Belarus is situated in the center of Europe, and has international borders with five countries: Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia. The total land area of Belarus is more than 207,000 square kilometers.
The country doesn't have access to sea, but due to the location Belarus is an important trade and transport corridor between Europe and the CIS.
The capital of Belarus
Minsk, the capital of Belarus, is located in the center of the country. The first recorded mention of the city goes back to 1067. Throughout its history, Minsk has been destroyed and rebuilt numerous times. But it was suffered mostly during World War 2, when it was completely destroyed.
Today Minsk is a modern European city and the largest city in the country .More than 1.9 million people live in Minsk today. It has excellent transport links including Minsk airport, several major train stations, underground, and a well-developed road system.
The main oblast of Belarus
The country of Belarus is divided into six territorial units - regions with its administrative centers:
Climate and weather in Belarus
The moderate continental climate of Belarus is formed under the influence of air masses of the Atlantic, characterized by rainy cool summer, soft winter with frequent thaws, unstable weather in autumn and winter.
Average temperatures in Belarus
Average temperatures vary across Belarus. In January, temperature averages from -4.5°C to -8°C. In July the average temperature is +17°C to +18.5°C.
Some regions of Belarus have sub-zero temperatures for more than a third of the year.
Belarus has an average annual precipitation of 600-700 mm. 70% of the rainfall occurs from April to October.
Belarus also enjoys 75 snow days in the southwest and 125 snow in the northeast days with snow cover from 15 to 30 cm.
The best time to travel in Belarus
For summer types of rest a good period with the average temperature above 15°C is increasing towards the northeast and the southwest - from 70 till 89 in Poozerie, 90-95 days in the Central Belarus and 96-114 days in Polesie. The daily average temperature of water in all reservoirs is 17°C and in July is about 19-22°C.
For winter types of rest a good time with the average temperature from -5°C till -15°C varies from 30 days in the southwest till 60 days in the northeast, and during cold winters increase to 130 days.
The people of Belarus are kind, friendly and good-humoured nation. Patience and peacefulness of the Belarusian people have been determined by the nation’s history that has been darkened by endless wars the initiators of which were not the Belarusians. Belarus welcomes all visitors and is interested in sharing its culture, traditions and sense of community with them.
Ethnic Belarusians make up more than 80% of the population. But because of the history of Belarus, many other nationalities have also settled in the country, some of them have been living for several generations.
Here are the main minority groups that make up the people of Belarus:
Russians (8.2%) have always lived in the region, with a large influx into the country after the Second World War
Poles (3.1%) have lived in the western side of the country for centuries
Ukrainians (1.7%) – the largest influx came in the 18th and 19th centuries
Jews (0,13%): the first Jews settled in Belarus in the 15th century. But since the 1980s the Jewish population of Belarus was reduced by emigration to Israel and other states and now it is less than 30,000
Other significant minority groups in Belarus include Tatars, Romany, Lithuanians and Latvians.
Languages of Belarus
Belarusian and Russian are the official languages of Belarus.
Other languages such as Polish, Ukrainian and Hebrew are spoken by local communities.
Religions in Belarus
The most widespread religion in the republic is Christianity. In Belarus Christians profess Orthodoxy, Catholicism, Uniatism, Protestantism.Among the other most common religions: Judaism, Islam.
There are up to 25 religious confessions in Belarus, the number of religious communities amounts to more than 3.4 thousand (1 January, 2014).
Orthodox is the principal religion of Belarus.
There are over 1000 Orthodox churches and cloisters in Belarus, and its number is increasing every year.
Many of the most famous country’s monuments and architectural attractions reflect the Orthodox traditions.
Religious freedom and tolerance
In Belarus religious freedom is guaranteed by the Constitution. In the country the number of believers and the number of churches is increasing every year. The network of educational establishments is developing constantly where representatives of various faiths can get religious education. Among them there is the Institution of theology named after St. Cyril and Methodius of Belarusian State University is, where the rector is His Holiness Metropolitan Pavel. Students, practicing Orthodoxy, Catholicism and Uniatism, can get here theological education.
The government supports constructive initiatives of representatives of various faiths. Also state bodies are working to prevent activity of destructive religious sects.
Traditional crafts in Belarus
Belarus has a long and rich history of traditional arts and crafts, and many of which exist today. The main crafts are weaving, woodworking, pottery, straw.
Traditional folk dancing remains popular with a number of folk theaters around Belarus.
Music and art also play an important role in the national life of Belarus. National and international festivals are held regularly across the country. The best known of these is "The Slavyanskiy Bazar" in Vitebsk.
The national currency of the Republic of Belarus is Belarusian ruble. In circulation there are eight denominations of coins (1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 kopecks, and 1 and 2 rubles) and seven denominations of banknotes (5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 rubles). The most common currencies are US dollars, Euro and Russian rubles.
The reference service of public telephone networks: 109, the reference service of bus station: 114, the reference service of rail transport: 105, the reference service of air transport: 106, emergency: 103, police: 102, rescue service: 101. There are some city codes: Brest: 162, Vitebsk: 212, Gomel: 232, Grodno: 152, Minsk: 17, Mogilev: 222.
Tips for tourists
Most of shops in the country work from 09:00 -10:00 a.m. till 20:00 -21:00 p.m., supermarkets are usually open longer – until 22:00-23:00. Also there are small shops working around the clock.
Banks work from Monday till Friday from 09:00 - 09:30 a.m. till 17:00 -17:30 p.m. Currency can be exchanged in banks and exchange offices. Moreover, all currency exchange operations must be accompanied by the receipt a special form confirming the legality of the exchange (all exchange receipts must be retained until departure from the country).
International credit cards, including American Express, Visa, MasterCard, Cirrus, Electron, Eurocard and others, are accepted in big hotels, restaurants and supermarkets.
Usually tip makes 10% from an order. Doormen and porters usually wait the tip in an amount of $1-2. Using taxi, the sum is just rounded up, but to simplify calculations it is recommended to negotiate a fare.
The electricity voltage is 220 V, 50 Hz. Mostly plug sockets are 2-pin but in some new buildings there can be European plugs with three prongs. The system of weights and measures is metric.
Belarus is a wonderful country for tourism. There is no such conception as "off -season". You can enjoy a trip both in July and in February. From May till September there is warm weather for outdoor recreation, walks and excursions. Spring and autumn are favorable for hunt, fishing and sanatorium treatment. And in winter everyone can enjoy such activities as ski,snowboard and skates.