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Belarusians (Belarussians, Belorussians, Byelorussians) ( ) are an East Slavic ethnic group who populate the majority of the Republic of Belarusmarker. Introduced to the world as a new state in the early 1990s, the Republic of Belarusmarker brought with it the notion of a re-emerging Belarusian ethnicity, drawn upon the lines of the Belarusian language. There are over 8 million people who associate themselves with the Belarusian ethnicity today.


Belarusians also form minorities in neighboring Polandmarker (especially in the former Belastok Voblastmarker of BSSR), Russiamarker and Lithuaniamarker. At the begin of 20th century Belarusians constituted a majority in the regions around Vilnia and Smolenskmarker.

Noticeable numbers have immigrated to the United Statesmarker, Brazilmarker and Canadamarker in the early 20th century. During Soviet times, many Belarusians were deported or migrated to various regions of the USSR, including Siberiamarker, Kazakhstanmarker and the Ukrainemarker.

Since the breakup of the USSRmarker several hundred thousand have immigrated to the European Union, United Statesmarker, Canadamarker and Russiamarker.

See also Belarusian diaspora


The most spoken language in Belarus is Russian, principally spoken by 72% of the population, while the other official language, Belarusian, 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 dialects.


The name Belarus translates as White Ruthenia that is a historical region in the east of modern Republic of Belarusmarker. This name was in use in the West for some time in history, together with White Ruthenes, 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 and some Belarusians take offense for it being applied. Belarusians trace their name back to the people of Rus' and not to Russians, who are also descendants of the people of Rus.

[[File:Rzeczpospolita2nar.png|250px|left|thumb|Commonwealth of Polish Kingdom and Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the 17th century



The Belarusian people trace their distinct culture to the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and earlier Kievan Rus and the Principality of Polatsk. Most Belarusians are descendants of the East Slav tribes Dregovichs, Krivichs and Radimichs. Early East Slavs also mixed with the local Balts, especially in the west and north-west of today's Belarus.

In 13th-18th centuries Belarusians were mostly known under the name of Ruthenians or Litvins (Lithuanians), which refers to the state of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (Litva, Vialikaja Litva) of which the White Ruthenian, Black Ruthenian and Polesian lands were part of since the 13th-14th centuries and where Ruthenian language (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 language) and culture in the early years of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, it is considered that the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was a Belarusian national state when it existed.

After World War I Belarusians revived their own statehood, with varying degrees of independence - first as the short-lived Belarusian 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 the Soviet Unionmarker in 1922). Belarus gained full independence with the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.


See Belarusian cuisine

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