended. Also, the decision of the EU was influenced by the fact of the release of political prisoners in the summer of 2015.
In August 2020, the sixth presidential election was held, following which Alexander Lukashenko was re-elected for a sixth presidential term. His main opponent, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, scored 10.12%, according to the CEC. The European Union, the United States and a number of other countries have not recognized Lukashenka's legitimacy. The elections led to the most massive protests in the history of the country. According to the conclusion of the OSCE Rapporteur within the framework of the Moscow Mechanism, there is indisputable evidence of electoral fraud, and the security forces, in their response to peaceful demonstrations, committed massive violations of human rights, including the use of torture. During clashes between some of the protesters and law enforcement officers, the police used tear gas, stun grenades, water cannons and rubber bullets, which, according to law enforcement officials, was justified by provocations and violations of public order by the demonstrators. The excessive brutality with which law enforcement officers treated protesters in the early days of the protests became public. During the first week of protests, two people were killed and more than two hundred were injured. After the elections, the Belarusian opposition began to create various bodies: the Coordinating Council of the Belarusian Opposition, the People's Anti-Crisis Administration, and the Unified Crime Registration Book. Because of the protests, the country's economy suffered: prices for foreign currencies rose, people began to withdraw their deposits from banks, and there was a risk of default.
Since the beginning of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, the Russian army from the territory of Belarus crosses the border of Ukraine in the area of the Kyiv and Chernihiv regions, and Russian ballistic missiles are also launched.
Belarus is a unitary republic of the presidential type.
The Republic of Belarus has the supremacy and fullness of power on its territory, independently implements domestic and foreign policy, protects its independence and territorial integrity, constitutional system, ensures law and order.
The basic law of the state is the Constitution of 1994 with amendments and additions adopted at the republican referenda on November 24, 1996, October 17, 2004 and February 27, 2022.
The foundations of the state structure are enshrined in the Constitution.
The main institutions of the Belarusian statehood were formed in the first years of the independent development of the country. At the same time, the legal norms for their functioning underwent significant changes during the transformations of the mid-1990s and early 2000s. These changes were carried out both by amending the Constitution and through the adoption of a package of laws.
The head of state is the President, currently Alexander Lukashenko.
The President is also the guarantor of the Constitution, the rights and
freedoms of man and citizen.
A citizen of the Republic of Belarus by birth, not younger than 40 years old, who has the right to vote, permanently resides in the Republic of Belarus for at least 20 years immediately before the elections, does not have and did not previously have the citizenship of a foreign state or a residence permit or other document of a foreign state entitling to benefits and other benefits.
The President is elected for a period of 5 years directly by the people of the Republic of Belarus on the basis of universal, free, equal and direct suffrage by secret ballot. The same person may be President for no more than two terms.
The President calls republican referendums, calls regular and extraordinary elections to the House of Representatives, the Council of the Republic and local representative bodies, appoints the Prime Minister with the prior consent of the House of Representatives, determines the structure of the government of Belarus, appoints judges of courts of general jurisdiction and dismisses them, exercises pardons convicts, negotiates and signs international treaties, appoints and dismisses ambassadors and permanent representatives to international organizations, signs laws, forms and heads the Security Council, is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, exercises other powers established by the Constitution and laws necessary for the implementation constitutional functions assigned to it.
The President, on the basis of and in accordance with the Constitution, issues decrees and orders that are binding throughout the country.
The President cannot hold other offices, unless otherwise provided by the Constitution, and also receive monetary rewards in addition to wages, with the exception of royalties for works of science, literature and art.
In the event of a vacancy of the office of the President or the impossibility of fulfilling his duties on the grounds provided for by the Constitution, his powers shall pass to the Chairman of the Council of the Republic until the swearing of the Oath by the newly elected President.
The All-Belarusian People's Assembly is the highest representative body of democracy in the Republic of Belarus, which determines the strategic directions for the development of society and the state, ensures the inviolability of the constitutional order, the continuity of generations and civil harmony. The maximum number of delegates is 1200 people. The term of office is 5 years. Meetings are held at least once a year. The Presidium is a collegial body that ensures, in the manner prescribed by law, the prompt resolution of issues within the competence of the All-Belarusian People's Assembly. The All-Belarusian People's Assembly, in order to implement the constitutional functions entrusted to it, makes decisions that are binding.
According to the constitution, legislative power is exercised by the National Assembly - Parliament, consisting of the House of Representatives and the Council of the Republic. The Council of the Republic is the chamber of territorial representation. From each region and city of Minsk, eight members of the Council of the Republic are elected by secret ballot at meetings of deputies of local Councils of Deputies of the base level of each region and city of Minsk. The President appoints 8 members of the Council of the Republic. A member of the Council of the Republic for life with his consent is the President, who terminated the exercise of his powers due to the expiration of his term in office or ahead of schedule in the event of his resignation. The composition of the House of Representatives is 110 deputies. Election of deputies of the House of Representatives is carried out in accordance with the law on the basis of universal, free, equal, direct suffrage by secret ballot. The term of office of Parliament is 5 years. The powers of Parliament can only be extended by law in case of war.
Executive power in Belarus is exercised by the government - the Council of Ministers - the central body of state administration. In its activities it is accountable to the president and responsible to the parliament. The government resigns its powers before the newly elected president. The government consists of the prime minister, his deputies and ministers. The government may also include heads of other state bodies and organizations. The Council of Ministers is headed by the Prime Minister, currently held by Roman Golovchenko.
Judicial power in Belarus is exercised by the courts. The Supreme
Court of Belarus heads the system of courts of general jurisdiction and
is the highest judicial body that administers justice through civil,
criminal and other forms of legal proceedings prescribed by law.
The Supreme Court operates as part of: the Plenum, the Presidium, collegiums for civil, criminal, economic and intellectual property cases. The number of judges and the composition of the court are determined by the President. Since January 4, 1997, the post of chairman of the court has been occupied by Valentin Sukalo.
In 1994, the Constitutional Court was established in Belarus, to which issues related to the interpretation of the constitution and determining the compliance of legislative acts with constitutional norms were transferred from the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. The Chairman, Deputy Chairman and judges of the Constitutional Court are elected and dismissed by the All-Belarusian People's Assembly. Currently, the chairman of the Constitutional Court of Belarus is Pyotr Miklashevich, who took this position in February 2008.
The state symbols of Belarus are regulated by the Constitution and
the current legislation (the Law "On State Symbols of the Republic of
The national flag of Belarus is a rectangular panel with 2:1 proportions, divided into two horizontal stripes - red at the top and green at the bottom. The ratio of the width of the red and green stripes is 2:1. At the flagstaff there is a Belarusian national ornament of red color on a white field, which is 1/9 of the length of the flag, excluding allowance for a pocket or a pole for mounting on a flagpole (flagpole).
The State Emblem of the Republic of Belarus is a golden contour of the State Border of the Republic of Belarus placed in a silver field superimposed on the golden rays of the sun rising over the globe. At the top of the field is a five-pointed red star. The coat of arms is framed by a wreath of golden ears intertwined with clover flowers on the right, and flax flowers on the left. The wreath is intertwined three times on each side with a red-green ribbon, in the middle part of which, at the base of the State Emblem of the Republic of Belarus, the words “Republic of Belarus” are inscribed in two lines in gold.
The current state emblem replaced the coat of arms "Pursuit", used since September 19, 1991 and adopted at a meeting of the Supreme Council of Belarus.
The National Anthem of the Republic of Belarus is a musical and poetic work performed in cases provided for by the Law "On State Symbols of the Republic of Belarus" and other legislative acts.
At the special invitation of the United Nations Conference in San
Francisco, which began work on June 25, 1945, the BSSR, the Ukrainian
SSR, Denmark and Argentina were invited to become members of the UN,
thus also becoming one of the original founding members of the UN.
After the collapse of the USSR, Belarus is a member of the following interstate entities:
Commonwealth of Independent States,
Union State of Russia and Belarus,
Organization of the Collective Security Treaty,
Eurasian Economic Community,
common economic space,
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe,
NATO's Partnership for Peace program
International Monetary Fund,
The World Bank.
During an official visit to China in December 2005, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said that Belarus could soon be admitted to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. According to the president, all the SCO countries have declared their support for such a step.
In December 1991, independent Belarus was recognized by the European states, and at first there was a steady development of relations between Belarus and the EU. In 1995, an Agreement on partnership and cooperation in the political, economic and trade spheres was signed. Belarus received significant assistance through the TACIS program and through other channels. The development of relations between Belarus and the EU was hindered, however, by some measures taken by the leadership of Belarus, which were perceived in the West as an infringement of democracy. The European Union refused to recognize the changes in the Constitution of Belarus of 1994, made in 1996. In 1997, the Council of Ministers of the EU refused to extend the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement and support Belarus' accession to the Council of Europe; bilateral relations at the ministerial level were suspended and EU technical assistance programs were frozen.
Belarus has lost the status of a specially invited member in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. This decision was due to the fact that PACE recognized the elections held in Belarus in 1997 as undemocratic, and pressure on the opposition was illegal.
In 1998, there was an incident in Drozdy, when diplomatic missions were evicted from their residences, which also played a role in the deterioration of relations with Europe.
In March 2005, the European Union announced its intention to directly finance the "formation of civil society" in Belarus. On March 10, the European Parliament called "to condemn the existing Belarusian regime as a dictatorship." The resolution of the European Parliament proposes to identify and freeze the personal assets of President Alexander Lukashenko and senior government officials, as well as to expand the list of representatives of the Belarusian authorities who are prohibited from entering European countries. The decision of the European Parliament provides for the creation of television and radio stations for broadcasting to Belarus, in the same year the European Radio for Belarus begins broadcasting.
This resolution is similar to the documents adopted by the US authorities in 2004, however, it can cause more serious damage to Belarus, since among the European countries there are its largest trading partners.
On January 26, 2006, the PACE session adopted a resolution condemning the situation in Belarus on the eve of the presidential elections. Despite the active support of the Russian delegation, Belarus again did not receive the status of a specially invited member of the Council of Europe (which it was deprived of in 1997), since four conditions of the Council of Europe were not met - the expansion of the powers of parliament, the introduction of the institution of a human rights ombudsman, the revision of the Electoral Code and the law about printing.
PACE called for an international isolation regime against Belarus, consisting in refusing to issue visas to high-ranking Belarusian government officials and at the same time facilitating the issuance of visas to ordinary citizens. It is also proposed to freeze all bank accounts and other financial assets of President Alexander Lukashenko and members of his entourage.
In 2015, 96,982 crimes were registered in Belarus. The highest crime
rate among the regions of Belarus is observed in the Minsk region (1216
crimes per 100,000 people). In second place is the city of Minsk (1049
crimes per 100,000 people). Of all registered crimes, thefts account for
the most, accounting for 41.6%. The number of grave and especially grave
crimes in 2015 increased by 15.2% compared to the previous year. In
total, 8372 grave and 4018 especially grave crimes were registered in
2015. The most criminogenic place in terms of the crime rate is the
Bobruisk district, the calmest is the resort Braslav district.
At the same time, the number of crimes committed by foreigners and those with previous convictions increased (47.2%). Belarus is characterized by the global predominance of men among the perpetrators of crimes. However, in 1990-2010, the proportion of women among criminals in the country increased from 13.7% to 15.3%. Among the crimes committed by women in 2010, 54.5% were theft and evasion of alimony. Murders of women are extremely rare and in the vast majority of cases (79.2%) in a state of intoxication. There are almost no murders by the mother of a newborn in Belarus - in 2007-2010, no convictions for such crimes were recorded.
The average level of detection of crimes is 40.1%, including burglaries - 13%, murders - 92% (data for Minsk). The number of registered corruption crimes is small - in 2007 there were 2235 crimes (1100 people were involved), in 2013 - 1805 crimes (1175 people were involved). In total, over 5 years (2007-2012), 13,871 corruption crimes were registered in the republic (7,615 involved and 990 victims), which caused damage totaling 109.6 billion Belarusian rubles.
On the eve of independence, the number of prisoners in the
correctional labor institutions of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of
the republic was small - 21 thousand in 1991. In 2004-2009, the number
of prisoners was in the range of 30-34 thousand, in 2010-2011 it
increased to 39.6 and 36.6 thousand. At the end of 2014, there were 29.7
thousand prisoners in the country, in 2015–2018 - 32.5–35.1 thousand.
2000-2010 and is in the range from 0 to 4-5 executions per year in the
2010s (human rights activists claim more than 400 executions since
independence with 1 pardon). Belarus remains the last country in Europe
and the only one in the CIS where the death penalty is retained and
applied as a punishment.
There are reports of various human rights violations by law enforcement agencies and systems in the country, including torture of detainees and prisoners. The Committee against Torture of the UN Human Rights Office has already issued 5 reviews on Belarus. In particular, the experts raised the issue of establishing an independent monitoring system for places of detention, noting that the current system does not seem to be effective against torture and ill-treatment in places of detention, including inside police stations.
The Ministry of Defense and the Belarusian army were created in
January 1992. They were created on the basis of the troops of the
Belarusian Military District stationed on the territory of Belarus, with
the involvement of Belarusians who served in other regions of the Soviet
At present, there are two types of troops in the Armed Forces: the Ground Forces and the Air Force and the Air Defense Forces. Also, the Special Operations Forces (SOF of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus) are directly subordinate to the General Staff. There are also special troops (services), rear services.
Mixed principle of manning the Armed Forces. About 60% are officers, ensigns, soldiers and sergeants serving under the contract, and 40% are soldiers and sergeants of military service. The number of armed forces as of February 2014 amounted to 59 thousand people (in October 2011, about 73 thousand people): more than 46 thousand military personnel and 13 thousand civilian personnel. As of the end of 2006, 23.1% of servicemen served on a contract basis.
The Air Force and Air Defense Forces of Belarus are completing the creation of a comprehensive automated control system, which has already increased efficiency by 40%.
According to the results of the national census conducted in October
2019, the population of Belarus amounted to 9,413,446 people, and
according to estimates derived from the calculation of the existing
population growth rates, in July 2015 its number was 9,485,300 people,
and in October 2016 - about 9,505,200 people, but by January 2020 it has
again decreased to 9,408,400 people. Belarus thus ranks 95th in the
world in terms of the number of inhabitants.
The average population density is (based on the population estimate as of January 1, 2020) about 45.32 people/km², while the population is distributed extremely unevenly: 28% of Belarusians live in the Minsk agglomeration.
The share of the urban population is 78.6%. As of 2019, 2 cities have a population of more than 500 thousand people: Minsk (2,018,300) and Gomel (536,900).
The population reached a historical maximum (10,243,500) in 1994 and
has been continuously declining since then. The main factor influencing
the situation is the excess of the number of deaths over the number of
births. According to estimates for 2015, the population growth rate was
-0.2% (213th in the world) with a birth rate of 10.7 (179th in the
world) and a death rate of 13.36 (16th in the world). in the world).
According to the forecasts of relevant UN experts, in the coming
decades, the rate of population decline in Belarus will gradually
decrease and, having reached its minimum in 2100 (5.7 million people),
the population of Belarus will begin to grow.
The age structure of the population is typical for developed countries: the main feature is the high proportion of older people. 15.51% of Belarusians are under the age of 15, 70.04% are aged 15-65, and 14.44% are over 65.
The gender composition of the population is relatively even, the sex ratio is 0.87 men per woman. Changes in this indicator in different age groups generally correspond to the global trend: 1.06 at birth, 1.06 for persons under 15 years of age, 1.06 from 15 to 24 years of age, 0.96 from 25 to 54 years of age, 0. 79 - from 55 to 64 years and 0.46 - over 65 years.
According to the 2019 census, representatives of more than 130 ethnic
groups lived in Belarus. Among them, the most represented are
Belarusians (7,990,719 or 84.9%), Russians (706,992 or 7.5%), Poles
(287,693 or 3.1%), Ukrainians (159,656 or 1.7%), Jews (13 705),
Armenians (9392), Tatars (8445), Gypsies (6848), Azerbaijanis (6001),
Lithuanians (5287), Turkmens (5231). From 1 to 3 thousand Germans,
Georgians, Moldovans, Chinese, Latvians, Uzbeks, Kazakhs, Arabs and
Tajiks also live in Belarus.
Throughout Belarusian history, it turned out that the main population of the countryside were Belarusians, Jews in cities and towns, many Poles lived in the north-west of the country, and Russians, including Old Believers, lived in the east. Numerous nobility - the gentry - was heavily Polonized. Currently, in cities and villages there is a motley ethnic composition, although the majority of the population (more than 80%) identify themselves as ethnic Belarusians.
The official languages of Belarus are Belarusian and Russian. Their
status is regulated by the constitution and current legislation.
Belarusian writing is based on the Cyrillic alphabet.
The Russian language is obligatory for study in all secondary educational institutions of the country. In one way or another, almost the entire population of Belarus owns it.
According to the 2019 census, out of 9,413,446 inhabitants of the country, 5,094,928 (54.1% of the total population of the country) called Belarusian their native language, while among ethnic Belarusians the share of those who declared that their native language was Belarusian was 61.2%, 54.5% of ethnic Poles named Belarusian as their native language. In everyday life in Belarusian society, the Russian language prevails, so according to the 2019 census, 6,718,557 people (71.4% of the total population) said that they speak Russian at home, including ethnic Belarusians, this share is 61.4%; 2,447,764 people (26.0% of the total population of the country) stated that the language they usually speak at home is Belarusian, among ethnic Belarusians this proportion is 28.5%; the highest proportion of those who speak Belarusian at home is among ethnic Poles - 46.0%.
As of January 1, 2011, 3321 religious organizations were registered
in the republic (in 1989 - 768), including 41 monasteries, 15
brotherhoods, 10 sisterhoods, 14 religious educational institutions.
According to a 2015 US State Department study, in Belarus approximately
68% of the population belonged to the Russian Orthodox Church
(Belarusian Exarchate), 14% to the Roman Catholic Church, and 3% to
other religious groups.
In Belarus, there are adherents of the Greek Catholic Church (Uniates) and Orthodox groups that are not members of the Russian Orthodox Church. Other registered religious communities: Old Believers, Jews, Reformed Church, Lutherans, Evangelical Baptist Christians, Johannine Church, New Apostolic Church, Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Faith Christians, Full Gospel Christians, Apostolic Faith Christians, Church of Christ, Messianic Communities, Seventh Day Adventists , Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, Baha'is, Hare Krishnas, Armenian Apostolic Church.
According to the Catholic Church in Belarus itself, about 1.48 million believers (over 15% of the country's population) belong to it. In the Minsk-Mogilev archdiocese there were 666 thousand Catholics (14.1% of the population of the diocese), in the Vitebsk diocese - 170 thousand (13.2%), in the Grodno diocese there were 591 thousand Catholics (60.7% of the population of the diocese) and in Pinsk diocese - 50 thousand (1.6%).
There are sources that give a much higher estimate of the number of believers of all Protestant denominations - 515,024, Seventh-day Adventists - 4633 people, according to other sources - 4828 people, and the number of Jehovah's Witnesses - 3872 people.
Jewish communities believe that the number of Jews is 30-40 thousand. The number of Jews, according to censuses, is rapidly declining: for example, in 1979 there were 135 thousand, in 1989 - 112 thousand; The number of Jews decreased especially rapidly during the period of the country's independence: by 1999 their number had decreased by 4 times (to 28 thousand), and in the period up to 2009 it had more than doubled to 13 thousand.
The number of ethnic groups traditionally classified as Muslims, according to the 2009 census, was about 22 thousand people. For 2014, the number of Muslims is estimated at 19 thousand (0.2% of the population). The representatives of the Islamic clergy themselves estimate the number of their followers at 100 thousand people.
Belarus is a moderately developed industrial-agrarian state. The
economy in Belarus is built on the principles of a socially oriented
market model. The structure of the Belarusian economy is characterized
by the predominance of state ownership in the production, energy,
transport, mining, construction, agriculture and banking sectors, and a
small share of the private sector. There is no centralized distribution
and planning, except for macroeconomic indicators. The state regulates
prices for socially significant groups of goods.
The country has developed energy, engineering, agriculture, chemical, forestry and mining industries, construction and production of building materials. The problem of Belarus is the lack of open sources of hydrocarbons (for example, oil production in 2012 amounted to 1.66 million tons), as a result of which a significant part of oil and gas has to be imported. The republic also has an impressive and constantly growing external public debt (17.8 billion US dollars as of August 1, 2020) and inflation that is quite high by European standards. Belarus spends significant funds on payments on public debt - 6.8 billion rubles or 34% of the republican budget in 2019, however, the bulk of them is refinanced, as a result, the cost of servicing public debt in 2019 amounted to 2.34 billion rubles.
The foreign trade balance is chronically negative, since 2007 a positive result was achieved only in 2018 - $22.9 million, in 2019 the current account amounted to -$1.26 billion.
GDP growth in 2000-2008 ranged from 4% to 11% annually, but then fell, over 10 years from 2009 to 2019, according to the World Bank, GDP grew by 19.1%. The average annual inflation for 2000-2013 is 31%, according to the World Bank data on the GDP deflator, inflation in 2018 was 12.1%, in 2019 - 6.6%. Gross external debt by January 1, 2020 amounted to 40.7 billion US dollars or 64.4% of GDP, of which 17.1 billion dollars fell on the external debt of the public sector, in 2010 these figures were 22.1 billion dollars, 43.5% and $8.4 billion, respectively.
Small businesses (organizations with up to 100 employees and individual entrepreneurs) account for 19.1% of GDP (in 2019), its share in the economy is slowly growing (in 2011 it was 16.7%). The share of small enterprises in the foreign trade of the republic is small - 8% of exports and 24% of imports (as of 2008). The retail and wholesale trade and the service sector are dominated by the private sector. A feature of Belarus is the significant role of cooperative trade, although it has weakened compared to the Soviet period: in 2011, consumer cooperation served 3574.4 thousand people (37.9% of the population, in 1990 - 41.6%), cooperative trade accounted for 12 % of retail turnover (in 1990 - 33.5%), its services are used by the entire rural population of the country. In 1991-1995, cooperative trade reoriented itself to selling mainly food products, which in 2011 accounted for 79.9% of the retail turnover of cooperative trade (in 1991 - 50.1%, in 1995 - 80.9%). The average number of employees of Belkoopsoyuz is gradually decreasing and in 2011 amounted to 41,451 people (in 2001 - 55,458 people, in 1991 - 78,473 people). Also, Belarus has recently been characterized by a global trend towards an increase in the share of non-cash payments: if in 2009 non-cash money turnover in the retail trade turnover of the republic was 5.5%, and in the volume of paid services to the population - 8.7%, then in 2013 - 16% and 14.4%, respectively.
Labor resources (working-age population) as of 2019 totaled 5,728.9 thousand people, including 4,334.2 thousand employed. The last figure included 213.3 thousand unemployed according to the ILO methodology, a feature of Belarusian statistics is the small number of officially registered unemployed - only 8.8 thousand people. The average accrued salary for 2019 amounted to 1,092.9 rubles, which corresponds to 522 US dollars at the average annual rate. The long-term stated goal of the economic development of the Republic of Belarus is an average salary of $ 500, salaries jump around this indicator during 2010-2020.
In March-September 2011, Belarus experienced a monetary and financial crisis. As a result of the crisis, the devaluation of the Belarusian ruble against the dollar since the beginning of the year amounted to 189%, inflation in January-October reached 88.7% (including food prices increased by 103.6%), wages decreased from the equivalent of $527 USA to 220-260 dollars. This was followed by a period of growth, which ended in 2014-2016 with a new crisis. Overall, from 2010 to 2019, according to the World Bank, per capita gross domestic product PPP increased from $17,288 to $19,149 in constant 2017 dollars.
In 2014, the share of industrial production in the structure of GDP
was 37%, more than 2/3 of this volume falls on the manufacturing
industries. The number of people employed in industry is about 32.7% of
the able-bodied population. The growth rate is noticeably lower than in
the economy as a whole - about 1.9% in 2014.
The main export items are oil products, potash fertilizers, products of mechanical engineering, chemical and food industries.
Agriculture is a historically important branch of the local economy,
providing more than 7% of the national GDP, providing employment for
more than 9% of the population.
The main agricultural sector is agriculture and dairy farming.
Main food crops: potatoes (6.9 million tons), sugar beets (4.8 million tons), wheat (2.5 million tons).
In the past, the traditional timber industry for the republic played an insignificant role in foreign trade - forest products and services were exported in 2013 for 144.8 million US dollars (0.39% of the country's exports).
As of January 1, 2010, there were 8.8 million hectares of agricultural land in the republic, including 5.5 million hectares of arable land (its fertility score is 31.2).
Belarus has 4 agro-climatic zones.
The IT sector is developing dynamically in Belarus. A number of IT
companies with a global image were founded by Belarusian businessmen.
EPAM Systems was founded by Belarusians Arkady Dobkin and Leo Lozner,
today it is a resident of the High Technology Park. One of the creators
of the Viber program is Israeli Igor Magazinnik. Program development
centers are located in Israel and Belarus (Brest, Minsk). Viktor Kisly,
founder and leader of Wargaming.net, became the first official
Belarusian billionaire. Today one of the firm's offices is located in
From 2005 to 2016, the export of IT services and products grew 30 times, and the share of IT exports in the total export of goods and services in Belarus increased from 0.16% to 3.25%. The IT industry is gaining strategic importance for Belarus. ICT accounts for 10.5% of GDP in the service sector and 5.1% of total GDP. IT services account for 3.2% of total exports.
Belarus does not have significant own fuel and energy resources
(FER). Only 15% of the country's needs are covered by its own fuel and
energy resources (2007), the remaining 85% are imported, mainly from
Russia. The main part of electricity is generated at thermal power
By 2020, it is planned to build hydroelectric power plants with a capacity of about 200 MW. Also, by 2020, it is planned to create up to 300 MW of capacities at wind power plants with a generation of up to 500 million kWh. The Belarusian nuclear power plant is currently under construction.
On the territory of Belarus, with its ancient and rich history and
original culture, the following historical cities are located:
Novogrudok - the first capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Polotsk
- the capital of the Polotsk principality, Turov and Grodno - the
centers of the Slavic principalities of the 9th-12th centuries,
Mstislavl - the center of a large province XVI century. Many cities have
preserved ancient temples and monasteries, palaces and castles, valuable
historical and cultural monuments.
The tourism market is a dynamic sector of the Belarusian economy. The average annual turnover of the tourism services market over the past three years has exceeded 20 million US dollars and is increasing annually by 8%. The profitability of the organization of the tourist business, according to official data, is, depending on the state of the market situation, 10-20% per annum. The costs of organizing tourism amount to more than 18 million dollars. The annual revenue per employee in the tourism sector is 6-8 thousand dollars. More than 3.6 thousand people are employed in the tourism sector. In Belarus, about 500 firms have the right to engage in tourism activities. 86% of them are privately owned.
More than 250 hotels can accommodate 30,000 tourists at the same time. Tourists have at their disposal 14 tourist hotels (more than 6.5 thousand places), 9 tourist bases and campsites (4.3 thousand places).
In Belarus, in order to rationally use the national cultural heritage and the most valuable natural complexes by the tourism sector, the State Investment Program for the revival of the historical, cultural and natural heritage of the Republic "Golden Ring of Belarus" has been developed, the project of which provides for the creation of a multi-point special economic zone of a tourist-recreational type.
In Belarus, hunting and fishing tourism has also gained wide popularity. On the territory of the hunting grounds, it is possible to organize commercial hunting tours with a guarantee for various types of game.
The housing stock of the republic at the beginning of 2013 is 237 million m², including urban - 161.5 million m². The level of improvement (at the beginning of 2013) in cities is almost complete: 97% of housing has running water, 97% - sewerage, 94% - a bath, 92% - hot water supply, 96% - central heating. The situation in the rural housing stock (beginning of 2013) is much worse: if gasification is generally completed (93% of the total rural housing stock), then the situation with other types of improvement is not so good (only 76% have running water; 72% have sewerage, 64 % - central heating, 48% - hot water supply, 65% - baths). Despite the high rates of annual housing rent (356 m² in 2013), the housing problem is very acute: as of January 1, 2012, 849 thousand families were in the queue in need of better housing conditions (as of January 1, 2006 - 565 thousand families) .
Railways and road transport are the main modes of transport in the
country. The railway network is oriented to the main line passing
through Orsha, Minsk and Brest, which connects Belarus with Moscow in
the east and Warsaw in the west. The operational length of the tracks is
5512 km. In total, Belarus has more than 83 thousand km of public roads
and about 200 thousand km of departmental roads (agricultural,
industrial enterprises, forestry, etc.), including 10 thousand km in
cities and towns. At the same time, the density of hard-surfaced country
roads is still quite low - 337 km per 1000 km² of territory. There are
261 cars per thousand inhabitants in Belarus.
The river fleet carries out transportation along 1500 km of navigable waterways (mainly in the Dnieper basin).
Air transport is relatively underdeveloped; The country's largest airport is located near Minsk. There are seven international airports in the country.
A sociological survey conducted by Satio in 2019 in Minsk, Brest,
Gomel and Grodno shows that 43% of Minsk residents and 50% of Brest
residents ride a bike once a month or more. The number of cyclists in
other regional cities has also increased significantly compared to 2017:
41% of residents of Gomel and Grodno ride a bike once a month or more.
In Minsk and Brest, there are 0.4 adult bicycles per adult resident. For one child or teenager in regional cities, there are 0.5 corresponding bicycles, in Minsk this figure is almost one and a half times higher.
In 2017, the European Union financed the project "Urban cycling in Belarus" in the amount of 560 thousand euros. About 50 events related to cycling were held, the Eurovelo-2 route was built from Minsk to the border with Poland.
The share of cycling in the cities of Belarus is no more than 1% of all utilitarian movements using transport in cities with a population of 50 thousand inhabitants and more, no more than 3% - in cities with a population of 20-50 thousand inhabitants, no more than 8% - in cities with a population of up to 20 thousand inhabitants.
According to the Belarusian Road Traffic Rules, cyclists must move on the sidewalk, and not on the carriageway, unlike in most countries.
In 2012, there were 48,831 medical specialists in Belarus (excluding
those employed in institutions for training, retraining and advanced
training, as well as in administrative positions), or 51.6 doctors per
10,000 people. The number of paramedical workers was 125,079 people, or
132.2 specialists per 10,000 people. From 2000 to 2008, the number of
hospital organizations decreased from 830 to 773, from 2009 to 2012 from
661 (using a new calculation method) to 657. The number of hospital beds
decreased from 126,209 from 2000 to 2012 (126.8 beds per 10,000 people)
to 106,640 (112.7 per 10,000 people). The number of outpatient clinics
increased from 1843 to 2263. In 2012, the population of Belarus visited
doctors at outpatient appointments and received doctors at home a total
of 122 million times (12.9 visits per person per year).
There are 7 emergency hospitals and 153 stations or departments in the country.
In general, one doctor accounts for 254 people of the population, one hospital bed - for 88 people. The country also operates (as of January 1, 2013) 2879 pharmacies, more than half of which (1672) are state-owned.
Government spending on health in 2013 was about 6.1% of GDP (143rd in the world). The expected average life expectancy of Belarusians, according to the calculations of 2015, reaches 72.48 years.
Belarus is one of the countries with a low level of infectious disease. The situation with the spread of HIV infection is relatively favorable.
The structure of the national education system is based on the
Constitution and other legal acts. The equality of all citizens in
obtaining education, the unity of educational systems and the continuity
of all forms of education are guaranteed. In 2012, state appropriations
for education amounted to 17.5% of the republic's consolidated budget
expenditures (5.2% of GDP).
Pre-school education is represented in 2012 by 4087 institutions, where there were 367.7 thousand children. Secondary education, as of 2012, - 3821 general education schools (in 2010 there were 4063), where 1083.2 thousand people studied (in 2010 - 1179.3 thousand). After successfully completing the basic school, there is an opportunity to continue education in colleges, lyceums, gymnasiums, vocational schools (there were 224 in 2012, with a total of 99 thousand students), where they simultaneously receive secondary education and vocational training. Those who wish can receive a general secondary education by continuing their studies at school. Higher education is represented, as of 2012, by 53 universities, where 420.7 thousand students studied.
The education system uses two official languages - Belarusian and Russian. As a result of the intensive Russification of the education system, the number of urban Belarusian-language schools has practically reduced to zero, and the main zone of teaching in Belarusian schools has concentrated in rural areas. Thus, at the beginning of 2008, 195,592 students (18.4%) studied in Belarusian-language schools, while in cities this figure was 1.9%.
A 10-point system is used to assess knowledge. The main documents that give the right to enter a higher educational institution are a certificate of general secondary or secondary specialized education and 3 certificates of the Central Testing (centralized testing). Belarus entered the Bologna process on May 14, 2015 in Armenia during the summit of the heads of relevant departments.
The republic also has a network of boarding schools for children with disabilities (peculiarities of psychophysical development), but during the period of independence, a course was taken to replace them with specialized classes in general education schools. If in the 1995/96 academic year there were 83 special boarding schools in the country, then in the 2010/11 academic year - only 47. If in the 1995/1996 academic year 22.6% of children with special needs of psychophysical development studied in special classes of regular schools, then in 2010/11 academic year - already 61%.
The highest state scientific organization of Belarus is the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus (National Academy of Sciences of Belarus, NAS of Belarus). In 1990-2004, science in the republic fell into decline - the number of employees engaged in scientific research and development during this period decreased from 107.3 thousand people to 28.8 thousand people (in 2004, not counting the staff of small and microorganizations). Subsequently, the decline almost stopped and as of 2014, 27,208 people were employed in research and development. The scientific staff of Belarus, like many post-socialist countries, is characterized by almost gender equality - the proportion of women in 2013 was 41.1% of researchers (in 2003 - 44%, a slight decline is associated with a significant increase in the number of researchers in technical sciences, where the majority are men). As of 2013, women dominated among the researchers of the republic in all fields of science, except for technical ones. A feature of the science of Belarus is an extremely small proportion of researchers with academic degrees, which is also constantly decreasing: in 2003, 754 scientists had a Doctor of Science degree, and 3420 scientists had a Ph.D. degree, then in 2013 - 703 and 2946 employees, respectively. The republic ranks third in the CIS (after Russia and Ukraine) in terms of the number of annual patent applications: 1688 filed in 1994, 1871 in 2011.
There are two professional astronomical observatories in Belarus. One is located at the Minsk Planetarium in Gorky Park, and the second is at Vitebsk State University. P. M. Masherova. Two private observatories are registered with the Minor Planet Center. These are observatories: "Taurus-1" and the Vitebsk Amateur Astronomical Observatory. Both are located in the Vitebsk region.
The National Program for the Exploration and Use of Outer Space for
Peaceful Purposes for 2008-2012 was approved by Resolution No. 1517 of
the Council of Ministers of Belarus of October 14, 2008.
In addition to the space agency, the creation of which has already begun in Belarus, it is planned to create its own mission control center (to be opened in the building of the Joint Institute for Informatics Problems in Minsk). It will receive information from the command and measurement point (planned in the Logoisk district).
Pyotr Ilyich Klimuk - Soviet cosmonaut, the first native of Belarus to fly into space,
Vladimir Vasilyevich Kovalyonok is a Soviet cosmonaut, born in Belarus,
Oleg Viktorovich Novitsky is a Russian cosmonaut, born in Belarus,
BelKA-1, BelKA-2 are the first and second satellites of Belarus.
The most important factors in the development of local material and spiritual culture were the successive influence of several confessions - Orthodoxy, Catholicism, Judaism, Calvinism, and significant external influence, in particular, Lithuanian, Polish, Russian. The corresponding diverse heritage can be traced in one way or another in almost all forms of national art. In 2009, 12,885 titles of books and brochures were published in the republic with a total circulation of 52.8 million copies. Publications in Russian absolutely predominate - in 2009 they accounted for 85.4% of the titles of all books and brochures in the republic and 85.5% of their total circulation. The second language of book publishing is Belarusian - in 2009 it accounted for 8.4% of all titles of books and brochures and 10% of their total circulation.
Belarusian literature was formed on the basis of Old Russian literature, and the process of its isolation occurred in the 14th-15th centuries. The heyday came in the XVI-XVII centuries (the so-called "Golden Age"). Western Russian was the official language of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (Statutes of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania of 1529, 1566 and 1588, polemical religious literature). From the beginning of the 16th century, Belarusian books began to be printed. The first printed book in the Belarusian language - "Psalter" - was published in Prague in 1517 by Francis Skorina. It was the first book printed in the language of the East Slavic group. In the 16th and 17th centuries, under the influence of Polish culture, baroque syllabic poetry and a dramatic school appeared (Simeon of Polotsk). In the 18th century, due to numerous wars and the subsequent degeneration of the Belarusian-speaking intelligentsia, Belarusian literature gradually fell into decay; its revival began in the last quarter of the 18th century, when the first national comedy in the Belarusian language “Comedy” by K. Marashovsky appeared. The processes of activation of creativity in the Belarusian language continued at the beginning of the 19th century (the anonymous satirical poem "Taras on Parnassus", the first romanticists: Pavlyuk Bagrim and the Belarusian-Polish poets Jan Barshchevsky, Jan Chechot, Adam Mickiewicz and Alexander Rypinsky. The first author in whose work Belarusian language took the main place, was the creator of the first Belarusian comedy "Idyll" (1846) Vincent Dunin-Martsinkevich. Books were printed mainly in Latin. In the second half of the 19th century, the time of realism began (Frantisek Bogushevich, Adam Gurinovich, Yanka Luchina). A new stage in the development of Belarusian literature came after the revolution of 1905-1907, when the first newspapers in the Belarusian language appeared in Vilna: Our Share (1906) and Nasha Niva (1906-1915), around which the first association of writers was created who advocated strengthening national self-consciousness ( Maxim Bogdanovich, Sergey Poluyan, Zmitrok Byadulya, Maxim Goretsky, Yadvigin Sh., Yanka Kupala, Yakub Kolas, Ales Harun, Andrey Zyazyulya and others). Belarusian literature had a syncretic character, combining elements of romanticism, realism, impressionism and modernism. In particular, impressionism and symbolism in Belarusian poetry were developed by Maxim Bogdanovich, in prose by Zmitrok Byadulya, romanticism and modernism in poetry by Yanka Kupala. Belarusian writer Svetlana Aleksievich won the 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature. Aleksievich's works are dedicated to the life of the late USSR and the post-Soviet era, imbued with feelings of compassion and humanism.
In the Byelorussian SSR there was a developed book publishing - in 1991, 2434 titles of books and brochures were published, with a total circulation of 52.9 million copies. Among them, Belarusian-language publications accounted for 17.5% of titles and 18.9% of the total circulation. In independent Belarus, book publishing peaked in 1993, when the total circulation of books and brochures amounted to 98.3 million copies. In 1993, the maximum share of books and brochures in the Belarusian language was recorded - 26.9% of the total number of titles and 18.7% of the total circulation. Already in 2000, the total circulation of books and pamphlets fell to 61.6 million copies. Most of the books in the republic are published by Harvest: in 2008, this publishing house published 3801 titles of books and brochures (out of 13,210 in the whole republic) with a total circulation of 28.7 million copies. (out of 55.4 million copies in the whole country). The vast majority of publishers are private. In the 2000s, Belarusian book publishing is characterized by a global trend of a gradual transition to small-circulation books, associated with the development of electronic publications.
Decree of the Council of Ministers of Belarus No. 1227 dated August
26, 2008 approved the State Target Program for the development of a
software and hardware complex for automating the process of calculating
the amounts of taxes, fees (duties) payable to the budget and submitting
tax declarations (calculations) to the tax authorities in electronic
form for 2008 —2010.
In 2010, the Council of Ministers of Belarus approved the Strategy for the Development of the Information Society in Belarus until 2015 and a plan of priority measures for its implementation for 2010.
Due to repressions and censorship actually introduced in the country, all opposition media in Belarus are forced to broadcast exclusively from abroad, publishing their content on the Internet.
The authorities of independent Belarus, as a rule, attached great
importance to the development and popularization of sports, implementing
relevant state programs through the structures of the Ministry of Sports
and Tourism and the Belarusian National Committee for Sports.
By the 21st century, almost all summer and winter sports, both men's and women's disciplines, have become widespread in the country to one degree or another. At the regional and international level, Belarusian athletes are among the strongest. So, at the 2018 Winter Olympics, the Belarusian team won two gold and one silver medals. Traditionally, the most successful are Belarusian hockey players and skiers. So, since 2005, the Belarusian ice hockey team has consistently played in the TOP Division of the World Ice Hockey Championship, and in 2014 Belarus hosted the World Ice Hockey Championship.
Belarus has been participating in the Olympic Games since 1994, when Igor Zhelezovsky and Svetlana Paramygina won 2 silver medals at the Lillehammer Games in Norway. In 1997-2021, the National Olympic Committee of the Republic of Belarus was headed by the President of the country Alexander Lukashenko. Speaking at the Olympic meeting on his election as the head of the NOC, the President said that there are no analogues in the world for the Head of State to be elected head of the National Olympic Committee. Since February 26, 2021, his son Viktor has been the president of the NOC RB, but this has not received recognition from the International Olympic Committee.