Belarus is situated in the centre of Europe and borders on 5 countries: Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania and Latvia.
Belarus occupies the area of 207,600 sq. m. Its population is 9,503,800 people.
The country has no seashore, yet Belarus is a significant trade and transport link between Europe and CIS countries.
Minsk, the capital of the Republic of Belarus, is located in the centre of the country. The first record of the city dates back to 1067. Over its history, Minsk was ruined and re-built dozens of times. The city suffered the most during World War II, when it was almost completely destroyed. Nowadays, Minsk is a modern European city, largest in the country. 1.8 mn. people currently resides in Minsk.
The city has excellent transport communications, including airport, large railway station, and several bus stations. There is also underground metro system and well-developed municipal transport network in Minsk.
Moderate continental climate of Belarus, forming under Atlantic air influence, is characterized by rainy cool summer, mild winter with frequent thaws, changeable weather in autumn and winter.
The average temperature varies, depending on the Belarusian regions. The average temperature in July ranges from +17°C in the north to +18.5°C in the south.
The average temperature in January ranges from -4.5°C in the south-west to -8°C in the north-east.
The most common religion in Belarus is Christianity. Belarusian Christians practice Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism, Greek Catholicism (Uniate Church), and Protestantism. Among other religions, the most popular are Judaism and Islam.
There are 25 religious denominations in Belarus. As of early 2010, over 3.1 thousand religious communities were established in Belarus.
Religious freedom in Belarus is guaranteed by the Belarusian Constitution.
The original Belarusian artistic culture has been developing for centuries. There existed national architectural and artistic schools. Many unique musical and literary compositions were created over the centuries. All masterpieces of the Belarusian art that remained to the present are under protection of the State. They are kept in collections of the largest Belarusian museums and collections of libraries. The classics of the Belarusian music and drama are demonstrated on stages in theatres and concert halls.
The Belarusian fine art is diverse in styles, orientations and genres. The most interesting works of the Belarusian painting and sculpture of different epochs can be seen in the national art museums.
The Belarusian National Art Museum has the largest collection of artistic works. It actively advocates the national art and regularly organizes exhibitions of works of the Belarusian painters.
Interesting collections of the Belarusian art are kept in Vitebsk Art Museum, Mogiliov Region Art Museum, Polotsk Art Gallery.
The modern Belarusian musical art aims at retaining the national traditions, while developing at the same time other styles and waves popular worldwide.
There are annual festivals held in Belarus, which introduce different waves and styles of musical arts: Belarusian Musical Autumn, Minsk Spring, Zolotoy Shlyager, Muzy Nesvizha Festival.
"Slavyanskiy bazaar in Vitebsk" International Art Festival has become a symbol of the Belarusian festival movement. Popular variety performers from different countries of the World take part in the Festival.
The Belarusian professional theatre developed from ancient folk rites, folk art of vagrant musicians, court troupes of the Belarusian magnates, amateur groups at the boundary of the 19th - 20th centuries. At present, there are 28 public theatres functioning in Belarus and a great number of amateur folk groups.
The most famous national theatre is the National Academic Big Opera & Ballet Theatre of the Republic of Belarus. Its stagings gained great success among both national and foreign spectators.
There are grand theatre festivals held in Belarus, which include Panorama in Minsk and Belaya Vezha in Brest.
Literature has played an important role in the Belarusian culture for centuries. The most famous Belarusian writers and poets are Simeon Polotskiy, Yanka Kupala, Yakub Kolas, Maksim Bogdanovich, Vasil Bykov, Vladimir Korotkevich.
The tragic history of the country influenced the Belarusian literature greatly, thus making the war topic to prevail for a long time.
The Belarusian National Library in Minsk possesses the biggest collection of printed media in the country, and the only institution to obtain by law a copy of each book being printed. The biggest collection of Russian books outside Russia is gathered here. In 2006, a new building of the National Library, having a unique diamond-shaped architectural design, was opened, now serving a benefit to the Belarusian national pride.
National holidays, other holidays and memorable days celebrated in the country
January 1 - New Year (day-off).
January 7 - Orthodox Christmas (day-off).
February 23 - Defender of the Fatherland and Belarusian Armed Forces Day. Although military people are the main heroes of the day, this day is considered to be the holiday for all men in Belarus.
March 8 - Women's Day (day-off). The holiday was established soon after the 1917 Revolution. In modern Belarus, March 8 is a Spring Holiday and the day all women are honoured.
March 15 - Constitution Day. The Belarusian Constitution was adopted on March 15, 1994.
April 2 - Belarusian-Russian Unity Day. On this day in 1996, the Presidents of Russia and Belarus Boris Yeltsin and Aleksandr Lukashenko signed the Belarus & Russia Commonwealth Agreement in Moscow. One year later, on April 2, 1997, the Belarusian-Russian Union Treaty was executed, which underlay the process of integration of the two states.
9th day following Orthodox Easter (day-off) - Commemoration Day (Radunitsa). It's a custom to go to cemeteries, clear up the graves of relatives and close friends.
May 1 - Labour Day (day-off). Labour Day is one of the popular holidays in Belarus. Many concerts and other entertaining events are held on this day. Many people celebrate it by going on picnics.
2nd Sunday of May - Day of the Belarusian National Emblem and Flag. This holiday is dedicated to the main symbols of the country which embody the ideas of national unity and are the major attributes of the Belarusian sovereignty and independence.
May 9 - Victory Day (day-off). The Victory Day commemorates the victory over fascism in the Great Patriotic War (World War II). This is one of most honourable dates because the Belarusians paid a high price for the victory - every third Belarusian died. War veterans enjoy special honour in Belarus. That is why Veterans' parades are the main festive events on the Victory Day. These parades are held all over the country.
July 3 - Independence Day (day-off). In Belarus, the Independence Day is the main public holiday. It is celebrated on the day of Minsk liberation from fascist aggressors in 1944. A festive parade is organized as the main holiday event. In Minsk, this parade is held on Pobediteley avenue. It serves as a reminder to the people that, suffering great loss, they have won the freedom of their country and demonstrates the achievements of the sovereign Belarus.
Along with the official holidays, ancient folk holidays remain popular in Belarus. One of them is Kupalye. It is celebrated over the night on July 6-7. The celebration involves traditional ceremonies, songs and dances. Fire-jumping and night swims are compulsory attributes of the holiday.
November 7 - October Revolution Day (day-off).
December 25- Catholic Christmas (day-off).
Currently, there are four cellular operators in the Republic of Belarus: three companies support GSM standard and one company supports NMT and CDMA-2000 standards. These companies are: VELCOM, MTS, BeST / life:), BelCel.
Telephony with most towns and cities worldwide is trouble-free and quite cheap. When calling abroad from a hotel or apartment, dial number «8», wait for a signal, then dial continuously number «10», country code, city code and subscriber's number. If there is no direct dial-up connection with a country, you can call a telephone operator at 171.
There are two types of public phones: phones of metallic colour can be used to make phone calls over the city or abroad with the help of a telephone operator using service telephone card; phones of blue colour can be used to make phone calls abroad without telephone operator's help. Phone cards can be found at post offices and newsstands.
How to dial a number when making:
a phone call in Minsk - direct subscriber's number
a long-distance call - «8» + city code + subscriber's number
an international call - «8» + «10» + country code + city code + subscriber's number
When calling Minsk from abroad: 375 (country code for Belarus) + 17 (city code for Minsk) + subscriber's number
To order long-distance and international phone calls, please dial 171.
PAID INQUIRY SERVICES
(calling from a hotel room)
Phone number Service
105 Railway information service
106 Airport information service
109 Information about phone numbers of apartments and companies, with complete or incomplete data provided
114 Bus ticket reservation
151 Railway ticket reservation
153 Information about dialing codes
167 Domestic services
169 Drug-store information service
175 Municipal service rates
188 Correct Time (answering machine)
190 Minsk City Information Centre (provides various information about Minsk)
191 Movies answering machine
192 Night Minsk: discos, clubs, stores (answering machine)
193 Pleasure and entertainment
195 Weather forecast (answering machine)
196 Fairy tales (answering machine)
The national currency of the Republic of Belarus is Belarusian ruble.
Only paper banknotes of the following denominations are currently in circulation: 50, 100, 500 BYR and large banknotes with valued 1000, 5000, 10000, 20000, 50000, 100000, 200000 Belarusian rubles.
Foreign nationals entering the Republic of Belarus are obliged to observe the Belarusian visa regulations.
Foreign nationals can enter and exit Belarus with valid passports or other interim documents with entry visas, if not stipulated otherwise by applicable conventions between Belarus and foreign states.
Entry visa issue is subject to consular fee, as specified by the Belarusian consular fee schedule.
All foreign visitors of Belarus are subject to mandatory registration. Foreign tourists staying at hotels are registered automatically; visitor's or business visa entrants staying at private apartments shall apply for registration with the Passport & Visa authority within 3 days.
Pursuant to the Belarusian laws, all foreign visitors or transit travelers shall obtain a medical insurance.
All check points at the Belarusian frontier, as well as airports and railway stations, have offices of the Belarusian State insurance companies, where foreign nationals can acquire a medical insurance policy. This procedure is quite simple, the price is low and depends on the length of stay - starting from 1 USD for 1-2 days' stay, 5 USD up to 10 days and up to 85 USD for a year stay.
The medical insurance can be obtained at any time with any insurance company, but, in any case, foreign nationals shall produce the medical insurance upon departure.
For tourists applying through a Belarusian travel agency, such agency will take care of the medical insurance itself. The medical insurance policy remains valid day and night throughout the entire insurance period.
PLACES OF INTEREST
Central Botanic Garden
2v, ul. Surganova, city of Minsk
Tel.: 017 284-1484
Troitskoye predmestye at the crossroad of ul. Bogdanovicha, Starovilenskaya and Kommunalnaya naberezhnaya
Minsk City Hall at the Liberty Square
The Isle of Tears memorial
The Victory Square
The Barrow of Glory
The Belarusian National Library
116 pr. Nezavisimosti, city of Minsk →
Tel.: 017 266-3737, 017 266-3706
DREAMLAND Recreation Park
80 ul. Orlovskaya, city of Minsk
Tel.: +375 (17) 290-8911
Loshitsa estate and park area
Mikhailovskiy Municipal Park
Yanka Kupala Park
Chelyuskintsev recreation park
Central Municipal Park
Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin Mary
9 Liberty Square, city of Minsk
Tel.: +375 (17) 226-6244
St. Simon and Helena Roman Catholic Church
15 ul. Sovetskaya, city of Minsk
Tel.: +375 (17) 200-4415
Kalvariyskaya Roman Catholic Church
ul. Kalvariyskaya, city of Minsk
Tel.: +375 (17) 204-6892
St. Apostles Peter and Paul Cathedral
4 ul. Rakovskaya, city of Minsk
Tel.: +375 (17) 226-7475
The Holy Spirit Cathedral
3 ul. Kirilla i Mefodiya, city of Minsk
Tel.: +375 (17) 227-6609
St. Mary Magdalene Church
42 ul. Kiseliova, city of Minsk
Tel.: +375 (17) 334-2352
The Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church (Troitskiy Zolotogorskiy St. Roch Cathedral)
44 pr. Nezavisimosti, city of Minsk
Tel.: +375 (17) 288-1297
Ref. to www.minskinfo.com