Can you imagine that one of the most undiscovered countries in the world is located in the center of Europe? BelarusFeed made up a list of the most frequently asked questions about Belarus to dot the i’s and cross the t’s once and for all.
1. What is Belarus?
The most obvious and the most frequent question that may baffle or even make an experienced traveler laugh.
One might be interested to learn that the country inspired the names of a music band from Argentina, a brand of tractors and farm machinery, a train station, an asteroid, a brand of pianos and even a cat.
2. Is Belarus a country?
Apart from standard questions, some people are seriously concerned whether Belarus is an island, a sea, Russia or a monarchy.
First of all, yes, Belarus is a country. And God forbid you should call it a city or a part of Russia. It is a landlocked state with no sea or ocean, making it impossible to call Belarus an island.
Maybe we have no sea but we have a rich imagination, so don’t be surprised when your Belarusian friends invite you to the Minsk Sea.
3. Where is Belarus?
Where is Belarus in the world? Is Belarus in Europe? Where is Belarus located? And finally, ‘on what continent can you find Belarus?’
Perhaps all Belarusians heard those a bit annoying questions in different variations at least once when abroad.
On the other hand, we are not offended, looks like you really want to find us and get to know us. Let us help you with that.
The Republic of Belarus is located in Eastern Europe, and neighbors five states – Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, and Ukraine.
4. Is Belarus in the European Union?
Despite the fact that Belarus is a European state, it didn’t show any aspiration for joining the European Union (EU).
Nonetheless, the country maintains a rather strong bilateral relationship with the union and takes part in its projects.
5. Is Belarus a poor country?
Like any other country with a long and complicated history, Belarus had its economic ups and downs. Let’s stick to the facts and figures before jumping to conclusions whether Belarus is poor or wealthy.
The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita was last recorded BYN 77,364,900 (~$35,860,178) as to January-August 2018.
The unemployment rate in Belarus is 0.4%, a record low was reached in June 2018 and has been maintained to date.
6. How big is Belarus?
Belarus’ size – 208,000 km² – does matter. One may have a false impression that Belarus is a small country.
The more one will be surprised to know it is actually bigger than 32 countries in Europe. What is more, its regions can compare to the whole countries.
To back up our words with facts, Brest region is bigger than Slovenia and Montenegro combined. Vitebsk region (40,1 thousand km²) is only slightly smaller than Switzerland (41,3 thousand km²).
To cross the country from east to west, you will have to spend the whole day behind the wheel.
Let’s say you start your journey from Khotimsk, the most eastern point of Belarus, and head to Vysokoye, a town just a few kilometers from Poland’s border. The 741 km route will take you up to 9 hours to reach your destination.
While in Western Europe you would be able to cross four or even six counties on a 700+ km road trip.
7. How old is Belarus?
Well, it’s a tricky question. Belarusian cities were mentioned in historical chronicles earlier than even the official name ‘Belarus’ appeared. As a matter of fact, the Primary Chronicle that tells a history of Kievan Rus’ mentions Polotsk back in 862.
Polotsk grew in influence and was the dominant power on Belarusian territory in the 9th-12th centuries. Later, Belarusian lands made part of larger political formations – the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Russian empire.
Officially, the Republic of Belarus gained its name and independence after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Belarus under its current name is a pretty young country, this September it turned 27 years of age.
8. What was Belarus once part of?
As mentioned above, Belarusian lands were a part of the Kingdom of Lithuania, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, and the Russian Empire.
However, they weren’t referred to with the present-day name. In fact, White Ruthenia, Russia Alba, White Rus’ or White Russia were used for centuries to name territories, often quite distant from that of modern Belarus.
In the XX century, Belarus kept changing its name and rulers. The short-lived Belarus National Republic turned into the Soviet Socialist Republic of Byelorussia.
Then some of its lands were incorporated in the Soviet Russian and Lithuanian states before the country finally gained its independence in 1991.
9. Is Belarus an independent state?
Yes. Belarus is pursuing an independent domestic policy and a multidimensional policy approach. In the world where isolation is not an option, Belarus develops economic, political and cultural relations with states of various regions.
Belarus marks its Independence Day on 3 July. The holiday is celebrated on the day when Belarus’ capital was liberated from the Nazis.
The date still provokes public debate whether it is appropriate to consider 3 July Independence Day. Before the referendum of 1996, the key holiday of Belarusian statehood was marked on 27 July.
10. What is Belarus like?
Belarus is one of those countries that it is better to see and experience once than to hear about it one hundred times, especially since you can do that without getting a visa.
This year the country extended its visa-free time for foreigners to up to 30 days. And believe us, there are plenty of things to see and to do in Belarus for almost a month to keep you busy and entertained.