Belarus located in Eastern European land locked country. The smallest of the three Slavic republics included in the Soviet Union before to its independence in 1991 was Belarus, sometimes known as Belorussia or White Russia (the larger two being Russia and Ukraine).

Despite having a distinctive ethnic identity and language, Belarusians have only briefly experienced political unification and statehood in 1918. Thus, rather than being an isolated national story, Belarusian history is a study of regional influences, how they interact, and how they affect the Belarusian people. Because the area that is now Belarus was divided and transferred hands frequently, a large portion of Belarus’ history is intertwined with that of its neighbors.

Since gaining its independence, Belarus has maintained strong connections with Russia, its most powerful neighbor. The Union State Foundation Treaty, which was signed by the two nations in 1999 and sought to establish a politically linked confederation with a shared currency, was not obvious until well into the twenty-first century.Both the continued dominance of communist political parties and Belarus’ authoritarian form of government are signs of the legacy of its former Soviet Union. The huge contemporary metropolis of Minsk, which is Belarus’s capital and is situated in the country’s center and was nearly completely rebuilt after the war, is home to about one fifth of the country’s inhabitants.

Belarus’s physical geography

Belarus is a landlocked nation that is bordered to the northwest by Lithuania and Latvia, to the north and east by Russia, to the south and west by Ukraine, and to the northwest by Poland. Its size is around one-third that of Ukraine, its southern neighbor.

Belarus

Relief

Between 2,600,000 and 11,700 years ago, during the Pleistocene Epoch, glaciers significantly influenced Belarus’ landscape. A large portion of the nation is made up of flat lowlands that are divided by low-lying hills and uplands. More than half of Belarus’ surface area is below 660 feet (200 meters), while the country’s highest point, Dzyarzhynskaya Hill, is barely 1,135 feet (346 meters) above sea level.

The Valday glacier, the last advance of Pleistocene ice in eastern Europe, left ridges of glacial morainic material that formed the higher areas. The Belarusian Ridge, which is the longest of the ridges, stretches northeast from the Polish border on the southwest to north of Minsk, where it widens into the Minsk Upland before turning east to connect with the Smolensk-Moscow Upland.

The Ashmyany Upland, which runs parallel to the main Belarusian Ridge and is composed of terminal moraines from the same glacial epoch, is located in neighboring Lithuania between Minsk and Vilnius.

Its ridges’ tops are often flat or moderately rolling, covered in light sand podzolic soil, and mostly free of the original forest growth.Wide, swampy, poorly drained lowlands with numerous tiny lakes are located between the morainic mountains. Two wide plains may be found to the north of the main line of morainic hills: the Polatsk Lowland is in the north of the republic, and the Neman (Belarusian: Nyoman) Lowland is in the northwest corner, close to Hrodna.

Belarus

The vast and remarkably flat Central Byarezina Plain, which is located south of the Belarusian Ridge, slowly dips southward until blending imperceptibly with the even larger Pripet Marshes (Belarusian: Palyessye, “Woodlands”). The Pripet Marshes are a swampy region that extends into Ukraine and is located in the basin of the Pripet (Belarusian: Prypyats’) River, a major tributary of the Dnieper (Belarusian: Dnyapro).Outwash sands and gravels that were left behind by the meltwaters of the most recent Pleistocene glacial fill the trough. The Pripet Marshes are among the biggest wetlands in Europe because of the little fluctuation in relief.

Drainage

Belarus includes more than 10,000 lakes, over 20,000 streams, and a total length of roughly 56,300 miles (90,600 km). The majority of the republic is contained within the basins of the Byarezina, Pripet, and Sozh, which are the Dnieper’s two main tributaries and flow through Belarus from north to south on their route to the Black Sea. The Western Dvina (Dzvina) River, which also carries the Neman (Nyoman) in the west, drains the Polatsk Lowland in the north into the Baltic Sea.

The Mukhavyets, a tributary of the Bug (Buh) River, which forms part of Belarus’ border with Poland and empties into the Baltic Sea, drains the extreme southwest corner of the country. A ship canal connects the cities of Pripet and Mukhavyets, joining the Baltic and Black seas. Between late December and early March, the rivers are typically frozen, with the following two months seeing their highest flow. Lakes like Narach, Osveyskoye, and Drysvyaty are among the biggest.

Soils

Podzolic soils make up almost three-fifths of Belarus. These soils, which are primarily clay loams developed on loess subsoils on the uplands, can be productive when fertilized. The marshy clays of the plains and lowlands, which have a high humus content and can be quite fruitful when drained, are predominantly sandy podzols of low fertility, interspersed with them.

Climate

The chilly continental climate of Belarus is mitigated by tidal effects from the Atlantic Ocean. However, thaw days are frequent; as a result, the number of days without frost reduces from more than 170 in the southwest to 130 in the northeast. On average, January temperatures range from the mid-20s F (about 4 °C) in the southwest to the upper teens F (approximately 8 °C) in the northeast.

Maximum July temperatures often range from the mid-60s F (about 18 °C). The amount of rainfall varies from around 21 inches (530 mm) in the lowlands to about 28 inches (700 mm) on the higher morainic ridges. It is moderate, though higher than over most of the huge Russian Plain of eastern Europe. Rainfall is at its highest from June through August.

 Belarus

 Life of plant and animal

The country’s native vegetation is a mixed forest of conifers and deciduous trees. Conifers, such as pine and spruce, tend to predominate in the north, while deciduous trees, such as oak and hornbeam, become more prevalent as you move south. Birches are widespread, particularly in regions that have been burned or otherwise disturbed. The majority of the original forest was cleared for agricultural purposes throughout the decades, especially the deciduous trees that favor better soils.

In particular, by the late 16th century, the upland woodland had been largely cleared.With an area of more than 460 square miles (1,200 square km), the Belovezhskaya (Belarusian: Byelavyezhskaya) Forest on the western border with Poland (into which it extends) is one of the largest remaining remnants of prehistoric mixed forest in Europe. In 1992, UNESCO declared the forest’s Belarusian section to be a World Heritage site.

It was turned into a nature reserve (and eventually a national park) on both sides of the border after being preserved for centuries as the exclusive hunting woodland of the Polish monarchs and later the Russian tsars.Here, trees that have reached remarkable heights still dominate the lush forest vegetation that once blanketed much of Europe. The European bison, or wisent, which had gone extinct in the wild after World War I but was brought back through captive breeding, makes its main home in the forest.

Along with small game, hares, squirrels, foxes, badgers, martens, and beavers along the rivers, one can also find elk, deer, and boars in those and other Belarusian forests. In addition to grouse, partridge, woodcocks, snipes, and ducks, several of the rivers have abundant fish populations.

Numerous immediate and long-term effects of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant catastrophe in Ukraine in April 1986 were felt by Belarus’ environment, which received the majority of the fallout. A fifth of Belarus’s territory remained still radioactively contaminated at the beginning of the twenty-first century. In addition to the harm to the land, the catastrophe had medical and psychological implications that included an increase in thyroid cancer and birth deformities as well as a decline in the birth rate, at least in part because of fears about such problems.

Environmental activists have also voiced their concerns about Minsk and other big cities’ poor air quality and pollution.

border tense issue on 18 august with lithuanian

On August 18, the Lithuanian authorities closed the Tverecius / Vidzy and Sumskas / Losha border crossings with Belarus.  Lavoriskes/Kotlova, Medininkai/Kamenny, Raigardas/Privalka, and Salcininkai/Beniakoni are the four border crossings that are open at the moment.

  The governments of Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia have said that additional border crossing closures with Belarus are conceivable.

Taking action

Travelers are advised not to go to Belarus due to the continued facilitation of Russia’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine by Belarusian authorities, the expansion of Russian military forces there, the arbitrary application of local laws, the possibility of civil unrest, the risk of detention, and the Embassy’s limited ability to help American citizens who are already there or intend to go there.

Americans residing in Belarus should leave right away.  Think about flying out or using one of the remaining border crossings with Lithuania and Latvia.  Americans are not allowed to go from Belarus to Poland via land.  Do not visit Ukraine or Russia.

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