Minsk, (SANA) - The Republic of Belarus is located in the heart of Europe, bordering Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania and Latvia. This location gives it strategic significance as it represents an important transport hub between Eastern and Western Europe.
Belarus has an area of 207,600 square kilometers and a population of 9.7 million. Its capital, Minsk, has a population of 2 millions.
Several ethnicities live in Belarus, with ethnic Belarusians making up around 80% of overall population which coexists in harmony as ethnicity and religion are never an issue in Belarusian society.
Belarus was formerly one of the republics of the USSR, known at the time as the Socialist Soviet Republic of Byelorussia. This name is composed of "Byelo" and "Russia" which caused confusion among some people due to the different translations of this name, as some documents refer to it as "Free Russia" or "White Russia" or even "Belarussia" while the correct and official name currently being used is Belarus.
Various theories exist regarding the etymology of Belarus. Some suggest that the name means "White Rus" in reference to the white clothing that was worn by the Slavic population or the country's snow-filled fields, while others suggest that the translation of "Free Russia" refers to the fact that it was the only area not conquered by the Tatars. Before 1267, the land not conquered by the Mongols was considered "White Rus."
Belarus is known for its cold winter and moderate summer, with snow covering nearly all its lands in winter while the summer sees occasional heavy rains. Despite this harsh climate, agriculture in Belarus is diverse, ranging from grains to fruit trees and vegetables.
Regarding industry, Belarus produces most of its industrial needs from home appliances like refrigerators, washing machines and televisions to heavy machinery such as tractors, cars and busses, in addition to electronics.
One of the most famous Belarusian products is the BelAZ truck; a heavy truck weighing hundreds of tons used for work in mines.
Despite being landlocked, Belarus has a captivating natural beauty, with thousands of lakes and hundreds of thousands of acres of forests, most of which are nature reserves, all of which makes it a destination for nature-loving tourists.
Belarusians are known for their scientific achievements since the days of the USSR. Modern Belarus is rife with high-level educational establishments such as the Belarusian State University, State Economic University, National Technical University, State Technological University, State Medical University, and the University of Culture and Arts.
Due to the long standing relations between Syria and Belarus since the USSR days, several Syrians pursued higher studies in Belarus and currently teach in its universities, which led to the emergence of a Syrian community in Russia that is active in the country's political and cultural life.
In politics, Belarus stands out among former USSR republics due to its inclination towards the East, as the country's relations with eastern countries blossomed. Its most notable relation in the Arab region and the Middle East is with Syria.