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An Illustrated Description of the Russian Empire,
    1855, by Robert Sears, p.129-130:


WESTERN RUSSIA—VOLHYNIA—MINSK.

    The government of Minsk lies between the fifty-first and fifty-sixth degrees of north latitude, and the twenty-fifth and thirty-first degrees of east longitude, bounded north and northeast by the government of Yitepsk, east by Moghilev and Tchernigov, south by Kiev and Yolhynia, and west by Grodno and Wilna. In shape it bears a considerable resemblance to an isosceles triangle, with its vertex in the north, and its base resting on the south: its greatest length from north to south is two hundred and ninety miles, and its average breadth one hundred and fifty, comprising an area of about thirty-seven thousand square miles.

    This government, though generally flat, is traversed in the north by part of the great dorsal ridge which forms the water-shed between the basins of the Baltic and the Black sea. To the former basin the northern portion sends its waters by the Duna (which, besides forming the northern boundary of the government, receives the Desna from within it), and by the Niemen or Memel, which, together with its affluent the Vilia, rises in the government. To the latter basin the southern portion sends its waters by the Dnieper, which, besides bounding the government on the southeast, receives from it the Berezina and the Pripet, each augmented by numerous tributaries. In this southern portion large marshy tracts extend on both banks of the Pripet, and in spring are generally under water, giving the whole country the appearance of one vast lake. In such circumstances, anything like a regular system of agriculture is altogether impracticable. Where the surface is more elevated, and less exposed to inundation, it is to a great extent covered with sand, or with a poor, sandy soil, it being only in particular patches that a fertile loam occurs. Barley and oats are grown in far greater quantity than might be expected in the circumstances, and fully equal to the consumption. Hemp and flax are also raised in considerable quantities, and hops and tobacco occasionally.

    The chief wealth of the country is in its forests, which occupy a large part of the surface, and, where the ground is dry, yield excellent timber. A great proportion of the inhabitants are employed in felling it, and preparing it for market. Neither manufactures nor trade have made much progress. The former are in a great measure confined to linen-weaving; the latter consists chiefly of wood, mats, potash, meal, hemp, flax, honey, wax, and some horses and horned cattle.

    The inhabitants are mostly Rusniaks, of the orthodox or united Greek church, but Roman Catholicism is generally professed by the higher classes. The women are handsome, and appear on the sabbath decked out in all their finery. The Jews in this province number about one hundred thousand. For administrative purposes, Minsk is divided into ten districts or circles—Minsk, the capital, Wilnika, Desna, Borisov, Igumen, Bobrowisk, Slutsk, Pinsk, Mozyr, and Retschitza.

    Minsk, the capital of the above government, is situated on the Svislotsch, four hundred and thirty miles southwest of St. Petersburg. It is irregularly built, with narrow and dirty streets. The houses are generally mean, and of wood, but some fine edifices occur among the palaces of the nobility. It is the see of a Greek archbishop and of a Roman catholic bishop, and contains two castles, several Greek and catholic churches, a Greek monastery, a synagogue, and a gymnasium. It has manufactures of woollen cloth, hats, and leather, and considerable trade. Its population is fifteen thousand. Under the Poles, Minsk was the capital of the palatinate of the same name.

    The population of Minsk, which was stated to be 15,000 in 1855, had grown to 27,000 by 1860.
    The population of Minsk in 2009 is 1,830,700.


The New York Times, July 14, 1920:

MINSK IS CAPTURED BY BOLSHEVIKI

Warsaw Orders Vilna Held at All Costs
and Women Join City's Defenders.

TWO RED GENERALS KILLED

Budenny's Chief Aid, General Matowski,
Reported Captured by the Polish Lancers.

AMERICANS USE GOTHAS

Kosciusko Squadron is Fighting Effectively
Against Cavalry on the Southern Front.


    LONDON, July 13.—Minsk has been captured by Russian Boshevik forces, according to an official statement received here from Moscow, which says the Soviet troops occupied the town on the morning of July 11.
    The communiqué also announces the capture of the town of Sventslany, thirty-five miles north of Dvinsk and fifty miles northeast of Vilna. The statement continues:

    "In the direction of Usohitsa we captured a section of the railway from Gukhevitch station to Bobrovka station. In the Rovno region our cavalry, pursuing the enemy, occupied Olyka village. In the direction of Tarnopol we occupied the station of Charay-Ostroff (fifty miles east of Tarnopol), capturing an armored train."

    WARSWAW, July 13 (Associated Press).—The loss of the city of Minsk by the Poles is announced in today's official communiqué from Polish Army Headquarters. The Bolsheviki occupied the city after a desperate all-night battle, the statement says.
    Hard fighting is continuing in the region of Molodechno, the Poles retreating step by step with strenuous resistance. The Boshevik losses, says the communiqué, have been heavy south and east of Minsk, where the Red 8th Division was completely defeated and the 66th infantry annihilated. In Polesia a Red column was beaten back. The enemy, continues the statement, is passive after the defeat near Rovno Saturday.

    Women are reported to be taking up arms for the defense of Vilna, toward which the Bolsheviki are driving along the railway from the northeast. Capture of the city would give the Bolsheviki communication by railroad with East Prussia and sever Poland from the Baltic States. Military supplies are being evacuated.

    The severest fighting since the Polish withdrawal began, with much bayonet work, is reported in the region of Ovruch, south of the Pripet marshes, in two dispatches from the front today. Two Bolshevist Generals, Knatjinski, a division commander, and Orysow, Chief of Staff, have been killed as well as 400 other Bolsheviki in this region.
    General Matowski, a former officer of the Russian regular army, who has been the right hand of General Budenny, the Bolshevist cavalry leader, is reported to have been captured in the region of Rovno, where Polish lancers clashed with Bolshevist cavalry, cutting off several Bolshevist detachments.

    The members of the Kosciusko aerial squadron, composed almost entirely of Americans, are using bombing Gothas along the southern front against the forces of General Budenny. These Gothas, which recently arrived, are the largest airplanes in use on any front and have proved particularly effective against cavalry. The first day they were used one Gotha, piloted by an American with an American bomber, put out of commission two Bolshevist armored trains.
    General Budenny himself had a narrow escape from the bombing while riding at the head of his forces.

    Although American relief workers have been forced to flee from cities and towns near the battle lines, the children who have been aided will not be permitted to suffer, according to advices received by American relief officials here. The work of providing for the destitute has been taken up by Bolshevist organizations in areas wrested from the Poles.
    The American relief organization has in Poland supplies worth $5,000,000, and is continuing to feed 1,100,000 persons daily. It has no intention to cease operations until compelled to do so by the Bolshevist advance. Two hundred thousand children formerly cared for by the Americans are now within the Bolshevist lines or in danger zones.

    Efforts to organize a chapter of the American Legion in this city have been abandoned, owing to the opposition of some Americans. It is said that the organization may be perfected after the present crisis has passed.
All of Belarus is
one time zone at GMT+2,
with European DST.

  Belarus News



    Republic of Belarus: After seven decades as a constituent republic of the USSR, Belarus attained its independence in 1991. It has retained closer political and economic ties to Russia than any of the other former Soviet republics.
    Belarus and Russia signed a treaty on a two-state union on 8 December 1999 envisioning greater political and economic integration. Although Belarus agreed to a framework to carry out the accord, serious implementation has yet to take place.

    Since his election in July 1994 as the country's first president, Alexandr LUKASHENKO has steadily consolidated his power through authoritarian means. Government restrictions on freedom of speech and the press, peaceful assembly, and religion remain in place.
        CIA World Factbook: Belarus


Area of Belarus: 207,600 sq km
slightly smaller than Kansas

Population of Belarus: 9,685,768
July 2008 estimate

Languages of Belarus:
Belarusian, Russian, other

Belarus Capital: Minsk


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