(Рэспубліка Беларусь, Republic of Belarus, Республика Беларусь)
- Location : Eastern Europe
- Capital: Minsk
- Language: Belorussian, Russian
- Population: 9,648,533
- Total Area: 207,595 km2
- Currency: Belarusian Ruble
After becoming independent from Russia in 1991, Belarus had the potential to become an economically strong country. The goverment under the president Alexander Lukashenko continues pursuing principals of socialism and communism for decades now. In 2011, Mr.Lukashenko was re-elected under controversial circumstances. Some Belarusians took to the streets to protest, but demonstrations were quickly dispersed by police. The country currently has few healthy relationships with other countries, except for Russia, Cuba and some others. For most of their energy such as oil, they rely heavily on Russia.
Before World War II, 8% of the Belarusian population was Jewish. By the end of the war that had gone down to 1.9% and today it is only 0.3 %. Most people are now native Belarusians, though there are still a large number of Ukrainians, Russians and Polish who came to Belarus during the Communist years as workers and stayed. The years of Communism has meant that Russian is the official language of the state though 29% of the population can understand Belarusian. Belarusian is not that different from Russian anyway, being, along with Russian, one of the Eastern Slavic languages.
Avoiding capitalism does have its advantages. Belarus more than most other countries in Western Europe has done an excellent job preserving its landscape: Natural vegetation covers 93% of the land and it has five national parks recognized by UNESCO. Belavezhskaya Pushcha is a world heritage site and contains the world’s largest population of rare European Bison. Narachansky National Park is popular with anglers with hundreds of different species of fish populating the lakes. Belarus is rightfully proud of their countryside and visitors are advised to treat the parks well.
Belarus is a country that holds tightly onto its traditions and visitors have the chance to see many traditional festivals throughout the year. The spring festivals are some of the most joyous and run from Easter right to the start of the summer. The country's one big international festival is the Slavyansky Bazaar International Arts Festival. The festival has days dedicated to national cultures, the international children music and the international pop. The refreshing thing about the festival is that its focus is away from western culture and more towards the arts of countries such as Cuba and Russia.
Interesting Things About Belarus
-Belarus has had the same president since 1994 in the person of Alexander Lukashenko.
-Belarus is one of the most heavily forested nations in Europe.
-Once part of the former Soviet Union, Belarus became independent in 1991.
-With about 80% of the people being ethnic Belarussians, the country is highly homogenous.
Ice hockey is the president’s and the country’s favorite sport. Some of their biggest success has come in the last ten years. In 2002, they came fourth in the 2002 Winter Olympics and four years later came 6th in the hockey world championships. Their success has won them the right to host the world championship in 2014.
Story By World By Shotglass
©2012 World By Shotglass. All Rights Reserved
Special thanks to our contributors:
Simon Arms (Berlin, Germany)
Adebayo Ahmed Adebola (Ilorin, Nigeria).
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