BELARUS

Date of establishment: August 25, 1991

Brief history:

9th century – The Polotsk Principality, an early Slavic state, was established in the territory of Belarus.

14th century – Belarus became part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.

1569 – Formation of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

1795 – Third Partition of Poland. The majority of the former Grand Duchy of Lithuania, including Belarus, was incorporated into the Russian Empire.

1918 – The Belarusian People’s Republic declared independence after the fall of the Russian Empire.

1922 – Belarus became part of the Soviet Union.

1941 – Nazi forces occupied Belarus during World War II. Partisans played a role in resisting.

1944 – The Soviet Army liberated Belarus from German occupation.

1991 – Belarus declared independence from the collapsing Soviet Union.

2020 – Protests erupted throughout Belarus following controversial presidential elections in which Alexander Lukashenko was declared the winner.

 

International abbreviation: BY

 

Currency: Belarusian ruble (BYN)

The currency of Belarus is the Belarusian ruble (BYN), which was introduced in 2016, and is subdivided into 100 kopecks. The Belarusian ruble is controlled by the central bank of Belarus and is freely convertible only within Belarus. Banknotes are available in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, and 500 rubles.

 

Internet domain: .by

 

Dialing code: +375

 

Time zone: GMT+2

 

Geography:

Belarus is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe. It borders Latvia and Lithuania to the north, Russia to the east, Ukraine to the south, and Poland to the west.

The country is relatively flat with an average altitude of 162 meters (531 feet). The landscape is characterized by many forests, which cover over 40% of the total territory, as well as rivers and lakes.

The major rivers include the Dnieper, which flows through the entire country, and its tributaries – the Berezina and the Sozh, as well as the Daugava, Neman and Pripyat. The largest lakes include Narach, Drivyaty, and Osveya.

 

Highest peak: Dzyarzhynskaya Hara, 345 meters (1 132 feet) above sea level.

It is located in the central part of the country in the Minsk Region, about 25 kilometers (15 miles) northwest of the capital city, Minsk.

The peak is named after Felix Dzerzhinsky, the founder of the Soviet secret police (Cheka). At the top, there is a monument to Dzerzhinsky, which was built in 1967. The monument houses a museum documenting Dzerzhinsky’s life and work.

Dzyarzhynskaya Hara is a popular attraction, and many people visit it in winter when several ski slopes are built for skiers and snowboarders.

 

Climate:

Belarus has a moderate continental climate with warm summers and cold winters. The average temperature in January ranges from -4°C (25°F) to -8°C (18°F), while the average temperature in July is around 17°C (63°F to 18°C (64°F).

August temperatures can reach around 20-25°C (68-77°F). In winter, temperatures can drop as low as -30°C (-22°F). Average precipitation is around 600-700 mm (23-28 inches) per year.

Due to its inland location, Belarus does not have access to the sea, which leads to greater temperature differences between summer and winter.

Thunderstorms are common in the summer months, and frequent frosts and winds from Russia occur in winter. With numerous forests and water bodies, the landscapes in Belarus are very picturesque and enjoyable for tourists and nature lovers.

 

Fauna and Flora:

Forests cover over 40% of the country, and there are numerous species of animals, including European bison, bears, gray wolves, Eurasian lynxes, elk, roe and red deer, foxes, and wild boars, as well as various bird species, such as white-tailed eagles, ospreys, Eurasian eagle owls, and buzzards.

Belarus is also known for its many lakes, rivers, and marshes, which are inhabited by species such as beavers, otters, crayfish, and various fish species. The country has several protected areas, including the Białowieża Forest National Park, which is home to the last free-roaming European bison.

In terms of flora, Belarus has various types of forest, including common oak, Norway spruce, Scots pine, European birch, and European beech. Sparse deciduous forests can also be found in many places, hosting many species of plants and mushrooms. The country also has many parks and gardens, including the Botanical Gardens in Minsk.

Flowers and decorative plants such as roses, lilies, tulips, and azaleas are also popular in Belarus. Wildflowers found in the country include fireweed, oxeye daisy, harebell, brown knapweed, and the common poppy.

 

Agriculture:

The main crops cultivated in Belarus include cereals (wheat, barley, and rye), potatoes, rapeseed, corn, sugar beets, and legumes. The country is also a significant producer of milk, meat, and other animal products.

There are many large-scale agricultural enterprises as well as smaller family farms in Belarus. In recent years, organic farming and bio-production have been significantly developed in Belarus.

Due to the abundance of forests and water bodies in Belarus, forestry and fisheries are also important industries. Forests provide wood and other forestry products, while fisheries focus on fish farming and fish product production.

 

Natural resource extraction:

The most significant natural resource in the country is timber. The forests serve as a source of wood and other wood products, such as paper, wooden briquettes, and wood panels.

Other important resources in Belarus include minerals such as potash salts, chalk, stone, peat, and amber. Potash salts are vital for fertilizer and industrial chemicals production. Chalk is used as a construction material and in the chemicals industry. Stone is primarily used for paving stones and building materials.

Belarus also extracts oil and natural gas, although the quantities are not as substantial as in some other countries. However, Belarus does receive a portion of its natural gas from Russia through a cooperation agreement in this area.

There are substantial reserves of peat, and it is extracted and used as a fuel, especially in rural areas. It is also used for agricultural purposes.

The country also has reserves of ores and other metals, including iron, copper, zinc, and silver, but the extraction of these resources is not as developed as in some other countries.

 

Industry:

Belarus has a range of industrial sectors, including engineering, electronics, food processing, chemical industry, forestry, and the textiles industry.

The industrial sector includes many large and medium-sized enterprises that produce goods for both domestic and foreign markets. The largest industrial plants include the BelAZ automobile factory in Zhodino, the Minsk Tractor Works (MTZ) manufacturing agricultural machinery, the Belaruskali chemical industry, and several manufacturers of electrical equipment.

The food processing industry is also vital in Belarus and includes the production of various foods, such as dairy products, meat, bakery products, confectionery, and beverages. The textile industry produces various types of clothing, fabrics, and carpets.

Belarus is also a significant exporter of information technology, particularly software products and IT services. Minsk is becoming a center for the developing software industry and is home to numerous companies operating in this field.

 

Services and Other Economic Areas: services, railway, road, and pipeline transportation, and public administration.

 

Natural and historical attractions:

Cities of Minsk, Brest, and Ňasviž, Białowieża Forest, Lake Narač, Mir Castle, Polesie region, Kamianiec Tower, and the Pripyat River.

Belarus is not a typical tourist destination, but it offers many interesting places for visitors seeking tranquility and the beauty of nature, history, and culture. Visitors can enjoy stunning forests, lakes, rivers, and marshes, which are perfect for hiking, cycling, and other outdoor activities.

Among the most significant tourist attractions in Belarus is the Białowieża National Park. Other popular places include Mir Castle, Kamianiec Tower, and also the Brest Fortress. Belarus also hosts a number of cultural and artistic events, including the Minsk International Film Festival held annually in August, and the International “Slavianski Bazaar” Music Festival held in Vitebsk every July.

 

 

Form of government: Presidential Republic

Belarus is a presidential republic with a bicameral parliament, . According to the 1994 constitution, the president has extensive powers and is the highest representative of the state. The president is elected for a five-year term and has the right to run for re-election.

The government is led by the prime minister, who is appointed by the president. The government has extensive powers in the economy, foreign policy, and other areas, but all key decisions are approved by the president.

Legislative power is vested in the National Assembly, which has two chambers, the elected House of Representatives and the Council of the Republic which is has members appointed by local councils. Members of the House are elected for a four-year term. The House of Representatives has the power to adopt and amend laws, but the president has the right to veto any law.

The judiciary is subordinate to the executive branch and lacks independence. The judicial system of Belarus consists of three levels: district courts, regional courts, and the Constitutional Court. In all judicial districts, there is also a judicial council that oversees the activities of the courts and decides on disciplinary cases.

 

Capital city:

Minsk It is located on the Svislach River and is home to approximately two million people. Minsk has a rich history dating back to the 11th century. During the 20th century, the city was significantly damaged during World War II but was rebuilt and modernized in the post-war period.

Today, Minsk is a modern city with numerous high-rise buildings, parks, and modern transportation systems. The city is home to a variety of cultural and artistic institutions, including theaters, museums, galleries, and libraries. Minsk also boasts many historical landmarks, such as the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, the Church of Saints Simon and Helena, the National Historical Museum, and many others. Minsk has excellent transportation infrastructure, including a modern international airport and a high-speed railway link connecting the city with major cities in Western Europe.

 

Area: 207 600 square kilometers (80 200 square miles)

 

Population: 9 256 000 (2022 estimate)

Approximately 83% of the population are Belarusians, 8% are Russians, and 3% are Poles. However, there are also smaller minority communities, including Ukrainian, Jewish, and Roma communities.

Most Belarusians speak the Belarusian language, which is the official language of the country. However, Russian is also widely used and is the second official language. In some areas, particularly in the east of the country, Russian is more commonly used than Belarusian.

Belarus has a relatively low rate of urbanization, with approximately 76% of the population living in urban areas and the rest in rural areas. The capital city, Minsk, is the largest city in the country, with other significant cities including Homyel, Mahilyow, Vitebsk, and Brest.

In recent years, the population of Belarus has slightly declined, which is due to a decreasing birth rate and increasing emigration.

 

UNESCO World Heritage Sites: 4

 

  1. Mir Castle Complex (2000) – A Gothic castle built in the 16th century for defense against Mongol invasions.
  2. Architectural, Residential, and Cultural Complex of the Radziwill Family at Nesvizh (2005) – Former residence of the Radziwiłł noble family, which includes a castle, palace, park, and church.
  3. Białowieża Forest (1979) – It spans across both Belarus and Poland and is considered the last preserved part of the primeval forest that once covered a large part of Europe.
  4. Struve Geodetic Arc (2005) – It is a network of 34 survey points in 10 countries, built between 1816 and 1855 for the purpose of accurately measuring the shape and size of the Earth.

 

National Parks: 4

 

  1. Białowieża National Park
  2. Pripyat National Park
  3. Braslav Lakes National Park
  4. Narachansky National Park