Information on Geography
Information on Geography
The Republic of Belarus is a country in eastern Europe. On the west Belarus adjoins Poland, while Lithuania lies to the northwest, Russia to the east and northeast and Ukraine to the south. Its borders have a total length of 2969 kilometres and run along areas of flat lands with no considerably large natural barriers. This facilitates the construction of transport ways and intensifies the development of economic relations. Belarus lies along one of the major routes in Eurasia and along the direct routes connecting central and eastern Russia with western Europe and the Baltic sea with the Black sea. The distance from the nation’s capital Minsk to the capitals of the neighbouring states is 215 km to Vilnius, 470 km to Riga, 580 km to Kiev, 700 km to Moscow and 1060 km to Berlin.
Belarus has a compact territory and covers an area of 207.6 square kilometres. It stretches over 650 km from west to east and over 560 km from north to south. It is 13th in size among the European countries and 6th among the CIS countries (after Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan). Belarus is a little smaller in size than Great Britain and Romania while it is 2.2 times larger than Portugal and Hungary. An estimated population by June, 1, 2001 was 9 972 people. Its population is 14 times smaller than that of Russia, 5 times smaller than in Ukraine, while its sum total is 1.3 times larger than in all three Baltic states, 2 times larger than in Finland and Denmark and it is more populous than Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria and Sweden. More than 100 nations live in the country. Ethnic Belorussians make up about ¾ of its population both in urban and rural areas. The remainder are Russians, Polish, Ukrainians and other nations.
Much of Belarus mainly consists of flat lands and hills; an average elevation is 160 metres. Its highest point is 345 metres. The flat surface area creates good conditions for living and facilitates farming as well as the construction of plants and factories, transport ways and communications, the organization and development of tourism and recreational facilities.
Belarus has a moderately continental climate with mild and humid winters, warm summers and damp autumns.
Average January temperatures range from –4°C in the southwest to –8°C in the northeast. Average temperatures in July range from +17 to +9°C. Annual rainfall ranges from 550 – 650 millimetres on the lowlands to 650 – 750 millimetres on the plains and highlands. Average vegetation period lasts 184 – 208 days.
Weather conditions in Belarus are good for growing such field crops as grain, vegetables, fruit-trees and bushes typical for the central zone of eastern Europe. They are ideal for growing potatoes, flax as well as annual grasses and root crops used for animal feeding.
About 30 different kinds of raw materials (over 4000 deposits of mineral resources) were explored in Belarus. Of special importance are potassium salts, the deposits of which are claimed to be among the largest in Europe. The reserves of rock salt are practically inexhaustible. The known reserves near Mozyr, David-Gorodok and Starobin that can supply the demands of industry are over 22 bln. tons.
The country is rich in non-ore materials: granite, dolomite, dolomite lime, marl and chalk, fusible and refractory clays, loams, sand and gravel materials. It also possesses raw materials for natural oil (swampy iron ore, ochre, glaukonite etc.)
Reserves of mineral water are widely spread in Belarus and serve as the basis for building health resorts as well as plants for manufacturing mineral and table water. 63 deposits are exploited with an estimate output at 15,5572 cubic metres per day.
The republic has a considerably large amount of building materials. Peat is abundant, but due to the intense exploitation of its reserves its deposits can no longer meet the demands of industry. Combined stocks of geological materials are estimated at 4.4 bln. tons. The amount of materials to be recovered currently is 600 mln. tons. All the rest lie within the areas of natural reserves or are within the areas of the national soil reserves.
Sapropels are also of large importance. Its deposits are estimated at 3 bln. cubic metres. A complex use of peat and sapropel is relevant for the economy. Oil deposits are of minor importance so its production is limited. The deposits of brown coals and shales are exploited but due to their high ash content and low calorie content they cannot be used in energy production. Brown coals can nevertheless be used in bricks in combination with peat as a utility fuel, as an intensifier of plant growth and in the manufacture of wax. On the whole the country’s own fuel and energy resources, including associated gas and firewood, can only supply about 12% of its demand.
There are prospects for ferrous and nonferrous metals on the territory of Belarus. Geological prospecting of amber deposits, titanium, rare-earth metals etc. is carried out. The supplies of mineral resources and raw materials can fully serve the long-term needs for potassium and common salt, lime and cement, refractory and ceramic clays, construction sand, gravel, facing stone. The subsoil of Belarus have not yet been exploited to the full. Rapid changes in the economic situation and the development of modern technologies require the reevaluation of the deposits and reserves of mineral resources to make full use of all the materials to be recovered.