In 1991, Belarus declared its independence from the Soviet Union along with other republics. It adopted a new constitution and a national flag and emblem in 1994. However, it also faced economic and political challenges, such as hyperinflation, corruption and authoritarianism. Since 1994, Belarus has been ruled by Alexander Lukashenko, who has been accused of human rights violations and electoral fraud by domestic and international critics. Belarus has maintained close ties with Russia, but also sought cooperation with other countries and organizations.
Belarus has a population of about 9.4 million people, according to the 2019 census. The majority of the population are ethnic Belarusians, followed by Russians, Poles, and Ukrainians.
Belarus has many historical and cultural landmarks, such as castles, churches, museums, and natural reserves. Some of the most famous ones are:
The National Library of Belarus in Minsk, a modern building shaped like a diamond that houses millions of books and offers panoramic views of the city.
The Palace Complex of the Sapegas in Ruzhany, a former residence of a noble family that was once called the “Belarusian Versailles” and now hosts a museum and cultural events.
The Official Language
Belarus has two official languages: Belarusian and Russian. Belarusian is an East Slavic language that is related to Russian and Ukrainian, but has its own distinctive features and alphabet. Russian is widely spoken and understood by most Belarusians, especially in urban areas.
Belarus has a rich and diverse culture that reflects its history and geography. Some of the aspects of Belarusian culture are:
The folk arts and crafts, such as pottery, weaving, embroidery, wood carving, and straw plaiting, that showcase the creativity and skill of the Belarusian people.
The literature and music, that express the national identity and spirit of Belarus. Some of the famous Belarusian writers are Yanka Kupala, Yakub Kolas, Vasil Bykov, and Svetlana Alexievich. Some of the popular Belarusian musicians are Pesniary, Lyapis Trubetskoy, N.R.M., and Alyona Lanskaya.
The cuisine, that is influenced by the neighboring countries and the local climate. Some of the typical Belarusian dishes are draniki (potato pancakes), machanka (pork stew), kolduny (meat dumplings), kletski (noodle dumplings), and zefir (marshmallow).
The Economic Stability
Belarus has a mixed economy that is dominated by the state sector and relies heavily on trade with Russia. The main industries are agriculture, manufacturing, mining, and services. The main exports are petroleum products, potash fertilizers, machinery, metals, and foodstuffs. The main imports are oil, gas, machinery, vehicles, and chemicals.
Belarus faces some economic challenges, such as low productivity, high inflation, external debt, currency devaluation, and dependence on Russian subsidies. The country also suffers from political instability and international sanctions due to its authoritarian regime.