Quick! Can you tell me of which European nation Minsk is the capital? I confess to not knowing. This largely agricultural nation which has a history dating back to 5,000 BCE, suffered terribly in World War II, losing about a third of its population, most of its Jewish population, and physical devastation including (Wiki is my source) 85% of its buildings at the hands of Nazi Germany. Let me rephrase that: these people, non-Jews and Jews alike, were not “lost,” they were killed in the war or in concentration camps.
This nation is home to four UNESCO World Heritage Sites, one of which is considered a cultural site, the Nesvizh Castle of the Radziwill Family, dates back to the early 1500s. The site is also known as The Architectural, Residential, and Cultural Complex of the Radziwill Family at Nesvizh.
One of the countries this nation borders is Ukraine. The 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster in Ukraine (was it a complete meltdown?) affected about one fourth of the land and five million of the 9,5 million people of this nation. Rates of birth defects have risen. Caesium binders are dispersed and rapeseed is planted since the rapeseed oil plant binds radioactive caesium.
Side note: In Canada and the U.S. rapeseed has been genetically modified to create the highly unwholesome, unnatural canola oil plant. Don’t buy or use canola oil!
What is this nation with a population almost exactly the size of the population of Sweden? It is Belarus.
As Americans, our geographical isolation is one contributing factor to our sometimes profound ignorance of other nations and international affairs. Though I often watch BBC International news, I must plead ignorance in this case, and hope that someone from Belarus, or with greater knowledge than that I have hastily acquired, will comment and inform us.
Belarus declared independence from the former SSSR in 1990. The European Union has just voted to continue sanctions–trade sanctions–against Belarus. Belarus is a member of the Commonwealth of Independent States, all members of the former Soviet Union.
Learn something every day!