Belarus

The Republic of Belarus is a landlocked nation of Eastern Europe with the capital Minsk.

Беларусь / Belarus
coat of arms
(In Detail) (Full size)
National motto: None
Official languages Belarusian, Russian
Capital Minsk
President Aleksandr Lukashenko
Prime Minister Sergey Sidorsky
President (in Exile) Ivonka Survilla
Area
 - Total
 - % water
Ranked 84th
207,600 km²
Negligible
Population
 - Total (2002)
 - Density
Ranked 74th
10,350,194
50/km²
Independence
 - Declared
 - Recognised
(Event Xxxx)
1990
(Year)
Currency Belarusian Rouble
Time zone UTC +2
National anthem My Bielarusy
Internet TLD.BY
Calling Code375

Table of contents
1 Name
2 History
3 Politics
4 Administrative subdivision
5 Geography
6 Economy
7 Demographics
8 Symbols from earlier history
9 Culture
10 Miscellaneous topics
11 External Links

Name

The spellings Belorussia and Byelorussia are transliterations of the name of the country in Russian and should be considered obsolete.

Historically, in English, Belarus was sometimes referred to as "White Russia" or "White Ruthenia", a literal translation of its name. This literal translation is also used in a number of other languages, e.g., "Weissrussland" in German and "Baltarusija" (Baltarus, today) in Lithuanian. Some Belarusians perceive the name "Byelorussia" as derogatory, as a vestige of Russian and Soviet imperialism and policies of russification. Therefore they speak strongly in favor of the name "Belarus". (For example, the full title of the Russian tsar said "Emperor of the Whole Russia, Great, Minor, and White".)

In English, Belarus and Belarusian are the common terms: they refer to the historical connection with the people known as Ruś that predated Russians, Ukrainians or Belarusianss.

The names, Russia Alba, Russija Alba, Wit Rusland, Weiss Reussen, White Russia, Weiss Russland, may be found on ancient maps predating the Russian Empire. Not less often could be found Ruthenia Alba, Ruthenie Blanche and Weiss Ruthenien for example. However there is much confusion as to the location of this territory: in addition to the approximate territory of modern Belarus quite a few ancient maps put "Ruthenia Alba" over the territory of Muscovy! The explanation may be found in Rerum Moscoviticarum Commentarii by Sigismund von Herberstein First Muscovian tsars wore white robes -- to distinguish themselves from Byzantine emperors that wore purple and Persian rulers that wore red -- in accordance with the Third Rome doctrine of Russian tsars. So, the Muscovian ruler was called "White Tsar": Sunt qui principem Moscovuiae Album Regem nuncupant. Ego quidem causam diligenter quaerebam, cur Regis Albi nomine appellaretur, or Weisse Reyssen oder weissen Khünig nennen etliche unnd wöllen damit ain underscheid der Reyssen machen (from Rerum Moscoviticarum Commentarii). This appellation, together with the solemn wording "White Tsardom", was in use till the very end of the Russian Empire. Ultimately, this color was transferred onto the name of White Army, that fought against the Red Army.

It still remains unclear how the name "White Russia" has ultimately become applied to Belarusans. There are a number of speculative hypotheses, however no conclusive documentary evidence has been found for any of them. One such theory is based upon the accepted fact that the Belarusian ethnos is formed primarily by the historical interactions amongst slavic and baltic ethnicities. The root "balt-" means "white" in languages and dialects of Baltic group, e.g., in Lithuanian and Latvian. Hence "Baltic Sea" (Balta jura in Lithuanian) is literally "white sea". Thus "Balta Rusija" could have been the original self-denotation, rather than a later secondary derivative from "Russia". Another theory suggests that Belarusan ethnos is of blond hair, being close to the Baltic and Scandinavian ones. Still another one is that Belorusians are named after the predominant colour of their traditional (uncolored linen) clothes.

Similar examples of "colored" names in the Slavic ethnos are: White Serbs and White Croats; and in China: Red, Black and Green Miao.

History

Main article: History of Belarus

Politics

Main article: Politics of Belarus

Administrative subdivision

At the higher administrative level, Belarus is divided into 6 voblasts (usually translated as regions or provinces) and one municipality (horad, i.e., "city"); the latter one is a special status of the capial of Belarus.

Voblasts are further subdivided into rayons (usually translated as districts).

Geography

Main article: Geography of Belarus

Belarus is in Eastern Europe. It borders Poland and Lithuania on the west, Russia on the east, Ukraine on the south and Latvia on the north. Belarus has an area of 207,600 sq km. Although landlocked, it has 11,000 lakes. Three major rivers run through it: the Neman River, the Pripyat river, and the Dnepr River. Belarus is relatively flat and marsh-rich. The largest march territory is Palesse. Its highest point at Dzyarzhynskaya Hara (Dzyarzhynsk Hill), 346 m, and its lowest point on the Neman river, 90 m. The natural resources of Belarus are forests, peat deposits, small quantities of oil and natural gas, granite, dolomitic limestone, marl, chalk, sand, gravel, and clay.

List of cities in Belarus

Economy

Main article: Economy of Belarus

Demographics

Main article: Demographics of Belarus

Symbols from earlier history

Culture

Main article: Culture of Belarus

Belarusian language, Music of Belarus

Holidays
DateEnglish NameLocal NameRemarks
January 1New YearNovy Hod
January 7Orthodox Christmas
January 14Orthodox New Year
March 8International Women's Day
March 15Constitution DayAdopted in 1994
May 1International Labor Day
May 9Victory DayDenotes the victory against Germany in World War II
July 3Independence Day
December 25Catholic Christmas
MovableCatholic Easter
MovableOrthodox Easter
9 days after Orthodox EasterCommemoration Day Radunica

Miscellaneous topics

External Links


Countries of the world  |  Europe


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