Belarus

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Belarus is in Eastern Europe. It has borders with Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania and Latvia.

Population: 9,625,888 people
Area: 207,600 km2
Highest point: 346 m
Coastline: 0 km
Life expectancy: 71.81 years
GDP per capita: $15,900
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  • Metropolis over 100 hotels
  • Big city 50-100 hotels
  • Medium city 20-50 hotels
  • Small city 5-20 hotels
  • Village below 5 hotels

Points of Interest

  • Beach Beach
  • Business object Business object
  • Casino Casino
  • Civic property Civic property
  • Education Education
  • Entertainment Entertainment
  • Golf course Golf course
  • Green space Green space
  • Harbor Harbor
  • Historic site Historic site
  • Interesting place Interesting place
  • Medical Medical
  • Monument Monument
  • Museum Museum
  • Shopping Shopping
  • Skiing Skiing
  • Sports facility Sports facility
  • Theater Theater
  • Winery Winery

About Belarus

Background

Originally part of Kievan Rus, Belarus was part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth until the Polish Partitions in the 18th century. After over a hundred years of Russian rule followed by seven decades as a constituent republic of the USSR, Belarus attained its independence in 1991. However, under authoritarian rule, it has retained closer political and economic ties to Russia than any of the other former Soviet republics. Belarus and Russia signed a treaty on a two-state union on 8 December 1999, envisioning greater political and economic integration. Although Belarus agreed to a framework to carry out the accord, serious steps towards implementation have seen limited success. The economy is completely dependent on Russia, and the Belarusian government has taken a vitriolic, anti-Western stance. The country has not seen much structural reform in the past few years. Political and journalistic activity is tightly controlled. Even though Belarus was the most developed republic (excluding the three Baltic states) in the former USSR, Belarus remains as one of the poorest and most underdeveloped countries in Europe.

Belarus is a very safe country to travel in. The Belarusian people are not anti-anyone. They are hospitable, kind and interested in people from other countries and their stories.

Food

Potatoes, pork, beef, bread - in a nutshell.

If you are looking for a national gourmet meal - you are in the right place. Most of the products and ingredients are organic, and radiation levels are constantly checked in the food to avoid contamination.

Modern Belarusian cookery is based on old national traditions, which have undergone a long historical evolution. But the main methods of traditional Belarusian cuisine are carefully kept by the people. Common in Belarusian cuisine were dishes made with potatoes, which are called "the second bread". The Belarusians bring fame to their beloved potato in their verses, songs and dances. There are special potato cafes in the country where you can try various potato dishes. Potato is included in many salads and it is served together with mushrooms and/or meat; different pirazhki (patties) and baked puddings are made from it. The most popular among the Belarusians is traditional draniki (known as "latkes" to North Americans, but eaten only with sour cream, never apple sauce), thick pancakes prepared from shredded potatoes. The wide spread of potato dishes in Belarusian cuisine can be explained by natural climatic conditions of Belarus which are propitious for growing highly starched and tasty sorts of potatoes.

Meat and meat products, especially pork and salted pork fat, play a major role in the diet of Belarusians. One of the people's proverbs says: "There is no fish more tasty than tench, and there is no meat better than pork". Salted pork fat is used slightly smoked and seasoned with onions and garlic. Pyachysta is one of the traditional holiday dishes. This is boiled, stewed or roasted sucking pig, fowl or large chunks of pork or beef. Dishes prepared from meat are usually served together with potatoes or vegetables such as carrot, cabbage, black radish, peas, etc. It is characteristic that many vegetable and meat dishes are prepared in special stoneware pots.

Among dishes from fish, the Belarusians prefer yushka, galki and also baked or boiled river-fish without special seasonings. In general, the most common seasonings are onions, garlic, parsley, dill, caraway seeds and pepper; they are used very moderately in Belarusian cookery. The national dishes are hearty and tasty nonetheless. Among the fruit and vegetable choices are fresh, dried, salted and pickled mushrooms, and berries such as bilberry, wild strawberries, red whortleberry, raspberries, cranberries and some others. Of flour dishes, the most popular is zacirka. Pieces of specially prepared dough are boiled in water and then poured over with milk or garnished with salted pork fat. The Belarusians prefer to use whole milk, which affected some methods of making yoghurt and the so-called klinkovy cottage cheese. In Belarusian cuisine, milk is widely used for mixing in vegetable and flour dishes.

Signature dishes

  • Draniki
  • Potato babka
  • Knish
  • Pyachysta
  • Zacirka

Drinks

You can get soft drinks and (Czech) beer everywhere in Belarus.

Typical non-alcoholic drinks include Kefir, which is a sort of sour milk, similar to yogurt, Kvas and Kompot.

Vodka (harelka), bitter herbal nastoikas (especially Belavezhskaja) and sweet balsams are the most common alcoholic drinks.

Krambambula is a traditional medieval alcoholic drink which you can buy in most stores or order in a restaurant. It's a pretty strong drink but its taste is much softer than vodka.

Medovukha (or Myadukha) is a honey-based alcoholic beverage very similar to mead.

Sbiten is a combination of kvass (another common soft alcohol drink) with honey.

Berezavik or biarozavy sok is a birch tree juice which is collected in March from small holes in birch tree trunks with no harm to the plants themselves. There are several variations of this very refreshing alcohol-free drink, which is a good thirst-quencher in hot weather.

Shopping

Belarusian rubles are symbolised by the three letters BYR placed before the price with no intervening space.

Inside Belarus, you can get Belarusian rubles (but NOT always US dollars or euros) from automatic bank machines (ATMs) for standard types of credit/debit cards, and you can change US dollars and euros into Belarusian rubles and vice versa at many exchange kiosks in big railway stations and the centres of big cities. Converting Belarusian rubles back into hard currency shortly before departure or once you are outside of Belarus will probably be extremely difficult (except in Lithuania, Latvia, and Moldova, strangely enough). However, if you exchange all your rubles before leaving, any last-minute purchases (or fines for overstaying, customs, whatever) would have to be paid in US dollars or euros.

Be very careful: exchange kiosks will not exchange any bill that is damaged or marked on but with a commission of 1-2 per cent. About half of the bills you currently have in your wallet will be rejected for exchange in Belarus. Be sure to take only relatively new and undamaged foreign money with you.

Most larger supermarkets, stores and hotels have credit card terminals, but smaller shops often do not. Visa and MasterCard are accepted, while American Express is not.

Prices are typically much lower than in Western Europe, especially for supermarket food and service industry. However, hotels and restaurants are not cheaper than Western Europe (and often a lot more expensive than neighbouring Poland).

This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Belarus on Wikivoyage.

Cities in Belarus

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Minsk is the capital and biggest city of Belarus. It is situated on the Svislach and Niamiha rivers. From 1919-1991 it was the capital of the Byelorussian SSR. It is also the administrative centre of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). The city was destroyed in 80% during World War II and rebuilt in ... (read more)

Interesting places:

  • Cathedral of the Holy Spirit
  • Palace of the Republic
  • Museum of the Great Patriotic War
  • Church of Saints Simon and Helena
  • Gorky Park
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Vitebsk is the middle of Vitebsk Oblast in Belarus.

Interesting places:

  • The Annunciation Church
  • Memorial in Honor of Soviet Soldiers
  • Marc Chagall Museum
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Interesting places:

  • Lenin Square
  • Mogilev Museum of Art
  • Cathedral of Three Saints
  • Pechersk Lake Park
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Points of Interest in Belarus

  • Brest Fortress
  • Dudutki Open Air Museum - Near the sleepy, dusty village of Dudutki, is an open-air museum, where 19th-century Belarusian country life comes to life. If you only make one day trip from Minsk let this be the one. Traditional crafts, such as carpentry, pottery, handicraft-making and baking are on display in old-style wood-and-hay houses.

Cathedral of the Holy Spirit - Minsk

Palace of Rumyantsev-Paskevich - Gomel

Brest Fortress - Brest

New Castle - Grodna

The Annunciation Church - Vitebsk

Lenin Square - Mahilyow

Palace of the Republic - Minsk

Museum of the Great Patriotic War - Minsk

Church of Saints Simon and Helena - Minsk

Gorky Park - Minsk

Cathedral of Saint Virgin Mary - Minsk

National Academic Theatre of Yanka Kupala - Minsk

Victory Square - Minsk

Belarusian State University - Minsk

Island of Tears - Minsk

Drama Theatre - Grodna

Dinamo Stadium - Minsk

National Library of Belarus - Minsk

Yakub Kolas Square - Minsk

Art Gallery of G.H. Vashchanka - Gomel

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