According to the census of 2018, the population of the Republic of Belarus was 9 million 492 thousand people. Women make up 53.4% of the population, men 46.6%. Citizens are 78.1% of the population, rural residents - 21.9%.

The present age structure in Belarus is characterized by an increased share of older people and a decreased share of children. One out of five citizens of the Republic is in the pension age. The present age composition is mainly the result of the fall in the birth rate.

The present demographic situation in Belarus shows signs of a demographic crisis, primarily testified by the falling birth rate and growing death rate, resulting in the decrease of the total population. For more than 20 years now the generation of children has not equaled numerically the generation of parents. The average family size is 3.2 people.

Factors responsible for the fall in the birth rate:

  • specifics of the age structure (women of the child–bearing age are children of the war children, a reduced generation which decreased the birth rate);
  • unstable socio–economic situation;
  • sharp drop in the living standards of the population;
  • change in the social orientation;
  • ecological consequences of the Chernobyl nuclear accident.

The people of Belarus are a kind, friendly and good humoured nation. The patience and peacefulness of the Belarusian people has been determined by the nation’s history that has been darkened by endless wars which the Belarusians did not start, but fell victim to. Belarus is welcoming to all visitors and interested in sharing its culture, traditions and sense of community with them.

Ethnic Belarusians make up more than 80% of the population. But because of the history of Belarus, many other nationalities have also settled in the country, many of whom have been established for several generations.

Here are the main minority groups that make up the people of Belarus:

  • Russians (8.2%) have always lived in the region, with a large influx into the country after the Second World War
  • Poles (3.1%) have lived in the western side of the country for centuries
  • Ukrainians (1.7%) – the largest influx came in the 18th and 19th centuries
  • Jews (0,13%): the first Jews settled in Belarus in the 15th century, but emigration to Israel and other states since the 1980s means that the Jewish population of Belarus is now less than 30,000

Other significant minority groups in Belarus include Tatars, Roma, Lithuanians and Letts.

Churches and religious communities. By virtue of its geopolitical situation, Belarus throughout its history stood at the crossroads between two cultures: Orthodox — Byzantine and Catholic — Roman civilizations. All this has defined its unique cultural and historical position in Europe. The Orthodox and Catholic culture of the people of Belarus was enriched with the achievements of other cultures, while a considerable role in the development of general culture of the people of Belarus belongs to representatives of traditional religions.

Photo: Alena Baneyeva

The relationships between the two main religions of Belarus — Orthodoxy and Catholicism — were, as a rule, of a tolerant nature. Until the end of the XVII century the Orthodox people of Belarus were a dominating confessional majority. In the XVII — XIX centuries, after the recognition by the Orthodox Church of the supremacy of the Pope of Rome (the Brest Church Unia of 1596), Orthodox believers were forcibly converted into the Uniat Church. By the end of the XVIII century Uniats constituted about 70% of the entire population, Catholics — 15%, Orthodox — 6%, Jews — 7%, Protestants and others — about 2%.
In the middle of the XIX century the Uniat Church was attached to the Russian Orthodox Church.

Photo: Alena Baneyeva

More information