Belarus is one of the European countries that we rarely hear about. It is a relatively small country that is surrounded by other Eastern European countries and that has seen many important events taking place in its territory over the years.
Belarus has some peculiar and interesting facts about it that are certainly worth it getting to know. From hidden treasures to potato recipes, this country also plays a crucial role in the environment. Do you want to know why? Then stick with us and let’s go on this knowledge journey together!
Here are 8 interesting facts about Belarus!
1. Belarus is a landlocked country.
There are few countries in the world that are completely landlocked, and Belarus is one of them. This country shares its borders with Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Ukraine, and Russia. Perhaps it is due to its proximity to the latter and the fact that both countries have the syllable “rus” on their names, many people think that Belarus is still a part of Russia.
Because Belarus shares its borders with 5 different countries, there’s no room for the ocean to grace the country with its magnificence. However, that doesn’t mean that Belarusians can’t have fun with water activities.
This country has several water bodies other than the ocean. Although it is pretty small — smaller than the U.S. state of Kansas —, Belarus has an impressive number of over 20,000 rivers and 11,000 lakes, a fun Belarus fact. These lakes and rivers were all formed many years ago due to the melting of an important glacier in the region.
2. It has a free higher education system.
There aren’t many countries across the globe offering free higher education for students. Most colleges and universities charge money, and a lot of it. Some European countries, like Sweden and Germany, offer full-time free higher education for all students.
Belarus, in turn, offers free higher education for all of the students that enroll in their state-owned higher education institutions, however, only 50% of the participants that perform better in their admission exams get to have free education.
3. Belarus is the land of potatoes!
Although there was a time that Ireland was completely dependent on potatoes and known as a land of potatoes, Belarus is the country where you’ll find the higher number of potato recipes in the world, an interesting fact about Belarus.
Because its popularity has grown and remained steady since the 19th century, potatoes are considered to be at the very core of Belarusian cuisine, with over 300 dishes containing potatoes in their recipes. On top of that, Belarusians are the people who consume most potatoes in the whole world, with an estimate of approximately 500 grams per head each day!
4. They have no natural mountains.
Belarus is pretty much flat all across its territory. The highest point in the country is only 346 meters long, and it’s a hill called Mount Dzyarzhynskaya.
Geographers say that Belarus is flat due to the large amount of glacial scouring on the land. This erosion caused by glacial action is also responsible for the elevated number of lakes and rivers that are found in the Belarusian territory.
However, tourists visiting Belarus will be surprised to find mountain-like elevations on a land that is technically supposed to be flat.
Mining industries are responsible for these so-called mountains in the European country: the elevations that are seen in Belarus aren’t natural, they’re spoil tips! Spoil tips are huge piles that are created by the accumulation of waste material that is removed during the mining process.
Visiting or climbing these “mountains” is strictly prohibited, though, a fun Belarus fact.
5. Locals rarely speak Belarusian.
Although census estimates show that Belarusians mainly speak their native language Belarusians, many locals claim that this information is not entirely true.
Why is that? Because there are two official languages spoken in Belarus: Belarusian and Russian. Belarus was part of the Russian empire for a long time and then it was part of the Soviet Union, thus it has been under Russian influence for a long time and, though Belarus gained independence after the Soviet Union dissolved, the population never really stopped speaking Russian.
However, locals say that they don’t speak the regular language spoken in Russia; they speak trasianka, a mix of Russian and Belarusian.
6. It is believed that there are hidden treasures in Belarus.
Due to its position as a neighbor to Russia — that is quite known for the many battles it has fought over the years —, Belarus was a battleground of sorts. Well-known names like Napoleon and the Radzivil family are believed to have buried some of their riches in Belarusian soil. An interesting fact about Belarus is that it is estimated that over a thousand treasures have been found in Belarus over the past two centuries.
Many people go treasure hunting in Belarus but all of them are unsuccessful in their scavenging hunts. It is a common belief that Napoleon’s barrel of gold is still hidden somewhere in this picturesque country but no one has any idea where it might be.
If you ever visit Belarus, you might want to purchase a metal detector and go treasure hunting!
7. This country has experienced quite a lot.
Belarus is a country that has seen lots of important events over the course of its existence, many of which were a consequence of its localization. Sitting in the middle of Russia and Poland, there were two major events that happened in Belarus’ history: World War II and Chernobyl.
During the war, Belarus was invaded by Soviets and by Nazi troops, who devastated the country’s infrastructure and also its population. It took Belarus many years until it was standing on its own feet again.
In 1986, Belarus was deeply affected by the explosion of the Chernobyl power plant in Soviet Ukraine. The chemical residuals that radiated from the power plant contaminated at least one-fourth of the country and 7 million people.
8. 40% of this country’s territory is covered by forest.
Do you remember that at the beginning of this text we mentioned that Belarus was crucial to the environment? Well, here’s the explanation!
Belarus holds a very privileged title as the ‘lungs of Europe’. About 40% of its 80,000 square miles long territory is covered by primeval forests, including the famous Białowieża Forest, which is known to be one of the oldest forests in the world, an interesting fact about Belarus.
Forests are considered to be the lungs of the planet because they absorb carbon dioxide and give us oxygen to breathe.
Belarus is a small country in Eastern Europe that doesn’t get enough credit for its historical background. Home to many important battles and to some of the world’s most well-known disasters, Belarus is also the only dictatorship left in Europe. This country has been ruled by the same person since it gained its independence from the Soviet Union.
However secretive it might be, Belarus is still a pretty interesting country that has managed to endure lots of hardships over the years. Though it is considered one of the poorest countries in Europe, it’s certainly worth it getting to know about Belarus and its extensive history.
I hope that this article on Belarus facts was helpful! If you are interested, visit the Country Facts Page!