A former Soviet republic, Belarus used to also be known by its Russian names of Byelorussia or Belorussia. Its capital and most populous city is Minsk. Since a referendum in 1995, the country has had two official languages: Belarusian and Russian. Although it doesn’t have an official religion, the majority of its population considers themselves Eastern Orthodox Christian.
Belarus is a landlocked country whose natural resources include peat deposits, small quantities of oil and natural gas, granite, dolomite (limestone), marl, chalk, sand, gravel, and clay. About 70% of the radiation from neighboring Ukraine’s 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster entered Belarusian territory, and about a fifth of Belarusian land (principally farmland and forests in the southeastern regions) was affected by radiation fallout.
Belarus has four UNESCO-designated World Heritage Sites: the Mir Castle Complex, the Nesvizh Castle, the Belovezhskaya Pushcha (shared with Poland), and the Struve Geodetic Arc (shared with nine other countries).