The Republic of Belarus is located in the eastern part of Europe. It borders on Lithuania and Latvia in the north, on Ukraine in the south, on the Russian Federation in the east and on Poland in the west. The country occupies a strategic position between West and East, North and South. The distance from Minsk to Warsaw is 500 km, to Moscow is 700 km, to Berlin is 1,060 km, to Vienna is 1,300 km.
The territory of Belarus is 207.6 thousand square kilometers. The length from North to South is 560 km, and from East to West it is 650 km. The capital of the Republic of Belarus is Minsk. As of 2004 the population of Minsk was 1,749.7 thousand people.
The territory of Belarus is a watershed for basins of the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea. Altogether there are 20.8 thousand rivers to the total length of 90.6 sq. m. The Dniepr and its tributaries Pripyat, Beredina, Sozh, Nyoman and its tributary Viliya, the western Dvina are the largest rivers to the length of more than 500 km.
There are 10.8 thousand lakes in Belarus. The deepest, varied in outline and picturesque lakes are located in the Belarusian Poozerye (lake district). Lake Naroch is the largest inland water body in Belarus. Its surface area is 80 sq. km. There were also created 136 man-made reservoirs the largest of which is Vilejskoye comparable with Lake Naroch to the dimensions (79.2 sq. km).
The dominant soils in Belarus are sod-podzolic, peat-bog and alluvial soils. Water management is often required for the agricultural utilization of them.
The natural vegetative cover of Belarus occupies about 65% of the area. It is notable for the variety which is caused by the location of territory in a transitive strip from Eurasian aceros-forest to the European broadleaved-forest area. The natural vegetation is prevailed by forests which alternate with poiums and heliums. The major forest-forming species is pine. Pine forests occupy more than half of all the area covered by the forestry.
The diversified character of the vegetation is conformed with the country’s fauna. It is represented by the inhabitants of the mixed forests, boreal forest and moors. The representatives of the relict ancient fauna – aurochs (zubrs) – inhabit the leaf bearing and mixed forests as well.
By virtue of its geographical position Belarus is situated on intersection of the important Trans-European communication axes. Plain relief and absence of the expressed natural boundaries on the borders with the neighboring countries contributes to the creation of thoroughfares.
The shortest transport routes connecting Western and Eastern Europe with the Central and East regions of Russia on the one side and the coasts of the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea on the other side go by the territory of the country pass. The key thoroughfares are the following: Berlin – Brest – Minsk – Moscow as well as Helsinki – St. Petersburg – Vitebsk – Gomel – Kiev.
Belarus is divided into six regions with the centers in Minsk, Brest, Vitebsk, Gomel, Grodno and Mogilev. Each region is divided into districts, cities and towns and other area and administrative units. There are more than 1,000 cities and towns in Belarus including 12 cities with the population of more than 100 thousand people.
Belarusian climate is moderately continental with mild and humid winters and warm summers. The warmest time is between May and September; the monthly average air temperature during this period of time ranges from 13 to 19 degrees centigrade above zero. The warmest month is July, and the coldest one is January.
Average temperature in Minsk by Month:
Belarus is in the Central European Time Zone: GМТ+2 hours.
The national currency of the Republic of Belarus is Belarusian ruble. Only paper bills to the value of 5, 10. 20, 50, 100 rubles and large denominations to the value of 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000 and 100,000 Belarusian rubles are in circulation.
You can exchange currency for the Belarus rubles in branches of any banks or in currency exchange offices that can easily be found in all hotels, large stores and supermarkets. Branches of banks also render services for an exchange of travel-checks and credit card services.
Branches of banks’ business hours are 9 am to 6 pm seven days a week except for Sunday. Business hours of the currency exchange offices located in stores and supermarkets are in phase with the working time of the latter. At a railway station and in the stores operating day and night currency exchange offices also operate on a 24-hour basis.
It is not recommended to exchange currency at private persons as it is considered as the violation of the Belarusian legislation punished by withdrawal of the sums of money, besides under similar circumstances there are cases of swindle.
Recently paying by credit cards becomes more and more popular especially in Minsk and large cities. You can withdraw cash from ATMs installed in various city districts.
As of today there are three cellular telephone companies operating in Belarus: Two GSM companies and one NMT and CDMA-2000 company. The names of the companies: VELCOM and MTS; BelCel.
Telecommunication with the majority of the world cities is trouble-free and quite inexpensive. When calling abroad from a hotel or apartment one should dial “8”, wait for the beep and then without interruption dial “10”, the country code , the city code and the subscriber number. If automatic communication is not established one should make use of a telephone operator’s services by dialing “171”.
There are two kinds of pay phones: with the phones of metallic color one can make a call within the city as well as abroad via the operator by means of a service telephone card, and from pay phones of blue color it is possible to call abroad not resorting to the operator’s help. Phone cards are sold in post offices and news-stands.
Directions for dialing a phone number:
Across Minsk — subscriber number
Intercity — “8” + area code + subscriber number
International — “8 “ + “10” + country code + area code + subscriber number.
Directions for calling Belarus from abroad: 375 (Belarus code) + area code (17 for Minsk) + subscriber number.
Ordering intercity and international telephone calls — 171.
The information on area and country codes — 153.
102 — Militia (Police)
103 — Emergency Call service
104 — Coach Terminals
105 — Railway Terminal
106 — Airport
107 — Tourism information
167 — Information for Personal Service Establishments
169 — Drug Store information
199 — Phone Directory (toll)
The public transportation in Minsk is represented by buses, trams, trolley buses and the underground railroad. The municipal transportation starts work at 5.35 am and casts off at approximately 1 am. Travel passes can be purchased in news-stands or in a salon of a vehicle from the driver. Travel passes are uniform and valid for all types of transport except for the underground. At entrance one has to compost them at own discretion.
The underground’s operating hours are from 5.30 am until 1 am. Plastic tokens can be purchased at each station, one token entitles to one trip.
You can call one of the following phone numbers to order a taxi: 001, 007, 052, 057, 061, 081, 084. Fee for a trip is charged by the meter.
Food stores located in the largest cities at week-days operate from 8.00 am until 8.00 pm or 9.00 pm without a lunch break. First of all it is related to the supermarkets.
Variety stores and services points at week-days operate from 9.00 or 10.00 am until 7.00 pm or 8.00 pm.
In small towns stores are closed at 6.00 pm.
Belarus is a country with rich centuries-long culture. It is a country of castles and churches, palaces and parks, ancient treasures. A lot of cities have preserved medieval architecture.
In Belarus various festivals popular with tourists are held: festivals of medieval culture, Slavyansky Bazar, Days of Mark Shagal, Belorusskaya Muzykalnaya Osen (Belarusian Musical Fall), Minskaya Vesna (Minsk Spring) international musical festivals, chamber music festivals Muzy Nesviza (Nesvizh Muses), festivals of Belarusian song and poetry in Molodechno, festivals of ancient and modern music in Polotsk.
The country changed religion, accepted foreign culture and language but never changed its national identity. Belarusian people are very hospitable and capable of understanding and respecting foreign views. On each request for help you can see a cordial smile and wish to help.
The ultimate religion in Belarus is Orthodoxy represented by Christianity trends: Catholicism and Protestantism. There are also Muslim and Judaical communities, Eastern Catholic Church and various religious associations’ livings.
Today’s Minsk is the largest industrial and cultural center of the republic and an important transportation connection point. The population of the city reaches about 2 million people. There is the Academy of sciences, 14 higher educational establishments, 10 museums, 10 showrooms in Minsk where the exhibits discovering Belarusian people’s history are kept and exposed as well as treasures of culture and art, materials about lives and activities of the outstanding people.
There are 23 cinemas in Minsk. The largest and most beautiful cinemas are “Moscow” and “October”. Cinema “Pioneer” is available to young spectators. Apart from screenings exhibitions and discos are held in the cinemas.
Theaters, circus and philharmonic
There are 10 theaters, a circus and a philharmonic in Minsk. In the pinafore stage of the republic’s existence the theatre named after J. Kupala has been created. The State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre and the State Russian Drama Theatre are famous in the republic and abroad.
Parks, squares and the botanic garden
By the quantity of parks, squares, parkways, gardens and their condition one estimates the city’s coziness, hospitality and culture. There are 12 parks, 18 parkways, 126 squares and the botanic garden in Minsk.
January 1 — New Year’s Day
January 7 — Orthodox Christmas
March 8 — Women’s Day
May 1 — Labor Day
May 9 — Victory Day
July 3 — Independence Day of the Republic of Belarus
November 7 — October Revolution Day
December 25 — Catholic Christmas
All these days are days off when official institutions and the majority of the stores are closed.
Embassy of the Republic of Bulgaria
11 Svobody Square, 220030, Minsk
Tel: + 375 17 206-65-58
Fax: + 375 17 206-65-59
37 Karla Marxa St., Minsk 220030, Belarus
Tel: + 375 17 210-59-20
Fax: + 375 17 229-23-26
26 Zaharova St., 220034 Minsk, Belarus
Tel: + 375 17 213-37-52, 213-33-57, 284-42-17
Fax: + 375 17 284-87-14
Fax: + 375 17 262-97-99
Embassy of Italy
37 Karla Marxa St., Minsk 220030, Belarus
Tel: + 375 17 229-29-69, 229-20-01
Fax: + 375 17 234-30-46
Embassy of Latvia
6a Doroshevicha St., 220013 Minsk, Belarus
Tel: + 375 17 284-93-93, 284-74-75
Fax: + 375 17 284-73-34
Embassy of Lithuania
68 Zaharova St., 220088 Minsk, Belarus
Tel: + 375 17 285-24-48, 285-24-49
Fax: + 375 17 285-31-37
Republic of Moldova Embassy
2 Belorusskaya St., 220030 Minsk, Belarus
Tel: + 375 17 289-14-41, 289-11-17
Fax: + 375 17 289-11-47
Republic of Poland Embassy
6 Rumyantseva St., 220034 Minsk, Belarus
Tel: + 375 17 288-23-13, 288-21-14
Fax: + 375 17 236-49-92
Embassy of Romania
6 Moskvina LA, 220035 Minsk, Belarus
Tel: + 375 17 223-77-26, 223-80-97
Fax: + 375 17 210-40-85
Embassy of Latvia
168/133 Vostochnaya St., 220050 Minsk, Belarus
Tel: + 375 17 216-15-63
Fax: + 375 17 262-15-61
Embassy of the United States
46 Starovilenskaya St., 220002 Minsk, Belarus
Tel: + 375 17 210-12-83, 234-77-61
Fax: + 375 17 234-78-53
Embassy of France
11 Svobody Square, 220030 Minsk, Belarus
Tel: + 375 17 210-28-68
Fax: + 375 17 210-25-48
Embassy of Ukraine
51 Starovilenskaya St., 220002 Minsk, Belarus
Tel: + 375 17 283-19-90
Fax: + 375 17 283-19-80
Embassy of the Russian Federation
48 Starovilenskaya St., 220002 Minsk, Belarus
Tel: + 375 17 234-54-97, 234-63-56
Fax: + 375 17 250-36-64
Czech Republic Embassy
2/1 Muzykalny LA, Minsk 220030, Belarus
ТTel: + 375 17 226-52-43
Fax: + 375 17 211-01-37
Consulate General of the Republicof Poland in Grodno
48 Budennogo St., 230023 Grodno, Belarus
Tel: + 375 152 75-15-95, 75-15-90
Fax: + 375 152 75-15-87
Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Brest
34 Kujbysheva St., 224016 Brest, Belarus
Tel: + 375 162 17 22-20-71
Fax: + 375 162 17 20-38-29
Consulate General of the Russian Federation in Brest
19 Vorovskogo St., 224030 Brest, Belarus
Tel: + 375 162 25-56-70
Fax: + 375 162 22-24-73
Consulate General of Estonia in Minsk
6a Doroshevicha St., 220013 Minsk, Belarus
Tel: + 375 17 234-59-65
Consulate General of the Republic of Latvia in Vitebsk
27a B. Khmelnitskogo St., 210015 Vitebsk, Belarus
Tel: + 375 212 36-58-54
Fax: + 375 212 37-01-40
Consulate of Ukraine in Brest
1/16 Pushkinskaya St., 224000 Brest, Belarus
Tel: + 375 162 23-75-26