The Republic of Belarus is situated in the East-European Plain.
The average altitude is 160 meters above sea level. The maximum altitude is 345 meters above sea level (Mount Dzerzhinskaya in Dzerzhinsk district, Minsk Oblast); the minimum altitude is 80 meters above sea level (the Neman River valley in Grodno district, close to the border with Lithuania). The typical Belarusian landscape is uplands, plains or lowlands interlaced with swamps and lakes. Lowlands occupy 70 percent of the country's territory.
The climate in Belarus is moderately continental. It is influenced by the Atlantic Ocean. The average temperature in January ranges from -4°С to -8°С, in July from +17°С to +19°С. The average annual precipitation is 550 to 650mm in lowlands and 650 to 750mm in plains and highlands.
Belarus is called "blue-eyed" and there is a reason for that. There are over 10,000 lakes in Belarus. The biggest lake is Naroch (79,600 square kilometers) and the deepest is Dolgoye (53,6 meters deep).
Chains of forest-rimmed lakes, rivers and streams make the Belarusian landscape truly breathtaking and unique. Belarus has around 20,000 rivers and streams flowing to the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea. All major rivers and also the Dnieper-Bug canal are navigable.
The biggest rivers are the Dnieper (689km), Pripyat (500km), Sozh (493km), Neman (459km), the Western Dvina (328km).
Belarus has 1,400 cubic meters of subterranean fresh water per capita (this is more than, for example, in England, the Netherlands and Ukraine).
The percentage of woodland per capita in Belarus is 0.84 hectares, the per capita wood supplies is 139 cubic meters, which is nearly two times more than the average European level.
Diverse vegetation covers 93.1 percent of the country. Forests are a predominant vegetation type in Belarus accounting for 1/3 of the country's territory. They play an important biospheric role and make a great contribution to the ecological stability of Eastern and Central Europe. The Belarusian Polesye, well-known marshland often called as "the lungs of Europe" is situated in the south of the country.
Hunting and fishing
Belarus has centuries-old hunting traditions. Magnates and kings, Soviet and foreign leaders loved to go hunting in virgin Belarusian forests. To go hunting for wild boars, roe deer, deer, wolves, foxes, or waterfowl (all in all 21 mammals and 30 species of birds), you need a special permit. For a foreigner to go hunting in Belarus, he needs to have a contract with a travel agent or the hunting ground owner. Hunting tours are organized in hunting seasons: in spring (April-May), summer, autumn and winter (August-January).
Most valuable wild game species are elks, wild boars, deer, roe deer, hares, beavers, wolves, foxes, musk-rats, American minks and martens. As for the birds, these are water birds, black-cocks and partridges.
Belarus is a fisherman's heaven. Fishing in Belarus is a great way to relax on the crystal-clean rivers and lakes. Both national parks and fish farms provide services in sports, amateur and underwater fishing. Most wide-spread species of fish in Belarus are European roach, perch, ruff, catfish, pike, bream, pike perch, eel. Popular fishing places are equipped with parking lots and cabins for fishers.
Ecology and environmental protection
Belarus is signatory to more than 20 international environmental conventions and protocols.
Adopted in 1997, the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change specifies legally binding commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Protocol entered into force in February 2005. A total of 181 states have acceded to the Protocol. The Republic of Belarus joined the Kyoto Protocol on 24 November 2005.
In 2007 the amount of harmful atmospheric emissions made up 1.5 million tonnes, down 55 percent from 1990. In 2008 Belarus developed a national program to tackle the climate change by 2021. The aim of the program is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 12 million tonnes.
To reduce negative human impact on natural environment, Belarus has created specially protected wildlife areas which currently include the Berezinsky Biosphere Reserve and four national wildlife parks: Belovezhskaya Pushcha, Braslav Lakes, Pripyat and Naroch National Parks; 433 special natural reserves and 849 natural monuments. Specially protected wildlife areas account for 7.7 percent of Belarus's territory.
Belarus has approved the national program of social and economic development and integrated use of natural resources of Pripyat Polesye for 2010-2015. The region is distinguished by unique nature and landscape and is home to Europe's biggest marshland and forest complex and bottomland eco-systems of the Pripyat River. Around 18.4 percent of the region is specially protected wildlife areas (Pripyat National Park, 25 wildlife sanctuaries of national and local significance, 24 natural monuments).
189 species of fauna are protected by the State. Among rare species are badger, European mink, brown bear and European lynx. The Red Data Book protects 72 species of birds including erne, serpent eagle, the lesser and greater spotted eagles, egret, and aquatic warbler.
Belarus is home to 39 species of plants protected in Europe such as clematis, wood anemone, rhododendron luteum sweet, lady's slipper orchid and others.
For the latest developments in environmental protection click here.
The Braslav Lakes