, officially the Belarus Republic of Belarus, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe. It is bordered by Russia to the east and northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Belarus covers an area of 207,600 square kilometres (80,200 sq mi), with a population of 9.4 million, and is the thirteenth-largest and the twentieth-most populous country in Europe. The country is administratively divided into seven regions, and is one of the world's most urbanized, with over 40% of its total land area forested. Minsk is the country's capital and largest city.
Until the 20th century, different states at various times controlled the lands of modern-day Belarus, including
Kievan Rus', the Principality of Polotsk, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, and the Russian Empire. In the aftermath of the Russian Revolution in 1917, different states arose competing for legitimacy amidst the Civil War, ultimately ending in the rise of the Byelorussian SSR, which became a founding constituent republic of the Soviet Union in 1922. After the Polish-Soviet War, Belarus lost almost half of its territory to Poland. Much of the borders of Belarus took their modern shape in 1939, when some lands of the Second Polish Republic were reintegrated into it after the Soviet invasion of Poland, and were finalized after World War II. During WWII, military operations devastated Belarus, which lost about a quarter of its population and half of its economic resources. The republic was redeveloped in the post-war years. In 1945, the Byelorussian SSR became a founding member of the United Nations, along with the Soviet Union.
The parliament of the republic proclaimed the
sovereignty of Belarus on 27 July 1990, and during the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Belarus declared independence on 25 August 1991. Following the adoption of a new constitution in 1994, Alexander Lukashenko was elected Belarus's first president in the country's first and only free election post-independence, serving as president ever since. Lukashenko openly acknowledges his style of governance as authoritarian and human rights groups consider human rights in the country to be poor. Belarus is the only country in Europe officially using the death penalty. Lukashenko continued a number of Soviet-era policies, such as state ownership of large sections of the economy. In 2000, Belarus and Russia signed a treaty for greater cooperation, forming the Union State. ( )
Europe holds the greatest concentration of abolitionist states (blue). Map current as of 2019
Abolished for all offences
Retains death penalty Legal form of punishment but not used in the last 10 years (or has a moratorium in effect) Capital punishment is a legal penalty in Belarus. At least four executions were carried out in the country in 2018.
It has been a part of the country's legal system since gaining independence from the
on 26 December 1991. The current
prescribes this punishment for "grave crimes." Later laws have clarified the specific crimes for which capital punishment can be used. The death penalty can be imposed for crimes that occur against the state or against individuals. A few non-violent crimes can also be punishable by death. As of 2021, Belarus is the only country in Europe that continues to carry out the death penalty. (
or Alexander Grigoryevich Lukashenko Alyaksandr Ryhoravich Lukashenka ( Belarusian: Аляксандр Рыгоравіч Лукашэнка, romanized: Alyaksandr Ryhoravich Lukashenka, IPA: ; Russian: [alʲakˈsand(a)r rɨˈɣɔravʲit͡ʂ lukaˈʂɛnka] Александр Григорьевич Лукашенко, tr. Aleksandr Grigoryevich Lukashenko, IPA: ; born 30 August 1954) is a Belarusian politician and army officer who has served as the first and only [ɐlʲɪkˈsandr ɡrʲɪˈɡorʲjɪvʲɪtɕ lʊkɐˈʂɛnkə] president of Belarus since the establishment of the office 26 years ago, on 20 July 1994. Before launching his political career, Lukashenko worked as director of a state farm ( ), and served in the sovkhoz Soviet Border Troops and in the Soviet Army.
economic shock therapy
during the post-Soviet transition, which in the short-term generally spared Belarus from recessions as devastating as those in other
, though at the cost of reduced long-term growth. He has supported
of key industries in Belarus as well. Lukashenko's government also retained some of the country's
, which can be seen in the
coat of arms
of Belarus, adopted following a
, which were based on the symbols of the
. Following the same referendum, Lukashenko was given more power by becoming allowed to dismiss the
Supreme Soviet of Belarus
Russian language was given the same status as Belarusian
, and economic ties with Russia were strengthened, which furthermore led to the creation of the
with Russia, which allows Belarusians to freely travel to, work, and study in Russia, and vice versa. However,
relations with Russia
have not always run smoothly under his tenure, such as during the