While many people are aware of the history of Europe and how the great countries of France, Germany, and Spain came to be, there are few that know the Belarus history that colors this republic. However, the region enjoys an important past and one that has helped to shape the story of the world in several ways. At the beginning of Belarus history are the ancient peoples that lived on the lands. Remains of Homo erectus and Neanderthal men have been located in Belarus and it is thought that the Dnieper-Donets culture was also present in the area. Despite barbarian hordes coming into the lands at various times, the native people were able to develop largely unscathed by foreign intruders. In the Middle Ages, it is thought that Slavic tribes began to establish settlements in what is now Belarus. The main other population group of the time were the Varangians, a warrior tribe with ancestral lines from Scandinavia. The two populations were able to work together and prevent other groups from invading the lands. However, an invasion from Mongol tribes in the 13th century alerted the people that they would need better levels of protection and eventually the groups joined as part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, later becoming the Kingdom of Poland. The state of Belarus remained much the same until 1795, when the Russian armies were able to take control of much of the land in the country. The course of Belarus history was then largely linked to Soviet history until the country declared independence, which took place in 1918 after the first World War. In this time, Belarus was split between those who wanted to remain part of Russia and others that wanted to return to Poland. After the second World War, the country of Belarus had a major industrial period, with much of the labor coming from Russian immigrants.