The Republic of Belarus is located in eastern part of Europe. The territory of Belarus is 207.6 thousand square kilometers. It is a compact country. The longest distance, 650 km, is from West to East, and 560 km from North to South. By the size of its territory, the Republic occupies the 13th place among the European countries and the 6th among the CIS countries (following Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan). The Belarusian territory in Europe is slightly smaller than that of Great Britain and Romania, and more than 2.2 times bigger than Portugal and Hungary.
On 01.01.2000, the population of Belarus constituted 10,018 thousand people. The country's population is 14 times smaller than in Russia, 5 times smaller than in Ukraine, but 1.3 times as big as that in the three Baltic states taken together, 2 times bigger than in Finland or Denmark, more than in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria or Sweden.
Representatives of more than 100 nationalities live in Belarus. The majority of the population are Belarusians. Significant numbers of Russians, Poles, Ukrainians and other nationalities live in Belarus.
The climate of Belarus is moderately continental with mild and humid winter, warm summer and wet autumn.
The average temperature in January is from -40C in the South-West to -80C in the North-east of the country. The average temperature of July is +17-190C. The average vegetation period is 184-208 days. The climatic conditions in Belarus are favorable for growing staple grain crops, vegetables, fruit trees and bushes which are common for moderate climate zones of East Europe, especially for cultivating potatoes, flax, annual grass and fodder root crops.
There are more than 20 thousand rivers and streams in Belarus with the total length of 91 thousand kilometers, and about 11 thousand lakes, including 470 lakes with the area exceeding 0.5 km2 each. Naroch is the largest lake in Belarus (79.2 km2, the deepest point about 25 m).