Title: The Republic of Belarus

Population: 9,441,842

Population Change: -0.03

National Average Age: 40

Urban Percentage: 79

Christian Population: 5,265,000

Christian Percentage: 55.4

Introduction: Belarus a landlocked country in Eastern Europe is known for its Stalinist architecture grand fortifications and primeval forests. In the modern capital Minsk the monumental KGB Headquarters loom over Independence Square while the Museum of the Great Patriotic War commemorates the country’s role in WWII. The capital is also home to many churches including the neo-Romanesque Church of Saints Simon and Helena.

Overview: After seven decades as a constituent republic of the USSR Belarus attained its independence in 1991. It has retained closer political and economic ties to Russia than have any of the other former Soviet republics. Belarus and Russia signed a treaty on a two-state union on 8 December 1999 envisioning greater political and economic integration. Although Belarus agreed to a framework to carry out the accord serious implementation has yet to take place. Since his election in July 1994 as the country's first and only directly elected president Aleksandr LUKASHENKO has steadily consolidated his power through authoritarian means and a centralized economic system. Government restrictions on political and civil freedoms freedom of speech and the press peaceful assembly and religion have remained in place. The situation was somewhat aggravated after security services cracked down on mass protests challenging election results in the capital Minsk following the 2010 presidential election but little protest occurred after the 2015 election.