Skip to main content

What Language is Spoken in Belarus?

What Language is Spoken in Belarus

Key Takeaways

Official LanguageBelarusian and Russian
Predominantly Spoken LanguageRussian (70% of the population)
Minority LanguagesPolish, Ukrainian, and others
Language of EducationMostly Russian, but Belarusian is also taught

A Brief Introduction to Belarus

Belarus, a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, boasts a rich tapestry of history, culture, and language. Known for its dense forests and picturesque landscapes, Belarus is a land where traditions meet modernity. But what about the language? What do the people of Belarus speak in their daily lives?

The Historical Context of Belarusian Languages

The history of the Belarusian language is intertwined with the country’s past, influenced by various nations and empires.

Early Beginnings

During the early Middle Ages, the territories of modern-day Belarus were part of the Kievan Rus, a federation of Slavic tribes. The Old East Slavic language, a precursor to Belarusian, Ukrainian, and Russian, was spoken during this time.

Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth Era

From the 14th to the 18th century, Belarus was part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. This period saw the influence of Polish language and culture on Belarus.

Russian Empire and Soviet Era

The late 18th century saw parts of Belarus annexed by the Russian Empire, and the influence of the Russian language grew. Later, as a republic within the Soviet Union, Russian became even more dominant, especially in official and educational settings.

Official and Predominantly Spoken Languages

Belarusian and Russian are the two official languages of Belarus.

LanguageUsage Context
BelarusianUsed in official documents, some media outlets, and in schools.
RussianPredominantly spoken in everyday life, media, and schools.

Around 70% of the population speaks Russian in their daily lives. It’s no surprise then that Russian has such a prominent place in the country’s linguistic landscape. While Belarusian retains its place in the heart of the nation’s identity, the practicality and influence of Russian cannot be denied.

Minority Languages in Belarus

Despite the dominance of Russian and Belarusian, there are other languages spoken by minority communities in Belarus. Here’s a list of some of them:

  1. Polish: Spoken by the Polish minority, mainly in the western parts of Belarus.
  2. Ukrainian: Spoken by the Ukrainian community.
  3. Tatar: There’s a small Tatar community in Belarus that speaks this language.
  4. Yiddish: Historically, Belarus had a significant Jewish population. While much diminished, some Yiddish is still spoken.

Education and Language in Belarus

The language of instruction in most schools in Belarus is Russian. However, Belarusian is taught as a subject.

Level of EducationLanguage of Instruction
Primary EducationPredominantly Russian
Secondary EducationPredominantly Russian, but with Belarusian as a compulsory subject
Higher EducationMostly Russian, with some courses in Belarusian

It’s noteworthy that there has been a push towards promoting the Belarusian language in recent years. This has resulted in an increase in Belarusian-medium schools and a greater emphasis on the language in education and media.

The Future of the Belarusian Language

The Belarusian language, rich in its history and culture, has seen its ups and downs. While Russian remains the predominant language in daily life, there’s a renewed interest in Belarusian, especially among the youth. This revival is seen as a way of preserving national identity and culture.


Belarus is a country where language plays a pivotal role in defining its identity. From the historical dominance of Belarusian to the current prevalence of Russian, the linguistic landscape of Belarus is as diverse as its history. Whether you’re traveling, doing business, or simply curious, understanding the languages of Belarus offers a window into its soul.