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Belarus, officially Respublika Belarus (Republic of Belarus), landlocked republic in east central Europe, bordered by Russia to the east, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and the Baltic republics of Latvia and Lithuania to the northwest. Belarus has a generally flat terrain with many forests, lakes, and marshes. Nearly 80 percent of its people are ethnic Belarusians, and about three-quarters of its population live in urban centers. Belarus has a centrally planned economy dominated by state-controlled heavy industry. Its government is a presidential republic in which the executive is the chief authority. The capital and largest city is Minsk, located in the center of the country.

Since medieval times Belarusian territory was under foreign rule, and in the 18th century it was annexed by the Russian Empire. Belarusian national and cultural development made major strides only from the mid-19th century. Belarus was established in 1919 as the Belorussian Soviet Socialist Republic (SSR), which in 1922 became one of the four founding republics of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). In August 1991 Belarus declared its independence, contributing to the collapse of the USSR in December.


For younger readers

Belarus (Then and Now). Lerner, 1993. For readers in grades 4 to 7.

Levy, Patricia. Belarus. Marshall Cavendish, 1998. For readers in grades 5 to 8.


Fedor, Helen, ed. Belarus and Moldova: Country Studies. Federal Research Division, L.O.C., 1995. Concise introduction detailing history, geography, culture, economics, and politics of Belarus.

Garnett, Sherman W., ed. Belarus at the Crossroad. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2000. Study of a country that is critical to the development of the post-Soviet states and to Europe as a whole.

Lerner Geography Department. Belarus. Lerner, 1993. Good introduction intended for younger readers.

Marples, David R. Belarus: A Denationalized Nation. Gordon & Breach, 1999. Examines political, economic, and social life in the new post-Soviet Republic of Belarus.

Marples, David R. Belarus: From Soviet Rule to Nuclear Catastrophe. St. Martin's, 1996. Detailed research discussing contemporary problems of Belarus, the effect of Soviet rule, and its implications for the aftermath of Chernobyl’. By the author of Encarta's Belarus article.

Marsden, Philip. The Bronski House: A Journey Back. Arcade, 1997. A journey to contemporary Belarus, revisiting and searching for signs of a childhood home.

Zaprudnik, Jan. Belarus: At a Crossroads in History. Westview, 1992. Historical survey of the emergency of Belarus.

Zaprudnik, Jan, and Ia Zaprudnik. Historical Dictionary of Belarus. Scarecrow, 1998. Chronology, historical overview, and more than 400 entries.


Marples, David R., B.A., M.A., Ph.D. Professor of History, University of Alberta, Canada. Author of Belarus: From Soviet Rule to Nuclear Catastrophe and other books.

Microsoft ® Encarta ® 2009. © 1993-2008 Microsoft Corporation.

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