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'''Belarus''' ({{IPAc-en|audio=en-us-Belarus.ogg|b|ɛ|l|ə|ˈ|r|uː|s}} {{Respell|be|lə|ROOS}}; {{lang-be|Беларусь|translit=Biełaruś}}; {{IPA-be|bʲɛlaˈrusʲ|IPA}}; {{lang-rus|Беларусь||bʲɪlɐˈrusʲ}}), officially the '''Republic of Belarus''' ({{lang-be|Рэспубліка Беларусь}}; {{lang-rus|Республика Беларусь}}), formerly known by its [[Russian language|Russian]] name '''Byelorussia''' or '''Belorussia''' ({{lang-rus|Белоруссия}}), is a [[landlocked country]] in [[Eastern Europe]]<ref name="unee">{{cite web|url=http://unstats.un.org/unsd/methods/m49/m49regin.htm#europe|title=Standard Country and Area Codes Classifications (M49)|accessdate=22 April 2010|publisher=United Nations Organization|date=1 April 2010|author=UN Statistics Division|archiveurl=https://web.archive.org/web/20100417070721/http://unstats.un.org/unsd/methods/m49/m49regin.htm|archivedate=17 April 2010|deadurl=no}}</ref> 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]]. Over 40% of its {{convert|207600|km2}} is forested. Its major economic sectors are service industries and manufacturing.<ref>{{cite web| url=http://belstat.gov.by/homep/en/publications/belarus_in_figures/2012/about.php| title=Contents| publisher=Belstat.gov.by| accessdate=4 October 2012| deadurl=yes| archiveurl=https://web.archive.org/web/20130118020305/http://belstat.gov.by/homep/en/publications/belarus_in_figures/2012/about.php| archivedate=18 January 2013| df=dmy-all}}</ref> 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 [[Republics of the Soviet Union|constituent republic of the Soviet Union]] in 1922 and was renamed as the [[Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic]] (Byelorussian SSR). 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&nbsp;II.<ref name="uni1">{{cite book| url=https://books.google.com/books?id=o85YDMTeMrUC&dq=reunification+of+western+belarus| title=National purpose in the world economy: post-Soviet states in comparative perspective| last=Abdelal| first=Rawi| year=2001| publisher=[[Cornell University Press]]| isbn=978-0-8014-3879-0}}</ref><ref name="uni2">{{cite book| url=https://books.google.com/books?id=wGA4o-UhAfgC&pg=PA713&dq=reunification+of+western+belarus#v=onepage&q=&f=false| title=Europa World Year, Book 1| last=Taylor & Francis Group| year=2004| publisher=[[Routledge|Europa publications]] |isbn= 978-1-85743-254-1}}</ref><ref name="uni3"/> During WWII, military operations devastated Belarus, which lost about a third of its population and more than half of its economic resources.<ref name="axell">{{cite book| last=Axell| first=Albert| title=Russia's Heroes, 1941–45| publisher=Carroll & Graf Publishers| year=2002| page=247| isbn=0-7867-1011-X}}</ref> The republic was redeveloped in the post-war years. In 1945 the Byelorussian SSR became a founding member of the [[United Nations]], along with the Soviet Union and the [[Ukrainian SSR]].<ref>{{cite web|url=https://www.un.org/en/members/growth.shtml |title=United Nations member States – Growth in United Nations membership, 1945–present |publisher= |deadurl=yes |archiveurl=https://web.archive.org/web/20140712192515/http://www.un.org/en/members/growth.shtml |archivedate=12 July 2014 |df= }}</ref>
 
The parliament of the republic proclaimed the [[sovereignty]] of Belarus on {{Nowrap|27 July}} 1990, and during the [[dissolution of the Soviet Union]], Belarus declared independence on {{Nowrap|25 August}} 1991.<ref>{{cite web| url=https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/bo.html| title=The World Factbook| publisher=cia.gov| accessdate=4 March 2016}}</ref> [[Alexander Lukashenko]] has served as the country's president since 1994. Belarus has been labeled "Europe's last dictatorship" by some Western journalists,<ref>{{cite news|url=https://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/oct/07/belarus-inside-europes-last-dictatorship|accessdate=7 August 2014 |title=Belarus: inside Europe's last dictatorship |location=London |work=The Guardian|first=Sigrid|last=Rausing|date=7 October 2012}}</ref><ref name="reuters1">{{cite news| url=https://www.reuters.com/article/2012/03/04/us-belarus-dicator-idUSTRE8230T320120304 | agency=[[Reuters]] | title=Belarus's Lukashenko: "Better a dictator than gay" |quote=...German Foreign Minister's branding him 'Europe's last dictator'|location=Berlin |date=4 March 2012}}</ref> on account of Lukashenko's self-described [[authoritarian]] style of government.<ref>{{cite news|title=Profile: Alexander Lukashenko|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/3882843.stm|accessdate=7 August 2014|work=BBC News|publisher=BBC|date=9 January 2007|quote='..an authoritarian ruling style is characteristic of me [Lukashenko]'}}</ref><ref name="HRW">{{cite web|url=http://hrw.org/english/docs/2005/01/13/belaru9878.htm |title=Essential Background&nbsp;– Belarus |accessdate=26 March 2006 |year=2005 |publisher=Human Rights Watch}}</ref><ref name="amnesty"/> Lukashenko continued a number of Soviet-era policies, such as [[state ownership]] of large sections of the economy. Elections under Lukashenko's rule have been widely criticized as unfair; and according to many countries and organizations, political opposition has been violently suppressed. Belarus is also the last country in Europe using the [[Capital punishment in Belarus|death penalty]].<ref>{{cite web| url= http://www.osce.org/odihr/elections/belarus| accessdate= 28 December 2010| title=Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights&nbsp;– Elections&nbsp;– Belarus}}</ref><ref>{{cite news| url=https://www.economist.com/blogs/easternapproaches/2010/12/belaruss_election_0?fsrc=scn/fb/wl/bl/whatshouldtheeudo| accessdate=28 December 2010| title=Belarus's election: What should the EU do about Belarus?| date=27 December 2010}}</ref><ref>{{cite web| url=http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/news/latest-news/?view=News&id=504974682| accessdate=28 December 2010| title=Foreign Secretary expresses UK concern following Belarus elections| deadurl=yes| archiveurl=https://web.archive.org/web/20110513211744/http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/news/latest-news/?view=News&id=504974682| archivedate=13 May 2011| df=dmy-all}}</ref> Belarus's [[Democracy Index]] rating was the lowest in Europe until 2014 (when it was passed by Russia), the country is labelled as "not free" by [[Freedom House]], as "repressed" in the [[Index of Economic Freedom]], and is rated as by far the worst country for [[press freedom]] in Europe in the [[Press Freedom Index|2013–14 Press Freedom Index]] published by [[Reporters Without Borders]], which ranks Belarus 157th out of 180 nations.<ref>{{citation| publisher=[[Reporters Without Borders]]| title=Press Freedom Index 2013/2014| date=January 2014| url=https://rsf.org/en/ranking/2014| accessdate=6 March 2014| deadurl=yes| archiveurl=https://web.archive.org/web/20140214000000/http://rsf.org/index2014/en-index2014.php| archivedate=14 February 2014| df=dmy-all}}</ref>
 
In 2000, Belarus and Russia signed a treaty for greater cooperation, forming the [[Union State]]. Over 70% of Belarus's population of 9.49&nbsp;million resides in urban areas. More than 80% of the population is ethnic [[Belarusians|Belarusian]], with sizable minorities of [[Russians]], [[Poles]] and [[Ukrainians]]. Since a referendum in 1995, the country has had two official languages: [[Belarusian language|Belarusian]] and [[Russian language|Russian]]. The [[Constitution of Belarus]] does not declare any official religion, although the primary religion in the country is [[Belarusian Orthodox Church|Eastern Orthodox Christianity]]. The second-most widespread religion, [[Catholic Church in Belarus|Roman Catholicism]], has a much smaller following; nevertheless, Belarus celebrates both Orthodox and Catholic versions of Christmas and Easter as [[Public holidays in Belarus|national holidays]].<ref>{{cite web| url=http://president.gov.by/special/en/holidays_en/| title=The official Internet portal of the President of the Republic of Belarus. RusPDAVersion for Visually Impaired People| publisher=}}</ref> Belarus is the only European country to retain [[capital punishment by country|capital punishment]] in both [[Capital punishment in Belarus|law]] and [[Capital punishment in Europe|practice]].<ref>{{cite web| author=James Crisp| url=http://www.euractiv.com/sections/europes-east/belarus-and-ukrainan-rebels-keep-death-penalty-alive-europe-313427| title=Belarus and Ukrainan rebels keep death penalty alive in Europe| publisher=EurActiv| accessdate=4 March 2016}}</ref> Belarus is a member of the [[United Nations]] since its founding, the [[Commonwealth of Independent States]], [[Collective Security Treaty Organization|CSTO]], [[Eurasian Economic Union|EEU]], and the [[Non-Aligned Movement]]. Belarus has shown no aspirations for joining the [[European Union]] but nevertheless maintains a [[Belarus–European Union relations|bilateral relationship with the organisation]], and likewise participates in two EU projects: the [[Central European Initiative]] and the [[Baku Initiative]].
 
==Etymology==<!--linked-->
The name ''Belarus'' is closely related with the term ''Belaya Rus{{'}}'', i.e., ''[[White Rus']]''. There are several claims to the origin of the name ''White Rus'.''<ref name="Zaprudnik 1993 2">{{Harvnb|Zaprudnik|1993|p=2}}</ref> An ethno-religious theory suggests that the name used to describe the part of old [[Ruthenia]]n lands within the [[Grand Duchy of Lithuania]] that had been populated mostly by early Christianized [[Slavs]], as opposed to [[Black Ruthenia]], which was predominantly inhabited by pagan [[Balts]].<ref>Аб паходжанні назваў Белая і Чорная Русь (Eng. "About the Origins of the Names of White and Black Ruthenia"), Язэп Юхо (Joseph Juho), 1956.</ref>
 
An alternate explanation for the name comments on the white clothing worn by the local Slavic population.<ref name="Zaprudnik 1993 2"/><ref>{{Harvnb|Minahan|1998|p=35}}</ref> A third theory suggests that the old Rus' lands that were not conquered by the [[Tatars]] (i.e., Polatsk, Vitsiebsk and Mahilyow) had been referred to as "white". Other sources claim that, before 1267, the land not conquered by the [[Mongols]] was considered "White Rus'".<ref name="Zaprudnik 1993 2"/>
 
The name [[Rus' (region)|Rus']] is often conflated with its Latin forms [[Russia]] and [[Ruthenia]], thus Belarus is often referred to as ''White Russia'' or ''White Ruthenia''. The name first appeared in [[Medieval German literature|German]] and [[Medieval Latin literature|Latin]] [[medieval literature]]; the chronicles of [[Jan of Czarnków]] mention the imprisonment of Lithuanian grand duke [[Jogaila]] and his mother at "{{lang|la|Albae Russiae, Poloczk dicto}}" in 1381.<ref name="vauchez">{{Harvnb|Vauchez|Dobson|Lapidge|2001|p=163}}</ref> In some languages, including German and [[Dutch language|Dutch]], the country is generally called "White Russia" to this day (''{{lang|de|Weißrussland}}'' and ''{{lang|nl|Wit-Rusland}}'' respectively).<ref>{{cite web|url=http://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/DE/Laenderinformationen/00-SiHi/BelarusSicherheit.html |title=Belarus: Reise- und Sicherheitshinweise |work=Auswärtiges Amt}}</ref><ref>{{cite web |url=https://www.rijksoverheid.nl/onderwerpen/reisadviezen/inhoud/belarus-wit-rusland|title=Reisadvies Belarus (Wit-Rusland) |publisher= }}</ref>
 
The Latin term "Alba Russia" was used again by [[Pope Pius VI]] in 1783 to recognize the [[Society of Jesus]] there, exclaiming "{{lang|la|Approbo Societatem Jesu in Alba Russia degentem, approbo, approbo}}."<ref>{{Harvnb|de Courson|1879|p=281}}</ref> The first known use of ''White Russia'' to refer to Belarus was in the late-16th century by Englishman Sir [[Jerome Horsey]], who was known for his close contacts with the Russian Royal Court.<ref name="alies">{{cite book |last=Bely |first=Alies |title=The chronicle of the White Russia: an essay on the history of one geographical name |publisher=Encyclopedix |year=2000 |location=Minsk, Belarus |isbn=985-6599-12-1 |ref=harv }}</ref> During the 17th century, the Russian [[tsar]]s used "White Rus" to describe the lands added from the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.<ref>{{Harvnb|Plokhy|2001|p=327}}</ref>
[[File:Stemp Efrasinia Polackaja.jpg|thumb|Stamp with the [[Cross of Saint Euphrosyne|Cross of St. Euphrosyne]] from 1992|345x345px]]
 
The term ''Belorussia'' ({{lang-ru|link=no|Белору́ссия}}, the latter part similar but spelled and stressed differently from Росси́я, ''Russia'') first rose in the days of the [[Russian Empire]], and the Russian Tsar was usually styled "the Tsar of All the Russias", as ''Russia'' or the ''Russian Empire'' was formed by three parts of Russia—the [[Great Russia|Great]], [[Little Russia|Little]], and [[White Ruthenia|White]].<ref>{{cite book |url=https://books.google.com/?id=XAItI5C_JPUC&pg=PA116&lpg=PA116&dq=Belorussia+Russian+Empire |title=Where Nation-States Come From: Institutional Change in the Age of Nationalism |author=Philip G. Roeder |date=15 December 2011 |isbn=978-0-691-13467-3 }}</ref> This asserted that the territories are all Russian and all the peoples are also Russian; in the case of the Belarusians, they were variants of the Russian people.<ref>{{cite book |url=https://books.google.com/?id=oUydX_3rG0AC&pg=PA385&lpg=PA385&dq=Belorussia+name |title=Handbook of Language and Ethnic Identity: The Success-Failure Continuum in Language and Ethnic Identity Efforts |date=13 April 2011 |isbn=978-0-19-983799-1 }}</ref>
 
After the [[Bolshevik Revolution]] in 1917, the term "White Russia" caused some confusion, as it was also the name of the military force that opposed the red Bolsheviks.<ref>{{Harvnb|Richmond|1995|p=260}}</ref> During the period of the Byelorussian SSR, the term ''Byelorussia'' was embraced as part of a national consciousness. In western Belarus under Polish control, ''Byelorussia'' became commonly used in the regions of [[Białystok]] and [[Grodno]] during the interwar period.<ref>{{cite book |last=Ioffe |first=Grigory |title=Understanding Belarus and How Western Foreign Policy Misses the Mark |publisher=Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc |date=25 February 2008 |page=41 |url=https://books.google.com/books?id=00B6wxgftH8C&pg=PA150&dq=west+belarus |isbn=0-7425-5558-5 }}</ref>
 
The term ''Byelorussia'' (its names in other languages such as English being based on the Russian form) was only used officially until 1991, when the [[Supreme Soviet of Belarus|Supreme Soviet]] of the Byelorussian SSR decreed by law that the new independent republic should be called ''Republic of Belarus'' ({{lang|ru|Республика Беларусь}} spelled in Russian), as well its abridged form should be "Belarus". The law decreed that all the forms of the new term should be transliterated into other languages from their [[Belarusian language]] forms. The use of Byelorussian SSR and any abbreviations thereof were allowed from 1991–93.<ref name="bynamelaw">{{cite web |url=http://pravo.kulichki.com/zak/year1991/doc47159.htm |title=Law of the Republic of Belarus—About the name of the Republic of Belarus |accessdate=6 October 2007 |date=19 September 1991 |publisher=Pravo—Law of the Republic of Belarus |language=Russian }}</ref> Conservative forces in the newly independent Belarus did not support the name change and opposed its inclusion in the 1991 draft of the [[Constitution of Belarus]].<ref>{{Harvnb|Ryder|1998|p=183}}</ref>
 
Accordingly, the name ''Byelorussia'' was replaced by ''Belarus'' in English.<ref name="Zaprudnik 1993 4-5">{{Harvnb|Zaprudnik|1993|pp=4–5}}</ref> Likewise, the adjective ''Belorussian'' or ''Byelorussian'' was replaced by ''Belarusian'' in English. ''Belarusian'' is closer to the original Russian term of ''{{lang|ru-Latn|bielaruski}}''.<ref name="Zaprudnik 1993 4-5"/> Belarusian intelligentsia in the [[Stalin era]] attempted to change the name from ''Byelorussia'' to a form of ''Krivia'' because of the supposed connection with Russia.<ref>{{Harvnb|Treadgold|Ellison|1999|p=230}}</ref> Some nationalists object to the name for the same reason.<ref>{{cite web |url=http://euroradio.fm/en/swedish-government-urged-change-belarus-official-name |title=Swedish government urged to change Belarus' official name |accessdate=2 February 2010|date=13 July 2009 |work=European Radio for Belarus }}</ref><ref name="levy">{{Harvnb|Levy|Spilling|2009|p=95}}</ref> Several local newspapers kept the old name of the country in Russian in their names, for example ''{{lang|ru-Latn|[[Komsomolskaya Pravda|Komsomolskaya Pravda v Byelorussii]]}}'', which is the localized publication of a popular Russian newspaper. Also, those who wish for Belarus to be reunited with Russia continue to use ''Belorussia''.<ref name="levy"/> Officially, the full name of the country is "Republic of Belarus" ({{lang|be|Рэспубліка Беларусь}}, {{lang|ru|Республика Беларусь}}, {{lang|be-Latn|Respublika Belarus}} {{Audio|Be-Republic of Belarus.oga|listen}}).<ref name="bynamelaw"/><ref>{{cite web|url=https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/bo.html |title=Belarus&nbsp;– Government |accessdate=22 December 2007 |date=13 December 2007 |work=[[The World Factbook]] |publisher=[[Central Intelligence Agency]] |archiveurl=https://web.archive.org/web/20071211220928/https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/bo.html |archivedate=11 December 2007 |deadurl=no }}</ref>
 
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