Belarus is in Eastern Europe. It has borders with Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania and Latvia.
Originally part of Kievan Rus, Belarus was part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth until the Polish Partitions in the 18th century. After over a hundred years of Russian rule followed by seven decades as a constituent republic of the USSR, Belarus attained its independence in 1991. However, under authoritarian rule, it has retained closer political and economic ties to Russia than 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 steps towards implementation have seen limited success. The economy is completely dependent on Russia, and the Belarusian government has taken vitriolic, anti-Western stance. The country has not seen much structural reform in the past few years. Political and journalistic activity is tightly controlled. Even though the country was the most developed republic (excluding the three Baltic states) in the former USSR, the country has a lot of remains of its socialist past, and is one of the countries with the highest poverty rate in Europe.