Belarus (i/bɛləˈruːs/ bel-ə-ROOSS; Belarusian: Белару́сь ; Russian: Беларусь, Белоруссия, Belarus', Belorussiya), officially the Republic of Belarus, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe bordered by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital is Minsk; other major cities include Brest, Hrodna (Grodno), Homiel (Gomel), Mahilyow (Mogilev) and Vitsebsk (Vitebsk). Over forty percent of its 207,600 square kilometres (80,200 sq mi) is forested, and its strongest economic sectors are service industries and manufacturing.

Until the 20th century, the lands of modern-day Belarus belonged to several countries, including the Principality of Polotsk, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, and the Russian Empire. In the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, Belarus became a founding constituent republic of the Soviet Union and was renamed as the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic (BSSR). Much of the borders of Belarus took their modern shape in 1939 when some lands of the Second Polish Republic were incorporated into it after the Soviet invasion of Poland and were finalized after World War II. The nation and its territory were devastated in World War II, during which Belarus lost about a third of its population and more than half of its economic resources. The republic was redeveloped in the post-war years. In 1945, the Belorussian SSR became a founding member of the United Nations, along with the Soviet Union and the Ukrainian SSR.

The parliament of the republic declared the sovereignty of Belarus on 27 July 1990, and during the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Belarus declared independence on 25 August 1991. Alexander Lukashenko has been the country's president since 1994. Despite objections from Western governments, Lukashenko has continued Soviet-era policies, such as state ownership of the economy. According to some organizations and countries, elections have been unfair, and political opponents have been violently suppressed. In 2000, Belarus and Russia signed a treaty for greater cooperation, with some hints of forming a Union State. Despite its close proximity to the rest of Europe and the West, Belarus' Democracy Index rating continuously ranks the lowest in Europe, and is labeled as "Not Free" by Freedom House.

Over 70% of Belarus's population of 9.49 million reside in urban areas. More than 80% of the population are ethnic Belarusians, with sizable minorities of Russians, Poles and Ukrainians. 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 primary religion in the country is Russian Orthodox Christianity. The second most popular, Roman Catholicism, has a much smaller following, although both Orthodox and Catholic versions of Christmas and Easter are celebrated as national holidays. Belarus also has the highest Human Development Index among members of the Commonwealth of Independent States.

Read more about Belarus:  Etymology, Geography, Politics, Economy, Demographics

Other articles related to "belarus":

Belarus - Culture - Telecommunications
... Further information Telecommunications in Belarus In 2008, there were 3.718 million phone landlines used in comparison to 8.639 million cellular phones in Belarus ... There are approximately 113,000 internet hosts in Belarus in 2009 to meet the needs of approximately 3.107 million Internet users ... The largest media holding group in Belarus is the state-owned National State Teleradiocompany ...
Constitution Of Belarus - Criticism of Constitutional Changes
... by the political opposition inside Belarus as well as by international observers such as the OSCE ... parties contend that the vote to dissolve the Supreme Soviet in 1996 removed Belarus' last democratically elected parliament and installed Lukashenko's hand picked parliament ... candidate Alaksandar Milinkievič stated that Belarus' stance as a neutral country, stated in Article 18, should be preserved with regard to joining NATO and the European Union ...
Bandy World Championship 2006 - Group A - Premier Tour
28 January Sweden - Kazakhstan 14-1 Belarus - Finland 1-13 Russia - Norway 12-2 29 January Sweden - Finland 4-5 Norway - Belarus 17-2 Russia - Kazakhstan 21-3 30 January Sweden - Belarus 13-1 ...
Compendium Of Postage Stamp Issuers (Ba – Be) - Belarus
... part of the Russian Empire and the USSR, Belarus became independent in 1991 and began its own postal administration in 1992 ... kopecks = 1 Belarusian ruble Main Article Postage stamps and postal history of Belarus See also Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) ...
Constitution Of Belarus - Section One: Principles of The Constitutional System
... that the government is run by the people of Belarus ... and freedoms of its citizens, but contains the proviso that a citizen of Belarus "bears a responsibility towards the State to discharge unwaveringly the duties imposed upon him by the ... The laws themselves are subject to international law and Belarus is willing to "recognize the supremacy of the universally acknowledged principles of international law and ensure that its laws ...