Overview of Belarus
Belarus has four World Heritage Sites: the Mir Castle Complex, the Niasvizh Castle, the Białowieża Forest (shared with Poland), and the Struve Geodetic Arc (shared with nine other countries). While three of these are cultural sites, the Białowieża Forest is an ancient woodland straddling the border between Belarus and Poland.
Belarus's Roman Catholic minority, which makes up perhaps 10 percent of the country's population and is concentrated in the western part of the country, especially around Hrodna, is made up of a mixture of Belarusians and the country's Polish and Lithuanian minorities.
Belarus was once a major center of the European Jewish population, with 10 percent of its population being Jewish, but the population of Jews has been reduced by war, starvation, and the Holocaust to a tiny minority of about 1 percent or less.
Belarus began using its own country code +375 in 1995, replacing the +7 international country code inherited from the Soviet Union. The local numbering plan was inherited from the Soviet Union and remains with few changes.
Belarusians have taken to the streets in recent months to protest Lukashenko’s government since the September election, with the government in turn cracking down on demonstrators, opposition figures and critical media.
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.
Belarus, a country of 9.5 million that Russia sees as a security buffer against NATO, has been rocked by mass demonstrations since an August 9 presidential election that Lukashenko said he won.
Belarus' Armed Forces, which were formed in 1992 using parts of the former Soviet Armed Forces, consists of three branches: the Army, the Air Force, and the Ministry of Defense joint staff.
Belarus's highest point is Dzyarzhynskaya Hara (Dzyarzhynsk Hill) at 1132 feet (345 meters), and its lowest point is on the Neman River at 295 feet (90 meters).
Belarus's natural resources include peat deposits, small quantities of oil and natural gas, granite, dolomite (limestone), marl, chalk, sand, gravel, and clay.
Average January temperatures range from the mid-20s F (about −4 °C) in the southwest to the upper teens F (about −8 °C) in the northeast, but thaw days are frequent; correspondingly, the frost-free period decreases from more than 170 days in the southwest to 130 in the northeast.Belarus has a cool continental climate moderated by maritime influences from the Atlantic Ocean.Maximum rainfall occurs from June to August.Maximum temperatures in July are generally in the mid-60s F (about 18 °C).Rainfall is moderate, though higher than over most of the vast Russian Plain of eastern Europe, and ranges from about 21 inches (530 mm) on the lowlands to some 28 inches (700 mm) on the higher morainic ridges.
About 1 percent belong to the Belarusian Greek Catholic Church.Belarus has historically been a Russian Orthodox country, with minorities practicing Catholicism, Judaism, and other religions.Emigration from Belarus has been an additional cause for the shrinking number of Jewish residents.Most Belarusians converted to the Russian Orthodox Church following Belarus' annexation by Russia after the partitions of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.
About 40% of the country’s landscape is covered by forests.Most of the country is flat and has vast areas of rolling countryside, but the highest point is Dziaržynskaja Hara at 334 m.The country has over 11,000 lakes and 91,000 km of rivers, with significant areas of marshland.The latter flows towards the site of the former nuclear complex of Chernobyl (Ukraine), the scene of the nuclear catastrophe in 1986.The maximum distance from west to east is 560 km, while 650 km is the maximum distance from north to south.There are five major rivers in Belarus: Nioman, Dniepr, Sož, Biarezina and Prypiać.With 9.5 million inhabitants, Belarus is a middle-size European country covering a total area of 207,600 km² – slightly smaller than the United Kingdom, five times larger than the Netherlands and Switzerland.
Are individual acts of defiance replacing mass protests in Belarus?
Huge anti-Lukashenko protests have been held for months in Belarus, with little to show.
Is Putin about to make a costly mistake in Belarus?
A Russian intervention in Belarus to support embattled President Alexander Lukashenko would be a costly mistake for Vladimir Putin and could drive Belarus toward the West, argues Steven Pifer.This post originally appeared on the Atlantic Council’s UkraineAlert.
What’s behind the crisis in Belarus?
Anti-government protests in Belarus continue in the wake of the Aug 9 presidential election.Economic decline, coronavirus mismanagement and the government’s response to the protests have driven many Belarusians into the streets, including youth and industrial workers.
Between Geography, Friendship and Geopolitics—What Hampers Change in Belarus?
The case of Belarus illustrates that the contexts of geography and prior relationships matter most when it comes to international engagement in crisis situations.For the Nordic countries, Belarus — unlike the Baltic states — had been largely seen as a remote country drawing little consideration prior to the crisis.Most Nordic countries, historically and recently, had limited bilateral relations with Belarus.The Nordic states had mainly engaged with the country indirectly, via international organizations.Therefore, rhetoric became their main foreign policy instrument during the crisis.No doubt, the role of the Nordic countries was instrumental to achieving progress in international formats, for instance, in invoking the OSCE’s Moscow Mechanism (sending a mission to investigate and assist with solving human rights issues) and, in particular, in reaching a consent on the sanctioning policy in the EU.At the same time, their chosen approach clearly indicated lack of interest with respect to a distant country, cooperation with which has never been among the priorities of the Nordic agenda.
Belarus: Will Lukashenko make it to another election?
While protest activity may be declining, analysts say Lukashenko may not last until the next presidential election.
How Much Do You Know About Belarus?
Can you find Belarus on a map? What else do you know about this Eastern European nation with 9.
What happened in the election?
One of the trio, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, registered as a candidate in place of her arrested husband Sergey Tikhanovsky.
What's happening in Belarus?
Belarus is gripped by mass protests, triggered by an election widely believed to have been rigged in favour of the long-time leader Alexander Lukashenko.
What can I do to avoid bed bugs?
Although bed bugs do not carry disease, they are an annoyance.See our information page about avoiding bug bites for some easy tips to avoid them.For more information on bed bugs, see Bed Bugs.
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What is the background?
Europe's longest-serving ruler, President Lukashenko took office in 1994 amid the chaos caused by the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
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How have the protests evolved?
During the post-election clashes, details emerged of alleged police brutality, with detainees badly beaten and forced to endure overcrowded jails.
It’s best to be prepared to prevent and treat common illnesses and injuries.Some supplies and medicines may be difficult to find at your destination, may have different names, or may have different ingredients than what you normally use.
Who were the suspects?
Lukashenko confirmed the arrests and said he believes the US government is behind the alleged operation.One of the suspects, Zyankovich, also holds American citizenship.
History of Belarus
“On 1 September 2010, new rules of Belarusian orthography came into force.
In 1323, Vilnius became the capital city.
In 1511, King and Grand Duke Sigismund I the Old granted the Orthodox clergy an autonomy enjoyed previously only by Catholic clergy.
In 1569 Poland and Lithuania formed a new state, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth.
In 1795, the whole territory of contemporary Belarus became part of the Russian Empire.
In 1863, economic and cultural pressure exploded into a revolt, led by Kalinowski.
In 1920 when France recognized the independence of Lithuania, he was appointed officially as Chargé d’Affaires for Lithuania.
In 1921, Belarus had what is now all of Minsk Governorate except for the western fringe, the western part of Gomel Region, a western slice of Mahilyow, and a small part of Vitebsk Region.
In 1926 the eastern part of Gomel region was added.
In 1928, the national team of Uzbekistan was created for the first time, which took part in the Spartakiade, which included representatives of some European countries.
In 1939 they were reset with Belarus gaining territory to the west, Baranavichy, Belastok (Bialystok), Brest, Pinsk, and Vileyka oblasts.
In 1939, the Soviet Union took back West Belarus from Poland under the secret protocol of the Nazi-Soviet Nonaggression Pact and incorporated it into the Belorussian Soviet Socialist Republic.
In 1940, Lithuania was invaded and occupied by the Soviet Union, and forced to join it as the Lithuanian SSR.
In 1941 Germany invaded its erstwhile ally, the Soviet Union.
In 1944 Belastok was eliminated and the new oblasts of Babruysk, Grodno, and Polotsk were created.
In 1944 thirty Belarusians (known as Čorny Kot (Black Cat) and personally led by Michał Vituška) were airdropped by the Luftwaffe behind the lines of the Red Army, which had already liberated Belarus during Operation Bagration.
In 1955 it became an international airport and by 1970 served over 1 million passengers a year. After 1982, it mainly served domestic routes in Belarus and short-haul routes to Moscow, Kyiv and Kaliningrad.
In 1971, the Council of Ministers of the USSR adopted a decision “About the measures for further development of the city of Kishinev” (modern Chișinău), that allotted more than one billion Soviet rubles (approximately 6.8 billion in 2018 US dollars) from the USSR budget for building projects.
In 1979, Russian was claimed as a native language by a large proportion of Jews (66%) and Belarusians (62%), and by a significant proportion of Ukrainians (30%).
In 1989, 42% of the power was exported, but this fell through the 1990s.
In 1994, the first presidential elections were held and Alexander Lukashenko was elected president of Belarus.
In 1996, Lukashenka reacted to Western criticism of a referendum that dissolved Parliament and expanded the authority of the presidency by temporarily expelling the U.S.
In 1998, Kazakhstan and Russia signed a friendship treaty; in 1998 and 2002, they signed accords settling Caspian seabed resource claims; and in 2005, they signed a border delineation agreement.
In 1999 opposition leaders Yury Zacharanka and Viktar Hanchar disappeared and were presumably killed.
In 1999 the two countries signed the Treaty on the Creation of a Union State of Russia and Belarus, which would create a confederation of the two former Soviet countries if fully implemented.
In 1999 the two countries signed the Union State Foundation Treaty, which aimed to create a politically integrated confederation with a common currency; the precise nature of the partnership, however, remained unclear well into the 21st century.
In 1999, the year Lukashenka was to step down, he rigged a national referendum allowing him to cancel the elections and remain president.
In 2000, the population was 3.8 million, of which approximately 80
percent were ethnic Lithuanians, 9 percent Russians, 7 percent Poles, 2
percent Belarussians, and 2 percent were of other nationalities.
In 2001, Lukashenko was re-elected* as president in elections described as undemocratic by Western observers.
In 2002, Kazakhstan became a member of UEFA for better development of its football, but Uzbekistan chose to remain in the AFC.
In 2002, the team defeated Russia and Ukraine to win the LG Cup.
In 2003 tensions flared with Ukraine over the Kerch Strait, sparked by Russia’s building of a sea dike there, but the conflict was peacefully resolved.
In 2003 the abbreviated dialing within areas was replaced with a full 9-digit number + 2-digit trunk prefix.
In 2004 and 2008, they won the 12th and 14th editions of the Malta International Tournament respectively.
In 2004, the Council of Europe strongly criticized the Belarus government for blocking investigation into the disappearance of four dissidents in 1999 and 2000.
In 2005, approximately 1.4 percent of Belarus's gross domestic product was devoted to military expenditures. Belarus has not expressed a desire to join NATO but has participated in the Individual Partnership Program since 1997.
In 2005, Freedom House gave Belarus a score of 6.75 (not free) when it came to dealing with press freedom.
In 2006, Lukashenko was once again re-elected* in presidential elections again criticized as flawed by most European Union countries.
In 2007, 98 of the 110 members of the House of Representatives were not affiliated with any political party and of the remaining twelve members, eight belonged to the Communist Party of Belarus, three to the Agrarian Party of Belarus, and one to the Liberal Democratic Party of Belarus.
In 2007, Belarus' population declined by 0.41 percent and its fertility rate was 1.22, well below the replacement rate.
In 2008, after the United States tightened sanctions due to worsening human rights abuses, Belarus expelled the U.S.
In 2010 another revolution erupted in the country (see: April uprising).
In 2011, home colors were changed to all red.
In 2011, Latvians and Livonians, the indigenous people of the area, accounted for 62% of the population, followed by Russians (26.9%), Belarusians (3.3%), Ukrainians (2.2%), Poles (2.2%), Lithuanians (1.2%), Jews (0.2%), Romani (0.3%), Germans (0.1%), Estonians (0.1%) and other groups (1.3%).
In 2016, banknotes were introduced in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, and 500 rubles.
In 2016, for the first time in the whole history of the Belarusian ruble, coins were introduced due to the redenomination.
In 2017, the administration enacted 5-day visa waivers for citizens of the US and EU member states, among others.
In 2018, they returned to Dinamo Stadium, which was re-opened after major renovation.
In 2019, the United States and Belarus announced they would exchange ambassadors as the next step in normalizing bilateral relations.
In 2020, history, to some extent, seems to be repeating itself.
In the 1920s and early 1930s Belarusian was the major language of Minsk, including use for administration and education (both secondary and tertiary).
In the 1990s poverty became a significant problem.
On 2 January 1919, the Soviet Socialist Republic of Byelorussia was declared.
On 2 January 2009, the National Bank of the Republic of Belarus lowered the exchange rate of the ruble by 50%.
On 2 July 2014, Kichin signed a three-year contract with Anzhi Makhachkala, moving to FC Tyumen on loan in January 2015. After returning to Anzhi at the end of the 2014–15 season, Kichin’s contract with Anzhi was terminated by mutual consent on 30 June 2015. Kichin joined Belarusian club Dinamo Minsk in July 2019, where he played until February 2020. On 17 February 2020, he signed with Russian Football National League club Torpedo Moscow until the end of the 2019–20 season.
On 3 December 1918 the Germans withdrew from Minsk.
On 4 December 2003, UEFA revealed the twelve referees and four fourth officials. Each refereeing team was composed by one main referee and two assistant referees from the same country.
On 4 November 2015, the National Bank of the Republic of Belarus announced that the banknotes that had been in use at that time would be replaced by the new ones due to the upcoming redenomination. The redenomination would be made in a ratio of 1:10,000 (10,000 rubles of the 2000 series = 1 ruble of the 2009 series).
On 7 November 2012, three new stations on the Moskovskaya Line were opened; work continues on a 1.8 km (1.1 mi) extension, with one more station slated to open in 2014.
On 9 September 2014, in Andorra’s first match of the UEFA Euro 2016 qualification phase, he netted a sixth-minute penalty to give the side a 1–0 lead over Wales, but in an eventual 1–2 home loss.