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The population of Belarus is estimated at just under 10 million people, of which more than 80 percent are ethnic Belarusians. Other major ethnic groups in Belarus include Russians, Poles, and Ukranians. The main language spoken in Belarus is Russian, with over 70 percent of the population using it as their primary language. The next largest language spoken in Belarus is Belarusian, at about 12 percent of the population. Both Russian and Belarusian are official languages of Belarus. Eastern Orthodox Christians are the largest religious group, followed by Roman Catholicism and Protestantism.
The region that is now Belarus has been part of various countries including the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and eventually the Russian Empire. Belarus became part of the Soviet Union, from which it declared independence on July 27, 1990.
Belarus is made up of six regions: Brest, Homel, Hrodna, Magileu, Minsk, and Vitebsk. Each of these regions are governed at the local level in cities by the same name. Minsk City is a special administrative district of Belarus.
Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania and Latvia are the countries that border Belarus.
- Minsk (capital)
- Hrodna (or Grodno)
- Mahilyow (or Mogilev)
The land of Belarus is mostly forested, with forests covering 40% of its area. As a landlocked nation, Belarus has no coastline, but it does have major rivers, including Neman, Pripyat, and Dnieper, which flow to the Baltic and Black Seas. The country is also relatively flat, with its highest point standing only 345 meters (1,132 feet) high, at Dzyarzhynsk Hill. Other parts of the country are covered in grassy plains and marshland.
Points of Interest
Along the border between Belarus and Poland lies Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park, which is an ancient forest of oak trees and an important UNESCO site. Aside from its natural beauty, this national park serves as a wildlife habitat for many native species. The park is called Bialowieza National Park on the Polish side.
Another UNESCO site in Belarus is the Mir Castle Complex, which is home to Mir Castle, and Renaissance architecture, including Saint Nicolas' Church. Not far from Mir is Nesvizh, a city wi th another castle (and another UNESCO site), churches, and other interesting architecture.
Minsk National Airport is the main airport of Belarus, though it is quite a distance from the city. Minsk is an international airport, with primary service to many other city across Europe and the Middle East. Direct service to Belarus can be expensive, so many travelers consider flying into cities in Russia or Poland and take a train or bus into Belarus. Trains are a good option for travel, though they do not go to every major attraction in Belarus, but they are fast and relatively inexpensive. For other places, taking advantage of the bus system is recommended, or alternatively, car rental can make for flexible travel, and fuel is cheap around the country.
Last Updated On : September 24, 2013