From medieval saints to modern-day Nobel scientists and Olympic champions, Belarus has produced many famous people
Grand Duchess, Queen of Poland
A political and military figure, the Hetman of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, a diplomat, a philosopher. One of the main founders of the Statute of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (1588), which was actually the first European Constitution.
Born in Belarus in 1746, Kosciuszko is considered a national hero in America, Belarus and Poland for his leadership in the American Revolutionary War and the uprising against Imperial Russia and the Prussian Empire in 1794.
Born in Belarus in 1802. Domejko was a well-known geologist who spent most of his life in Chile where he became a national hero. He is officially recognised by UNESCO for his achievements.
Ivan (Yan) Chersky
An outstanding geographer, a geologist, a famous explorer of Siberia, whose name was given to numerous geographical places. Born in 1845, in the Svolna Estate, Vitebsk Province.
Nikolai Sudzilovsky (Nicholas Russell)
An ethnographer, a geographer, a chemist, a biologist, a genetic doctor, the first president of the Hawaii State Senate. Born to an impoverished noble family in 1850 in Mogilev. From 1892 Nikolai lived in Hawaii where he fought for the rights of the locals.
Born in the Grodno region in 1897, Chizhevsky was an acclaimed scientist who studied the biological effects of the sun and universe, including how solar activity maps to periods of war throughout history.
The first female Professor of Mathematics, descended from the Belarusian noble family. She spent her childhood in the Palibino Estate, Vitebsk Province. At the age of 18 Sofia entered into a fictive marriage to move abroad and to do science. Sofia Kovalevskaya is the author of numerous papers on mathematical analysis, mechanics and astronomy.
An aerospace engineer, an inventor, one of the creators of supersonic jets, a designer of more than 50 original aircraft solutions, more than 30 of which have been constructed and tested. Born in 1895, in the town of Glubokoye, Vitebsk Region.
An outstanding scientist and designer, who has overseen the development of the best MAZ vehicles, for decades he was the general designer in charge of Belarusian automobiles. Author of over 450 research papers, including 134 inventions and 17 patents. Hero of Belarus (2006). Born in the village of Semezhevo, Minsk Oblast (1928).
Born in Vitebsk in 1930, Alferov won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2000.
Petr Klimuk, the first Belarusian cosmonaut; a researcher in technical sciences; twice Hero of the Soviet Union. Born in Komarovka village, Brest region, in 1942. Made three space flights as a member of spaceship and orbital space station missions. Spent a total of 78.76 days in space.
Born near Minsk in 1942, Kovalenok trained as a pilot and became a celebrated cosmonaut in the Soviet Union. He commanded 3 space missions and was twice declared a Hero of the Soviet Union.
The first Belarusian cosmonaut to lead the crew of the 34th international expedition to the ISS. Oleg Novitsky was born in the town of Cherven, Minsk Oblast in 1971. Before becoming a cosmonaut he was an Air Force pilot, a combat veteran, had medals bestowed by the Russian Defense Ministry.
Perhaps the most famous of all people from Belarus, Marc Chagall is known around the world as a master of classic avant-garde art.
Famed artist and stage designer, decorator, dress designer, portrait painter, master of easel painting, and one of the founders of the World of Art group. Born into a middle-class Jewish family in Grodno in 1866 as Leib Chaim Rosenberg, he later took a pseudonym derived from his grandmother's family name, Baxter. Leon Bakst gained worldwide recognition thanks to his collaboration with Sergei Diaghilev and Ballets Russes for which he designed exotic, richly colored sets and costumes.
A painter, a composer. Napoleon Orda was born in the village of Vorocevichi, Pinsk Uyezd (District). Napoleon Orda made more than 1,000 sketches of the buildings in Belarus, Lithuania, Poland, France, which has become a priceless source of information for architects and restorers in Europe. In 2007, Napoleon Orda’s 200th anniversary was added to the UNESCO Memorial Calendar List.
Born in the village of Ulla, Lepel Uyezd (District), Vitebsk Province. A distinguished painter known for his own painting style, a mixture of still lives and portraits. Ivan Khrutsky’s 200th anniversary was inscribed into the UNESCO Memorial Calendar List in 2010.
Louis Burt Mayer
Born in Minsk in 1885. Cinematographer Luis Bart Mayer is best known as one of founders of the Hollywood film studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. It was Mayer who suggested the annual Oscar awards.
Writer, founder of the new Belarusian literature and professional dramaturgy, creator of the first Belarusian theater group, actor. The 200th anniversary of the birth of Vincent Dunin-Martsinkevich was included in the UNESCO Memorable Dates Calendar in 2008.
People’s Artist of Belarus, author of about 200 pictures, creator of the unique series of pictures Figures on the Heart dedicated to death camp prisoners. Many works by Mikhail Savitsky are internationally recognized. Born in the village of Zvenyachi, Vitebsk Oblast (1922). Hero of Belarus (2006).
Belarusian novelist, playwright, essayist. He was born in 1924 in Bychki village in the Vitebsk region. People’s Writer of Belarus (1980).
Svetlana Alexievich is a Belarusian writer and journalist. Her books include "The War's Unwomanly Face," "Last Witnesses," "Zinky Boys," "Enchanted with Death," "The Chernobyl Prayer," "Last Witnesses: Solo Pieces for Children's Voices," and "Second-hand Time." Svetlana Alexievich was awarded the 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature "for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time".
People’s Artist of Belarus, a painter and a pedagogue, one of the founders of the monumental decorative art school. Person of the Year 1992 and Person of the 20th Century (1993) as acknowledged by the International Biographical Center of Cambridge. Person of the Year 1994 according to the American Biographical Institute. Born in the village of Chikalovichi, Gomel Oblast (1928).
Brilliant musician, composer and arranger, collector of Belarusian folklore, and the founder of the legendary band Pesnyary (1970) which was one of the most popular bands in the USSR for many years. People’s Artist of the BSSR and USSR, holder of the Francysk Skaryna Order (2001). The name of Vladimir Mulyavin, who was a Belarusian in spirit but not by birth, was perpetuated in the Walks of Fame in Moscow and in Vitebsk, the host city of the international festival of arts Slavonic Bazaar.
A diplomat, Orientalist, explorer, the first Consul of the Russian Empire in Japan and the author of the first Japanese-Russian dictionary. Several species of insects and the gulf in North Korea (Chosan-man) were named after him. He was born in Rechitsa District (Gomel Oblast) in 1814. The 200th birthday of Iosif Goshkevich has been included into the UNESCO Calendar of Events for 2014-2015.
Michal Kleofas Oginski
A diplomat, politician, participant of the Kosciuszko Uprising and a talented composer. He wrote his famous polonaise Farewell to the Homeland in the Oginski family estate in Zalesie (Grodno Oblast). The 250th birthday of Michal Kleofas Oginski has been included into the UNESCO Calendar of Events for 2014-2015.
Born in Belarus in the village Motol (nowadays - Ivanovo district, Brest region) in 1874. Haim Weizman was an outstanding chemist who gave lectures in Switzerland and Great Britain. As an active Zionist he was selected as a first president of Israel (1949) and remained at this post until his death (1952).
A diplomat, the USSR Minister of Foreign Affairs (1957-1985). Head of the Soviet delegation at a UN founding conference which worked out the UN Charter. Born in the village of Starye Gromyki (Vetka District, Gomel Region).
Born in Polotsk in 1486. Skaryna is most famous in Belarus for translating the Bible into Belarusian.
Born in the 12th century, Euphrosyne is considered the patron saint of Belarus. Descended from a noble family, she became a nun at the age of 12 and spent her life helping the poor and building churches and monasteries across Belarus. She died on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and her relics were returned to Belarus in 1910.
Belarusian sportsman and trainer (freestyle wrestling). Olympic Champion (1964, 1968, 1972) and World Champion (1962, 1963, 1966, 1967, 1969–1971). He is recognised as the best freestyle wrestler of the XX century.
The legendary gymnast won 4 Olympic Gold medals (three of them at the Olympic Games in Munich in 1972). In 1972 Korbut was named Best Sportswoman in the World.
A Belarusian sportsman (artistic gymnastics). Gold medal winner at the XXV Olympic Games (Spain, 1992). The bronze medal winner at the XXVI Olympic Games (USA, 1996). World Champion 14 times , European Champion 10 times. Winner of the Good-will games (USA, 1990). Champion of Universidad (1993, 1995).
Makarov won a gold medal in judo at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games
Nesterenko won the 100 metres gold medal at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.
Maxim Mirnyi is the most famous Belarusian tennis player. He has won a series of international doubles titles and has led the Belarus national team to its best-ever result in the Davis Cup.
Belarusian professional tennis player, winner of major WTA tournaments, the Olympic champion. In January 2012 Victoria Azarenka became WTA World No. 1 for the first time in her career. At the 2012 London Olympic Games she won the gold medal in the mixed doubles together with Max Mirny and the bronze medal in the women’s singles.
2014 Sochi Olympic champion in the women’s 10km pursuit, the women’s 15km individual race and the 12.5km mass start. The bronze medalist in the women's 15km individual race at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver. The winner of the Biathlon Award 2010 (Female Athlete of the Year).
A freestyle skier, the winner of Belarus’s first gold Winter Olympics medal (Vancouver 2010). The Olympic bronze medalist (Salt Lake City 2002).
“The king of small-bore rifle”, the London 2012 champion, two-time Olympic bronze medalist in Sydney and Athens, the world record setter: scored the maximum 600 points in prone rifle shooting.
One of the best sportsmen in Belarus’ hockey history, captain of Belarus' national team. Ruslan Salei is Belarus’ first ice hockey player to be promoted to the Stanley Cup Finals.