Belorussians, Byelorussians) ( ) are an East Slavic ethnic
group who populate the majority of the Republic of Belarus. Introduced to the world as a new state in the
early 1990s, the Republic of Belarus brought with it the notion of a re-emerging
Belarusian ethnicity, drawn upon the lines of the Belarusian language.
over 8 million people who associate themselves with the Belarusian
Belarusians also form minorities in
neighboring Poland (especially
in the former Belastok
Voblast of BSSR), Russia and Lithuania. At the begin of 20th century Belarusians
constituted a majority in the regions around Vilnia and Smolensk.
numbers have immigrated to the United States, Brazil and Canada in the early
20th century. During Soviet times, many Belarusians were
deported or migrated to various regions of the USSR, including
Siberia, Kazakhstan and the Ukraine.
breakup of the USSR several
hundred thousand have immigrated to the European Union, United States, Canada and Russia.
See also Belarusian
The most spoken language in Belarus is Russian, principally spoken
by 72% of the population, while the other official language,
, is only used by
19.2%. Belarusian is a language of the Eastern Slavic group with
significant influence of Latin, Polish and Baltic languages and
Belarus translates as White
Ruthenia that is a historical region in the east of modern
This name was in use in the West
for some time in history, together with White
, White Russians
(though not to be confused with the political group of White Russians
that opposed the Bolsheviks
during the Russian Civil War
) and similar forms.
Using the term "White Russians" is misleading as it incorrectly
suggests being a subgroup of Russians
some Belarusians take offense for it being applied. Belarusians
trace their name back to the people of Rus'
not to Russians
, who are also descendants
of the people of Rus.
Polish Kingdom and Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the 17th
The Belarusian people trace their distinct culture to the Grand Duchy of Lithuania
earlier Kievan Rus
and the Principality of Polatsk
Belarusians are descendants of the East Slav tribes Dregovichs
. Early East Slavs
also mixed with the local
, especially in the west and north-west
of today's Belarus.
In 13th-18th centuries Belarusians were mostly known under the name
(Lithuanians), which refers to the state
of the Grand Duchy of
, Vialikaja Litva
) of which
the White Ruthenian
, Black Ruthenian
lands were part of since the 13th-14th
centuries and where Ruthenian
(also referred to as Old Belarusian language
) was the
official state language.
On the grounds of the dominance of Ruthenian language (which later
evolved into modern Belarusian
) and culture in the early years of the Grand Duchy of
Lithuania, it is considered that the Grand Duchy of Lithuania
Belarusian national state when it existed.
World War I Belarusians revived their
own statehood, with varying degrees of independence - first as the
National Republic under German occupation, then as the Byelorussian SSR from 1919 until 1991,
which merged with other republics to become a constituent member of
Union in 1922).
Belarus gained full independence
with the dissolution of the
References and notes