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Рэспубліка Беларусь (Belarusian)
Республика Беларусь (Russian)

Respublika Belarus
Republic of Belarus
Flag of Belarus
Coat of arms of Belarus
flag coat of arms
Official language Belarusian and Russian
capital city Minsk
State and form of government Dictatorial , presidential republic
Head of state President
Aljaksandr Lukashenka (legitimacy disputed)
Head of government Prime Minister
Raman Haloutschanka
area 207,595 km²
population 9.4 million ( 93rd ) (2019)
Population density 47 inhabitants per km²
Population development - 0.2% (estimate for 2019)
gross domestic product
  • Total (nominal)
  • Total ( PPP )
  • GDP / inh. (nom.)
  • GDP / inh. (KKP)
  • $ 63 billion ( 77th )
  • $ 189 billion ( 70th )
  • 6,658 USD ( 90. )
  • 19,942 USD ( 71. )
Human Development Index 0.823 ( 53rd ) (2019)
currency Belarusian ruble (BYN)
independence Declaration August 25, 1991 , in fact December 1991
National anthem My, Belarussy (Мы, беларусы)
National holiday July 3rd (Independence Day)
Time zone UTC +3
License Plate BY
ISO 3166 BY , BLR, 112
Internet TLD .by , .bel
Telephone code +375
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Belarus [ beːlaˌʁʊs ] / [ bɛlaˌʁʊs ] ( Belarusian Беларусь or traditional Russian Белоруссия Belorussiya ; official long form: Рэспубліка Беларусь ( Belarus ) or Республика Беларусь ( Russian ), German transcription Respublika Belarus [ rɛspublʲika bʲɛlarusʲ ] German  Republic of Belarus ), the German Language area also Belarus , is an Eastern European landlocked country , the capital of which is Minsk . Belarus borders with Lithuania , Latvia , Russia , Ukraine, and Poland . With the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic became independent.

Aljaksandr Lukashenka has been the authoritarian and repressive ruling president since 1994 (in German-language media mostly written as Alexander Lukashenko in Russian spelling ) , making the country the last dictatorship in Europe. The allegedly falsified presidential election in Belarus 2020 in August was followed by weeks of nationwide protests and strikes against the government. The demonstrations were suppressed with extreme brutality. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said it had received reports of over 450 documented cases of torture and ill-treatment.

Belarus is a full member of the Commonwealth of Independent States .

Country name


The country name Belarus is made up of the components Bela- (Slavic for "white") and Rus (name of the medieval East Slavic territory). There are different theories on the etymology of the word Rus and the historical meaning of bela- in this context. The following view is predominant: Accordingly, Rus can be derived from the old Finnish rūōtsi ("the rowers") and denotes the Scandinavian Varangians ; bela- is seen as part of a system for designating cardinal points with the help of colors (cf. also names such as Schwarze Rus or Rote Rus / Rotreußen), with the color white referring to the west of the former Kievan Rus .

The name Belaja Rus can be found in the sources since the 13th century. Rus was the East Slavic name for Scandinavian- Slavic domains like that of the Kievan Rus , to which the area belonged since the 9th century.

The historical German names for Rus were Russia, Reussen or Ruthenien , but from the middle of the 20th century the form Rus was adopted directly from the East Slavic languages . For a long time, the term Alba Russia (White Rus) was assigned to different parts of Rus in medieval sources: the Novgorod Republic , the Grand Duchy of Moscow or the eastern part of what is now Belarus, in contrast to Black Rus for the area around Grodno . The colored pair of terms was also often used for different areas and with different meanings, until the term Belarus developed a permanent reference to the ethnic settlement area of ​​that part of the Eastern Slavs in the 19th century, which until the partitions of Poland-Lithuania developed as distinct cultural and linguistic ones Group in the sphere of influence of Lithuania.

Previously, the country was also White Ruthenia and in the use of language in the GDR Belarus called. The historian Diana Siebert thinks that the “actually best name of Belarus” is historically too burdened and no longer suitable for use. During the Second World War , the Nazi language used the term "White Ruthenia" (see General District White Ruthenia ), which reflected the efforts of the Reich Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories, Alfred Rosenberg , to differentiate the Belarusians from the Great Russians as much as possible .

"Belarus" and "Belarus"

The German-language traditional terms “Belarus”, “Belarusian”, “Belarusian” have recently been criticized: It is argued that Belarus suggests a political, cultural and linguistic dependence on Russia or Greater Russia . Supporters of this position advocate the designation Belarus and try to popularize the adjective Belarusian (with an "s").

Opponents of this point of view argue that “white-” only represents a translation of bela- , and spellings such as “Belarusen” instead of “-russen” also require a change in pronunciation from unvoiced to voiced “s”. In addition, Russia must then also be questioned with its etymological connection to the Rus , since this designation makes today's Russia appear as the only semantically "unmarked" successor to the medieval Rus.

Similar controversies about the naming and spelling of the country, its inhabitants and the national language have also been fought in other languages, including Russian, English and Swedish.

Founded an end in January 2020 Belarusisch-German history commission recommends, as a country name Belarus with an emphasis on -rus and as an adjective belarusisch (instead of Belarusian to use) in the German texts; this makes it clear that the Republic of Belarus is a sovereign state that is not part of Russia. Numerous German-language news and press agencies as well as the media took on this and have since then increasingly used Belarus as a country name , even though they mostly write the adjective in Belarusian .

The official Belarusian authorities as well as the Austrian and Swiss diplomacy use the name Belarus in official German-language texts . In Germany, on the other hand, there was an official regulation that in interstate traffic Belarus , in domestic traffic and on maps, on the other hand, the designation Belarus was used. The regulation on domestic traffic was canceled at the beginning of October 2021. Since then, Belarus has been used exclusively in official use in Germany .


The largest expansion of the country from west to east is 650 km - from north to south it is 560 km. Belarus ranks 13th among the European states in terms of area and is the largest landlocked state that lies entirely in Europe .

Wetland near the Pripyat

The state borders with Russia and Ukraine each make up about 1000 km and a total of two thirds of the border , while Poland , Lithuania and Latvia make up the last third. The border course is irregular and only partially follows water ( Bug ) to Poland , but the border mainly runs over swamp and hill country .

The distance from the capital Minsk to the capitals of neighboring countries is:

To the south lie the Pinsk Marshes (Belarus Prypjazkija baloty ). 30 percent of the country is forested. The highest point is the Dzjarschynskaja Hara (345 m) in the Belarusian ridge, the deepest river valleys are about 50 meters above sea level.


Belarus lies in the Eastern European Plain and is criss-crossed by the chain of hills of the Ice Age terminal moraines ( Belarusian ridges ) and wide, natural rivers . About 70 percent of the country drains south to the Pripyat (Belarusian Prypjaz ) and the Dnepr (Belarusian Dnjapro ), which flows further through Ukraine into the Black Sea . (See also: List of rivers in Belarus ).

The largest rivers in Belarus are Dnepr , Bjaresina , Prypiat and Memel (Belarusian Nyoman ). The bow is relevant as a border with Poland and thus with the EU . The largest lake is the Naratsch in the north of the country near the border with Lithuania .


The bison , here in the Belavescha National Park , is considered the national
animal of Belarus

Belarus is hardest hit by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster (1986), which contaminated around 25 percent of the country's area, especially in the east and south.

Administrative division

Belarus is divided into six administrative areas (Belarusian Woblasz ) with 118 districts ( Rajons ). The capital Minsk has a special status and does not belong to any of the Woblasze.

Ukraine Polen Litauen Lettland Russland Minsk Minskaja Woblasz Wizebskaja Woblasz Mahiljouskaja Woblasz Homelskaja Woblasz Breszkaja Woblasz Hrodsenskaja WoblaszBelarusian administrative regions
About this picture
  1. Minsk city
  2. Breszkaya Woblasz
  3. Homelskaya Woblasz
  4. Hrodsenskaya Woblasz
  5. Mahiljouskaja Woblasz
  6. Minskaya Woblasz
  7. Vitebskaya Woblasz

Biggest cities

Victory Square in the capital Minsk

(Residents according to January 1, 2019 estimate)



Population growth of Belarus in thousands since 1960

According to the 2009 census, the population of Belarus is just under 9.5 million people. The population growth is at the same time about -0.15 percent. Since 1993, the population has decreased by a total of about 6 percent. The life expectancy of the population was for the period 2015-2020 births at 74.5 years and 2.3 years higher than in 2010-2015 births. For men it was 69.3 years (+2.8 years), for women 79.3 (+1.6 years). The literacy rate is 99 percent on European standard level.

In 2017, 11.4% of the population was born abroad, most of them in Russia.


The East Slav Belarusians make up the state people with around 83 percent of the total population. Besides them there are 8.3 percent Russians , 3.1 percent Poles and 2.4 percent Ukrainians . The formerly very well represented Jewish minority (the second largest population group before the Second World War, in the cities with a share of over 50 percent) fell to around 1.9 percent of the population (around 150,000) in 1959 as a result of the Holocaust on Belarusian territory. This number continued to decline, mainly due to emigration to Israel, accelerated sharply after the opening of the East in 1989. In 2009, only 12,926 (0.1 percent) Jews were counted. The Muslim Tatar minority also includes around 0.1 percent of the population.

Population of Belarus by ethnic group 1959–2009
1959 census 1 1970 census 2 1979 census 3 1989 census 4 1999 census 5 2009 census 6
number percent number percent number percent number percent number percent number percent
Belarusians 6,532,035 81.1 7,289,610 81.0 7,567,955 79.4 7,904,623 77.9 8,158,900 81.2 7,957,252 83.7
Russians 0.659.093 08.2 0.938.161 10.4 1,134,117 11.9 1,342,099 13.2 1,141,700 11.4 0.785.084 08.3
Poland 0.538.881 06.7 0.382,600 04.3 0.403.169 04.2 0.417.720 04.1 0.395,700 03.9 0.294,549 03.1
Ukrainians 0.133,061 01.7 0.190,839 02.1 0.230.985 02.4 0.291.008 02.9 0.237,000 02.4 0.158.723 01.7
Jews 0.150.084 01.9 0.148.011 01.6 0.135,450 01.4 0.111.975 01.1 0.027,800 00.3 0.012,926 00.1
Armenians 0.001,751 00.0 0.002,362 00.0 0.002,751 00.0 0.004,933 00.1 0.010,200 00.1 0.008,512 00.1
Tatars 0.008,650 00.1 0.009,992 00.1 0.010,851 00.1 0.012,436 00.1 0.010.100 00.1 0.007,316 00.1
Roma 0.004,662 00.1 0.006,843 00.1 0.008,408 00.1 0.010,762 00.1 0.009,900 00.1 0.007,079 00.1
Azerbaijanis 0.001,402 00.0 0.001,335 00.0 0.002,654 00.0 0.005,009 00.1 0.006,300 00.1 0.005,567 00.1
Lithuanians 0.008,363 00.1 0.008.092 00.1 0.006,993 00.1 0.007,606 00.1 0.006,400 00.1 0.005,087 00.1
Other 0.016,666 00.2 0.024,493 00.3 0.029,183 00.3 0.043,635 00.4 0.041,200 00.4 0.261.712 02.8
Total 8,054,648 9,002,338 9,532,516 10.151.806 10,045,200 9,503,807
1 Source: [1] . 2 Source: [2] . 3 Source: [3] . 4 Source: [4] . 5 Source: . 6 Note: Number of others includes 31,847 members of other ethnic groups (0.3 percent) and 225,921 with unknown membership (2.4 percent). Sources: (Page 8, ZIP ; 2.1 MB) Belarus, 2009, Click on Total, both sexes .
Belarusian national clothes


The official languages ​​of the country are Belarusian and Russian . Belarusian has become more important since independence, but Russian still dominates public life, especially in cities. The Trassjanka , an oral hybrid of the Belarusian and Russian languages, is also widespread . Due to the large Polish minority in the country and also for historical reasons, Polish is still somewhat widespread, especially in the west of the country. Due to long-term assimilation, many Belarusian Poles no longer speak Polish, but either Russian or Belarusian.

In fact, Russian is the dominant language in the country, around 75 percent of the population now use it as their main colloquial language and just under 12 percent use Belarusian. Russian is the most widely used colloquial language for all ethnic groups in the country, including Belarusians. In the 2009 census, around 60 percent of the ethnic Belarusian population said they preferred to speak Russian, 26 percent preferred Belarusian. The proportion of Belarusian native speakers is, however, significantly higher than the proportion of those who prefer to speak Belarusian.

Population distribution 2018

The spread of the two languages ​​varies from region to region. In general, Belarusian is more widely spoken in rural areas than in cities. The region with the highest proportion of the Belarusian-speaking population is Minskaya Woblasz , in which around 39 percent of the population indicate Belarusian and 56 percent Russian as the main language spoken. Russian dominates most strongly in the capital Minsk, where less than 6 percent prefer Belarusian and more than 82 percent speak Russian.

From 1990 onwards, Belarusian was the only official language of the country for a number of years, until after a referendum in 1995, Russian was given the status of an official language with equal rights. In this short period of time Russian had been pushed back to an unprecedented degree. In 1994 only 5 percent of all schools were Russian-speaking and the Belarusian government had set itself the goal of ousting Russian from “all spheres of Belarusian society” by the year 2000 from 1990 onwards. However, surveys showed that this language policy met with little approval from the population. In the 1995 referendum, 86.8 percent of voters voted in favor of reintroducing Russian as the official language. It should be noted that the overall demographic change in Europe is also delayed in Belarus (proportion of people over 65: 10–20% (2017)), despite the population growth ( inertia effect , see statistics).

demographic change in Belarus

In the 2009 census, 60 percent said Belarusian was their first language, but only 26 percent said they spoke the language at home. In 2017, with a downward trend, only 13 percent of primary school students attended a school in Belarusian, and at the beginning of 2019, books in Belarusian took up only marginal space in the central library. In 2019 there was more talk of language and its role in the foreseeable "fight for independence" (screenwriter Andrej Kurejtschyk) with Russia.


Orthodox St. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Minsk

According to official statistics, 58.9 percent of the population consider themselves to be believers. The largest church in Belarus is the Orthodox Church , organized in the Belarusian Exarchate , which is subordinate to the Patriarch of Moscow . According to estimates from 1997, around 82 percent of the faithful belong to it - mainly Belarusians, Ukrainians and Russians. The remaining 18 percent are spread across several denominations (mainly Roman Catholic, Greek Catholic , but also Protestant (e.g. Baptists ), Islamic and Jewish communities ).

Most of the Poles and Lithuanians, as well as the Belarusians in the west and north of the country, are Roman Catholics . According to official statistics (see above), they make up 12 percent of church members, i.e. approx. 7 percent of the population, but according to the Catholic Church's own information, between 10 percent and 14 percent. There is a small minority of Greek Catholic Christians of around 10,000 believers. The Latvians and the Roma like the Jerli (also Sinti , Lovara , Manusch and Kalderasch ) profess themselves mainly to Evangelical Lutheran Christianity.

Belarus was one of the most severely affected areas of the Holocaust . Before that, a large Jewish population lived here. Since 1989, a large proportion of the descendants of surviving Jews emigrated.


Belarus maintains a social system that is unique in the post-Soviet area, which ensures some approval for the autocratic leadership of the country among the people. At the same time, financing it became increasingly difficult in 2018.



Most of the universities and colleges are located in the capital:

School contacts abroad

Several thousand young Belarusians study in Germany and a slightly larger number in Russia or countries in the West .

The International Aid Fund of the EU and Germany has opened partnerships with the first three universities in the West. The often lamented isolation was already painful for Belarus during the times of the Soviet Union . Since the country's independence, the universities have increased their hopes for cooperation, but this has hardly succeeded due to the authoritarian state policy.

The only private university founded in 1992, the European Humanistic University , had to be closed in August 2004 due to government pressure. It had offered European studies, linguistics and political science , largely financed by Western funds . The Institute for German Studies was also located there. The college was reopened in June 2005 in exile in Vilnius (Lithuania).


Spread of diseases

As of April 1, 2004, 5,751 HIV infections, 107 AIDS cases and 439 AIDS deaths were officially reported in the Republic of Belarus. HIV first appeared among injecting drug addicts in Svetlahorsk ( Homelskaya Woblasz ) in 1996 . As of September 1998, 2173 HIV cases were officially registered in the same city. That accounts for 81 percent of all reported cases across the country at the time. The number of infected drug addicts rose to 74 percent. HIV testing is mandatory for blood donors, prison inmates, sexually transmitted disease patients, drug addicts, and prostitutes . The HIV cases in which the cause of infection was documented list for 2003 that 76 percent (previous year: 64 percent) were infected through non-sterilized syringes while consuming drugs and 23 percent (previous year 35 percent) through heterosexual contact . In 2002, of the 319 documented cases of heterosexual infection, 52 percent lived with at-risk partners, mainly drug addicts. As in Russia, the disease is not equally widespread throughout the country, but shows the highest numbers in Homelskaya Woblasz (3380 cases, or 224.5 per 100,000 inhabitants) and in Minsk (823 cases, or 47.3 per 100,000 inhabitants) .

The health care system in Belarus is slightly above average in global comparison. In January 2019, WHO declared delaying or skipping vaccinations a threat to global health. In particular, the lack of vaccination protection against measles poses a high risk when the number of cases increases internationally. In Belarus, 26.6% of all over 15-year-olds were smokers in May 2021. 5% of the newborns were underweight.

Radioactive contamination

One consequence of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster was the rise in thyroid cancer cases, which was already evident in children three to four years after the disaster. It was also shown that the risk of thyroid cancer also increased significantly in adolescents and adults depending on exposure to iodine-131 . While representatives of the nuclear industry assume only 4,000 additional cases of thyroid cancer as a result of the nuclear disaster, the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Investigation of the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) calculated a collective thyroid dose of around 2.4 million person gray for all of Europe. A quarter of the territory was contaminated, large areas had to be closed and 140,000 people relocated. A quarter of the commercial forest, a number of mineral deposits and many industrial plants were lost. A fifth of the country's agricultural area was contaminated and resulted in the evacuation of large areas, especially around the city of Homel . Many children there have higher cesium levels than in non-contaminated areas, in some places eight to ten times higher levels. Only plants that accumulate little or no radioactive nuclides such as rapeseed, maize and wheat should be grown. In the Chojniki district , where wheat is grown and dairy farming is carried out on previously contaminated soils, the radiation institute measured 20 to 30 Becquerel per kilogram of body weight in the children in spring 2020. The main cause is above all the consumption of berries and mushrooms from the forests.

After the disaster, a number of private was in different countries charities established that the children from the fallout have affected areas recovery stays. This puts less strain on the children's immune system and promotes international understanding. These recreational stays are supported by Belarus and the German Embassy.



Rus principalities in the Association of Kievan Rus
Magnus Ducatus Lithuania, Tobias Lotter, 1780
Belarus belonged to Poland-Lithuania until 1793 (here within the borders of 1619)

The area of Polesia in the south of Belarus is considered to be a possible original home of the Slavs as a whole. In the early Middle Ages, most of what is now Belarus was populated by East Slavic tribes, including the Dregovichs , the Radimitschen and the Polochans . Baltic tribes lived in the northwest . The area became part of the Kiev Empire , the first large East Slav state. Its constituent parts in Belarus included the Principality of Polotsk and the Principality of Turov-Pinsk . By 1240, the Mongol storm from the east destroyed the Kievan Rus. By the 14th century, the old Russian unity had dissolved.


Several ethnic groups emerged from the Kievan Rus:

  • In what is now Ukraine , the Principality of Galicia-Volhynia emerged , stretching from the northern slopes of the Carpathian Mountains to what is now Eastern Galicia and Volhynia. This empire existed until the middle of the 14th century and formed the cornerstone for the later Ukrainian ethnic group, but then fell under Lithuanian-Polish rule.
  • The Belarusian ethnic group gradually emerged on the territory of Belarus .
  • Great Russia fell under Mongolian-Tatar rule until 1480, when it was able to break away from this under Moscow leadership.

In the 14th century, the Belarusian territory with the Principality of Smolensk and the Principality of Polatsk was conquered by the Grand Duchy of Lithuania , which expanded far to the east . Its ruler carried the title magnus dux Littwanie, Samathie et Rusie (see also Golden Age (Belarus) ). The two peoples (Belarusians and Lithuanians) call themselves Lithuanians in their languages ​​( lietuvis or litwin ). Due to the proportion of the population, the official language at this time was largely East Slavic Ruthenian . After the union of 1386 Belarus became part of Lithuania as part of the dual state of Poland-Lithuania , which it remained until the end of the 18th century.

With the first and second partition of Poland , what is now Belarus came completely under Russian rule until 1793, which the Russian side saw as a reunification. The annexation of the White Rus was accomplished by Catherine the Great under the motto " Отторженная возвратихъ " - "I brought back what was torn away ".

From 1918 to 1990

After the German army marched into Minsk in early 1918, the nominally independent Belarusian People's Republic existed for a time . This introduced women's suffrage in 1918 .

The Rada of the Belarusian People's Republic is still active today and is one of the oldest governments in exile in the world. In 1919/1920 Belarus was fought over between the re-established Polish state and Soviet Russia and was partially annexed to Poland in 1920 after the victory of Polish troops over the Red Army . The Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic was formed from the Soviet part and became a founding member of the Soviet Union in 1922 . Just like the Soviet part, the Polish part was mostly populated by Belarusians. In the Vossische Zeitung from 1929 there is a situation report on the country and its people under the heading: Border region under the Soviet star , which focuses on the new national consciousness.

At the beginning of the Second World War , in 1939, as a result of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, which had previously been concluded , the part of the country that had previously belonged to Poland was occupied by Soviet troops and incorporated into the Belarusian SSR. In the summer of 1941 all of Belarus was conquered by the Wehrmacht . The German occupation forces caused great material damage and resulted in the death of around 25 percent of the population, including almost all of the country's Jewish population. From 1941 onwards, Belarus, with over 1000 groups, was a main area of ​​the Soviet partisan struggle against the German occupiers. During the German occupation, the Belarusian Central Council (Bielaruskaja Centralnaja Rada - BCR) was installed in Belarus , a puppet government that used historical Belarusian state emblems. The chairman of the BCR was Radasłaŭ Astroŭski . This "state" disappeared after the withdrawal of the German Eastern Front in 1944. From the end of 1943 the Red Army recaptured the country; it was considered completely liberated from German occupation in the summer of 1944.

About 8–9 percent of all murdered European Jews came from Belarus. Almost all cities in the country were completely destroyed. Industrial operations had declined by 85 percent, industrial capacity by 95 percent, the area of ​​crops by 40–50 percent, and the number of livestock by 80 percent. After the end of the war there were three million homeless. Before the Second World War there were ten million people in Belarus. It was not until the late 1980s that the Belarusian population had grown back to these pre-war numbers.

The Belarusian SSR, like the Ukrainian SSR and the USSR, was a founding member of the United Nations in 1945 .

Belarus is badly affected by the nuclear disaster on April 26, 1986 in Chernobyl , Ukraine , as a result of which large parts of the country were contaminated by radioactive fallout.

New independence

Flag of the Republic of Belarus 1991-1995

On August 25, 1991, the parliament of the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic proclaimed the independence of Belarus from the Soviet Union. The first president was Stanislau Schuschkewitsch from 1991 to 1994 . He succeeded Aljaksandr Lukashenka , who has ruled dictatorially ever since . Lukashenka's policies are described by critics as undemocratic, authoritarian and anti-market, and parliament has a purely decorative function. The country is very isolated economically and politically in Europe. Its main political and economic partners are Russia, Iran and Venezuela. A customs and defense community was established with Russia; a more extensive union with a common currency and common foreign policy has been announced again and again since the 1990s with little progress. All presidential elections since 2001 (September 9, 2001, March 19, 2005 , December 19, 2010 , October 11, 2015 and August 9, 2020 ) have been described by numerous international observers as undemocratic. In 2020, the most promising opposition candidate, Svyatlana Zichanouskaya , was massively intimidated before the election; she was forced to leave Belarus after the election. After the 2020 election, there were protests in Belarus for months despite massive state power and thousands of arrests .

Protests after the 2020 presidential election in Belarus

In connection with the presidential election in 2020 , in particular , there were violent protests and strikes against the proclamation of President Lukashenka as the renewed winner of the election. The country's leadership responded with arrests of around 6,700 demonstrators and massive police violence. On September 7th, Maria Kalesnikava , one of the three candidates, and on September 9th the lawyer Maksim Snak , both leading members of the coordinating council of the protests, were kidnapped by unmarked masked people in the street. It has since been revealed that they have been in custody since then. When Kalesnikava is about to be deported to Ukraine, she successfully defends herself by destroying her ID card. There are also diplomatic protests by the EU states against the detention of the opposition.

Opposition candidate Svyatlana Zichanouskaya fled to Lithuania. A constitutional amendment was eventually brought into play by President Lukashenka to counter the protests.

Forced landing of Ryanair flight 4978 in Minsk

An incident that caused a stir internationally occurred on May 23, 2021 when a passenger plane operated by the Irish airline Ryanair was intercepted. The aircraft, which was on its way from Athens to Vilnius, was forced to land at Minsk airport shortly before leaving Belarusian airspace with the help of a MiG-29 fighter jet , according to Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas under a pretext to land . According to Lithuanian sources, there were 171 passengers on board , including the exiled Belarusian oppositionist Raman Pratassewitsch . He and his friend Sofia Sapega, who was also on board, were arrested at the airport. The State Security Committee of the Republic of Belarus classified Pratassevich as a "terrorist" because he reported on the protests against the regime of Alyaksandr Lukashenka.

The incident sparked international outrage. Dozens of politicians called for Pratassevich's immediate release. The European Union passed sanctions and stopped investments worth around 3 billion euros in Belarus. In addition, a NATO- monitored EU-wide take-off and landing ban for Belarusian aircraft and a ban on using EU airspace were imposed.

The journalists' organization Reporters Without Borders has filed a criminal complaint against Alexander Lukashenko with the Prosecutor General of Lithuania for “hijacking an airplane with criminal intent” under Articles 251 and 252-1 of the Lithuanian Criminal Code.

As a reaction to the imposition of EU sanctions, Alexander Lukashenko, in accordance with an earlier threat, has refugees from Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria flown into the country in order to then allow them to cross the border to the EU. The Baltic states of Lithuania and Latvia declared a state of emergency due to the enormous influx of refugees and closed their borders with the neighboring country. On August 11, Lithuania also decided to build a 550-kilometer border fence.


Political indices
Name of the index Index value Worldwide rank Interpretation aid year
Fragile States Index 65.8 out of 120 103 of 178 Stability of the country: Warning
0 = very sustainable / 120 = very alarming
Democracy index 2.59 out of 10 148 of 167 Authoritarian regime
0 = authoritarian regime / 10 = complete democracy
Freedom in the World Index 19 of 100 - Freedom status: unfree
0 = unfree / 100 = free
Freedom of the press ranking 50.82 out of 100 158 of 180 Difficult situation for freedom of the press
0 = good situation / 100 = very serious situation
Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 47 of 100 63 of 180 0 = very corrupt / 100 = very clean 2020

Domestic politics

State building of Belarus

Government formation

President Lukashenka took office in 1994 after a questionable election campaign . According to the Belarusian constitution at the time, the presidential term was limited to two terms. This restriction was abolished with a referendum in October 2006, which is why Lukashenka was also able to take part in the 2006 , 2010 , 2015 and 2020 presidential elections .

In view of democratic deficits and an authoritarian style of government, Belarus is also known as the last dictatorship in Europe .

The representative and legislative body of the Republic of Belarus is the Parliament - the National Assembly. It consists of two chambers , the Chamber of Representatives and the Council of the Republic . The Chamber of Representatives consists of 110 members who are to be elected in a general, free, equal, direct and secret ballot. The Council of the Republic is the chamber of territorial representation. For each Woblasz and the city of Minsk eight members of the Council of the Republic are elected by secret ballot. Eight members are appointed by the President.

The government of Belarus is headed by the Prime Minister .


In the 2006 presidential election , the Belarusian opposition parties agreed on Alyaksandr Milinkevich as a common candidate. Milinkevich sought support abroad through political visits to Russia and EU countries. According to observers, his rivals Aljaksandr Kasulin and Sjarhej Hajdukewitsch had no real chance of voting. Surveys in 2006 left no doubt that the incumbent Lukashenka would win the election. The elections were accompanied by an announcement by the secret service that they would use life imprisonment and even the death penalty against opponents of the government who threatened to destabilize the situation on the street on election day.

After Lukashenka had received 81 percent of the vote in the presidential election on March 19, 2006, according to official information, more than 10,000 people demonstrated on the central October Square in Minsk after the closing of the polls and called for new elections because they believed the election result to be falsified. Milinkevich, who allegedly received only six percent of the vote, described the election as a farce . He said that the opposition had overcome fear and announced that he would not recognize the election and would seek to cancel the election with international help.

The 2010 presidential election was initially preceded by a phase of relative rapprochement between the EU and Minsk. In 2009 Belarus was included in the EU's Eastern Partnership programs. The result of the 2010 presidential election was 79.67 percent, again in an area in which election fraud was assumed. Protests followed, which were put down. Many members of the opposition, including the candidates Andrej Sannikau , Mikalaj Statkewitsch , Jaraslau Ramantschuk and Uladzimir Njakljajeu , were arrested in the course of this. Relations with the EU and its member states have cooled significantly as a result.

The parliamentary elections in 2012 were boycotted by most of the opposition parties , and the parties critical of the government did not win a seat. Only parties loyal to the government, such as the Communist Party of Belarus , the Agrarian Party and the Republican Labor and Justice Party , won seats.

In the 2015 presidential election , incumbent Lukashenka allegedly received around 83.5 percent of the vote, but international standards were not met in this election either. In addition to Lukashenka, there were three other candidates, none of which received more than five percent of the vote. Two months before the election, Lukashenka pardoned five prisoners of conscience, including one of the 2010 presidential candidates, Mikalay Statkevich .

In the parliamentary elections in Belarus in 2016 , for the first time in 20 years, two opposition candidates - one independent and one representative of the United Citizens' Party - managed to enter parliament.

Human rights

death penalty

In 2010, Amnesty International documented three death sentences and various violations of the right to freedom of expression and the right to assemble and demonstrate. Death sentences were still pronounced in 2019 .

Torture, sexual abuse and ill-treatment

During the protests against Lukashenka's rule in 2020 , security forces used stun grenades, rubber bullets and tear gas. On August 10, 2020, the protester Aljaksandr Tarajkouski was shot dead as he approached special forces with his hands up. The stun grenades used left lacerations all over the body and the pressure wave of the explosion caused traumatic brain injuries. Several limbs were torn off as a result. Three prisoners suffered injuries in the Okrestino isolation center or on the way there, suggesting sexual violence. Victims were hospitalized with intramuscular bleeding of the rectum, an anal fissure and bleeding, and damage to the lining of the rectum. In October 2020, Lukashenka declared that no prisoners would be taken and threatened: "If someone touches a member of the military, he must at least leave without his hands." According to the human rights organization Amnesty International , some people arrested said they had been threatened with rape. In videos, women and men described that they hardly got anything to eat and that they were crammed together in very narrow cells. Several of those who had been released had to be taken to hospital immediately.

On the night of August 13-14, 2020, relatives of people detained in Okrestino Detention Center recorded the sounds of incessant beating, which could be clearly heard on the street. Several voices can also be heard on the recordings, screaming in pain and begging for mercy. One released inmate said that those who begged the officers not to be beaten had been beaten even more.

On September 1, 2020, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said it had received reports of over 450 documented cases of torture and ill-treatment since the day of the presidential election. This included cases of violence against women and children, as well as sexual abuse and rape with batons.

On October 11, a video was released showing prisoners being chased through the ranks of police and security forces in Okrestino and continuously beaten in the process.

In January 2021, a sound recording was released in which the commander of the internal forces and deputy interior minister of Belarus Mikalaj Karpjankou told security forces that they could cripple, mutilate and kill protesters so that they could understand their actions. This is justified because anyone who takes to the streets would take part in some kind of guerrilla war. He also mentions the establishment of camps, which are said to be surrounded by barbed wire, and in which the demonstrators will be held until the situation has calmed down. A spokeswoman for the Interior Ministry stamped the audio file as a forgery. However, a phonoscopic examination of the audio recording confirmed that the voice on the recording belongs to Karpjankou. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe expressed concern about the statements. According to Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty , such a warehouse near the city of Slutsk was actually said to have been used between August 13 and 15, 2020 . Many of the people detained there are believed to have been brought from the Okrestina prison in Minsk .

Restriction of freedom of expression, assembly and association

According to Amnesty, human rights defenders, trade unionists, environmental activists and members and representatives of sexual minorities are being persecuted. The " disappearance " of members of the opposition such as Jury Sacharanka , Dmitri Sawadski , Viktor Gonchar and Anatoly Krassowski is denounced. After various members of the opposition were arrested for expressions critical of the regime at demonstrations, the opposition began to march in silence. To counteract this, a law was passed that has made “unsanctioned acts or unsanctioned inaction” a criminal offense since September 2011. On January 6, 2012, new regulations for Internet traffic came into force: users of publicly accessible Internet locations must be registered and their traffic logged; all internet business must be done through Belarusian servers. The law is enforced by the police, tax authorities and state security agencies. In August 2012, 14 political prisoners were counted.

The Belarusian leadership has issued a legal order that enables the secret service authorities to monitor citizens without serious evidence. With the help of the SORM (System of Operative-Investigative Measures) spying program, government agencies can access users' telephone and Internet data. The activities of civil society organizations and human rights activists are massively restricted as a result.

The human rights situation in the country will be an international issue again through the protests in Belarus 2020 after opposition members were arrested, for example by the special unit OMON or, for example , interned, beaten and tortured in Okrestino prison, one of the country’s isolation centers .

Difficulties for LGBTI representatives

Lukashenka is known for his homophobic statements. Although homosexuality is legal, there have been several raids and arrests.

Human rights organizations

The most important human rights organization in the country is the Helsinki Committee .

Foreign policy

President Lukashenka with the presidents of other CSTO states (2018)

Belarus is a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization and, together with Russia, forms the Russian-Belarusian Union , which has recently been exposed to heavy strains. In 2011 Lukashenka announced that it would establish a Eurasian Union with Russia and Kazakhstan . The contract for its establishment was signed in May 2014 in the Kazakh capital Astana .

Belarus is the only European country not to be a member of the Council of Europe . It has been a member of the Non-Aligned Movement since 1998 .

Belarus is on friendly terms with Venezuela , Ecuador , Syria , Iran , North Korea , the People's Republic of China and Cuba . Relations with the NATO countries are considered tense, those with Ukraine as ambivalent.

Relations with the European Union

Since the European Union (EU) recognized Belarus as an independent state in 1991, mutual relations have been strengthened. After Aljaksandr Lukashenka took office in 1994, the relationship deteriorated. Despite reservations related to Belarus’s democratic deficit, a Stabilization and Association Agreement was signed in 1995 . In May 2009 the EU accepted Belarus into the Eastern Partnership. In light of the deteriorating human rights, democracy and rule of law situation in Belarus, according to EU leaders, in June 2011 the Council of the European Union imposed and expanded an arms embargo and an export ban on materials that could be used for internal repression List of people denied entry. The EU also expressed concern about restrictions on freedom of the media and failure to respect diplomatic immunities. The EU continues to monitor the situation in Belarus closely.

In 2012 there was a diplomatic dispute between Sweden and Belarus. The dispute apparently has several backgrounds. Sweden openly criticizes the undemocratic conditions in Belarus and supports the opposition. For example, the Swedish ambassador met opposition members. There was also an action with teddy bears that duped the Belarusian leadership. According to Swedish media reports, a light aircraft flew from Lithuania into Belarusian airspace undetected in early July 2012. Hundreds of teddy bears were thrown from parachutes over the small town of Iwianiec, to which signs with civil and human rights demands were attached. Shortly afterwards, the diplomatic quarrels between Sweden and the Belarusian leadership began. This expelled the Swedish ambassador to the country. As a result, the 28 EU countries showed their solidarity with Sweden and invited the Belarusian ambassadors to meet in their countries to protest against the closure of the Swedish embassy in Minsk.

There was a security cooperation between Germany and Belarus from 2008 until at least 2011, during which Lukashenka's security forces were trained in Germany. Almost 400 border guards, senior militiamen and forensic technicians were also trained by German officials directly in Belarus, and in 2010 Belarusian security forces observed German police officers on duty during the Castor transport to Gorleben in Lower Saxony for several days . At the beginning of 2011 there was a political uproar between the two countries after Lukashenka, shortly after his re-election as president in December 2010, accused Germany of having participated in alleged plans for a coup against him in the face of nationwide protests. The German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle described these allegations as unfounded and demanded a clear positioning of the EU with regard to the imprisonment of the opposition in the country.

As a result of police violence in response to popular protests against the announced results of the 2020 presidential election , there was considerable tension in the relationship between the European Union and Belarus. Numerous heads of state and government and foreign ministers of the EU sharply condemned the use of force. Lukashenka has not been recognized by the European Union as the legitimate head of state since the allegedly falsified presidential election in 2020.

Relations with russia

In the CIS region, Belarus is considered to be the country after Russia in which the Soviet past can be felt most clearly. Not only were the leading industrial plants of the Soviet empire located here, but also, due to the location on the border with the capitalist West, a large military infrastructure, which among other things had nuclear weapons . Therefore, from a Russian perspective, the country now plays a crucial role as a strategic buffer zone between Russia and NATO member states.

Belarus' loyalty to Russia had been “bought” for many years. After repeated disagreements in the Russian-Belarusian energy dispute in 2007, which revolved around the issues of gas prices, energy policy and oil transit, many observers regard Russian-Belarusian integration as virtually dead. The end of preferential treatment by Russia in the supply of raw materials led to a strong rapprochement between Belarus and Venezuela by the end of the year.

In January 2008, the country started building its first nuclear power plant to reduce its dependency on Russia. However, it is supposed to be built by a Russian company. Construction of the first block of the Belarusian nuclear power plant began in November 2013 and officially went into operation on November 7, 2020.

In 2020 Belarus has the rotating chairmanship of the Eurasian Economic Union , which was only founded in 2014 , to which Russia also belongs, and since 2015 it has observer status in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization , which Russia also belongs to. In January 2017 Belarus temporarily increased the transit prices for Russian oil after the two countries had been arguing for months about a back payment of around 300 million dollars for natural gas.

In the run-up to the 2020 presidential election , 33 suspected mercenaries were arrested in Minsk from the Russian paramilitary Wagner group , which regularly carries out covert operations for the Russian secret service. Lukashenka accused Russia of wanting to destabilize Belarus militarily. This is also interesting because he was previously considered a close ally of Putin . Recently, however, especially since the Russian invasion of Ukraine , this relationship has worsened, according to observers. Lukashenka may fear that Russia might try to annex Belarus next and then depose him. In fact, he has signed an agreement since 1997, which provides for a merger of the two countries. Lukashenka has now distanced himself from it.

Relations with Venezuela

Economic and diplomatic relations between Venezuela and Belarus have deepened since President Hugo Chávez's first visit in 2006. At the diplomatic level, both states are in favor of a multipolar world order in order to limit the hegemonic position of the USA . Belarus supports Venezuela, among other things, with armaments and the transfer of military technology for the reconstruction of the armed forces.

The economic cooperation includes, among other things. the areas of energy, trade and agriculture. In Venezuela, for example, Joint ventures in the production of oil and gas, the construction of tractors, buses and trucks. Belarus is also involved in residential construction in Venezuela . Venezuela also serves Belarus as a center for trade with other Latin American states. The value of the economic cooperation in 2009 was around 200 million US dollars, with significant expansion planned.

After Chavez's death, Lukashenka proclaimed a three-day state mourning and announced that a street in Minsk would be named after him and a bust would be erected in his honor.


There is censorship in Belarus . Free reporting by state or private media is hardly possible due to repression against people or the respective medium; television and most printed matter are firmly in the hands of the regime. Independent information is mainly distributed by news sites on the Internet or media that work from exile. Since the mass protests began in August 2020, hundreds of media workers have been temporarily arrested and some have been sentenced to several years in prison. In October 2020, all foreign correspondents lost their accreditations and dozen of independent news sites were blocked. The situation of press freedom in the country is classified by Reporters Without Borders as "difficult". In the ranking of press freedom in 2021, Belarus ranks 158th out of 180 countries and territories. Three bloggers and citizen journalists are in custody in Belarus .

State or opportunist media

BTRK building in Minsk (2018)

The broadcasting landscape in Belarus consists of a few mostly entertainment-oriented private television and radio stations as well as the programs of the state BTRK. The state broadcasting company Belaruskaya Tele-Radio Campanija produces seven television programs, several national radio programs and the foreign service Radio Belarus . Government propaganda is widely used in the programs . BTRK was banned from the European Broadcasting Union on June 30, 2021 . The state television broadcaster ONT was founded directly by presidential decree in 2002 . He often takes on programs for the Russian state television broadcaster Pervy kanal .

The state press agency is BelTA . The EU imposed sanctions on its Director General Dzmitryj Schuk after the crackdown on protests following the 2010 presidential election in Belarus .

In addition to private newspapers, the state press plays an important role in the newspaper market . By far the largest circulation daily newspaper is in Russian language appearing Belarus SEGODNYA , also known under its former name Sovetskaya Belorussiya . The newspaper, which has appeared since 1927, has a circulation of more than 300,000 copies; The publisher is the administration of the President of Belarus.

See also press in Belarus

Independent and oppositional media

Logo of the independent internet portal

Most younger people have turned away from the state media and news flows and used the Internet for information gathering since the 2010s. The opposition, activist social media channel Nexta and the portal are used extensively . In 2019 was read by 62.58% of all Belarusian internet users with a monthly visit rate of around 200 million.

Several stations broadcast to Belarus from Poland. The Warsaw-based Eurapejskaje Radyjo dlja Belarussi (ERB; European Radio for Belarus ) was set up by emigrated Belarusian journalists and has been broadcasting to Belarus with the help of local VHF stations on the borders of Poland, Lithuania and Ukraine since 2006. In addition, it is streamed into the network and transmitted via Hot Bird 6 . The Polish state radio broadcaster Belaruskaje Radyjo Razyja broadcasts in Belarusian for Belarus from Białystok in the Polish-Belarusian border area .


The Armed Forces of Belarus were officially formed on March 20, 1992 and initially included the troops of the Belarusian Military District of the Soviet Union with no strategic units. On February 4, 1992, Parliament ratified the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty . Until December 1995 were 63 intercontinental ballistic missiles of the type RS-12M (NATO code: SS-25 Sickle) Topol withdrawn from Belarus. The last two operational mobile regiments with around 18 nuclear missiles were relocated to Russia by the end of 1996. On December 19, 1997, the Republic of Belarus and the Russian Federation signed an Agreement on Military Cooperation and an Agreement on the Joint Guarantee of Regional Security in the Military Area. On January 22, 1998, at a meeting of the Supreme Council of the Russian-Belarusian Union in Moscow, agreement was reached on a concept for the common defense policy. Since the force reform in 2001 there have been two territorial commands in Hrodna (formerly the seat of the 28th Army) and Baryssau (formerly the 65th Army). As part of a joint CIS air defense, Russia maintains a radar station near the Baranavichy military airfield in the Hanzavichy district . In addition, both sides have closely coordinated their arms industries and exports.

Belarus spent just under 1.2 percent of its economic output or 631 million US dollars on its armed forces in 2017.


Belarus is the world's largest exporter of calcium carbonate . For this it is dependent on the Lithuanian port of Klaipėda .


Old Belarusian ruble worth around 100 euros (as of March 2015)

After the collapse of the Soviet Union , the Belarusian economy was not transformed into a market economy ; the government prefers a planned economy . Industry and agriculture are largely in state hands. Belarus had a trade deficit with Russia of over US $ 9 billion in 2019 . The Russian government has decided to abolish the price discounts for Russian crude oil deliveries to Belarus in the export taxation of crude oil by 2024. That makes Belarus' oil imports more expensive. In addition, the oil price on the world market rose significantly in 2021.

Typical house in the country (here in Nyasvish )

Agriculture, which employs around 10 percent of the population, is collectivized . Cattle breeding and the cultivation of potatoes dominate. Textile industry and wood processing are considered to be important branches of industry. Mechanical engineering ( tractors , refrigerators ) has been expanded since 1965 . Belarus was one of the relatively well-developed Soviet republics within the Soviet Union . Besides the CIS , the country is economically active in the Eurasian Economic Union and in the Russian-Belarusian Union .

At the end of 2006, the Russian company Gazprom took over a 50 percent stake in the Belarusian energy and gas company Beltransgaz for 2.5 billion US dollars .

BelAZ large dump trucks

Other important Belarusian companies are the automobile factory BelAZ , the potash producer Belaruskali , the Minsk wristwatch factory Strahl (Lutsch) , the vehicle and armaments manufacturer Minsky Avtomobilny Zavod (MAZ), the vehicle manufacturer Minsk Zavod Kolyosnych Tyagachei (MZKT), the Minsk tractor works (MTS) the semiconductor manufacturer Integral , the software manufacturer , the industrial group Belnaftachim (to which the tire manufacturer Belshina also belongs) and the Belaruskaja Tschyhunka and Belavia Belarusian Airlines transport companies .

Belarusian industry counted around 600 state-owned companies around 2012, which generate 30 percent of total production. In 2009, a pilot privatization of five of the largest state-owned companies was agreed with the IMF . Over a hundred large state-owned companies in industry, construction and the transport sector were converted into joint-stock companies, including the oil-processing combine Naftan-Polimir, the vehicle and armaments manufacturer Minsky Avtomobilny Zavod (MAZ), the Minsk Tractor Works (MTS) and the steel mill in Shlobin . Andrei Kobjakov was in charge of the privatization until his dismissal in August 2018 .

The National Bank of the Republic of Belarus issues the Belarusian ruble . It has not been independent since 1996, but is accountable to the President of the Republic of Belarus. After years of strong inflation, three zeros were deleted in 2000 and four zeros in July 2016 (a total of 10,000,000 to 1).

Belarus tractor

Belarus had been affected by the recession since 2009 and at times tried to support the rate of its national currency with a high key interest rate . The ruble lost roughly half of its value during 2014; there was panic buying and a run on exchange offices. The authorities then banned price increases .

The main foreign companies in Belarus include:


In 1990/91 the Soviet Union disintegrated ; the gross domestic product fell. A growth phase began in 1996; In 2001 the values ​​of 1990 were reached again in agriculture and industry. The gross domestic product nom. 2017 was valued at 52.8 billion US dollars (approximately 5140 US dollars per capita). In 2015 and 2016 the economy experienced a recession. In 2017, an inflation rate of 8 percent and real growth of 0.7 percent were claimed. According to the Belarusian government, the unemployment rate was around 1 percent in 2017. In 2015, 9.7% of all workers worked in agriculture, 66.8% in the service sector and 23.7% in industry. The total number of employees was estimated at 4.38 million in 2017. Experts believe that actual unemployment is higher. Another problem in the economy is the local currency, the Belarusian ruble . In 2007, the external debt was $ 12.7 billion and in 2014 it was $ 23.3 billion.

In 2017, Belarus was ranked 104th out of 180 countries in the Economic Freedom Index . and 2020 place 134.

Economic data

Gross domestic product, inflation, budget balance and foreign trade developed as follows:

Change in gross domestic product (GDP), real
in% compared to the previous year
year 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
change 8.4 3.4 5.8 4.7 5.0 7.0 11.4 11.5 10.0 8.6 10.20 0.2 7.7 5.5 1.7 1.1 1.7 −3.8 −2.6 2.5 3.0
Source: World Bank , WKO
Development of GDP (nominal)
year 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
absolute (in billions of US dollars) 17.8 23.1 30.2 37.0 45.3 54.6 49.2 55.2 59.7 63.6 73.1 76.1 54.6 - 54.4 56.9
per inhabitant (in US dollars) 1820 2380 3130 3850 4740 6380 5180 5820 6310 6720 7720 8030 5740 - 5720 6020
Source: World Bank , GTAI
Development of the inflation rate Development of the budget balance
in% compared to the previous year
year 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2010 2015 2017 2018 year 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2018
inflation rate 28.4 18.1 8.0 6.6 12.1 ~ 11.2 7.7 13.5 6.0 4.9 Budget balance −1.2 0.1 −0.6 2.2 0.6 ~ −1.9 4.2
Source: bfai , WKO ~ = Forecast
Main trading partner (2016)
Export (in%) to Import (in%) of
2016 2017 2016 2017
RussiaRussia Russia 45.8 42.8 RussiaRussia Russia 54.5 56.6
UkraineUkraine Ukraine 12.0 11.2 China People's RepublicPeople's Republic of China People's Republic of China 7.6 7.9
United KingdomUnited Kingdom United Kingdom 4.7 GermanyGermany Germany 4.8 5.0
GermanyGermany Germany 4.0 PolandPoland Poland 4.3 3.9
NetherlandsNetherlands Netherlands 4.0 UkraineUkraine Ukraine 3.5 3.5
PolandPoland Poland 3.5 TurkeyTurkey Turkey 2.6
LithuaniaLithuania Lithuania 3.3 ItalyItaly Italy 2.0
United NationsU.N. other states 22.7 United NationsU.N. other states 20.7
Source: GTAI , Export Germany-Belarus, WKO
Main products of foreign trade (2007)
Export goods (share in%) Imported goods (share in%)
mineral raw materials and primary energy sources 35.6 mineral raw materials and primary energy sources 36.4
Chemical and plastic products 13.6 Machines, nuclear reactors and equipment 11.6
Mode of Transport 11.9 Chemical and plastic products 11.3
Source: bfai
Development of foreign trade
in billion US dollars and its year-on-year change in%
2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Billion dollars % yoy Billion dollars % yoy Billion dollars % yoy Billion dollars % yoy Billion dollars % yoy
import 40.5 −5.9 30.3 −25.2 27.5 −9.3 34.2 1.24 38.4 0.89
export 36.1 −3.0 26.7 −26.1 23.4 −12.2 29.2 1.28 33.7 1.15
balance −4.4 −3.6 −4.0 −5.0 −4.7
Source: GTAI , WKO

State budget

The state budget in 2016 comprised expenditures equivalent to US $ 20.9 billion , which was offset by income equivalent to US $ 21.2 billion. This results in a budget surplus of 0.6 percent of GDP .

The national debt was 47.8% of GDP in 2017.

In 2006 the share of government expenditure (as a percentage of GDP) was in the following areas:


Castle me

Belarus is little developed for international tourism. Similar to Russia, you need a visa that is suitable for the purpose of the visit (e.g. private visit, tourism, business trip), which is only issued in connection with further evidence such as a hotel booking or a formal invitation by a Belarusian person / institution. The visa can be applied for directly at the embassy of the Republic of Belarus in Berlin for a fee. Another option is to have the visa procurement process handled by a travel agency. In most cases, however, this variant is associated with additional costs.

Since July 27, 2018, citizens of 74 states can travel to Belarus for up to 30 days without a visa if they enter via the Minsk National Airport . This applies, among other things, to all states of the European Union and, in the German-speaking area, to Switzerland and Liechtenstein . In addition, certain areas around Grodno, in particular for a visit to the Augustów Canal , can be visited for a maximum of 10 days without a visa, although it is possible to cross the border by land. This was apparently extended on August 7, 2019 to a visa-free area “Brest-Grodno” with a stay of up to 15 days. A document from a Belarusian tour operator is required for this, through which tourist services must be booked. A visa is still required for all other border crossings, including for transit trips, e.g. E.g. by train from Berlin to Moscow or in the direction of St. Petersburg (as of Aug 2020). Entry without a visa by land from Russia at unsupervised border crossings is also not permitted. Visa-free entry is also not possible from Russian airports.

The main tourist attraction is Minsk itself; it has an extensive network of cultural institutions with 18 museums and twelve theaters. There are also numerous interesting historical places and monuments.

Belarus also has four UNESCO World Heritage sites to offer. These include the Belawescha National Park in the last lowland jungle in Europe, Mir Castle and Nyasvish Castle .

Tourism development
tourism unit 2005 2010 2015 2017 2018
International arrivals 1,000 91 119 4,386 10,935 11,060
growth in % - 1.31 36.86 2.49 1.01
International tourism income Million USD 346 665 1,013 1,019 1,134
International tourism income % at the BPI 1.1 1.2 1.8 2.1 2.1
Source: WIKO



Developed Magistralstrasse 7 ( E28 ) near Ashyany

For Russia, Belarus (together with Lithuania) is the main transit country to its exclave , the Kaliningrad Oblast . The main traffic axis from ( Western Europe - Warsaw -) Brest via Baranavichy - Minsk - Baryssau to Orscha (- Moscow ) runs from southwest to northeast across the country. It consists of one of the Belarusian state railways Belarusian Railway operated electrified railway line with parallel running motorway-like -developed highway.


Belarus is an important transit country between Central Europe and Russia because of its location : 50 percent of Russian crude oil flows through the Druzhba pipeline , which is serviced by the Gomel Transneft company on Belarusian territory , and 25 percent of the natural gas flows through pipelines of the state-owned Beltransgas company. Distribution system. Due to the political situation in Belarus, Russia is increasingly turning to Northern Europe . Construction of the Nord Stream pipeline through the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany began in 2005 and was completed in 2011. This made Russia's gas supplies to Western Europe more independent of Belarus.

At the beginning of 2007 the Belarusian government demanded transit fees from Russia for the use of the oil pipelines to Western Europe. The money was to be used to compensate for the losses caused by the increase in gas prices by the Russian Gazprom group. This conflict resulted in the suspension of the Russian-Belarusian integration plans.


The main traffic axis consists of an electrified railway line operated by the Belarusian state railway Belaruskaya Chyhunka . Coming from Poland, the railway line reaches the Belarusian border in standard gauge (1435 mm gauge ) and continues from Brest-Zentralny station in Russian broad gauge (1520 mm). The coupling systems of the railways in Western Europe ( screw coupling ) and the railways in the succession of the Soviet state railways ( central buffer - claw coupling ) are also different, which makes it necessary to stop at Brest station to change the bogies and couplings. The stay often amounts to a few hours, but the actual exchange procedure only takes about 20 minutes.


Trolley bus in Minsk

The main traffic axis consists of a highway that runs parallel to the main railway line . There is an expressway ring around Minsk with foothills to Lithuania / Hrodna and to Babrujsk / Homel in the south-east of the country. In addition, Polatsk via Vitebsk and Orsha and Mahiljou via Babrujsk are connected to Minsk.


The east of the country is crossed by the Dnepr (Belarusian Dnjapro ), which flows through the Ukraine into the Black Sea. In the south, Belarus is in west-east direction from the Pripyat crosses, which flows from the right into the Dnepr and the since 1848 Dnepr-Bug channel is connected to the Baltic Sea. Belarus has a merchant fleet stationed in Latvian Baltic ports.

Air traffic

There is an international and a national airport near Minsk , as well as various regional airports. The national airline is Belavia . Minsk International Airport (Minsk-2, IATA code: MSQ) transports over one million passengers annually. Every day between 7:10 am and 10:35 pm, a shuttle bus connects the international airport and the capital with hourly departures.


In 2016, 61.0% of the population used the internet. The top-level domain of Belarus has been .by since 1994 . .Bel has also been valid since 2015 .

The prefix +375 must be used for international calls to Belarus .




Important writers are or were Jakub Kolas , Janka Kupala , Maksim Bahdanowitsch , Wassil Bykau , Ales Adamowitsch and Swjatlana Aleksijewitsch .

Cultural personalities

Another culturally influential factor was the large Jewish population group that had existed for centuries . Probably one of the most famous cultural workers from Belarus is the painter Marc Chagall , who was born in Vitebsk and later lived in France for a long time . Even Chaim Soutine was a painter from Belarus, in Smilawitschy was born. The patron saint of Belarus, Euphrosyne von Polatsk, also became known .


The media in the country are heavily influenced by the authoritarian government (see Propaganda in Belarus ). The media are divided into the press landscape (see Press in Belarus ) as well as television ( e.g. Belarus 1 ) and radio (e.g. Radio Belarus ).

The largest state-owned news agency is BelTA . Belintersat is the state-owned national communications satellite operator of Belarus, it operates Belintersat 1 , a communications satellite.

An important independent non-governmental news agency BelaPAN , a major independent site is TUT.BY .

.by is the country-specific top-level domain .


St. Nicholas Church in Brest

In addition to some preserved architectural monuments from the era of the Kievan Rus , Belarus has a rich cultural heritage from the time it belonged to the Polish-Lithuanian aristocratic republic . These include important castles in the west of the country such as Mir Palace and baroque church buildings. In addition to Mir Castle, the Struve Arch and the residence of the Radziwiłł family in Njaswisch are UNESCO World Heritage Sites . There is also a rich folk culture.


The most popular sport among Belarusians is ice hockey . The highest national league is called the Extraliga , the second division is the Wysschaja League . The Belarusian national ice hockey team is 14th in the IIHF world rankings after the 2021 World Cup . At the 2002 Winter Olympics in the USA , the Belarusians took fourth place, the best place at world championships was a sixth place at the 2006 world championships . HK Dinamo Minsk has been playing in the successor league of the Russian Super League , the KHL, since 2008 . The 2014 Ice Hockey World Championship was held in Belarus. The allocation of the games was discussed controversially.

Belarusian football is currently experiencing a slight upswing. But the Eastern European country lacks enough players of the stature to deliver consistent performance. Well-known players include Aljaksandr Hleb , Anton Puzila and Wassil Chamutouski . The national team is ranked 95th in the FIFA world rankings and fifth in its group in qualifying for the 2021 European Championship . The best-known clubs in the country are the record champions of the Vysheyschaya Liha , the FK BATE Baryssau , as well as the Soviet champions from 1982, the FK Dinamo Minsk .

The Belarusian national team has so far participated five times in a world championship and six times in a European championship. In the past, the capital club SKA Minsk brought the Belarusian handball sport great success, at least at the international club level. The country's best- known handball players are Sjarhej Harbok  - who played for Russia after 2012 - and - Andrej Klimovets , who played for Germany from 2005 to 2013 -  who both earned their money in the German handball league .

At the Olympic Games, 96 athletes from Belarus won 103 Olympic medals (21 gold, 35 silver, 47 bronze). In time medals table of the Olympic Games Belarus occupies the 42nd place and at the Winter Olympics 20th place known medal winners are the world champion in hammer throw Ivan Tsikhan that counting the world's best discus Iryna Yatchenko , the multiple world and Olympic champion in rowing Kazjaryna Karsten and the athlete Julia Neszjarenka .

The most successful table tennis player is Vladimir Samsonov . He was vice world champion in doubles in 1995 and vice world champion in singles in 1997. In addition to many other successes, he was three times European champion in singles and four times won the European ranking tournament TOP-12 as well as the World Cup in 1999 , 2001 and 2009 . With him, the national team was able to win several medals at European championships, including the gold medal in 2003 .

In tennis, Viktoria Azaranka took first place in the world rankings. Other well-known tennis professionals are Natallja Swerawa , Aryna Sabalenka and Wolha Hawarzowa , and in the men’s doubles specialist Max Mirny .

See also

Portal: Belarus  - Overview of Wikipedia content on Belarus


  • Olga Abramova: Integration between Reality and Simulation. Belarusian-Russian relations since 1991. Studies of the research focus on conflict and cooperation structures in Eastern Europe at the University of Mannheim (FKKS) 19. Mannheim 1998.
  • Claudia M. Buch : Currency reforms in comparison: monetary strategies in Russia, Belarus, Estonia and Ukraine. Mohr, Tübingen 1995, ISBN 3-16-146415-X (=  Kiel Studies , Volume 270).
  • Irina Bugrova, Svetlana Naumova: Parliamentary elections and foreign policy orientations of Belarus. In: Vector - Belarusian Journal of International Politics, 1/1, 1996, pp. 2-7.
  • Bernhard Chiari : Everyday life behind the front. Occupation, collaboration and resistance in Belarus 1941–1944 . Droste, Düsseldorf 1998, ISBN 3-7700-1607-6 (=  writings of the Federal Archives , Volume 53, also dissertation at the Eberhard Karls University Tübingen 1997 under the title: German occupation in Belarus 1941-1944 ).
  • Herbert Dederichs, Jürgen Pillath, Burkhard Heuel-Fabianek, Peter Hill, Reinhard Lennartz: Long-term observation of the dose exposure of the population in radioactively contaminated areas of Belarus - Korma study. Verlag Forschungszentrum Jülich 2009, ISBN 978-3-89336-562-3 .
  • Heinrich Linus Förster : From dictatorship to democracy - and back? An examination of the problem of system transformation using the example of the former Soviet Republic of Belarus. Hamburg 1998.
  • Folkert Garbe, Rainer Lindner: Election farce in Belarus - staged ballot box and new resistance. Discussion paper of the Science and Politics Foundation, April 2006.
  • Rainer Lindner : historian and rule. Nation building and history politics in Belarus in the 19th and 20th centuries. Ordnungssysteme 5, Munich 1999.
  • Rainer Lindner: Presidential dictatorship in Belarus: economy, politics and society under Lukashenko. In: Osteuropa 47 / 10-11, 1997, pp. 1038-1052.
  • Human rights in Belarus V .: On the human rights situation in Belarus (PDF; 1.1 MB). Berlin 2014, ISBN 978-3-86468-643-6 .
  • Anja Obermann: Relations between the European Union and non-democratic states: European foreign policy towards Algeria , Indonesia and Belarus. VDM-Verlag Dr. Müller, Saarbrücken 2007, ISBN 3-8364-4839-4 .
  • Andreas Rostek (Hrsg.), Nina Weller (Hrsg.), Thomas Weiler (Hrsg.), Tina Wünschmann (Hrsg.): BELARUS !: The female face of the revolution . Edition fotoTAPETA, Berlin 2020, ISBN 978-3-940524-99-7 .
  • Astrid Sahm: Creeping coup in Belarus. Background and consequences of the constitutional referendum in November 1996. In: Osteuropa (Zeitschrift) , 47/9, 1997, pp. 475–487.
  • Roland Scharff (Ed.): Belarus Belarus: Interim balance of a canceled transformation. Osnabrück University of Applied Sciences, Department of Economics, Osnabrück 2001, ISBN 978-3-925716-67-6 .
  • Eberhard Schneider: The first man in Belarus: Stanislau Schuschkewitsch. In: Osteuropa , 43/12, 1993, pp. 1147-1151.
  • Silvia von Steinsdorff : The political system of Belarus (Belarus). In: Wolfgang Ismayr (Ed.): The political systems of Eastern Europe , Opladen 2004, pp. 429–468, ISBN 978-3-8100-4053-4 .
  • Andrew Wilson: Belarus: The Last European Dictatorship. New edition. Yale University Press, New Haven 2021, ISBN 978-0-300-25921-6 .
  • Jan Zaprudnik: Historical dictionary of Belarus. London 1998.
  • Olga Shparaga : The Revolution Has a Female Face: The Belarus Case - June 7, 2021, ISBN 978-3-518-12769-8 .

Web links

Commons : Belarus  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Belarus  - explanations of meanings, origins of words, synonyms, translations
Wikivoyage: Belarus  travel guide
Wikimedia Atlas: Belarus  - geographical and historical maps

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Coordinates: 54 °  N , 29 °  E