Belarus is a country of eastern Europe, formerly known as Belorussia. It was the smallest of the three Slavic republics included in the Soviet Union (the larger two being Russia and Ukraine). Its government is a presidential republic in which the executive is the chief authority. The capital and largest city is Minsk, located in the center of the country.
Since medieval times Belarusian territory was under foreign rule, and in the 18th century it was annexed by the Russian Empire. Belarus was established in 1919 as the Belorussian Soviet Socialist Republic (SSR), which in 1922 became one of the four founding republics of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). In August 1991 Belarus declared its independence, contributing to the collapse of the USSR in December.