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Ethnicity, Language, & Religion of Belarus

Ethnicity

Most of Belarus's population is ethnically Belarusian, although there is a significant minority of ethnic Russians. The Belarusians are an Eastern Slavic people, who are most closely related to the other Eastern Slavic people, including the Russians and Ukrainians.

Language

Despite the majority population being ethnically Belarusian, most people in Belarus speak Russian, this includes the ethnic Russians as well as over half of the ethnic Belarusian population. Despite many ethnic Belarusians never learning the Belarusian language, both Belarusian and Russian are official languages. These two languages are very similar as both are members of the eastern Slavic linguistic group and both are written in the Cyrillic script.

Russian is the language of communication in Belarus and nearly everyone speaks Russian fluently, even the non-native Russian speakers. English and other popular international languages were rarely taught in the past, but are growing in popularity, with English leading the charge. Despite this, few people speak enough English to have a conversation in the language.

Religion

Most Belarusian citizens adhere to Eastern Orthodoxy in some form, although the Soviet Union suppressed religion for a number of years causing many adherents today from regularly practicing.

Orthodoxy is a Christian religion that claims to be the most loyal to the Christian faith and religion as it was described by Jesus and the Gospels in the New Testament. Christianity, including Orthodoxy, was founded after the death of Jesus in about 30-33 AD; various branches of Orthodoxy were officially recognized by governments long before Catholicism was recognized in the Roman Empire.

Orthodoxy and Catholicism have many of the same beliefs; both believe that there is a single God who created everything and a savior, the son of God, Jesus Christ who is the forgiver of sins. However, Orthodoxy is decentralized so each bishop oversees their local country or region, giving each orthodox country a different leader. In this way, no bishop has more power than any other, meaning the tenants and interpretations of the faith remain relatively unchanged. These beliefs are based on the teachings of the Bible, consisting of the Old and New Testaments, in particular the life and teachings of Jesus, which is found in the gospels (in the New Testament).

This page was last updated: May, 2014