There are many inaccurate and funny stereotypes concerning Belarus. While the French think of Belarus as “White-skinned Russians”, the Germans label Belarus simply as “Gas Transit Country”. The Italians prefer the term “Terra Incognita” and Latin Americans refer to it as “Cuba Europea”. But probably the most common stereotype that foreigners hold towards the Belarusians is closely linked to the French version: White-Skinned Russians.
Russia and Belarus are the two countries that are often being mixed up by foreigners. Many believe that we are talking here about one and the same country, meaning that Belarus is Russia and Russia is Belarus. And others just think that Belarus is a place inside of Russia.
This confusion sometimes causes much frustration to many Belarusians living inside and outside of Belarus. Besides the almost not existing coverage on Belarus (except on some political occasions), the cause of much confusion derives from the wrongly used way the country’s name is translated in many countries namely ‘White Russia’ instead of the legal name of the Republic of Belarus. Yes, also we in The Netherlands are guilty in wrongly translating Belarus as Wit-Rusland, which literally means White-Russia. Other countries in the world seem to make the same mistake.
How people call Belarus in different languages?
So if it is not White-Russia, what is it then?! I hear you think. To keep it short and simple while Bela does mean white, however, Rus is a different geographical and political term than Russia. ‘Rus’ is also known as Ruthenia, refers to the Eastern Slavic lands that nowadays belong mostly to Belarus and Ukraine. In the modern Belarusian language there is a clear distinction between Ruski (referring to Ruthenia) and Rasiejski (referring to Russia). Therefore, it would be correct to call Belarus “White-Rus” instead of White Russia or just stick to Belarus.
So be careful when you compare the two countries, they may share the same history, language and gas but these are two completely different nations! This is Belarus, babe!