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Belarus  , [Belarus', Belorussiya]), officially the Republic of Belarus, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, bordered clockwise by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital is Minsk; other major cities include Brest, Grodno (Hrodna), Gomel (Homiel), Mogilev (Mahilyow) and Vitebsk (Vitsebsk). Over forty percent of its 207,600 square kilometres (80,200 sq mi) is forested, and its strongest economic sectors are agriculture and manufacturing,last minute accommodation,

Until the 20th century, the lands of modern day Belarus belonged to several countries, including the Principality of Polotsk, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, and the Russian Empire. As a result of the Russian Revolution, Belarus became a founding constituent republic of the Soviet Union and was renamed as the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic. The borders of Belarus took their modern shape in 1939 when lands that were part of the Second Polish Republic were incorporated into after the Soviet invasion of Poland. The nation and its territory were devastated in World War II, during which Belarus lost about a third of its population and more than half of its economic resources. The republic was redeveloped in the post-war years. In 1945 the Belorussian SSR became a founding member of the UN, along with the Soviet Union and the Ukrainian SSR,stays,

The parliament of the republic declared the sovereignty of Belarus on 27 July 1990, and during the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Belarus declared independence on 25 August 1991. Alexander Lukashenko has been the country's president since 1994. Under his lead and despite objections from Western governments, Soviet-era policies, such as state ownership of the economy have been continued. According to some organizations and countries, elections have been unfair, and political opponents have been violently suppressed. In 2000, Belarus and Russia signed a treaty for greater cooperation, with some hints of forming a Union State,motels,

Most of Belarus's population of 9.49 million reside in the urban areas surrounding Minsk and other oblast (regional) capitals. More than 80% of the population are native Belarusians, with sizable minorities of Russians, Poles and Ukrainians. Since a referendum in 1995, the country has had two official languages: Belarusian and Russian. The Constitution of Belarus does not declare an official religion, although the primary religion in the country is Russian Orthodox Christianity. The second most popular, Roman Catholicism, has a much smaller following by comparison, but both Orthodox and Catholic Christmas and Easter are officially celebrated as national holidays. Belarus also has the highest Human Development Index among members of the Commonwealth of Independent States,top deals,

The name "Belarus" corresponds literally with the term "White Ruthenia" (White Rus'). There are several claims to where the origin of the name "White Rus'" came from. An ethno-religious theory suggests that the name used to describe the part of old Ruthenian lands within the Grand Duchy of Lithuania that was mostly populated by the early Christianized Slavs, as opposed to Black Ruthenia, which to a greater extent was inhabited by predominantly pagan Balts. Another possible origin for the name is for the white clothing that was worn by the local Slavic population. Yet another theory suggests that the old Ruthenian lands (Polatsk, Vitsiebsk and Mahilyow) which were not conquered by the Tatars were referred to as "white". Other sources claim that before 1267, the land not conquered by the Mongols was considered "White Rus'". In 2008, historian Ales Bely defended his PhD thesis in the Lithuanian Institute of History, Vilnius entitled Localization of the Choronym of White Rus in the European Written and Map Sources of the 13th to mid-18th Centuries which showed that the term White Rus was originally largely referred to the lands of the Novgorod Republic conquered by the Grand Duchy of Moscow in 1478, and translated to the territory of what is now Eastern Belarus together with Westward expansion of Muscovy during the Livonian War in the 17th century,cheap flights,

As the names "Ruthenia" and "Rus'" have very often been confused with their modern derivative "Russia", White Ruthenia has often been referred to as "White Russia". This misinterpretation has been supported by the Moscovite regents after the fall of Kievan Rus'. The Moskovite dukes, starting with Ivan IV, considered themselves to be the rightful successors of the Ruthenian grand duke dynasty, and their use of the name "Russia" as referring to all former Ruthenian (east slavic) lands became a political weapon and a casus belli for claiming the west Ruthenian territories from Lithuania and Poland. The name first appeared in German and Latin medieval literature. In chronicles written by Jan of Czarnków, he spoke of the Lithuanian grand duke Jogaila and his mother being imprisoned in 1381 at "Albae Russiae, Poloczk dicto". The Latin term "Alba Russia" was again used by Pope Pius VI when establishing a Jesuit Society in 1783. His official Papal bull exclaimed "Approbo Societatem Jesu in Alba Russia degentem, approbo, approbo." Historically, the country was referred to in English as "White Ruthenia". 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. During the 17th century, Russian tsars used "White Rus"" when describing the lands captured from the Grand Duchy of Lithuania,car hire,

Belarus was formally named "Belorussia" (Russian: ??????????; the latter part similar, but spelled and stressed differently from ??????, "Russia") in the days of the Russian Empire, and the Russian tsar was usually styled "Tsar of All the Russias", as "Russia" or the "Russian Empire" was formed by all the Russias – the Great, Little, and White. At the time, "Byelorussia" was the only Russian language name of the country; under the Russian Empire, Belarus was generally seen as a part of the Russian nation and the Belarusian language was viewed as a dialect of Russian. After the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, the term White Russia caused some confusion because it was also the name of the military force that opposed the "red" Bolsheviks. During the period of the Belorussian SSR, the term "Byelorussia" was embraced as part of a national consciousness. In the Polish-held Western Belarus, "Byelorussia" became commonly used in the regions of Bialystok and Grodno during the interwar period,flights,

The term "Belorussia" (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 the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic decreed by law that the new independent republic should be called "Belarus" (????????) in Russian and in all other language transcriptions of its name. The change was made to reflect adequately the Belarusian language form of the name. The use of Byelorussian SSR and any abbreviations of that name was allowed from 1991 until 1993. 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,travel insurance

Accordingly, the name "Belorussia" was replaced by "Belarus" in English and to some extent in Russian (although the traditional name still persists in that language as well); likewise, the adjective "Belorussian" or "Byelorussian" was replaced by "Belarusian" in English (though Russian has not developed a new adjective). "Belarusian" is closer to the original Russian term of "bielaruski. Belarusian intelligentsia in the Stalin era attempted to change the name from "Belorussia" to a form of "Krivia" because of the supposed connection with Russia. Some nationalists also object to the name for the same reason. However, several popular newspapers published locally still retain the old name of the country in Russian in their names, for example Komsomolskaya Pravda v Byelorussii, which is the localized publication of a popular Russian tabloid. Also, those who wish for Belarus to be reunited with Russia continue to use "Belorussia". Officially, the full name of the country is "Republic of Belarus"

The Homo erectus and Neanderthal remains have been found in the region. Later Neolithic modern man that moved into the area established from 5000–2000 BCE Bandkerimik cultures, which predominated. Remains for the Dnieper-Donets culture were also found in Belarus and parts of Ukraine. Cimmerians and other pastoralists roamed through the area by 1000 BCE. By 500 BCE, Slavs had taken up residence there, with Scythian pressure on the outskirts of their territories. Various Asiatic "barbarian" invasions passed around the region, including Huns and Avars c. 400–600 CE, but did not dislodge the Slavic presence,last minute accommodation,

Stamp with the Cross of St. Euphrasyne from 1992 The region that is now Belarus was first settled by Slavic tribes in the 6th century. They gradually came into contact with the Varangians, bands of Scandinavian warriors and traders. Though defeated and briefly exiled by the local population, the Varangians were later asked to return and helped to form a polity—commonly referred to as the Kievan Rus'—in exchange for tribute. The Kievan Rus' state began in about 862 around the city of Kiev or alternatively around the present-day city of Novgorod,rental,

Upon the death of Kievan Rus' ruler, Yaroslav I the Wise, the state split into independent principalities. These Ruthenian principalities were badly affected by a Mongol invasion in the 13th century, and many were later incorporated into the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.] Of the principalities held by the Duchy, nine were settled by ancestors of the Belarusian people. During this time the Duchy was involved in several military campaigns, including fighting on the side of Poland against the Teutonic Knights at the Battle of Grunwald in 1410; the joint victory allowed the Duchy to control the northwestern border lands of Eastern Europe.

Map of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Belarus was in its structure. On 2 February 1386, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Kingdom of Poland were joined in a personal union through a marriage of their rulers. This union set in motion the developments that eventually resulted in the formation of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, created in 1569. The Russians, led by Ivan III of Moscow, began military conquests in 1486 in an attempt to reunite the Kievan Rus' lands, specifically the territories of modern day Belarus and Ukraine.

The union between Poland and Lithuania ended in 1795 with the partitioning of Poland by Imperial Russia, Prussia, and Austria. During this time the territories of modern day Belarus were acquired by the Russian Empire under the reign of Catherine II] and held until their occupation by German Empire during World War I.

During the negotiations of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, Belarus first declared independence on 25 March 1918, forming the Belarusian People's Republic. The Belarusian People's Republic was created while under German occupation, and it was one of the first attempts to "Westernize" Belarus. Socialist Soviet Republic of Byelorussia was proclaimed. Immediately after formation, the Polish–Soviet War was started, and Belarus was torn between resurgent Poland and Soviet Russia. Part of Belarus under Russian rule became the Belorussian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1919. Soon that part was merged into the Lithuanian–Belorussian Soviet Socialist Republic. The contested lands were split between Poland and the Soviet Union after the war ended in 1921, and the Belorussian SSR became a founding member of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in 1922. The western part of modern Belarus remained part of Poland,holiday travel,

A set of agricultural reforms, culminating in the Belarusian phase of Soviet collectivization, began in the 1920s. A process of rapid industrialization was undertaken during the 1930s, following the model of Soviet five-year plans.

The Brest Fortress to the War Memorial Soviet partisan fighters behind German front lines in Belarus in 1943 In 1939, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union invaded and occupied Poland, marking the beginning of World War II. Much of northeastern Poland, which had been part of the country since the Peace of Riga two decades earlier, was annexed to the Belorussian Soviet Socialist Republic, and now constitutes West Belarus. The Soviet-controlled Belarusian People Council officially took control of the territories, which had a predominantly ethnic Belarusian population, on 28 October 1939, in Bialystok,car hire,

Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941. The Brest Fortress, which had been annexed in 1939, received one of the fiercest of the war's opening blows, with its notable defense in 1941 coming to be remembered as an act of heroism in countering the German aggression. Statistically, BSSR was the hardest hit Soviet republic in the war and remained in Nazi hands until 1944. During that time, Germany destroyed 209 out of 290 cities in the republic, 85% of the republic's industry, and more than one million buildings. Casualties were estimated to be between two and three million (about a quarter to one-third of the total population), while the Jewish population of Belarus was devastated during the Holocaust and never recovered. The population of Belarus did not regain its pre-war level until 1971,cheap hotel deals,

After the war ended, Belarus was officially among the 51 founding countries of the United Nations Charter in 1945; along with Ukraine it was given an additional vote at the UN alongside that of the Soviet Union. Intense post-war reconstruction was initiated promptly. During this time, the Belorussian SSR became a major center of manufacturing in the western region of the USSR, increasing jobs and bringing an influx of ethnic Russians into the republic. The borders of Belorussian SSR and Poland were redrawn to a point known as the Curzon Line,travel insurance,