Welcome to Belarus »
Minsk, the Republic's capital, is the biggest city in the country; its population constitutes about 24% of the urban inhabitants (more than 1.8 million people). The territory is 255.8 km2. Administratively, it is divided into 9 city districts and has one city council with jurisdiction over some villages and urbanized settlement.
Minsk today is a clean manageable city of beautiful well-kept parks, wide streets, both pre-war European and post-war Soviet architecture. Being the political, economic, cultural, and social centre of Belarus, Minsk is also the administrative capital of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). The city supports an efficient underground metro system; respected academic and cultural institutes of higher learning; a modern sports stadium; tranquil botanical gardens; and innumerable museums, theatres, and arenas. Minsk is replete with outstanding, yet inexpensive opportunities for the performing arts, including top-notch opera, ballet, music, theatre, folk music and dance, and even a year-round circus. A year round indoor circus located near the centre of town hosts many travelling troupes. Art and photographic exhibitions are frequent and varied. Weeping willows and white birch colour the city landscape.
Gorky Park in the city centre offers amusement rides, an open-air theatre, a children’s play area, a Planetarium, billiards, live bands and side-walk stands selling soft drinks, cold beer, snacks, and freshly grilled shashlick (shish-kabob).
Beautiful botanical gardens offer a tranquil daytime respite. A nearby amusement park has rides and good fun activities for all ages.
Dance clubs, bars, and casinos abound. New restaurants are opened with some frequency throughout the city. There is an expanding variety of ethnic cuisines, including Chinese, Mexican, Georgian, Indian, Uzbek, Italian, Spanish, and even a couple of places to get a good steak or some sushi. The many sidewalk cafes are pleasant places for a meal or drink during the good weather seasons.
Two main streets, Prospekt Skoryny and Prospekt Masherov, divide the city and are home to a majority of hotels, stores, and restaurants. Government buildings, universities, musical venues, etc., are centrally located and easy to access. There is little crime and little traffic. The pace is unhurried, like the Svisloch River running through it.
The first mention of Minsk in the chronicles (under the name of Mensk or Menesk) dates back to 1067. However, as with the country that surrounds it, the city’s history reflects past disasters. Minsk was once a prosperous trading centre at the crossroads of Russia, Poland, Lithuania, and Ukraine. But for centuries it was also the site of fighting and occupation, tugged in politics, culture, and at times, allegiance by these same countries. It is one of the “hero cities” of the Great Patriotic War (World War II), but the price for such acclaim was high. The city was virtually destroyed and one-third of its citizens killed, including most of the once-sizable Jewish population. With notable exceptions the buildings in the city now are post-war construction. A few historic buildings and monuments remain. The Trinity Embankment (Old Town) along the Svisloch River has been reconstructed in the 17th-18th century styles.
Minsk occupies the first place among the regions of Belarus by industrial production. There function about 300 industrial enterprises. Its share in the Republic's industry is more than 22%. The industrial complex of the city possesses a high export potential, at a number of companies up to 80% of output is exported.
Located at the crossroads of the strategic way from west to east, between Moscow and Warsaw, Vilnius and Kiev, Minsk is a major transport junction of the Republic. The national air company, air companies of the CIS and Western countries conduct passenger and freight transportation through Minsk-1 (in town) and Minsk-2 (42 km out of town) airports. In the suburb of the capital functions the freight airport "Machulishchi" designed to receive super-heavy transportation aircrafts.
Minsk has a well-developed network of public transportation that is inexpensive and reliable, although often crowded. It operates from 5:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. In addition to a modern subway, the system includes buses, trolley buses, and trams. Most areas of the city can be accessed with public transportation, as can the connecting links to other parts of Belarus or neighbouring countries. Taxi services are available 24 hours a day.
The planned modernization of the existing and the construction of new Brest-Minsk-Moscow and Baltic states-Minsk-Ukraine European transport corridors is the basis for the development of Minsk transport junction and a major potential of the city development. Thanks to this development Minsk may become an efficient integrating link of co-operation between countries of Western and Central Europe and CIS in most diverse lines.
There are 34 higher educational establishments in Minsk, including 13 non-state establishments (about 130 thousand students), 28 secondary special establishments (more than 30 thousand students), 245 general education schools (more than 260 thousand pupils), and more than 500 infant schools.
Minsk is a major scientific centre of Belarus, there are 164 scientific and research institutions, including the National Academy of Sciences.
Minsk is a major cultural centre of Belarus. There function 16 museums, 11 theatres, 20 cinema halls, 139 libraries, 36 palaces of culture, more than 3 thousand sports structures. About 300 journals and more than 700 newspapers are published there.
Twin cities of Minsk: Nottingham, UK; Sendai in Japan; Lyon in France; Luanda in Angola; Merids in Mexico, Bangalore in India.
Other greatest cities of Belarus: Gomel (505.000), Vitebsk (365.000), Moghilev (370.000), Grodno (306.000), Brest (300.000).