Geography of Belarus
Belarus is located between 23° and 33° east longitude and 51° and 56° north latitude. Has no access to the sea. In the north and east it borders on the Russian Federation, in the south with Ukraine, in the west with Poland, in the northwest with Lithuania, in the north with Latvia. Belarus is located in the forest zone. The surface is mostly flat, with many rivers, lakes and wetlands. A large area is occupied by forests and meadows, alternating with extensive cultivated fields. In the north there is a system of moraine ridges (Sventsyanskaya, Braslavskaya, etc.), between which marshy lowlands with areas of hills stretch (Nemanskaya, Narochano-Vileiskaya, Polotskaya, etc.). The Belarusian Ridge stretches from west to east, consisting of individual hills (Grodno, Volkovysk, Novogrudok, Minsk, Vitebsk, Orsha, etc.). To the southeast of the Belorussian Ridge there are periglacial plains.
There are few mountains in Belarus, their height, as a rule, is no more than 300 m. The highest point of the country is Mount Dzerzhinskaya (345 m above sea level).
The rivers of Belarus belong to the basin of the Black and Baltic Seas; the total length of rivers (more than 5 km long) is more than 51 thousand km. The longest rivers are the Dnieper (700 km across Belarus), Berezina (613 km), Pripyat (495 km), Sozh (493 km), Neman (459 km), Ptich (421 km). There are about 4 thousand lakes in the country, most of which are located in the north. The largest lakes are Naroch (area 79.6 km2), Osveyskoye (52.8 km2), Chervonoe (40.8 km2), Lukomskoye (37.7 km2), Drivyaty (36.1 km2).
Plains occupy a significant part of the territory of the republic and are located mainly in the south-east of the country. The largest plains in terms of territory are Orsha-Mogilev and Central Berezinsky.
Soils in Belarus are mostly soddy-podzolic (about 60% of land). In the western part of the country, soils close to brown forest soils, as well as gley-podzolic soils, are widespread; in the lowlands (primarily in Polesie) there are sod-marsh, marsh, and sandy sod-podzolic soils. More than one-third of the territory of Byelorussia is occupied by forests, and about one-fifth by meadows and pastures. Marsh and shrub vegetation accounts for less than 1/10, cultivated vegetation – 1/3 of the country’s territory. Coniferous species (mainly pine and spruce) make up almost 2/3 of the forest area.
The animal world combines representatives of broad-leaved forests, taiga and forest-steppe (roe deer, squirrel, spotted ground squirrel, steppe lark, etc.). Otter, mink, beaver are found near reservoirs; common waterfowl. The main game animals are fox, hare, marten, squirrel, otter, ermine. In the reserve “Belovezhskaya Pushcha” live bison, which are under state protection. Belarus as a whole is poor in minerals, with the exception of potash salts, the extraction of which the republic ranks third in the world. In the southern and southeastern parts of the country there are deposits of rock salt. There are deposits of oil, brown and coal, oil shale, iron ore, non-ferrous metal ores, dolomites, but the reserves of these minerals are relatively small. Deposits of clays and building stone are widespread. There are large deposits of peat.
According to bridgat, the climate of Belarus is temperate continental, humid. The average temperature in January is -4.2°С, the average temperature in July is +16.5°С. Annually falls 550-700 mm of precipitation.
Population of Belarus
Population density 47.9 people. per 1 km2. Population in the 1990s tended to decrease. In 1991 it was 10,198 thousand people, in 1992 – 10,235, in 1995 – 10,177, in 2001 – 9,951. natural population decline 4.9‰; infant mortality 9.1 pers. per 1000 newborns. The average life expectancy of the population in 2001 was 68.5 years, incl. men 62.8, women 74.5 years (2001).
At the beginning of 2002, there were 4666.4 thousand men and 5284.5 thousand women in Belarus. The urban population is 7031.1 thousand people, the rural population is 2918.8 thousand people. The retirement age for men is 60 and for women is 55. Per 1000 people aged 15 years and older as of 1999, 852 people had higher and secondary (complete and incomplete) education, incl. 140 people – higher, 712 people – secondary education (including incomplete higher and secondary vocational).
Representatives of 125 nationalities live in the republic. The main ethnic groups are Belarusians (81% of the population), Russians (11%), Poles (4%), Ukrainians (2%). There are also Tatars, Lithuanians, Latvians and representatives of other nationalities. Languages – Belarusian, Russian, as well as Polish, Ukrainian, Lithuanian (mainly in the border areas). All world religions have coexisted in Belarus for a long time. Now more than 80% of believers consider themselves Orthodox, 14% – Catholics, 2% – Protestants of various directions; the rest identify themselves as Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and followers of new religious movements. In 2002, there were 2830 religious communities of 26 nationalities in the republic. In the 1990s the number of religious denominations and communities has more than tripled.