Belarus Overview

BelarusLocation: Eastern Europe

Population(as of January 1, 2016): 9,498,400 people

Capital: Minsk (as of January 1, 2016): 1,959,800 people

Territory: 207,595 km2 (80,153 square miles): 38% forests, 45% agricultural land

Average temperature: January–60C, July +180C

Time: GMT + 2 (GMT + 3 from Saturday before last Sunday in October to last Sunday in March).

Borders: Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, Ukraine

Administrative divisions: 6 regions (Brest, Gomel, Grodno, Minsk, Mogilev, Vitebsk)

Type of government: presidential republic

National holidays: New Year (January, 1), Orthodox Christmas (January, 7), Women's Day (March, 8), Labor Day (May, 1), Victory Day (May, 9), Independence Day (July, 3), October Revolution Day (November, 7), Catholic Christmas (December, 25).

The Republic of Belarus is a new independent state situated in Eastern Europe.  The name Belarus means “white Rus” (White Russia). “White” in old Slavic languages meant “free” pointing to the fact that Belarus was never invaded by the Tatars unlike other Russian principalities in the 13–15 centuries.

Situated at the crossroads of trade routes from the East to the West and from the North to the South, Belarus assimilated traditions, culture, and languages of different peoples. Today, it is a modern European country and a member of the world community.

According to the latest UN Human Development Report 2015, Belarus tops the countries with high level of development and 50th among 188 countries and territories of the world with regard to human development, its Human Development Index (HDI) being 0.798. With regard to prosperity and wellbeing, Belarus ranks 63rd among 142 countries, based on The 2015 Legatum Prosperity Index survey conducted by the British Legatum Institute analytic center.  

Representatives of approximately 120 nationalities live in Belarus, including Belarusians, Russians, Poles, Ukrainians, and Jews. The spirit of tolerance and the high cultural level of Belarusians favored coexistence among the various nationalities proving that diversity is not an obstacle to good relations.

Belarus is filled with beautiful forests, lakes, rivers, and wildlife. There are more than 20,000 rivers and creeks and about 11,000 lakes in Belarus. The biggest lake is Naroch (about 80 square kilometers). The forests of Belarus are rich in valuable species of trees (pine tree, spruce, oak, birch tree, aspen, and alder) and game (fox, marten, hare, otter, ferret, ermine, elk, and wild boar). There are three National Parks in Belarus, “Belovezhskaya Pushcha” being the largest. In the late Middle Ages, it was a favorite hunting area of Polish kings and Russian czars. Today, more than 400 bison are living there, as well as 300 other species of animals and birds.   Photo by Oleg Sivograkov

In terms of the efficiency of measures aimed at protecting the natural ecosystem and human health, Belarus ranks 35th among 180 countries in the 2016 Environmental Performance Index (EPI) ranking. The EPI report is annually published by Yale and Columbia Universities (USA) in cooperation with the World Economic Forum. Performing better than the Netherlands, Poland, Cyprus, and Belgium, Belarus is highly ranked in the Agriculture, Climate & Energy, Health Impacts, Water & Sanitation, and Air Quality categories.

Belarus, a country of blue lakes and virgin forests, provides great opportunities for leisure and relaxation. You can fish, gather berries, mushrooms or flowers, and swim in any lake or river. Here you might find a perfect way to get lost in nature.


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