The Belarusian capital Minsk is an old town. The chroniclers first mentioned it in 1067. When World War II started it took patriots 1100 long days to clear Minsk of the fascist invaders. Neither numerous executions nor terror practiced by the vandals could get the heroes to surrender. For the exceptional courage and valour displayed by Minsk people in their struggle against Hitler aggressors the city was conferred upon the honourary title of "Hero-City".
Today's Minsk strikes a visitor with singularity and unity of the architectural design and favorable lay-out. Its streets are tidy and green with trees. Minsk id a big industrial, scientific and cultural center. Its factories produce trucks, tractors, machinery, instruments, electronic computers, watches, cameras, etc. The Belarusian Academy of Sciences and more than fifty branch research institutes can be found in Minsk. The major educational establishments train skilled specialists not only for the republic's and country's needs. Many young people come to Minsk from different countries to study for degrees in various fields of knoledge. Minsk treatres, dance and song companies are well known all over the country.
At present 1.800.000 people live in Minsk. The second largest city is Gomel and the third is Vitebsk. All in all there are 97 major towns in Belarus, of which ten have the population of more than 100.000 people.