Belarus: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about Belarus.

  • Belarus covers an area of about 208,000 square km and is located in Eastern Europe. The country is bordered by Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Latvia and Lithuania.
  • It has been a part of the Russian Empire, part of Lithuania and part of a medieval principality known as the Kingdom of Polotsk. It became a part of the Soviet Union in 1922 and declared independence in 1990.
  • Belarus has two official languages, Russian and Belarusian.
  • The country has no official religion, although most residents are members of the Russian Orthodox Church.
  • Much of Belarus is flat and marshy, and the country’s highest point is just 345 metres.
  • There are as many as 11,000 lakes and ponds in the country.
  • Minsk has a population of just over 2 million and is the country’s capital and largest city. Independence Avenue has changed its name over 12 times and is one of Europe’s longest streets.

Flag of Belarus

  • The name Belarus translates as White Russian. The term may have come from the local Slavic people who used to wear mostly white clothing during the Middle Ages.
  • During the 19th century, Jewish dishes and foods became popular in Belarus, and at one time there were over 300 dishes made with potatoes. Rye bread is more common than wheat bread.
  • The remains of a primeval European forest can be seen in Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park. It is home to herds of European bison, Europe’s largest land animals.
  • One of the oldest buildings in Belarus is St Sophia’s Cathedral in Polotsk, built in the 11th century. It was built by Prince Vseslav who is buried there and is rumored to be a vampire.
  • Two holidays, Victory Day and Independence Day, are celebrated with military displays and fireworks. The country also celebrates the 1917 Russian Revolution, and remembers the Chernobyl nuclear accident in 1986.

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