Belarusian census reveals national language is in decline

Belarusians form a larger share of their country’s declining population than they did a decade ago, new census results show, but fewer there claim Belarusian as their native language or say they speak it at home, trends that set that country apart from its neighbors and could lead to the extinction of the national language in a generation.

Minsk has now released the results of the national census Belarus conducted in 2009. The most dramatic figure is that Belarus has suffered a serious decline in its total population, with that statistic falling from10,045,000 in 1999 to 9,500,000, the kind of decline that has afflicted neighboring Slavic republics as well (

The Belarusian census also found that the share of the republic’s population who consider Belarusian to be their native language has declined from “almost 74 percent” in 1999 to only 53 percent now, a bare majority. And only 23 percent say they use that language at home on a regular basis, down from 37 percent a decade ago.