Minsk

/minsk/; Russ. /myeensk/, n.
a city in and the capital of Byelorussia (Belarus), in the central part, on a tributary of the Berezina. 1,589,000.

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Capital (pop., 2001 est.: 1,699,000) and largest city of Belarus.

Settled before 1067, it became the seat of a principality in 1101. It passed to Lithuania in the 14th century and later to Poland. Annexed by Russia in the second partition of Poland in 1793, it became a provincial centre. Minsk was occupied by French troops in 1812. It grew in importance as an industrial centre after the arrival of the railways in 1870. During World War I it was occupied first by the Germans and then by the Poles. It was almost entirely destroyed in World War II, especially during the Soviet advance in 1944. Once the capital of the Belorussian S.S.R., it remained the capital when Belarus gained independence in 1991. It is the country's administrative and industrial centre.

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Belarusian  Mansk 
 city, capital of Belarus, and administrative centre of Minsk oblast (province). The city lies along the Svisloch River. First mentioned in 1067, it became seat of a principality in 1101. Minsk passed to Lithuania in the 14th century and later to Poland, being regained by Russia in the second partition in 1793. The city has suffered many disasters, including frequent destruction by fire, sacking by the Crimean Tatars in 1505, occupation and damage by French troops in 1812, German occupation in 1918, Polish occupation in 1919–20, and almost total destruction in World War II, especially during the Soviet advance in 1944. Nevertheless Minsk steadily increased in importance, first as a provincial centre after 1793 and later as an industrial centre after the building of the Moscow-Warsaw and Liepaja-Romny railways through Minsk in the 1870s. In 1919 it became the capital of the Belorussian republic.

      The city's large Jewish community was systematically massacred during the German occupation (1941–44) in World War II. Minsk itself was almost completely demolished in the course of the war, and it was subsequently rebuilt with abundant parks, wide boulevards, and many blocks of multistory apartment buildings. Minsk grew in population faster than any comparable Soviet city in the period 1959–89, its inhabitants more than tripling from 500,000 to nearly 1,600,000 during that time. Minsk remained the capital when Belarus gained independence in 1991. That same year, the city became the administrative centre of the Commonwealth of Independent States.

      The present-day city, sprawling over gently hilly relief, is almost entirely of new construction; most of the principal buildings in the centre are in the ponderous architectural style of the early Soviet period. The Mariinsky Cathedral and the church of the Bernadine monastery survive as relics of the past.

      Minsk is the major industrial centre of Belarus. The economy is based on machine-building, particularly the manufacture of trucks and tractors. Other products include electric motors, bearings, machine tools, radio and television equipment, refrigerators, watches, textiles, and foodstuffs. The city is also a major educational, cultural, and printing centre, with the Academy of Sciences of Belarus, a university founded in 1921, and numerous other institutions of higher education. Minsk has a music conservatory, a palace of winter sports, and a number of theatres, including the Belarus State Theatre of Opera and Ballet. Pop. (1991 est.) 1,633,600.

      oblast (province), central Belarus. It extends from the rolling, morainic hills of the Belarusian Ridge in the northwest across the Berezina plain, which slopes gently to the southeast. The natural vegetation is dense forest of pine, spruce, oak, and birch, and alder in wetter areas, but on the uplands most of the forest has been cleared for agriculture, with consequent gully erosion. In the south and east, grass marsh and peat bog are extensive. The economy is dominated by the capital city, Minsk. Apart from Borisov and the vehicle-making centre of Zhodino, the oblast's towns are small and are engaged in processing timber and local farm produce. Cultivation of rye, wheat, buckwheat, barley, and flax is chiefly concentrated on the uplands and around Slutsk in the south; dairying is widespread. The chief industries are machine and instrument building (automobiles, tractors, lathes, motorcycles, televisions, and radio receivers). In the 1960s large deposits of potassium salts at Starobin began to form the base for fertilizer production in Soligorsk. This area has become one of the most important potash-producing centres in Europe. Area 15,750 square miles (40,800 square km). Pop. (1991 est.) 3,256,000.

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Universalium. 2010.

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