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Geographical position, climate

The Republic of Belarus (Belarus) is located in the eastern part of Europe. The territory of Belarus is 207.6 thousand square kilometres. It is a compact country. The longest distance, 650 km, is from West to East, and 560 km from North to South. By the size of its territory, the Republic occupies the 13th place among the European countries and the 6th among the CIS countries (following Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan). The Belarusian territory in Europe is slightly smaller than that of Great Britain and Romania, and more than 2.2 times bigger than Portugal and Hungary. On 01.01.2005, the population of Belarus constituted 9,9 millions  people. The country's population is 14 times smaller than in Russia, 5 times smaller than in Ukraine, but 1.3 times as big as that in the three Baltic states taken together, 2 times bigger than in Finland or Denmark, more than in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria or Sweden.

Representatives of more than 100 nationalities live in Belarus. The majority of the population is Belarusian, significant numbers of Russians, Poles, Ukrainians and other nationalities live in Belarus.

The highest point in Belarus is 346 meters. Averaging only 200 meters above sea level, the country is predominately gently rolling fields in the north and marshy lowlands in the south.  More than half the land is used for agriculture.  Some one-third is densely forested with large stands of spruce, pine, oak, and/or beech, everywhere interspersed with beautiful white/silver birch.

Belarus is located on the 53rd latitude roughly the same as Hamburg, Germany; Dublin, Ireland; and Edmonton, Canada.  The climate of Belarus is moderately continental with mild and humid winter, warm summer and wet autumn. It can be cold from October to April. The average temperature in January is from 4,4 C in the South-West to -8C in the North-east of the country. Frost can occur 6 to 7 months of the year.  Snow/ice can be expected from December to March, and occasionally into April. Winter days are short. Spring, summer, and fall bring long hours of welcome light. July is the warmest month. The average temperature of July is +18 C. The average vegetation period is 184-208 days. The climatic conditions in Belarus are favourable for growing staple grain crops, vegetables, fruit trees and bushes which are common for moderate climate zones of East Europe, especially for cultivating potatoes, grains, sugar beets, flax, annual grass and fodder root crops, vegetables, poultry, pork, beef, and dairy products.

There are more than 20 thousand rivers and streams in Belarus with the total length of 91 thousand kilometres, and about 11 thousand lakes, including 470 lakes with the area exceeding 0.5 km2 each. Naroch is the largest lake in Belarus (79.2 km2, the deepest point about 25 m). The most important river is the Dnepr, which flows well into Belarus from Russia, then south into Ukraine ultimately providing an all-important shipping channel between the Baltic and Black Seas.  Natural resources are timber and deposits of peat, granite, potassium salts, dolomite limestone, and chalk.