Top Ten Belarusian Attractions

Top Ten Belarusian Attractions

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       Belarus is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, bordered clockwise by Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania and Latvia. Its capital is Minsk; other major cities include Brest, Grodno (Hrodna), Gomel (Homiel), Mogilev (Mahilyow) and Vitebsk (Vitsebsk). Over 40% of its 207,600 square km (80,200 square mi) is forested, and its strongest economic sectors are agriculture and manufacturing. Until the 20th century, the lands of modern day Belarus belonged to several countries, including the Principality of Polotsk, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and the Russian Empire. As a result of the Russian Revolution, Belarus became a founding constituent republic of the Soviet Union and was renamed as the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic. The borders of Belarus took their modern shape in 1939 when lands that were part of the Second Polish Republic were incorporated into after the Soviet invasion of Poland. The nation and its territory were devastated in WWII, during which Belarus lost about a third of its population and more than half of its economic resources. The republic was redeveloped in the post-war years. In 1945 the Belorussian SSR became a founding member of the UN, along with the Soviet Union and the Ukrainian SSR. The parliament of the republic declared the sovereignty of Belarus on July 27, 1990, and during the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Belarus declared independence on August 25, 1991. Alexander Lukashenko has been the country’s president since 1994. Under his lead and despite objections from Western governments, Soviet-era policies, such as state ownership of the economy have been continued. According to some organizations and countries, elections have been unfair and political opponents have been violently suppressed. In 2000,Belarus and Russia signed a treaty for greater cooperation, with some hints of forming a Union State. Most of Belarus’s population of 9.49 million reside in the urban areas surrounding Minsk and other oblast (regional) capitals. More than 80% of the population are native Belarusians, with sizable minorities of Russians, Poles and Ukrainians. Since a referendum in 1995, the country has had two official languages: Belarusian and Russian. The Constitution of Belarus does not declare an official religion, although the primary religion in the country is Russian Orthodox Christianity. The second most popular, Roman Catholicism, has a much smaller following by comparison, but both Orthodox and Catholic Christmas and Easter are officially celebrated as national holidays. Belarus also has the highest Human Development Index among members of the Commonwealth of Independent States.

  1. Minsk
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    Minsk is the capital and largest city in Belarus, situated on the Svislach and Nemiga rivers. Minsk is also a headquarters of the Commonwealth of Independent States. As the national capital, Minsk has a special administrative status in Belarus and is also the administrative center of the Minsk Region (voblast). It has a population of 1,836,808 inhabitants (2009). The earliest references to Minsk date to the 11th century (1067), when it was a provincial city within the principality of Polotsk. In 1242, Minsk became a part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and received its town privileges in 1499. From 1569, it was a capital of the Minsk Voivodship in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. It was annexed by Russia in 1793, as a consequence of the Second Partition of Poland. From 1919–1991, Minsk was the capital of the Belorussian Soviet Socialist Republic.
    Links: Cities, Top Ten Libraries, Churches, Top Ten Obelisks, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minsk,
  2. Brest
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    Brest, formerly also Brest-on-the-Bug and Brest-Litovsk, is a city (population 310,800 in 2010) in Belarus at the border with Poland opposite the city of Terespol, where the Bug River and Mukhavets rivers meet. It is the capital city of the Brest voblast. Being situated on the main railway line connecting Berlin and Moscow, and an intercontinental highway (the European route E30), Brest became a principal border crossing since WWII in Soviet times. Today it links the European Union and the Commonwealth of Independent States. Because of the break-of-gauge at Brest, where the Russian broad gauge meets the European standard gauge, all passenger trains, coming from Poland, must have their bogies replaced here, to travel on across Belarus, and the freight must be transloaded from cars of one gauge to cars of another. Some of the land in the Brest rail yards remains contaminated as a result of the transshipment of radioactive materials here since Soviet days although cleanup operations have been taking place.
    Links: Churches, Sculptures, Top Ten Rocks/Stones, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brest,_Belarus,
  3. Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park
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    The Belovezhskaya Pushcha / Białowieża Forest, in Belarus and Poland, is an ancient woodland straddling the border between the two countries, located 70 km (43 mi) north of Brest (Belarus) and 62 km (39 mi) south-east of Białystok (Poland). It is one of the last and largest remaining parts of the immense primeval forest which once spread across the European Plain. This Biosphere Reserve lies in parts of the Brest Voblast (Kamianiec and Pruzhany districts) and Hrodna Voblast (Svislach district) in Belarus and on the Poland side near the town of Białowieża in the Podlaskie Voivodeship (190 km (120 mi) north-east of Warsaw). The border between the two countries runs through the forest, which serves as a crossing for hikers and cyclists. The forest is home to 800 wisent, the continent’s heaviest land animals.
    Links: National Parks, Top Ten Forests, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belovezhskaya_Pushcha_National_Park,
  4. Mir Castle Complex
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    The Mirsky Castle Complex is a site in Belarus located in the town of Mir in the Karelichy District of the Hrodna voblast, 29 km to the north-west from Nesvizh Castle. The construction of the castle began at the end of the 15th century, in the Gothic architecture style. Building of the castle was completed by Duke Ilinich in the early 16th century near village Mir (formerly of Minsk guberniya). Around 1568 the Mir Castle passed into the hands of Mikołaj Krzysztof “the Orphan” Radziwiłł, who finished building the castle in the Renaissance style. A three-storey palace was built along the eastern and northern walls of the castle. Plastered facades were decorated with limestone portals, plates, balconies and porches. After being abandoned for nearly a century and suffering severe damage during the Napoleonic period, the castle was restored at the end of the 19th century. During WWII, it came under the dominion of the Nazi occupying force and served as a ghetto for the local Jewish population.
    Links: Castles, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mir_Castle_Complex,
  5. Niasvizh Castle
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    Nesvizh Castle or Niasvizh Castle is a residential castle of the Radziwill family in Nesvizh in Belarus.
    Links: Castles, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niasvizh_Castle,
  6. Struve Geodetic Arc
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    The Struve Geodetic Arc is a chain of survey triangulations stretching from Hammerfest in Norway to the Black Sea, through ten countries and over 2,820 km, which yielded the first accurate measurement of a meridian. The chain was established and used by the German-born Russian scientist Friedrich Georg Wilhelm von Struve in the years 1816 to 1855 to establish the exact size and shape of the earth. At that time, the chain passed merely through two countries: Union of Sweden-Norway and the Russian Empire. The Arc’s first point is located in Tartu Observatory, where Struve conducted much of his research. In 2005, the chain was inscribed on the World Heritage List as a memorable ensemble of the chain made up of 34 commemorative plaques or built obelisks out of the original 265, main station points which are marked by drilled holes in rocks, iron crosses, cairns, others. Measurement of the triangulation chain comprises 258 main triangles and 265 geodetic vertices. The northernmost point is located near Hammerfest in Norway and the southernmost point near the Black Sea in Ukraine.
    Links: Top 100 Scientists, Top Ten Scientific Theories, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Struve_Geodetic_Arc,
  7. Links: Attractions, European Attractions, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belarus,