Belarus has maintained close political and economic relations with Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The country is criticized for being less democratic and for extensive human rights violations.
Key figures and facts
- Capital: Minsk
- Ethnic groups: Belarusians 83.7%, Russians 8.3%, Poles 3.1%, Ukrainians 1.7%, other/unspecified 3.3% (2009)
- Language: Russian (official) 70.2%, Belarusian (official) 23.4%, other/unspecified 6.7% (2009)
- Religion: Orthodox Christians 48.3%, Catholics 7.1%, Others 3.5%, Nonbelievers 41.1%, (2011)
- Population: 9,452,113 (2018)
- Control Form: Republic
- Area: 207 600 Km2
- Currency: Belarusian rubles
- GNP per capita: 18 066 PPP $
- National Day: July 3rd
Population of Belarus
The population of Belarus is 9,549,747 in 2017. Data from 2017 shows that life expectancy at birth was 73.0 years, for women 78.8 years and for men 67.5 years. There has been a significant increase in life expectancy since 1999.
83.7 percent of the population are Belarusians, who, like Russians and Ukrainians, belong to the East Slavic group. The three largest minority groups are Russians with 8.3 percent of the population, Poles with 3.1 percent and Ukrainians with 1.7 percent.
77.4 percent of the population lives in urban areas. The five largest cities are the capital Minsk with 1 882 410 residents, Gome l with 535 299 residents, Mahiljou with 380 440 residents, Vitebsk with 369 933 residents and Grodno with 365 610 residents. In Belarus there are a total of 26 cities with more than 50,000 residents and 136 cities with more than 5,000 residents.
The Orthodox Church is the dominant church in Belarus, but also the Catholic Church, the Unitarian Church and Judaism have long traditions in the country. Belarusian law gives the citizens of the country the right to keep their religious beliefs secret, and therefore there is uncertainty as to how many belong to the various faith communities. According to 2011 CIA World Factbook data, 48.3 percent of the population were Orthodox and 7.1 percent were Catholics. 3.5 percent belonged to other faiths, while 41.1 percent were non-believers.
Belarusian has been the official language of the republic since 1990, but after a referendum in 1995, Russia also gained the same status. In the 2009 census, 53.2 percent of the country’s citizens considered Belarusian as their mother tongue, while 41.5 percent stated Russian. In reality, Russian is the dominant language. Only 23.4 percent stated that they spoke Belarusian at home.