|Belarus Wiki Topics|
|Local Research Resources|
History[edit | edit source]
Belarus bordered by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital and most populous city is Minsk. Until the 20th century, different states at various times controlled the lands of modern-day Belarus, including the Principality of Polotsk, 11th to 14th centuries, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, and the Russian Empire.
In the aftermath of the 1917 Russian Revolution, Belarus declared independence as the Belarusian People's Republic, which was conquered by Soviet Russia. The Socialist Soviet Republic of Byelorussia became a founding constituent republic of the Soviet Union in 1922 and was renamed as the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic. Belarus lost almost half of its territory to Poland after the Polish–Soviet War of 1919–1921. Much of the borders of Belarus took their modern shape in 1939, when some lands of the Second Polish Republic were reintegrated into it after the Soviet invasion of Poland, and were finalized after World War II
In 2000, Belarus and Russia signed a treaty for greater cooperation, forming the Union State. More than 80% of the population is ethnic Belarusian, 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 any official religion, although the primary religion in the country is Eastern Orthodox Christianity. The second-most widespread religion, Roman Catholicism, has a much smaller following. The Jewish presence in Belarus dates back to at least the 14th century and by the 19th century the Jewish population constituted between one-third and two-thirds of most Belarusian cities.
Belarusians are ethnically Slavic in the following proportions: 78% Belarusian, 13% Russian, 4% Polish, 3% Ukrainian, 2% other ancestry. Eastern Orthodoxy is the primary religion for 80% of the population. The rest are Roman Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, and Muslim.
Timeline[edit | edit source]
1569 - Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth was created by the Union of Lublin
1696 - Both the Polish language and Catholicism became dominant and Polish replaced Ruthenian as the official language
1795 - The union between Poland and Lithuania ended
19018 - Belarus declared independence under German occupation forming the Belarusian People's Republic. Immediately afterwards, the Polish–Soviet War ignited, and the territory of Belarus was divided between Poland and Soviet Russia
1939 - 1944 - During thist time, Germany destroyed 209 out of 290 cities in the republic and the Nazi Generalplan Ost called for the extermination, expulsion or enslavement of most or all Belarusians for the purpose of providing more living space
1939 - 1944 - Casualties were estimated to be between 2 and 3 million (about a quarter to one-third of the total population), while the Jewish population of Belarus was devastated during the Holocaust and never recovered
1986 - The Byelorussian SSR was exposed to significant nuclear fallout from the explosion at the Chernobyl power plant in the neighboring Ukrainian SSR
1991 -The dissolution of the Soviet Union and the formation of the Commonwealth of Independent States