Belarus East Slavs Belarusian language
Flag of Belarus (w-r-w) with Arms (2020).svg
Total population
c. 9.5–10 million
Regions with significant populations
 Belarus  7.95 million[1][2]
 United States
(Belarusian ancestry)
 Russia521,443 (2010)[6]
 Ukraine275,763 (2001)[7]
 Latvia68,174 (2011)[8]
 Kazakhstan66,476 (2010)[9]
 Poland58,000 (2017)[10]
 Canada20,710 (2016)[13]
 Estonia11,828 (2017)[14]
 United Kingdom7,000[12]
 Czech Republic5,054[15]
 Australia1,664 (2011)[17]
 Portugal1,002 (2009)[19]
 Netherlands973 (2016)[20]
 Austriabelow 500[12]
Belarusian (historical and native)
Russian (dominant)
Orthodox Christianity (majority), Roman Catholicism or Belarusian Greek Catholicism (minority)
Related ethnic groups
Other East Slavs
(Ukrainians, Rusyns, and Russians)

Belarusians (Belarusian: беларусы, romanizedbiełarusy, Russian: белорусы, romanizedbyelorusy), also Belarusans and Byelorussians (from the Byelorussian SSR), are an East Slavic ethnic group who are native to modern-day Belarus and the immediate region. There are over 9.5 million people who proclaim Belarusian ethnicity worldwide, with the majority residing either in Belarus or the adjacent countries where they are an autochthonous minority.


Ethnic territory of Belarusians
  Modern state boundaries
  According to the linguistic map by Yefim Karsky (1903)
  According to Mitrofan Dovnar-Zapolsky (1919)
The major discrepancy between Karsky and Dovnar-Zapolsky is due to Karsky's identification of transitional Ukrainian-Belarusian dialects
Some Belarusians in Rudna in 1960

Belarusians are an East Slavic ethnic group who populate the majority of the Belarus. Belarusian minority populations live in countries neighboring Belarus: in Ukraine, in Poland (especially in the Podlaskie Voivodeship), in the Russian Federation and in Lithuania. At the beginning of the 20th century Belarusians constituted a minority in the regions around the city of Smolensk in Russia.

Significant numbers of Belarusians emigrated to the United States, Brazil and Canada in the early 20th century. During Soviet times (1917–1991), many Belarusians were deported or migrated to various regions of the USSR, including Siberia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine.

Since the breakup of the USSR in 1991 several hundred thousand have emigrated to the Baltic states, the United States, Canada, Russia, and EU countries.


The two official languages in Belarus are Belarusian and Russian. Russian is the most spoken language, principally by 72% of the population, while Belarusian is only used by 11.9%[21] in everyday life. According to a study, in varying degrees, the vast majority of residents speak the Belarusian language: 29.4% are fluent, being able read and write it, 52.5% can speak and read the language, 8.3% can understand it but can't speak or read it, while a further 7% are able to understand the parts of Belarusian language that are similar to Russian.[21] Belarusian is a language of the East Slavic group.

The name Belarus can be literally translated as White Ruthenia that is a historical region in the east of modern Republic of Belarus, known in Latin as Ruthenia Alba (English: White Rus). 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. Belarusians trace their name back to the people of Rus'.

The term Belarusians was promoted mostly during the 19th century by the Russian Empire. For instance, this can be traced by editions of folklorist researches by Ivan Sakharov, where in the edition of 1836 Belarusian customs are described as Litvin, while in the edition of 1886 the words Литва (Lithuania) and Литовцо-руссы (Lithuanian-Russians/Ruthenians) are replaced by respectively Белоруссия (Byelorussia) and белоруссы (Byelorussians).[22][23][24]

Commonwealth of Polish Kingdom and Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the 17th century
  The Crown (Kingdom of Poland)
  Duchy of Prussia - Polish fief
  Grand Duchy of Lithuania
  Duchy of Courland, a joint fief


Baltic population in the 12th century

Many scholars believe that the ancestors of the modern Belarusians settled in the region of what is now Belarus between the sixth and eighth centuries. Three early Slavic tribes (the Dregovich, Krivichi, and Radimich) settled there.[25]

The Belarusian people trace their distinct culture to the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, earlier Kievan Rus and the Principality of Polatsk. Most Belarusians are descendants of the East Slav tribes Dregovichs, Krivichs and Radimichs, as well as of a Yotvingians and other Baltic tribes, who lived in the west and north-west of today's Belarus.[26]

Belarusians began to emerge as a people during the 13th through 14th centuries in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania; mostly on the lands of the upper basins of Neman River, Dnieper River and the Western Dvina River.[27]

In the 13th–18th centuries Belarusians were known as Ruthenians and spoke Ruthenian language, while being part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, which conquered the lands of White Ruthenia, Black Ruthenia and Polesia. Casimir's Code of 1468 and all three editions of Statutes of Lithuania (1529, 1566, and 1588) were written in the Ruthenian language. From the 1630s it was replaced by Polish, as a result of the Polish high culture acquiring increasing prestige in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth.

Between 1791 and 1917 much of Belarus, with its Christian and Jewish populations, was acquired by the Russian Empire in a series of military conquests and diplomatic maneuvers, and was part of the region of allowed permanent residency of the Jews known as the Pale of Settlement.

After World War I Belarusians created their own national state, with varying degrees of independence – first as the short-lived Belarusian People's 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 Union in 1922. Belarus gained full independence with the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.


Belarusian cuisine shares the same roots with cuisines of other Eastern and Northern European countries.

See also


  1. ^ "Changes in the populations of the majority ethnic groups". Archived from the original on 28 July 2016. Retrieved 2016-07-28.
  2. ^ "Demographic situation in 2015". Belarus Statistical Office. 27 January 2016. Archived from the original on 3 February 2016. Retrieved 27 January 2016.
  3. ^ Garnett, Sherman W. (1999). Belarus at the Crossroads. Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. ISBN 978-0-87-003172-4.
  4. ^ Kipel, Vituat. "Belarusan americans". World Culture Encyclopedia. Retrieved July 28, 2016.[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ "Country: United States: Belarusians". Joshua Project. 2016. Retrieved 23 May 2016.
  6. ^ "All-Russian population census 2010 population by nationality, sex and subjects of the Russian Federation". Demoscope Weekly (in Russian). Retrieved July 28, 2016.
  7. ^ "Всеукраїнський перепис населення 2001 - Результати - Основні підсумки - Національний склад населення:". Retrieved 2 August 2017.
  8. ^ "On key provisional results of Population and Housing Census 2011". Retrieved 18 March 2015.
  9. ^ Перепись населения Республики Казахстан 2009 года. Краткие итоги. (Census for the Republic of Kazakhstan 2009. Short Summary) (PDF) (in Russian). Republic of Kazakhstan Statistical Agency. Archived from the original (PDF) on 12 December 2010. Retrieved 10 December 2010.
  10. ^ [ 2018-09-04.[permanent dead link]
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-09-06. Retrieved 2011-12-03.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Как живешь, белорусская диаспора?". Belarus Time (in Belarusian). March 13, 2012. Archived from the original on March 13, 2012.
  13. ^ "Ethnic Origin (264), Single and Multiple Ethnic Origin Responses (3), Generation Status (4), Age Groups (10) and Sex (3) for the Population in Private Households of Canada, Provinces, Territories, Census Metropolitan Areas and Census Agglomerations, 2011 National Household Survey". Retrieved 2017-08-02.
  14. ^ "Rahvaarv rahvuse järgi, 1. jaanuar, aasta - Eesti Statistika". Retrieved 2 August 2017.
  15. ^ "Foreigners by category of residence, sex, and citizenship as at 31 December 2016" (PDF). Retrieved 23 January 2018.
  16. ^ "Utrikes födda efter födelseland och invandringsår" [Foreign-born by country of birth and year of immigration] (XLS). Statistics Sweden (in Swedish). 31 December 2015. Retrieved 23 October 2016.[permanent dead link]
  17. ^ "20680-Ancestry (full classification list) by Sex - Australia". 2006 Census. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Archived from the original (Microsoft Excel download) on March 10, 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-02.
  18. ^ "Wayback Machine" (PDF). 5 June 2011. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 June 2011.
  19. ^ "POPULAÇÃO ESTRANGEIRA RESIDENTE EM TERRITÓRIO NACIONAL - 2009" (PDF). Statistics Portugal (in Portuguese). January 1, 2011. Retrieved July 28, 2016.
  20. ^ "CBS StatLine - Population; sex, age and nationality, 1 January". Retrieved 2 August 2017.
  21. ^ a b "Общество". Archived from the original on 29 July 2012. Retrieved 18 March 2015.
  22. ^ Сказанія русскаго народа, собранныя Иваномъ Петровичемъ Сахаровымъ, 1836, 1886
  23. ^ Бандарчык В. К. Фарміраванне і развіццё беларускай нацыі / В. К. Бандарчык, П. У Церашковіч // Этнаграфія беларусаў.— Мінск : Навука і тэхніка, 1985.— С. 158.
  24. ^ Беларусы : у 10 т. / Рэдкал.: В. К. Бандарчык [і інш.]. — Мінск : Беларус. навука, 1994–2007. — Т. 4 : Вытокі і этнічнае развіццё... С. 62—63, 88.
  25. ^ Skutsch, Carl, ed. (2005). Encyclopedia of the World's Minorities. New York: Routledge. p. 199. ISBN 1-57958-468-3.
  26. ^ "БЕЛОРУСЫ - Энциклопедия Кругосвет". Retrieved 2 August 2017.
  27. ^ Беларусы : у 10 т. / Рэдкал.: В. К. Бандарчык [і інш.]. — Мінск : Беларус. навука, 1994–2007. — Т. 4 : Вытокі і этнічнае развіццё... С. 36, 49.