The Republic of Belarus - Республика Беларусь (5)

The Republic of Belarus is a small, beautiful country with the heroic past and difficult present. It is situated in Eastern Europe. The Republic borders on Russia, the Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania and Latvia. It has an area of 207,600 square kilometres and a population of more than 10 million. 77 per cent of the population constitute Belarusians, 64 per cent live in cities, the largest of which are Minsk (the capital), Gomel, Brest, Vitebsk, Grodno and Mogilev.

The climate in the republic is moderately continental, the breathing of the Baltic sea is constantly felt here.

At the beginning of the 20th century Belarus was a backward province of the Russian Empire - called the North-Western region. About 80 per cent of its population were illiterate. The Belarusians were not even regarded as a nation at that time. After the Revolution in 1917 Belarus was proclaimed the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic and soon became a member of the USSR.

During World War II Belarus suffered greatly. It lost more than half of its national wealth. The fascists killed every fourth person living there. But despite all this, Belarus has restored its cities, rebuilt its economy. Today Belarusian industry produces tractors, big lorries, automatic lines, computers, refrigerators, television sets, bicycles, watches, fertilizers and textiles.

Agriculture specializes in milk and meat production. The main crops cultivated here are potatoes, flax, grain, herbs and vegetables.

Belarus is a republic of well developed science and culture. There are 37 state higher educational establishments, the Academy of Sciences, about 400 professional schools. Secondary education is compulsory and free of charge in this country.

Nowadays the Republic of Belarus has become a sovereign independent state. The Declaration of State Sovereignty was adopted by its Supreme Soviet on July 27, 1990.