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Society

The term ‘Belarusian’ emerged at the end of the 16th century to name people living on the ethnic territory of Belarus. By the end of the 19th century the term was permanently used to name people living on the territory of modern Belarus.
Grodno welcomes participants and guests of the 8th Republican Festival of National Cultures, 4 June 2010
Grodno welcomes participants and guests of the 8th Republican Festival of National Cultures, 4 June 2010
The term ‘Belarusian’ emerged at the end of the 16th century to name people living on the ethnic territory of Belarus. By the end of the 19th century the term was permanently used to name people living on the territory of modern Belarus. Before the 18th century the term ‘Belarusian’ was used alongside with the names ‘Rusyn’ and ‘Litvin’.

Ethnic Belarusians make up more than 80% of the population. But because of the historical past Belarus is home to many other nationalities, such as Russians, Poles, Ukrainians, Jews, Lithuanians, Tatars and others.

Civil Society

As of 1 January 2013, there were 15 political parties and 1021 party organizations, 2,477 public associations, including 229 international, 688 national and 1,560 local associations, in Belarus. There were 37 trade unions, 31 unions (associations), and 139 funds.

Belarusian political parties include the Liberal Democratic Party, the Belarusian Social and Sports Party, the Belarusian Green Party, the Social Democratic Party of Popular Accord, the Belarusian Agrarian Party, the Republican Party, the Conservative Christian Party – BNF, the Belarusian Popular Front (BNF), the Republican Party of Labor and Justice, the Belarusian United Left Party “A Just World”, the United Civic Party, the Belarusian Patriotic Party, the Belarusian Social Democratic Gramada, the Social Democratic Party (Gramada), the Communist Party of Belarus.

Belarus has a lot of public organizations. They unite people having common interests or professions. At present there are over 2,400 public organizations in Belarus.

The largest public association is the Federation of Trade Unions of Belarus. It is a nationwide voluntary independent association of trade unions which unites over 4 million people.

Another influential organization is the national public association Belaya Rus. It comprises six oblast organizations as well as grass-root organizations in cities and towns. Belaya Rus has over 132,000 members. The total number of grass-root organizations is 7,175.

There are about 400 charities in Belarus. The most notable is the Belarusian Charity and Health Foundation which is a member of the International Charity and Health Foundation and the European Union of Charity Societies.

Youth movement is vigorously developing in Belarus. The biggest youth organizations are the Belarusian Republican Youth Union (BRSM) and the Belarusian Republican Pioneer Organization. BRSM unites over 480,000 young people. The pioneer organization includes over 580,000 children and teenagers.

Veterans associations and ecological organizations take an active part in the social life of Belarus. There are over 100 organizations of national minorities.

The activity of Belarusian political parties, public organizations and trade unions is regulated by the laws of the Republic of Belarus “Concerning political parties”, “Concerning public associations”, and “Concerning trade unions”.

The modern Belarusian political system uses democratic institutions like referendums, elections, and All-Belarus people’s congresses. These forms of activity are formalized by the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus.

Social Policy

Belarus sticks a welfare state model. All people are guaranteed high-quality and free healthcare services and education.

Families with many children get subsidized housing loans. Mothers receive various child benefits and can take a three-year paid maternity leave.

Special support is provided to vulnerable population groups, namely, retirees, disabled people, youth, people living in Chernobyl-hit territories, and others.

The main objective of the Belarusian social policy is to give every able-bodied person an opportunity to earn their living using their hands and brains. The state also aims to ensure effective social protection for all disabled and low-income people. Social protection should be particularly focused on the most unprotected groups of the population.

Decree No. 136 of the President of the Republic of Belarus as of 11 April 2011 approved the social and economic development program of Belarus for 2011-2015. The main objective of the Belarusian social and economic policy in 2011-2015 is the improvement of living conditions through better socioeconomic relations, innovative development, and higher competitiveness of the national economy.

The Belarusian development model envisages that:

- all men and women have equal rights in education and labor;

- young people have the right to moral and physical development;

- all people have the right to labor as the most worthy way to fulfill themselves in the economic, moral, and social fields;

- all people are guaranteed fair labor remuneration in the amount necessary to ensure decent living for them and their families;

- all people are guaranteed health services provision, including free medical treatment in state-run healthcare facilities;

- all people have the right to social security in old age, sickness, and disability.

Fulfillment of minimal social standards is essential to ensure well-being of people. These standards pertain to food, heat, communications, transport, utilities, educational, healthcare, and cultural institutions.

The system of financial support to families with children provides for tax deductions, subsidized children’s meals in pre-school facilities, discounts on textbooks and tutorials. Local authorities use local budgets to support families with many children and one-parent families.

The state provides all-round support to talented youth and students. The Special Fund of the President of the Republic of Belarus to Support Talented Youth has no analogues in the CIS.

Belarus pays special attention to residents who have inadequate social infrastructure, transport services, consumer services.

There is a task to introduce common social standards in the entire country to take into account regional peculiarities. These standards are aimed at improving social protection of people.

Demography

The Belarusian government implements a consistent demographic policy aimed at curbing depopulation trends.

As of 1 January 2016, the population of Belarus was 9,498,400. The number of people increased by 17,500 since 1 January 2015.

In 2002 a demographic security bill was passed in Belarus. The state aims to increase birthrate and average life expectancy, reduce mortality rate, and implement a balanced migration policy in the best interests of the nation.

Religion

Belarus has a multi-faith society.

The country has no history of religious wars. Followers of Eastern Orthodoxy, Catholicism, Protestantism, Islam, and Judaism have lived peacefully next to each other for ages.

The Republic of Belarus has favorable laws regulating the work of religious organizations. Belarus guarantees freedom of conscience and religion, maintains inter-faith peace and accord in the society, and promotes inter-faith dialogue.

Religious freedom is guaranteed by the Constitution. Rights and liberties of believers are formalized by the Law of the Republic of Belarus “Concerning freedom of religion and religious organizations”.

The state supports constructive ideas of representatives of different religions. At the same time, the country does its utmost to prevent the spread of destructive religious cults.

At present there are 3,300 religious communities of 25 religious denominations in Belarus. These are communities of Eastern Orthodox believers, Roman-Catholics, Evangelical Christians, Baptists, Seventh-day Adventists, Lutherans, Jews and Muslims.

Eastern Orthodoxy is the principal religion in Belarus. It is the foundation of inter-faith stability in the country. The Belarusian Eastern Orthodox Church is currently implementing a number of cooperation programs with government bodies.

The Roman-Catholic Church is gaining strength in Belarus. Catholicism is one of Belarus’ traditional religions. Catholics account for 14.5% of the Belarusian population (over 1.4 million). As of 1 January 2012, there were 479 Roman-Catholic communities.

Protestant religious organizations comprise over 1,000 religious communities, 21 associations, and 22 missions.

Today there are 27 Lutheran communities in Belarus.

Other major Protestant denominations include communities of Evangelical Christians, Baptists, and Seventh-day Adventists. As a rule, Protestant communities are rather small, with 20 to 25 members, except for communities in big cities.

There are many Jewish communities in Belarus. Judaism followers appeared in Belarus in the 9th-13th centuries. At present there are over 50 Jewish communities and 7 synagogues functioning in Belarus.

There are 25 Muslim communities in Belarus, with the biggest number of them registered in Grodno Oblast (eight communities). There are six mosques in the country.

President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko pays a lot of attention to the activity of religious organizations. The Belarusian head of state regularly meets with members of the Synod of the Belarusian Eastern Orthodox Church and leaders of the Roman-Catholic Church in Belarus.

The Plenipotentiary Representative for Religious and Nationality Affairs and local authorities unite their efforts with religious organizations to resolve social issues and prevent violations of the Belarusian legislation.

Information Society

The telecom market is vigorously developing in Belarus in keeping with the global tendency of transition from industrial to information society.

Belarus is ranked 36th in the ICT Development Index (IDI). Belarus’ IDI value is 7.18.

While the world’s average is nearly 49%, as many as 59.1% of the households in Belarus were connected to the Internet in 2015.

Today over 62% of Belarusians aged 6 and older use the Internet, 67% of this number use the Internet every day.
© 2017, The Press Service of the President of the Republic of Belarus