- Sergey Kuznetsov
[Belarus.: ‘White Russia’; Belarus; Bielarus; Byelarus; formerly Belorussia; Bielorussia; Byelorussia]
Country in Europe bordering Russia to the east, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the north-west (see fig.). It covers 207,600 sq. km of gently rolling plain and in 1992 it had a population of c. 10.3 million. The capital is Minsk (Belarus. Miensk). From the 9th century ad to the late 13th, the area that is now Belarus’ was made up of East Slavonic principalities sporadically subject to overlords in Kiev (then capital of ancient Rus’), Połack (Rus. Polotsk) and Navahrudak (Novogrudok). These principalities, Orthodox in religion, then joined a confederation with Lithuania against the Teutonic Knights, the Tatar-Mongols and the Muscovites. Belarus’, having laid the foundation for the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, was able to develop as a distinctive ethnic community; the Grand Duchy, connected politically with Poland from 1386, united with it in 1569. In the partitions of Poland (...