Belarus

Official name: Republic of Belarus

Area: 207,600 square kilometers (80,154 square miles)

Highest point on mainland : Dzerzhinskaya Mountain (346 meters / 1,135 feet)

Lowest point on land: Neman River (90 meters / 295 feet)

Hemispheres: Northern and Eastern

Time zone: 2 P.M. = noon GMT

Longest distances: 640 kilometers (400 miles) from southwest to northeast; 490 kilometers (310 miles) from north to south

Land boundaries : 3,098 kilometers (1,925 miles) total boundary length; Latvia, 141 kilometers (88 miles); Lithuania, 502 kilometers (312 miles); Poland, 605 kilometers (376 miles); Russia, 959 kilometers (596 miles); Ukraine, 891 kilometers (554 miles)

Coastline: None

Territorial sea limits: None

1 LOCATION AND SIZE

The Republic of Belarus is a landlocked country (does not have access to the sea) in east-central Europe, about 260 kilometers (161 miles) southeast of the Baltic Sea coastline. With a total area of 207,600 square kilometers (80,154 square miles), it is slightly smaller than the state of Texas.

2 TERRITORIES AND DEPENDENCIES

Belarus claims no territories or dependencies.

3 CLIMATE

The Belarusian climate is considered transitional between continental and maritime. Cool temperatures and high humidity predominate, with a moderating influence from the nearby Baltic Sea. Winter temperatures at times have dropped below -40°C (-40°F) in the north. Summer lasts up to 150 days, while winter ranges from 105 to 145 days. Precipitation ranges between 57 and 61 centimeters (22.5 and 26.5 inches) in an average year; the central region generally receives the highest amount. The popular claim in Belarus that it either rains or snows every two days is fairly accurate.

S EASON M ONTHS A VERAGE T EMPERATURE : °C ELSIUS (°F AHRENHEIT )
Summer May to August 19°C (67°F)
Winter December to March -5°C (23°F)

4 TOPOGRAPHIC REGIONS

Although its topography is chiefly flat to hilly, Belarus does have five distinct geographic regions. In the north is the Polotsk Lowland, an area of lakes, hills, and forests. The Neman Lowland in the northwest is similar. The Belorussian Ridge and smaller uplands separate these lowlands from each other and from the rest of the country. Plains and grasslands lie in the east and central part of the country. The Polesye Marshes dominate the south region, a vast swampy area that extends into Ukraine. Belarus has no natural geographic borders.

5 OCEANS AND SEAS

Belarus is landlocked and has no coast.

6 INLAND LAKES

Belarus has over four thousand lakes. Lakes Drisvyaty and Osveyskoye are near the northern border. The largest is Lake Naroch (Narach), covering 80 square kilometers (50 square miles) in the northwest.

7 RIVERS AND WATERFALLS

At 2,290 kilometers (1,420 miles), the Dnieper is the longest river in Belarus. It is the third-longest river in Europe; only the Volga and Danube Rivers are longer. Its main tributaries are the Berezina in the central region and the Pripyat in the south. The Pripyat and its tributaries are surrounded by the Polesye (or Pripyat) Marshes. The Bug River flows north along part of the border with Poland. The major rivers in the north of the country are the Western Dvina and the Neman Rivers.

8 DESERTS

Belarus has no desert area.

9 FLAT AND ROLLING TERRAIN

Aside from the highland of the Belorussian Ridge, most of the country is relatively flat (average elevation 162 meters/100 feet) and well watered. About 25 percent of Belarus is covered in peat bogs and marshes. The Pole-sye Marshes are poorly drained lowlands around the Pripyat River, with low hills that dominate the southern part of Belarus and northern Ukraine. Roughly 485 kilometers (300 miles) across from east to west and 225 kilometers (140 miles) from north to south, they represent the largest wetland in Europe.

Near the border with Poland, the Belavezhskaja Pushcha Nature Reserve protects the largest area of ancient forest in Europe, home to a free-ranging herd of European bison. There are large stands of birch trees across the country.

DID YOU KNOW?

Roughly 23 percent of Belarus's territory was contaminated by radioactivity when a reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power station in neighboring Ukraine exploded on April 26, 1986. The area affected was home to more than two million people.

10 MOUNTAINS AND VOLCANOES

Although its terrain is generally level, the Belorussian Ridge, a region of highlands, runs across the center of the country from the southwest to the northeast. The highest elevation is Dzerzhinskaya Mountain (Dzyarzhynskaya Hara; 346 meters/1,135 feet).

11 CANYONS AND CAVES

Belarus has no notable canyons or caves.

12 PLATEAUS AND MONOLITHS

There are no notable plateaus on Belarus.

13 MAN-MADE FEATURES

The Dnieper-Bug Canal connects the Bug River to the Pripyat-Dnieper system. Canals also link both the Western Dvina and the Neman with the Dnieper, helping to make it one of the main waterways linking the Black and the Baltic Seas.

14 FURTHER READING

Books

Zaprudnik, Jan. Belarus: At a Crossroads in History . Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1993.

Periodicals

Glover, Jeffrey. "Outlook for Belarus." Review and Outlook for the Former Soviet Union . Washington: PlanEcon, August 1995, pp. 89-104.

"In the Slav Shadowlands." Economist , 335, no. 7915, May 20, 1995, pp. 47-49.

Web Sites

Interesting WWW Sites in and around Belarus. http://www.ac.by/country/ (accessed May 2, 2003).

Virtual Guide to Belarus. http://www.belarusguide.com/main/index.html (accessed May 2, 2003).

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