They say that if someone wishes to get to the geographic centre of Europe one just has to buy a ticket to Minsk – capital of the Republic of Belarus/ Like many centuries ago , Belarus and its beautiful capital seem to remain the most convenient junction which has for centuries linked the Black and the Baltic Seas and the eastern lands with the western ones.
Various directories for businessman and tourists describe Belarus in a modest and simple manner: a state in the centre of Europe in the west of the East-European plain in the basin of upper reaches of the Dnieper and the Neman and the middle part of the Zapadnaya Dvina and the Western Boog (right bank), Middle and low parts of Pripyat. These above are the major rivers flowing across Belarus, whereas all in all there are 20,000 of them.
Belarus is also often called the land of lakes. Most of the lakes are scattered in the North of the Republic of the Belarusian Poozerey (lake district) and in the southern provinces which make part of the Belarussian Polessye (forest district). There are places where 10 percent of the surface is under lakes. This is true of the Ushachi and Braslav district of the Vitebsk Region.
Most of the lakes there are small but very deep, as a rule. They are permanently replenished by spring waters which is why the water in them is crystal-clear. Very often they are connected by creeks, canals and streams, which turn the blue sapphires of lakes into immense glistening beads.
But the real pearl of the Belarusian nature is Lake Naroch. Short canals connect it with lakes Myastro, Batorino, Beloye and others making this wonderful piece of Belarusian land gorgeously beautiful and attractive for tourists.
Belarus ’ terrain is chiefly plain. It rises 160 metres on an average above the sea level, mount Dzerzhiskaya, which is to the west of Minsk, being the highest point, and the Neman valley, near Grodno, being the lowest place, only 80-90 metres high. Over one-third of the Republic’s territory is forest-covered.
According to the statistics 28 species of trees and 80 species of shrubs grow here. In addition to traditional trees, such as pine, spruce, birch, oak, maple, asp, hornbeam, alder and others, “foreigners” like Siberian and European larch, northern oak, Amour velvet and Manchurian nut are all well settled on Belarusian soil.
However, coniferous forests are most widely spread in Belarus. They give high quality timber, unique raw materials for pharmaceutical and chemical industries as well as forest berries and plants which are rich in vitamins.
The pride of the Republic are its wildlife reserves and national parks, the biggest and the most widely known being the Belovezhskaya Puscha national park, the Berezina biospheric and the Pripyat water and terrain reserves. Memorial places like Viazynka and Levki associated with the life and work of the greate Belarusian poet Yanka Kupala, the Grodno memorial of history and archeology and other are very popular with tourists. The Polessye radiological and ecological reserve was set up on the territory affected by radiological contamination during the Chernobyl accident in April 1986. Over 15 percent of the Republic’s agricultural lands were put out of production, thousands of hectares of forests, hundreds of rivers and lakes were left without human care.