The republic of Belarus is a small beautiful country with heroic past and difficult present. It is situated in Central Europe. The republic of Belarus borders on Russia, the Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania and Latvia. It has an area of 207,600 square kilometers and population of more than 10 million. 77% of the population constitutes Belarussians. 64% live in cities, the largest of which is Minsk, which is the capital, Gomel, Mogilev, Brest, Grodno and Vitebsk. The original Belarussian tribes were Eastern Slavic tribes. Kryvichy, Drigovichi, Radzimichi, Lucichy and Sievieranie were related to the Baltic nations and grouped independent principalities, of which the most powerful was Polotsk, a port and a fortress on the river Dvina, which flows into the Baltic Sea. At the beginning of the 20th century Belarus was a backward province of the Russian Empire, called the North-Western Region. About 80% of its population was illiterate. The Belarussians weren't even regarded as a nation at that time. After the revolution in 1917 Belarus was proclaimed the Belarussian Soviet Socialist Republic and soon became the member of the USSR. Most of Belarus is a flat country. More than a quarter of its area is covered with forests and bushes. Large forests are called "puschas". The greatestof them is Beloviezskaya Puscha, which is a state preserve. It is well known by its rare animals - aurochs. There are nearly 10000 lakes and 20000 rivers in Belarus. The largest lake is Naroch also called the Belarussian Sea. The great part of the country lies in the Dnieper basin and the rest is watered by the Western Bug, the Neman and the Western Dvina. The Belarussian rivers are slow with almost no rapids. The climate in Belarus is moderately continental. The breathing of the Baltic Sea is constantly felt here. The beauty of the Belarussian nature, the past and the present of the Belarussian people have been celebrated in songs and verses by the Yanka Kupala and Yakub Kolas - the classics of Belarussian poetry and by many present-day poets and writers, artists and composers of Belarus. Belarus has long been famous for its industries and skilful craftsmen: engravers and wavers, specialists in ceramic and craftsmen enjoy wide popularity at internal fairs and exhibitions. Unique souvenirs made by Belarussian craftsmen are known all over the world. Our Republic is rather rich in mineral resources: potash salts, coal, phosphates oil and iron. That's why Belarus has a highly-developed industry. There are thousands of enterprises in the Republic which produce tractors and automobiles, motor-cycles, TV-sets and many other goods. Our Belarussian tractors and MAZ trucks enjoy a high reputation both in our country and abroad. Agriculture specializes in milk and meat production. The main crops cultivated here are potatoes, flor, grain, herbs and vegetables. Belarus is a republic of well developed science and culture. There is an Academy of Sciences, 37 higher educational establishments, about 400 professional schools, Secondary education in compulsory here.