Belarusians or Belarusans[22] (Belarusian: беларусы, romanizedbielarusy, Russian: белорусы, romanizedbyelorusy), also known formerly as Byelorussians (from the Byelorussian SSR), White Ruthenians (from White Ruthenia), BaltoRuthenians,[23][24] Belarussians[25] or Belorusians[25], are an East Slavic ethnic group native to modern-day Belarus and the immediate region. Over 9.5 million people proclaim Belarusian ethnicity worldwide.[citation needed] Nearly 8 million Belarusians reside in Belarus,[1][2] with the United States[3][4][5] and Russia[6] being home to more than half a million Belarusians each.

Belarusian: Беларусы
Total population
c. 9.5–10 million
Map of the Belarusian Diaspora in the World.svg
Regions with significant populations
 Belarus  7.99 million[1][2]
 United States
(Belarusian ancestry)
 Russia521,443 (2010)[6]
 Ukraine275,763 (2001)[7]
 Poland105,404 (2020)[8]
 Latvia68,174 (2011)[9]
 Kazakhstan66,476 (2010)[10]
 Czech Republic31,000[13]
 Estonia11,828 (2017)[15]
 United Kingdom7,000[13]
 Australia1,560 (2006)[18]
 Portugal1,002 (2009)[20]
 Netherlands973 (2016)[21]
 Austriabelow 500[13]
Orthodox Christianity (majority), Roman Catholicism or Belarusian Greek Catholicism (minority)
Related ethnic groups
Other East Slavs
(Ukrainians, Rusyns, and Russians)


Belarusians are an East Slavic ethnic group, who constitute the majority of Belarus' population.[25] Belarusian minority populations live in countries neighboring Belarus: Ukraine, Poland (especially in the Podlaskie Voivodeship), the Russian Federation and Lithuania.[25] At the beginning of the 20th century, Belarusians constituted a minority in the regions around the city of Smolensk in Russia.

Significant numbers of Belarusians emigrated to the United States, Brazil and Canada in the early 20th century. During Soviet times (1917–1991), many Belarusians were deported or migrated to various regions of the USSR, including Siberia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine.

Since the 1991 breakup of the USSR, several hundred thousands of Belarusians have emigrated to the Baltic states, the United States, Canada, Russia, and EU countries.


The two official languages in Belarus are Belarusian and Russian. Russian language was added to the constitution after 1995 Belarusian referendum, together with reinstalment of redesigned flag, coat of arms and anthem of BSSR instead of national ones. The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly stated that the referendum violated international standards. Members of the opposition claimed that the organisation of the referendum involved several serious violations of legislation, including the constitution.[26]


From the Bronze Age to the Early Middle AgesEdit

Some researchers write that between c. 3000 and 2000 B.C., Finno-Ugrics settled in some places within Daugava and Dnieper regions.[27][28][29]

Since at least c. 1500 B.C., the territory of present-day Belarus was inhabited by Balts as a result of the Indo-European migrations.[30] The region's ethnic makeup changed due to the Slavic arrival in the 6th and 8th centuries. Modern Belarusian ethnicity is related to the East Slavic tribes of Dregoviches, Krivichs, Radimichs, Western Baltic tribe of Yotvingians and Eastern Baltic Dniepr Balts. Proto-Slavic dialect of Balto-Slavic linguistic continuum became dominant in the region during expansion of Slavs in 6th and 8th century during a series of events known in European history as Migration Period.

Some Belarusians, such as political activist Alieś Kirkievič [be], publicist Alexei Dzermant, geneticist Alexei Mikulich [be] and publicist Ales Mikus [be-tarask], emphasize that Belarusians are Slavicized Balts.[31][32][33] The Lithuanian professor Zigmas Zinkevičius states that Belarusians as a nation formed on a Baltic, i.e. Lithuanian, basis.[34]

In the Grand Duchy of LithuaniaEdit

Belarusians began to emerge as a nationality during the 13th and 14th centuries in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania mostly on the lands of the upper basins of Neman River, Dnieper River, and the Western Dvina River.[35] The Belarusian people trace their distinct culture to the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, earlier Kievan Rus' and the Principality of Polotsk.

In the 13th–18th centuries, Belarusians were known as Ruthenians and spoke the Ruthenian language, while also being called Litvins as they lived within the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. By the end of the 16th century, some of the Russian Orthodox inhabitants of the Vitebsk and Mogilev regions, then within the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, started calling themselves Belarusians (Russian: Белорусцы, romanizedBelorustsy) after the Unions of Lublin and Brest.[36]

Casimir's Code of 1468, all three editions of Statutes of Lithuania (1529, 1566, and 1588) and Lithuanian Metrica (14th–17th centuries) were written in the Ruthenian language. Nevertheless, the Grand Duchy had numerous official written languages besides Ruthenian, which were Latin, German and Polish.[37] In 1614, the Third Statute's Polish translation superseded the Ruthenian version.[38] Nevertheless, from the 1630s it is started to be replaced by the Polish language, as a result of the Polish high culture acquiring increasing prestige in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. In 1697, Ruthenian was removed as one of the Grand Duchy's official languages.[39] By the 17th century, Muscovites began encouraging the use of the word Belarusian and viewed the Belarusians as Russians and their language as a Russian dialect.[36] This was done to legitimize Russian attempts of conquering the eastern lands of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth under the pretense of unifying all Russian lands.[40] During three partitions of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth (1772, 1793 and 1795) most of the territories of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania were annexed by the Russian Empire.

Belarusian Governorate in the Russian Empire in 1800

In the Russian EmpireEdit

Following the destruction of Poland–Lithuania with the Third Partition in 1795, Empress Catherine of Russia created the Belarusian Governorate from the Polotsk [ru] and Mogilev Governorates.[41] However, Tsar Nicholas I of Russia banned the use of the word Belarus in 1839, replacing it with the designation Northwestern Krai.[42] Due to the ban, various different names were used for naming the inhabitants of those territories.[36] It was part of the Pale of Settlement, which was the region where Jews were allowed permanent residency.

Ethnic territory of Belarusians
  Modern state boundaries
  According to the linguistic map by Yefim Karsky (1903)
  According to Mitrofan Dovnar-Zapolsky (1919)
The major discrepancy between Karsky and Dovnar-Zapolsky is due to Karsky's identification of transitional Ukrainian-Belarusian dialects

20th centuryEdit

During World War I and the fall of Russian Empire, a short-lived Belarusian Democratic Republic was declared in March 1918. Thereafter, modern Belarus' territory was split between the Second Polish Republic and Soviet Russia during the Peace of Riga in 1921. The latter created the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic, which was reunited with Western Belarus during World War 2 and lasted until the dissolution of the Soviet Union, which was ended by the Belovezh Accords in 1991. The modern Republic of Belarus exists since then.

The name of BelarusiansEdit

The term White Rus (Belarusian: Белая Русь, romanizedBielaja Ruś) was first mentioned in the 13th century's latter half.[43][44] Initially, it only referred to Polotskian Rus' at the 15th century's end.[44] The word White could be connected to freedom or the color of the national costumes and the impact of the Balts (Lithuanian: balta means white).[43] However, some Belarusians consider "White Russian" insulting, due to its association with the White movement during the Russian Civil War.[43]


Belarusian cuisine shares the same roots as the cuisines of other Eastern and Northern European countries.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Changes in the populations of the majority ethnic groups". Archived from the original on 28 July 2016. Retrieved 2016-07-28.
  2. ^ a b "Demographic situation in 2015". Belarus Statistical Office. 27 January 2016. Archived from the original on 3 February 2016. Retrieved 27 January 2016.
  3. ^ a b Garnett, Sherman W. (1999). Belarus at the Crossroads. Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. ISBN 978-0-87-003172-4.
  4. ^ a b Kipel, Vituat. "Belarusan americans". World Culture Encyclopedia. Retrieved July 28, 2016.[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ a b "Country: United States: Belarusians". Joshua Project. 2016. Retrieved 23 May 2016.
  6. ^ a b "All-Russian population census 2010 population by nationality, sex and subjects of the Russian Federation". Demoscope Weekly (in Russian). Retrieved July 28, 2016.
  7. ^ "Всеукраїнський перепис населення 2001 - Результати - Основні підсумки - Національний склад населення". Retrieved 2 August 2017.
  8. ^ "Populacja cudzoziemców w Polsce w czasie COVID-19".
  9. ^ "On key provisional results of Population and Housing Census 2011". Archived from the original on 6 July 2018. Retrieved 18 March 2015.
  10. ^ Перепись населения Республики Казахстан 2009 года. Краткие итоги. (Census for the Republic of Kazakhstan 2009. Short Summary) (PDF) (in Russian). Republic of Kazakhstan Statistical Agency. Archived from the original (PDF) on 12 December 2010. Retrieved 10 December 2010.
  11. ^ "Bevölkerung in Privathaushalten nach Migrationshintergrund im weiteren Sinn nach ausgewählten Geburtsstaaten". Statistisches Bundesamt.
  12. ^ "Gyventojų skaičius metų pradžioje. Požymiai: Tautybė - Rodiklių duomenų bazėje". Archived from the original on 2012-09-06. Retrieved 2011-12-03.
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Как живешь, белорусская диаспора?". Belarus Time (in Belarusian). March 13, 2012. Archived from the original on March 13, 2012.
  14. ^ "Ethnic Origin (264), Single and Multiple Ethnic Origin Responses (3), Generation Status (4), Age Groups (10) and Sex (3) for the Population in Private Households of Canada, Provinces, Territories, Census Metropolitan Areas and Census Agglomerations, 2011 National Household Survey". 8 May 2013. Retrieved 2017-08-02.
  15. ^ "Rahvaarv rahvuse järgi, 1. jaanuar, aasta - Eesti Statistika". Archived from the original on 4 January 2018. Retrieved 2 August 2017.
  16. ^ "Población extranjera por Nacionalidad, provincias, Sexo y Año".
  17. ^ "Utrikes födda efter födelseland och invandringsår" [Foreign-born by country of birth and year of immigration] (XLS). Statistics Sweden (in Swedish). 31 December 2015. Retrieved 23 October 2016.[permanent dead link]
  18. ^ "20680-Ancestry (full classification list) by Sex - Australia". 2006 Census. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Archived from the original (Microsoft Excel download) on March 10, 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-02.
  19. ^ (PDF). 5 June 2011 Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 June 2011. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  20. ^ "POPULAÇÃO ESTRANGEIRA RESIDENTE EM TERRITÓRIO NACIONAL - 2009" (PDF). Statistics Portugal (in Portuguese). January 1, 2011. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2011-08-26. Retrieved July 28, 2016.
  21. ^ "CBS StatLine - Population; sex, age and nationality, 1 January". Retrieved 2 August 2017.
  22. ^ ""Як нас заве сьвет — «Беларашэн» ці Belarus(i)an?"". Retrieved 2016-07-28.
  23. ^ Olson, James Stuart; Pappas, Lee Brigance; Pappas, Nicholas Charles; Pappas, Nicholas C. J. (1994). An Ethnohistorical Dictionary of the Russian and Soviet Empires. ISBN 9780313274978.
  24. ^ Bilmanis, Alfreds (1945). "Baltic Essays".
  25. ^ a b c d Cole, Jeffrey E. (2011-05-25). Ethnic Groups of Europe: An Encyclopedia: An Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. p. 43. ISBN 978-1-59884-303-3.
  26. ^ "› Беларуская Салідарнасьць » Сяргей Навумчык: Парушэньні ў часе рэфэрэндуму - 1995". Retrieved 2017-01-10.
  27. ^ "Belarus". The Statesman's Yearbook 2020: The Politics, Cultures and Economies of the World. London: Palgrave Macmillan UK. 2020. pp. 189–193. doi:10.1057/978-1-349-95940-2_28 (inactive 2022-11-27). ISBN 978-1-349-95940-2.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: DOI inactive as of November 2022 (link)
  28. ^ Гісторыя Беларусі: У 2 ч. Частка 1. Са старажытных часоў да канца XVIII ст. / І. П. Крэнь і інш. — Мінск: РІВШ БДУ, 2000. — С. 303—304. — 656 с.
  29. ^ История Беларуси. С древнейших времен до 2012 г. / под ред. Е. К. Новика. — 3-е изд. — Минск: Вышэйшая школа, 2012. — С. 12, 20. — 542 с.
  30. ^ Ramirez-Faria, Carlos (2007). Concise Encyclopedia of World History. Atlantic Publishers & Dist. p. 70. ISBN 978-81-269-0775-5.
  31. ^ Mikulich, Alexey (19 September 2018). "яперашнія работы Інстытута генетыкі мяне бянтэжаць! (I)". (in Belarusian).
  32. ^ Kirkevich, Ales (29 January 2017). ""Яшчэ не позна вярнуць краіне сапраўднае імя — Літва" ["It is not too late for returning to our state its real name: Lithuania"]". Novy Chas (in Belarusian).
  33. ^ Dziermant, Alexey (17 October 2010). "Gudai – tai slaviškai kalbantys baltai (I)". (in Lithuanian).
  34. ^ Zinkevičius, Zigmas (2018-04-13). "Senieji lietuvių ir slavų santykiai". (in Lithuanian). Archived from the original on 2018-04-18.
  35. ^ Беларусы : у 10 т. / Рэдкал.: В. К. Бандарчык [і інш.]. — Мінск : Беларус. навука, 1994–2007. — Т. 4 : Вытокі і этнічнае развіццё... С. 36, 49.
  36. ^ a b c Fishman, Joshua; Garcia, Ofelia (2011-04-21). Handbook of Language and Ethnic Identity: The Success-Failure Continuum in Language and Ethnic Identity Efforts (Volume 2). Oxford University Press. p. 385. ISBN 978-0-19-983799-1.
  37. ^ Kamusella, Tomasz (2009). The Politics of Language and Nationalism in Modern Central Europe. pp. 153, 156, 180.
  38. ^ Cite error: The named reference :43 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  39. ^ Kamusella, Tomasz (2009). The Politics of Language and Nationalism in Modern Central Europe. pp. 153, 156, 180.
  40. ^ Cite error: The named reference :322 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  41. ^ Cite error: The named reference :24 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  42. ^ Everett-Heath, John (2018-09-13). The Concise Dictionary of World Place-Names. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-256243-2.
  43. ^ a b c Cite error: The named reference :02 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
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