Belarus landscape with Orthodox Church of the Holy Trinity, Volna http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Volna_01_11_2009.JPG Ruslan Raviaka
Belarus is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe. Covering an area of 207,600 sq km (80,200 sq mi), it is bordered to the northeast by Russia, to the south by Ukraine, to the west by Poland and to the northwest by Lithuania and Latvia. The country has a population of 9.5 million people (2011 estimate). The capital and largest city is Minsk.
In 2010, Belarus has a nominal GDP of $52.9 billion and a per capita nominal GDP of $5,606. Its per capita GDP at purchasing power parity is $13,864. The official currency is the Belarusian ruble (BYR). The phone IDD code is +375. Cars drive on the right side of the road. Most people profess to Russian Orthodox Christianity, with the Roman Catholicism faith having the second most popular following.
Belarus ratified the World Heritage Convention on 12 October, 1988. As of August 2010, it has three Cultural World Heritage Sites and one Natural World Heritage Site. Belarus presently has submitted ten sites on the World Heritage Tentative List.
The name Belarus translates roughly as "White Rus", believed to be the name used to describe the part of former Ruthenian lands within the Grand Duchy of Lithuania which were populated by Christianized Slavs, as opposed to Black Ruthenia, populated by pagan Balts. During the Russian empire, the territory was called Belorussia, as the Russian tsars regard themselves as Tsar of All the Russias.
The Orthodox Church of Bobrujsk, Belarus http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bobrujsk_church2a_BY.jpg Paju
Orthodox church of Barysau, Belarus http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Orthodox_Church_in_Barysa%C5%AD.jpg griser
Until the 20th century, the area that forms present-day Belarus comprised parts of the Principality of Polotsk, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the Russian Empire, and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Following the Russian Revolution, Belarus became a constituent republic of the Soviet Union, known as Byelorussian SSR.
Belarus declared its independence on 25 August 1991 just as the Soviet Union was collapsing.
The name Belorussia was used until 1991, when the new independent republic was decreed to be known as Belarus.
Church of St George (Georgievskaya) in Minsk http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Georgievskaya_church_2000.jpg Ak1976
Planning your visit to Belarus
The only people who do not need a visa to visit Belarus are nationals of Armenia, Cuba, Georgia, Kazakhstan, North Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Poland, Russia, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Vietnam. Visa upon arrival is available to nationals of countries with no Belarusian consular offices.
Greek Orthodox Church of the Holy Trinity, Volna, Belarus http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Volna_church_01_11_2009.JPG Ruslan Raviaka
If you are flying to Belarus via a Russian airport, yoou need a Russian transit visa, to be obtained from your home country. As this can get you into bureaucratic entanglements, I would recommend that you fly through an airport in a Schlengen country.
International gateway to Belarus is through the Minsk National Airport (MSQ), located 42 km (26 mi) to the east of the capital. This airport gets flights from cities in Western Europe such as Frankfurt and Vienna.
Church of St George, Vyalikiya Kruhovichy, Belarus http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Belarus-Vyalikiya_Kruhovichy-Church_of_George-2.jpg Alex Zelenko
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