Belarus is a presidential republic, created after the dissolution of the USSR. The country is bordered to the south by Ukraine, to the west by Poland, to the northwest by Latvia and Lithuania and to the north and east by Russia. Belarus is administratively divided into 6 regions (voblasci) and the capital territory of Minsk.
The landscape of Belarus is flat and full of lakes and marshes. Only the central and north-western areas have low hills, called the Belarusian Ridge, which reaches near the capital Minsk the maximum height in the Dzjaržynskaja hill with 346 meters.
The Belarusian plains are crossed by numerous rivers. The most important rivers are the Dnieper and its tributary Pripyat. The country is covered by nearly 50% of its surface by forests. The territory of Belarus is dotted with numerous lakes and marshes, which are particularly common in the so-called Polesia, a marshy area in the south of the country on the border with Ukraine.
The country has no access to the sea. Belarus is rich in forest resources, while there are few mineral resources like peat, gypsum, natural gas and oil. As the climate is rather harsh, agriculture produces only flax, sugar beet and potatoes. The production is centred on mechanical, chemical, textiles and electronic industry for computers. Finally wood processing is important.
Until the twentieth century, the territory of Belarus was subject to the control of neighboring countries, including the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Poland, and Russia. With the birth of the Soviet Union, Belarus became a republic within the Soviet Union. In 1991 the country was made independent.
- Area: 207,600 sq km
- Population: 9,700,000: Belarusians (81%), Russians (11%), Poles (4%), Ukrainians (2%)
- State Capital: Minsk
- Official Languages: The official languages are Belarusian, the first language for 37% of the population, and Russian, the first language for 63% of the population.
- Religion: Orthodox Christians (80%), Catholics (10%).
- Currency: Belarusian ruble (BYR)
- Time: UTC+2, Summer Daylight Saving Time UTC+3.