|c. 9.5–10 million|
|Regions with significant populations|
|Belarus 7.95 million|
| United States|
|Belarusian (historical and native)|
|Orthodox Christianity (majority), Roman Catholicism or Belarusian Greek Catholicism (minority)|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Other East Slavs|
(Ukrainians, Rusyns, and Russians)
Belarusians (Belarusian: беларусы, romanized: biełarusy, Russian: белорусы, romanized: byelorusy), 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.
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.
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% 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. 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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
- List of Belarusians (ethnic group)
- Demographics of Belarus
- History of Belarus
- Orthodox Slavs
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