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  UN in Belarus > About Belarus

About Belarus

The Republic of Belarus (Belarus) is located in the Eastern part of Europe. In the West it borders on Poland, in the North - West - Lithuania, in the North - Latvia, in the North - East and East - Russia, in the South - Ukraine. Belarus is divided into six regions (oblast): Brest oblast, Vitebsk oblast, Gomel oblast, Grodno oblast, Minsk oblast and Mogilev oblast. The capital of Belarus is the city of Minsk, which is the biggest political, economic, scientific and cultural centre of the country. The population of Minsk is 1.729 million people.

The territory of Belarus is 207.6 thousand square kilometres. The longest distance, 650 km, is from the West to the East, and 560 km from the North to the South. By the size of its territory, Belarus is bigger than, for instance, the territory of Belgium, Portugal, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Greece, Austria.

The population of Belarus according to preliminary data of population census on 14 October 2009 constituted 9.489 thousand people. The country's population is twice as big as Finland's or Denmark's.

Representatives of more than 100 nationalities live in Belarus. The majority of the population is represented by the indigenous Belarusian nation constituting more than 3/4 of the entire population. Significant numbers of Russians, Poles, Ukrainians and other nationalities live in the Republic along with Belarusians.

The climate of Belarus is moderately continental with mild and humid winter, warm summer and rainy autumn. The average temperature in January is from - 4°C to - 8°C, in July it is from + 17°C to + 19°C. The climatic conditions are favourable for growing staple grain crops, vegetables, fruit trees and bushes and particularly for cultivating potatoes.

The terrain of Belarus is predominantly low hilly flat land. The average height above the sea level is 160 meters. Agricultural lands occupy 45% of the territory, forests account for 36% of the territory. There are more than 20 thousand rivers and creeks and about 11 thousand lakes in Belarus. The biggest lake is Naroch (about 80 square kilometres).

The plant kingdom .
The natural plant kingdom of Belarus occupies about 70% of the Republic's territory. There are about 12 thousand species of plants. The forests of Belarus are rich in valuable species of trees: pine tree, spruce, oak, birch tree, aspen, alder. More than 200 species of plants are protected by the State.

The animal kingdom of Belarus counts 457 species of vertebrates (including 73 species of mammals, 290 species of birds, about 60 species of fish) and more than 20 thousand invertebrates. Such game as fox, marten, hare, otter, ferret, ermine, elk and wild boar have a high economic value. More than 180 species of animals are protected by the State.

Environmental protection .
The main directions of the environment policy of the country are determined by the laws "On Environment Protection", "On Protection and Utilisation of the Animal Kingdom" and others. Belarus has acceded to the Convention on Biodiversity and has undertaken commitments to establish a system of protected areas and to actively participate in resolving the tasks of preserving biological diversity.

There are three National Parks in Belarus: "Belovezhskaya Pushcha", "Braslav Lakes" and "Narochansky".

Natural resources. About 30 kinds of mineral raw materials have been prospected in Belarus (more than 4 thousand deposits and fields of natural resources).

The most significant are potassium salts, the reserves of which in the country occupy one of the leading places in Europe. The reserves of rock salt are virtually inexhaustible.

The country is rich in rock products such as granites, dolomites and dolomite limestone, marl, chalk, fusible and refractory clay, loam, sand and gravel. There are vast reserves of peat. The deposits of oil are insignificant. There are more than 60 sources of mineral water on the territory of the Republic.

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