Belarus ( Byelorussia)
Declared Independence: August 25, 1991
Area: 80,151 sq. Miles
Capital and Largest City Minsk (pop. 1,613,000)
Main Industries: Agriculture (dairy products) and manufacturing (electrical appliances, machine tool, motor vehicle, papermaking, building materials, chemicals )
Ethnic Composition: Byelorussian 78%, Russian 13%, Polish 4%, other 5%
The smallest of the three Slavic republics, Belarus was long known in the West as “White Russia.” Its capita. Minsk, was chosen as the coordinating center of the Commonwealth of Independent States. Of all the newly independent states, none has maintained closer relation with Russia than Belarus.
Belarus is situated on a broad, glacial plain, the southeastern portion of which is low and marshy and slopes southward into the great marshes of the Pripet River. Lithuania and Latvia border Belarus on the north, Russia lies to its east, and Poland and Ukraine lie to its west and south, respectively. Its lack of natural barriers has made it vulnerable to numerous foreign invasions. It comprises 1% of the old Soviet Union. Its climate is tempered by marine influences, and it does not experience temperatures so severe as those in Russia.
Today, although the Belarus people share many cultural similarities with their Russian neighbors, including a related language, they are also ardently protective of their identity as separate from other republics. Although Belarus declared its independence on August 25, 1991, Belarus’s voters chose overwhelmingly to preserve the Soviet Union. Belarus was also one of the strongest advocates of constructing the commonwealth of Independent States.