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INTRODUCING BELARUS
Local Name: Беларусь
Other Name(s): Белоруссия
Until it became independent in 1991, Belarus, formerly known as Belorussia or White Russia, was the smallest of the three Slavic republics included in the Soviet Union (the larger two being Russia and Ukraine). Landlocked country, Belarus is bordered by Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest, by Russia to the north and east, by Ukraine to the south, and by Poland to the west.

In area, it is roughly one-third the size of its southern neighbour, Ukraine. The very word Belarus should inspire visions of beauty and kindness, if it does not,then most likely you have not been there. Belarus has retained its mystery by remaining virtually closed and unexplored since the fall of Communism.

Little known, little understood, and even less travelled, Belarus is one of the few countries in the former Soviet Union where Lenin still stands and the Soviet symbol, the sickle and hammer, can be found in abundance. It is the only country that still uses KGB. Powerful forces in Belarus are guiding it forward and forcing it backward at the same time.

Despite, or perhaps because of, this, Belarus has become an intriguing place to travel. Belarus is filled with beautiful forests, lakes, rivers, and wildlife. In many places the history seems alive, and can almost be felt. Reminders of war, suffering, oppression and survival can be seen throughout the country. Churches, fortresses, and many other aspects of Belarusian culture have kept their traditional feel. Traditional crafts, dances, and opera have survived Soviet Imperialism and give travellers a sense of the inspiring culture that is native to Belarus. Its capital Minsk is worth a visit and has quite a lot to offer compared to cities such as Gomel.

When you travel to Belarus, be ready that in most of the cases people will speak only Russian or Belarusian. Unfortunately it has poor tourist infrastructure, lack of city guides and visitor information, the prices sometimes are exaggerated for hotel stay. But all this does not mean that you are not welcome. Capital city of Minsk has an excellent mass-transit system (spotless subway), wide prospects, and plenty of gregarious people to make any visitor feel welcome.