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perjantai 18. joulukuuta 2015

Belarus, Cool Facts #85

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1. Belarus in the Middle Ages

In the Middle Ages Belarus was a part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Later Lithuania and Poland formed a personal union which eventually evolved in 1569 into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The Belarusian people rebelled against the Polish landowners during this time when the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was a powerful state in Europe. This era ended in 1795 when Poland was partitioned between Russia, Prussia and Austria. Belarus was attached to Russia.

Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1620

2. Belarussian people 

In 1860 slavery was abolished in Belarus, which caused the migration of the freed slaves to other countries to flee the poverty. In the turn of the 1900s about 1,5 million Belarusians moved abroad, mainly to USA and Siberia.

Belarus was occupied by Germany during the first world war but after the  end of the war Belarus was declared independent in 1918 but the independence didn't last long as it became a part of Russia in 1919 and later Soviet Union when it was established in 1922 between Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Transcaucasia.

Belarusian traditional costumes

3. President Lukashenko 

Alexander Lukashenko has been the president of Belarus since 1994 and Belarus under his rule is described as the last dictatorship in Europe by some Western medias. Lukashenko was the only deputy to vote against independence from the Soviet Union. 

As the president Lukashenko has retained in Soviet policies, which include things like having still mostly state owned key industries refusing to privatize the economy. Lukashenko is known for suppressing his opposition to continue in power. 

Alexander Lukashenko

4. Economy of Belarus

As the majority of industries are state owned, the economy is almost totally under president Lukashenko's control. Market reforms have been conducted really slowly during the independence. 
Belarus is highly dependent from Russia, which exports cheap energy to Belarus. Agriculture, mechanical engineering and forest industry are important sectors in the Belarusian economy. The Chernobyl accident in Ukraine affected Belarus economically and caused severe health problems as well. A lot of land was abandoned as it became radioactive and that had a negative impact on agriculture.

5. Death Penalty 

Belarus is the last European country that still uses the death penalty. The human rights situation in Belarus isn't good. Political opponents are imprisoned and there is no real freedom of speech. Belarus is isolated from the outside world but Russia is one of it's few allies giving it political protection.

Countries with death penalty 2015


800s Belarusian areas become part of the Kiovan Rus, an east Slavic state ruled by the Rurikid dynasty
1200-1300 Belarusian areas become part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania
1386 Lithuania and Poland formed a personal union and later in 1569 created the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
1648-54 The Belarusian people rebelled against the Polish landowners
1795 In the end of the century Poland vanished completely from the map with the partitioning of Poland by imperial Russia, Prussia and Austria. The Belarusian areas were attached to Russia
1860s Slavery abolished in Belarus, the freed slaves flee the poverty to abroad
1900s About 1,5 million Belarusians moved abroad, mainly to USA and Siberia
1910s Germany occupies Belarus during the world war
1918 After the end of the world war Belarus is declared an independent republic
1919 Bolshevik revolution spread to Belarus, which was declared as a Soviet republic eventually
1920 The current western border of Belarus was settled in the Versailles Treaty but the unsatisfied Poland started a war and forced Russia to abandon the western parts of Belarus. The Soviet Union took the area back in 1939 with the Molotov-Ribbentrop agreement
1922 Belarus is one of the four founders of the Soviet Union with Russia, Ukraine and Transcaucasia
1940s During the second world war Belarus becomes occupied by Germany between 1941-1944, the country had tens of concentration camps
1945 Belarus is one of the founding members of the UN
1991 Belarus is declared independent as the Soviet Union falls, physicist Stanislav Shushkevich becomes the first president of Belarus. Stanislav made Belarus abandon nuclear weapons
1994 Shushkevich loses the elections to Aleksandr Lukashenko
1995 The flag of Belarus was changed
2001, 2006, 2010, 2015 Lukashenko re-elected 

"Maailman maat liput ja historia" by Kimmo Kiljunen

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