Belarus (Белару́сь) is a country in eastern Europe with 9.5 million inhabitants. It’s bordered to the west by Poland, to the south by Ukraine, to the north by Lithuania and Latvia, and to the east by Russia.
Belarus lies at the edge of Eastern Europe and seems determined to avoid integration with the rest of the continent at all costs. Taking its lead from the Soviet Union rather than the European Union, this little-visited dictatorship may seem like a strange choice for travellers, but its isolation lies at the heart of its appeal.

While the rest of the region has charged headlong into capitalism, Belarus allows the chance to visit a Europe with minimal advertising and no litter or graffiti. Outside the monumental Stalinist capital of Minsk, Belarus offers a simple yet pleasing landscape of cornflower fields, thick forests and picturesque villages. The country also has two excellent national parks and is home to Europe’s largest mammal, the zubr (European bison). While travellers will always be the subject of curiosity, they’ll also be on the receiving end of warm hospitality and a genuine welcome.

Capital Minsk
Currency Belarusian ruble (BYN)
Population 9.4 million (2015)
Electricity 220 volt / 50 hertz (Europlug, Schuko)
Country code +375
Time zone UTC+03:00
Emergencies 101 (fire department), 102 (police), 103 (emergency medical services)
Driving side right

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Originally part of Kievan Rus, Belarus was part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth until the Polish Partitions in the 18th century. After over a hundred years of Russian rule followed by seven decades as a constituent republic of the USSR, Belarus attained its independence in 1991. However, under authoritarian rule of Alexander Lukashenko (since 1994), it has retained closer political and economic ties to Russia than any of the other former Soviet republics.