The Republic of Belarus is a European state (non-EU member). It is situated in the Eastern Europe on the watershed of the Baltic and Black Seas. The capital is the city of Minsk. Belarus borders on Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Russia and Ukraine. The territory of Belarus totals 207.6 thousand sq km. It stretches from west to east for 650 km and from north to south for 560 km.

The republic ranks thirteenth in size among the European states and fifth in population among the CIS countries. In comparison with other European countries, Belarus is slightly smaller than Great Britain and Rumania, 2.2 times as big as Portugal and Hungary and 5 times as big as the Netherlands and Switzerland.

Belarus consists of 6 regions: the Brest, Vitebsk, Gomel, Grodno, Minsk and Mogiliov regions, which include 118 political units called districts and the city of Minsk.

              

The distance between Minsk and the capitals of neighboring states is as follows:

Vilnius – 180 km
Riga – 470 km
Warsaw – 550 km
Kiev – 580 km
Moscow – 700 km

 Climate and Weather

Belarus has a moderate continental climate, with cool humid winters and warm summers.
Average temperatures vary across Belarus. In January, temperatures average from -8°C to -20°C. In July the average temperature is +17°C to +18.5°C.

Many parts of Belarus experience sub-zero temperatures for more than a third of the year.
Belarus also enjoys 75-125 days of snow each year, with falls ranging from 15 to 30cm.

Belarus People

The people of Belarus are a kind, friendly and good humoured nation. Belarus is welcoming to all visitors and interested in sharing its culture, traditions and sense of community with them.

Ethnic Belarusians make up more than 80% of the population.
The main minority groups that make up the people of Belarus are: Russians (11.4%), Poles (3.9%), Ukrainians (2.4%), Jews (0,3%). Other significant minority groups in Belarus include Tatars, Roma, Lithuanians and Letts.

Languages of Belarus
Belarusian and Russian are the official languages of Belarus.
Other languages such as Polish and Ukrainian are spoken within local communities.

Religions
Orthodox Christians (70%)
Catholics (15-20%)

Time
GMT + 2

Electricity
~ 220 V, 50 Hz, European socket (2-pins)

Minsk
Minsk city is the capital of Belarus. It is the political, economic, scientific and cultural centre of the country and the administrative centre of the Minsk region.

               

Minsk is the most economically developed city in Belarus. There are 1.8 million inhabitants in Minsk, and the population is constantly growing.

Minsk lies on a direct route between Warsaw and Moscow. Daily trains serve several major Eastern and Western cities, including Berlin, Paris, Kiev, Moscow, Prague, Riga, St. Petersburg, Vilnius, and Warsaw. Minsk has two airports. Minsk I is within the city limits and primarily serves smaller domestic flights. Minsk II is an easy 40-minute drive outside the city and serves international flights. The airlines that service Minsk are: Lufthansa, Austrian Air, LOT, Estonian Air, El Al, and Belavia.

All foreign citizens must be officially registered with the Office of State Registration of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Staying of foreign nationals in the Republic of Belarus is regulated by special Rules. Incompliance entails official reprimand or deportation.

Living in Minsk

Private rented accommodation in Minsk is relatively easy to find. The cost of 300 – 500 USD depends on comfort and location.

City Transport

Minsk has a well-developed network of public transportation that is inexpensive and reliable, although often crowded at rush hours. It operates from 6:00 a.m. to 1 a.m. In addition to a modern metro, the system includes buses, trolleybuses, and trams. Monthly and decade passes are available. Public transport tickets can be obtained from kiosks or transport conductors. Taxi services are available 24 hours a day, but require some Russian language to call the radio dispatcher or to give instructions to the driver. Fares should be metered or negotiated in advance. Tipping is not customary or expected.

                       

Money

The official currency of Belarus is the Belarusian ruble. Currency is issued in denominations ranging from 10 to 100,000 rubles. There are no coins. Money changing booths and kiosks are found on most major streets and in banks, larger restaurants, department stores, and markets. There is a growing number of ATM’s throughout Minsk. These accept Eurocard/Mastercard and VISA and a few will distribute foreign currency.