The Republic of Belarus is divided into oblasts, districts and other administrative units. The administrative division of the state is regulated by the legislation.
There are six administrative regions (oblasts) in Belarus – Brest Oblast, Vitebsk Oblast, Gomel Oblast, Grodno Oblast, Minsk Oblast, Mogilev Oblast
and the city of republican subordination Minsk
. The oblast is an optimal unit of the social and economic organization of the country. Oblast administration bodes resolve economic, social and other issues taking into account the regional specifics.
Minsk is the capital of Belarus. It is a political, economic, scientific, and cultural center of the country.
The Belarusian capital is located on the banks of the Svisloch River. A fifth of the entire population of Belarus lives in Minsk.
The city is located on the crossroads of major transport routes. Motorways connect Minsk with other big cities and towns of Belarus such as Orsha, Vitebsk, Molodechno, Brest, Slutsk, Mogilev, Gomel. The Belarusian National Airport, the major air harbor of the country, is situated in Minsk.
Minsk is a large industrial center. The economy of Minsk is dominated by food production, light industry, motor industry, tractor manufacturing, machine-tool engineering, metalworking, instrument making, radio engineering, and electronic equipment manufacturing.
The Belarusian capital accounts for 37.2% of Belarus’ foreign trade. Foreign companies and joint ventures were set up in partnership with investors from 60 countries. There is a free economic zone in Minsk.
The capital of Belarus is a large scientific and educational center. The National Academy of Sciences of Belarus, the High-Tech Park, big educational institutions are situated in Minsk.
The President of the Republic of Belarus, the National Assembly, the Council of Ministers and the National Bank reside in Minsk. It is also home to the Executive Committee of the Commonwealth of Independent States, diplomatic corps, consulates, and offices of international organizations.
Minsk is one of the oldest cities in Europe. During the Great Patriotic War Minsk was virtually almost destroyed. That is why very few ancient buildings have survived in the city. However, Minsk can be proud of wide avenues and streets, spacious squares, diverse architectural ensembles, verdurous boulevards and parks. There are about 20 square meters of greenery per one Minsk resident.
There are many places of interest in Minsk, including Troitsky suburb, the Upper Town, the Minsk Arena sports center, the Minsk Hero City memorial, the Minsk City Hall, the Holy Spirit Cathedral, Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral, the Cathedral of the Mother of God, Sts. Simon and Helen Cathedral, the National Library of Belarus, the National Academic Bolshoi Opera and Ballet Theater, the National Art Museum of Belarus, the Central Botanical Gardens.
There are more than 45 hotels and hotel complexes in Minsk. Among them are five-star hotels Hotel d’Europe, Crowne Plaza Minsk, and President Hotel, four-star hotels Victoria, Victoria 2, Victoria Olympus Hotel, and Minsk. The Belarusian capital offers over 40 pedestrian and bus tourist routes introducing tourists to historical and cultural heritage, museums, theaters, exhibition halls, and other facilities.
Brest Oblast is the western gate of Belarus. It borders Ukraine in the south and Poland in the west. The oblast comprises 16 districts. The total area is 32,800 square kilometers.
The city of Brest is the administrative center of the oblast. The biggest towns are Baranovichi, Bereza, Drogichin, Ivanovo, Ivatsevichi, Kamenets, Kobrin, Luninets, Pinsk, Pruzhany, Stolin.
There are about 240 big and medium-sized industrial enterprises in the region. The region boasts well-developed food production, textile manufacturing, machine building, and furniture productioon. Brest Oblast is Belarus' largest manufacturer of some products, like Gefest gas stoves and electric bulbs made by Brest Electric Bulbs Plant. Products of Santa Bremor, Savushkin Product, Pinskdrev are very popular in the country and abroad.
The local agriculture specializes in meat and dairy farming, production of sugar beets, flax, potatoes and vegetables. The region fully satisfies own demand for animal husbandry products and has huge export reserves.
Geographic location of the region creates favorable conditions for international trade. The major Berlin-Warsaw-Brest-Minsk-Moscow transit corridor is running through the region. Roads connect Brest Oblast with Vilnius and Kyiv. Around 80% of the CIS-made products exported by land to Western Europe pass through the region. In 2015, products made by Brest companies were sold in 82 countries, including Russia, Kazakhstan, Poland, Germany, Ukraine, Lithuania, and others. The free economic zone Brest was founded in 1996.
The oil pipeline Druzhba and gas pipelines Torzhok – Minsk - Ivatsevichi and Kobrin – Brest - Warsaw pass through the region.
Since 1988 Brest Oblast has been part of the transboundary union Euroregion Bug. It also includes Lublin Voivodeship of Poland and Volyn Oblast of Ukraine.
Brest Oblast is famous for careful attitude to architectural monuments. The Brest Hero Fortress memorial is a true landmark of the region. St. Nicholas Brotherly Church and St. Simon Church in Brest, the Cathedral of Intercession and the Church of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross in Baranovichi, the Jesuit collegium and a church in Pinsk, the Kamyanets Tower in the town of Kamenets, the Sapega Palace Complex in Ruzhany are protected by the state.
In Brest there are three theaters – Brest Academic Drama Theater, the Phantasy Dance Theater, and Brest Puppet Theater – and Brest Oblast Philharmonics. Brest Oblast hosts multiple international and national festivals and sports competitions. Among the most remarkable are the international theater festival Belaya Vezha, the international festival of classical music January Music Nights.
Brest Oblast is the heart of Belarusian Polesye. It boasts unique landscapes combining forests and swamps. In the north-west of the region there is a unique natural monument, the oldest forest reserve in Europe – Belovezhskaya Pushcha. In 1992 the Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park was made a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Visitors to Brest and the oblast can choose among over 140 hotels, health resorts and recreation centers.
Vitebsk Oblast is located in the northern part of Belarus. It borders Latvia in the north-west, Lithuania in the west, the Russian Federation in the north and in the east. The oblast is divided into 21 administrative districts. The border length from east to west is over 300km, from north to south – 175km. The total area is 40,100 square kilometers.
The city of Vitebsk is the administrative center of the region. The biggest towns are Braslav, Verkhnedvinsk, Glubokoye, Gorodok, Lepel, Miory, Novolukoml, Novopolotsk, Orsha, Polotsk, Postavy.
Vitebsk Oblast is a well-developed industrial region. The core of the Vitebsk Oblast industry is power generation (Lukoml state district power plant, Novopolotsk combined heat and power plant), oil processing and chemical production (OAO Naftan, OAO Polotsk Steklovolokno), food production, textile and footwear manufacturing. The region produces linen cloth, polymeric materials, nearly a half of the country’s petrochemical products and a third of electric energy.
Vitebsk Oblast’s agriculture specializes in grain and forage crops as well as flax, rape, potatoes. Fishing is an important industry, too. The region has the country’s biggest density of rivers and the largest lake area.
Vitebsk Oblast maintains economic ties with 110 countries. Top trading partners are Russia, the Netherlands, Ukraine, China, Poland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Turkey, the United Kingdom, Italy. In August 1999, the Vitebsk free economic zone was established.
The major transport corridors Berlin – Warsaw – Orsha - Moscow and Helsinki – Vitebsk – Kyiv - Odessa run through the region. Motorways and railways connect Vitebsk Oblast with Moscow, St. Petersburg, Riga and Vilnius.
Vitebsk Oblast is part of the Euroregion Country of Lakes. The region has more than 2,800 lakes and 500 rivers. More than a third of the region is covered by forests. Approximately 60% of forests are centuries-old coniferous woods. Vitebsk Oblast has one nature reserve, two national parks, 25 national wildlife reserves, and 60 local reserves, 238 natural monuments.
Vitebsk is rightly considered Belarus’ “cultural capital”. Every year Vitebsk hosts about 50 international, regional, city and district festivals welcoming a lot of foreign guests. The international arts festival Slavonic Bazaar in Vitebsk is the trademark of the region.
The main attractions of the region are the Holy Annunciation Church (12th century, Vitebsk), St. Sophia Cathedral (11th-18th centuries, Polotsk), the Convent of Saviour and St. Euphrosyne (12th-18th centuries, Polotsk), the Monastery of Assumption (17th century, Orsha), the Nativity of Mary Church and the Holy Trinity Church (17th-18th centuries, Glubokoye), a cathedral and its surroundings (18th century, the village of Mosar, Glubokoye District), St. John the Baptist Cathedral (17th century, the village of Kamai) and St. Antony of Padua Cathedral (19th-20th centuries, Postavy).
There are 107 recreation and recuperation facilities in the region.
Gomel Oblast is the largest region of Belarus. It borders Russia in the east and Ukraine in the south. The oblast is divided into 21 districts. The total area is 40,400 square kilometers.
The administrative center of the region is the city of Gomel. Other big towns are Vetka, Dobrush, Zhitkovichi, Zhlobin, Kalinkovichi, Mozyr, Rechitsa, Rogachev, Svetlogorsk, Turov, and Chechersk.
Gomel Oblast has a big economic potential. It is one of the most advanced industrial regions in Belarus. Gomel Oblast accounts for 21% of the country’s industrial output. There are 211 large and medium-sized enterprises. The major industries are manufacture of oil products, chemical production, metallurgy, food production, machine-building and instrument-making, production of construction materials. The following companies are famous far beyond Belarus: Gomselmash (grain harvesters and other agricultural equipment), joint enterprise Spartak (confectionery and chocolates), Gomeldrev and Gomelglass.
The local agriculture specializes in cattle breeding, production of potatoes, vegetables, and flax (in the eastern part of the region).
Arable land makes up 1.3 million hectares. The region saturates the food market and provides raw materials to refineries. The processing industry of Gomel Oblast comprises meat and dairy processing facilities, enterprises producing animal fodder.
About 70% of products made in Gomel Oblast are exported. The region maintains trade links with 99 countries. Top trading partners are Russia, Germany, China, Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania, Italy, Turkey, Egypt, Latvia. Business ties with the neighboring countries blossom within the framework of the Euroregion Dnieper. In 1998 the Gomel-Raton free economic zone was established.
Gomel Oblast has a good road infrastructure with major international motorways between Russia, Europe, and Ukraine running through the region. Gomel Oblast has an extensive railway network accounting for 90% of the country’s freight and 50% of passenger traffic.
There are many architectural monuments in Gomel Oblast. The most popular sights include the Pripyat National Park, the Castle Hill in Turov, a park and palace complex built in the late 18th - second half of the 19th centuries and Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Gomel, St. Michael the Archangel Church in Mozyr, the Holy Assumption Cathedral (19th century) and the Holy Trinity Church (20th century) in Rechitsa.
There are a lot of archaeological, historical, cultural, and architectural monuments, as well as 26 museums, four theaters, and two art galleries in Gomel Oblast. There is the Polesye Radiation Ecological Reserve in the region.
Over 115 hotels, health resorts, recuperation facilities offer their services to visitors.
Grodno Oblast is one of the six Belarusian regions. It borders Poland in the west, Lithuania in the north. The oblast comprises 17 districts. The total area of Grodno Oblast is 25,100 square kilometers.
The city of Grodno is the administrative center of Grodno Oblast. The biggest towns are Volkovysk, Lida, Mosty, Novogrudok, Oshmyany, Slonim, Smorgon and Shchuchin.
Grodno Oblast is a well-developed industrial region. The biggest enterprises are located in Lida, Slonim, Volkovysk, Novogrudok, Smorgon. Chemical production is a major branch of the economy of Grodno Oblast, with large production facilities in Grodno and Lida. Other significant industries include textile manufacturing, production of construction materials, machine-building. Products of OAO Grodno Azot, Belcard, Lakokraska, Krasnoselskstroymaterialy, Neman Glassworks and other companies are popular in Belarus and abroad.
Gas pipelines Yamal - Europe, Ivatsevichi – Slonim – Lida – the Lithuanian border and Ivatsevichi – Slonim - Grodno pass through the region.
Grodno Oblast boasts a highly developed agricultural sector. Cattle breeding is important, so are pig breeding and poultry farming.
Top trading partners of the region are Russia, Poland, China, Germany, Ukraine, Lithuania, Italy, France, Kazakhstan, India, etc. The Grodnoinvest free economic zone was founded in 2002.
Grodno Oblast is part of the Euroregion Neman.
Grodno is one of the most beautiful cities in Belarus. Main attractions of the region include Sts. Boris and Gleb Church (Kolozha Church) built in the 12th century, the Bernardine Church (16th-18th centuries), St. Francis Xavier Cathedral, the castles of Novogrudok and Lida, the fortress temple in the village of Synkovichi (15th century), the Holy Assumption Monastery (17th-19th centuries, Zhirovichi).
Mir Castle, a historical monument of the 16th century, and part of Belovezhskaya Pushcha are situated in Grodno Oblast.
The Naliboki hunting reserve is located in Grodno Oblast. Another attraction is a section of the Augustow Canal, a hydraulic engineering specimen of the 19th century.
Grodno Oblast traditionally hosts over 25 international, national and regional festivals and contests. Among them are the All-Belarus Festival of National Cultures, the Mir Castle national festival of arts, the international knights tournament in Novogrudok.
There are 110 hotels, recreation and recuperation facilities in the region.
Minsk Oblast is the second largest region in Belarus. It is divided into 22 districts. Minsk Oblast is situated in the central part of the country. The total area is 39,800 square kilometres.
Minsk is the administrative center of the region. The biggest towns are Borisov, Vileika, Dzerzhinsk, Zaslavl, Zhodino, Logoisk, Molodechno, Myadel, Nesvizh, Slutsk, and Soligorsk.
Minsk Oblast is one of the most economically advanced regions of Belarus. It has a huge industrial and agricultural potential, which influences economic development of the entire country. The major manufacturing hubs are Soligorsk, Borisov, Zhodino, Slutsk, Molodechno. The biggest companies include Belaruskali (potash fertilizers), BelAZ (heavy-duty dump trucks and quarry equipment). Products of Grodno Sugar Refinery, Slutsk Sugar Refinery, Molodechno Dairy Company, Zdravushka-Milk, and Agrokombinat Dzerzhinsky sell well.
Minsk Oblast is the largest agricultural area of Belarus. The majority of districts of the region are involved in cattle breeding, poultry farming and cultivation of grain, potatoes, beetroots and flax. Agricultural companies located in the close vicinity of Minsk and other major towns specialize in the production of fruits and vegetables.
The region trades with more than 160 countries. Top trade partners are Russia, China, Brazil, Ukraine, Germany, Poland, India, Turkey.
Minsk Oblast is located at the crossroads of the major transport routes connecting Western Europe and the East, the Black Sea region and the Baltic countries. Railways connect Russia and Europe, the Baltic countries and CIS southern states. The International Airport Minsk operates near the town of Smolevichi.
As many as 665 historical and cultural monuments of the Republic of Belarus are situated in Minsk Oblast. They include the Resurrection Cathedral in Borisov, an ancient downtown, a park and a church in Logoisk, a castle and the Holy Transfiguration Church in Zaslavl, the Bernardines’ monastery in the village of Budslav, Myadel District, a wooden church in Slutsk, a palace and park complex in Nesvizh (16th century), the historical complex Stalin Line, the Mound of Glory, the memorial complex Khatyn.
A part of the Berezina Biosphere Reserve, the Lake Naroch National Park and a number of protected areas are located in Minsk Oblast.
Exhibits of Minsk Oblast museums introduce visitors to the eventful history of the country. The Nesvizh museum-reserve, the Vernacular Architecture and Ethnic Heritage Museum in the village of Ozertso, the Museum of the Belarusian Folk Art in Raubichi, the Dudutki Museum are the major tourist attractions.
Various national and local festivals are frequently held in Minsk Oblast. Among them are the national festival of Belarusian songs and poetry in Molodechno, the national festival of chamber music Muses of Nesvizh and the festival in Zaslavl, other festivals.
There are two big ski resorts in Minsk Oblast, namely, Logoisk and Silichi. There are over 250 hotels and motels, health resorts, rest houses and other tourist facilities.
Mogilev Oblast is located in the eastern part of Belarus. It borders the Russian Federation. The region is divided into 21 district. The total area is 29,100 square kilometers.
Mogilev is the administrative center of the region. The biggest towns are Bobruisk, Bykhov, Gorki, Kirovsk, Klimovichi, Krichev, Mstislavl, Slavgorod, Osipovichi, Cherikov, Shklov.
Mogilev Oblast is the major producer of steel pipes, tires, elevators, electric engines, cement, synthetic fibers, and other merchandise. The production sector is dominated by chemical production, manufacture of rubber and plastic products, construction materials, machines, and equipment. Products made by two industrial giants – OAO Mogilevkhimvolokno and OAO Belshina – account for about 20% of the total industrial output in the region. At present there are oevr 150 large and medium-sized manufacturing enterprises in Mogilev Oblast. The biggest industrial centers of Mogilev Oblast are Mogilev, Bobruisk, Krichev, Kostyukovichi, Osipovichi.
Agriculture is the most important branch of the regional economy. The major crops cultivated in Mogilev Oblast are barley, rye, wheat. The region also specializes in the production of potatoes and forage crops. Flax growing is a very promising industry, too. The majority of animal breeding companies specialize in the production of milk, meat, pork, and poultry.
Foreign trade between Mogilev Oblast and other countries is increasingly vibrant. Products made in the region are sold in 99 counties and 75 Russian regions. The free economic zone Mogilev was established in 2002.
Founded in 1840, the Belarusian State Agricultural Academy is the oldest agricultural university in the CIS and Europe. It is situated in the town of Gorki. The academy boasts remarkable architectural solutions. The architectural ensemble of the institution is now part of the historical and cultural heritage of the Republic of Belarus.
The major tourist attractions include St. Nikolas Monastery (17th century, Mogilev), a Jesuit cathedral and a monastery (early 17th century, Mstislavl), a park and palace ensemble (18th century, the village of Zhilichi, Kirovsk District), Potemkin’s Palace (18th century, Krichev), Bobruisk Fortress (19th century), a town hall (18th century, Shklov).
Mogilev Oblast hosts a variety of festivals. Among them are the Golden Bee children’s art festival in Klimovichi, the folk arts festival Wreath of Friendship in Bobruisk, the festival of family arts Constellation of Talents in Glusk, the international youth theater forum М’art – Contact in Mogilev, and many more.
The oblast has 49 health resorts and recuperation facilities. Tourists can choose among 50 hotels and motels.