Belarus is a picturesque country, which was previously part of Soviet Union. It achieved independence in 1990 and presently enjoys an annual economic growth of 6.4 percent.
The landscape of Belarus is relatively uneven and rivers like Neman, Pripyat and Dnepr provides it a total new dimension.
Throughout its history Belarus suffered a lot in the hands of the foreign rulers. In the 13th century Mongol invasions shattered the country completely. Later on it became part of Russia and then Soviet Union. In 1986 in a nuclear power plant disaster in Chernobyl Ukraine, environment of its southeastern provinces were deeply affected.
Though in present times it has undergone many changes and there has been gradual rise in employment opportunities, most of the population lives under the poverty line.
Belarus is a country of vivid contrast. Covering an area of approximately 202,600 square kilometres, it is surrounded by Ukraine in the south, Poland in the west, Russia in the north and east and Lithuania in the northwest. The major part of the country being a lowland, the place is scattered by big and small lakes and rivers, and also contains numerous stretches of marshy lands. The major rivers are the Dnepr, the Western Dniva, the Nieman and the Pripyat.
A considerably large part of Belarus is enveloped in forest. This region holds a great climatic and water conserving significance. The country is said to be landlocked. Glacial scouring has taken place due to the flatness of Belarusian terrain and also for its 11,000 lakes. The country is organically well gifted with extensive deposits of granite, limestone, chalk, sand, marl, clay and gravel. Production of natural gas and oil also takes place, though in small amount.
Dzyarzhynskaya Hara, 345 m is the highest point and Neman River, 90 m is its lowest. Soils like peat-boggy and turf-podzol sand are major here.
The climate varies from harsh winters to cool and damp summers. Average temperature in January varies between −8 °C and −2 °C. Average temperature in summer varies between 15 °C to 20 °C.
The Mir Castle
Belarus and the history of its land, to some extent, do not have a specific foundation, as the territories between the rivers Pripyat, Dnieper, Bug and Dvina were populated from the age unknown. However, the first evidence of Slavic tribes living there date back to the 6th century. These tribes lived in small communities located in forests or near rivers and lakes.
The tribes were believers of paganism. Since the entire region was more of a forest along with numerous lakes and rivers then, the main occupation of the tribes were fishing and hunting. Each tribe had their own chief heads and they strictly believed in family as a social institution. Christianity was taken by the Slavic states after the later half of 10th century after the people of Kiev tribe were baptised. In the history of Belarus the name of Euphrasinnia deserves mention since she had worked very hard in spreading the value of education among the country people.
The Varangians of Polatsk soon became a good influencer for this tribe. In the second half of the 10th century the Polatsk Principality was formed. Nevertheless, the Mongolian attack became a major blow that almost destroyed the country. This condition soon changed when the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, whose capital was Kreva, annexed Belarus. The people of this territory were a mixed group formed by Baltic and Belarusian populace. The close association between these two groups had resulted into the forming of the Great Lithuania Principality in the year 1230. This age is said to be the Golden Age in the history of Belarus.
With the progress of time the Grand Duchy was joined forces with the Grand Duke Yahaila, the King of Poland. This led to the formation of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the middle of 16th century.
A couple centuries later Belarus became a part of Russia. This continued till First World War after which the country was occupied Germans. Belarus at this period of time lost, gained and again re-lost its independence lost during the two World Wars and was named Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic (BSSR). During this time the country was seriously traumatised. Nevertheless, Belarus became a sovereign state in the last part of the 20th century.
The major trading partners of Belarus are Russia, Ukraine, Poland, and Germany. Formed in 1990, this young nation has developed a manufacturing industry that specializes in locomotive, agricultural, mining, textiles and consumer related products. 50 percent of the population works in service industry and 34.7 percent in the manufacturing industry. The GDP is 70.5 billion USD, with a present growth rate of 6.4 percent. At present the workforce comprises of 4.305 million people with an unemployment rate of only 2 percent. But still poverty is a major problem as 27 percent of the population is below the poverty line.
The political set up of Belarus is based upon a typical bicameral parliamentary system. It is a republic and governed by a President. He is the head of the executive branch of the government and appoints the members of the government headed by the Prime Minister. Prime Minister heads the cabinet and along with other members takes care of the foreign and domestic policies of the nation. The legislature comprises of a lower house, which contains 110 members and an upper house, containing 64 members. The House of Representatives possess the power to select the Prime Minister of Belarus, make constitutional amendments, call for a vote of confidence on the prime minister and make suggestions on the foreign and domestic policy of Belarus. Judiciary comprises of the Supreme Court and different specialized courts, such as the Constitutional Court, which deal with definite issued related to the constitution or business law. The judges are selected by the president and confirmed by the Council of the Republic.