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Belarus,[lower-alpha 2] officially the Republic of Belarus,[lower-alpha 3] is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe. It is bordered by Russia to the east and northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Covering an area of 207,600 square kilometres (80,200 sq mi) and with a population of 9.2 million, Belarus is the 13th-largest and the 20th-most populous country in Europe. The country has a hemiboreal climate and is administratively divided into six regions. Minsk is the capital and largest city; it is administered separately as a city with special status.

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Republic of Belarus
  • Рэспубліка Беларусь (Belarusian)
  • Республика Беларусь (Russian)
Дзяржаўны гімн Рэспублікі Беларусь (Belarusian)
Dziaržaŭny Himn Respubliki Biełaruś
Государственный гимн Республики Беларусь (Russian)
Gosudarstvennyy gimn Respubliki Belarus
"State Anthem of the Republic of Belarus"
Location of Belarus (green)

in Europe (dark grey)   [Legend]

and largest city
53°55′N 27°33′E
Official languages
Recognized minority languages
Ethnic groups
  • 7.8% no religion
  • 1.2% other
GovernmentUnitary presidential republic under a dictatorship[3][4]
Alexander Lukashenko[lower-alpha 1]
Roman Golovchenko[7]
LegislatureNational Assembly
Council of the Republic
House of Representatives
25 March 1918
1 January 1919
31 July 1920
27 July 1990
25 August 1991
19 September 1991
15 March 1994
8 December 1999
207,595 km2 (80,153 sq mi) (84th)
 Water (%)
1.4% (2.830 km2 or 1.093 sq mi)b
 2022 estimate
9,255,524[8] (96th)
45.8/km2 (118.6/sq mi)
GDP (PPP)2022 estimate
Decrease $201.97 billion[9] (73rd)
 Per capita
Increase $21,710[9] (71st)
GDP (nominal)2022 estimate
Increase $79.7 billion[9] (74th)
 Per capita
Increase $8,570[9] (82nd)
Gini (2019)Negative increase 25.3[10]
HDI (2021)Increase 0.808[11]
very high · 60th
CurrencyBelarusian ruble (BYN)
Time zoneUTC+3 (MSK[12])
Driving sideright
Calling code+375
ISO 3166 codeBY
Internet TLD
  1. ^ Constitution of the Republic of Belarus of 1994 Section 1, Article 17
  2. ^ "FAO's Information System on Water and Agriculture". FAO. Archived from the original on 26 January 2012. Retrieved 16 February 2013.
1997 map of Belarus

Between the medieval period and the 20th century, different states at various times controlled the lands of modern-day Belarus, including Kievan Rus', the Principality of Polotsk, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, and the Russian Empire. In the aftermath of the Russian Revolution in 1917, different states arose competing for legitimacy amid the Civil War, ultimately ending in the rise of the Byelorussian SSR, which became a founding constituent republic of the Soviet Union in 1922. After the Polish-Soviet War, Belarus lost almost half of its territory to Poland. 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. During World War II, military operations devastated Belarus, which lost about a quarter of its population and half of its economic resources. In 1945, the Byelorussian SSR became a founding member of the United Nations, along with the Soviet Union. The republic was home to a widespread and diverse anti-Nazi insurgent movement which dominated politics until well into the 1970s, overseeing Belarus' transformation from an agrarian to industrial economy.

The parliament of the republic proclaimed the sovereignty of Belarus on 27 July 1990, and during the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Belarus gained independence on 25 August 1991. Following the adoption of a new constitution in 1994, Alexander Lukashenko was elected Belarus's first president in the country's first and only free election after independence, serving as president ever since. Lukashenko heads a highly centralized authoritarian government. Belarus ranks low in international measurements of freedom of the press and civil liberties. It has continued a number of Soviet-era policies, such as state ownership of large sections of the economy. Belarus is the only European country that continues to use capital punishment. In 2000, Belarus and Russia signed a treaty for greater cooperation, forming the Union State.

Belarus is a developing country, ranking 60th on the Human Development Index. The country has been a member of the United Nations since its founding and has joined the CIS, the CSTO, the EAEU, the OSCE, and the Non-Aligned Movement. It has shown no aspirations of joining the European Union but nevertheless maintains a bilateral relationship with the bloc, and also participates in the Baku Initiative.