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Belarus

Belarus , (, ), is a [landlocked country] in [Eastern Europe] , bordered by [Russia] to the north and east, [Ukraine] to the south, [Poland] to the west, and [Lithuania] and [Latvia] to the north. Its capital is [Minsk] ; other major cities include [Brest] , [Grodno (Hrodna)] , [Gomel (Homiel)] , [Mogilev (Mahilyow)] and [Vitebsk (Viciebsk)] . Forty percent of the country is forested,

and its strongest economic sectors are agriculture and manufacturing.

Until the 20th century, the [Belarusians] lacked the opportunity to create a distinctive national identity because for centuries the lands of modern-day Belarus belonged to several ethnically different countries, including the [Principality of Polotsk] , the [Grand Duchy of Lithuania] , and the [Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth] . After the short-lived [Belarusian People’s Republic] (1918–19), Belarus became a [constituent republic of the Soviet Union] , the [Byelorussian SSR] .

The final unification of Belarusian lands within its modern borders took place in 1939, when the ethnically Belarusian-Russian lands held by the [Second Polish Republic] (interwar Poland) were annexed into the [Soviet Union] under the terms of the [Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact] ,Europa Publications Limited, "Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States, Volume 4", Routledge, 1999, pg. 182, [http://books.google.com/books?id=qm N95fFocsMC&pg=PA182&dq=Bela rus annexed by Sovie] and attached to Soviet Belarus. The territory and its nation were devastated in [World War II] , during which Belarus lost about a third of its population and more than half of its economic resources; the republic was redeveloped in the post-war years.

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