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St. Nicholas Church in Brest Fortress

Ten interesting facts about Belarus

1. Harrison Ford, star of the Indiana Jones and Star Wars franchise, comes from a long line of Belarusian ancestors.

2. Although Belarus is a landlocked nation, its locals are still able to enjoy the beach – at the Minsk Sea, a gigantic man-made reservoir.

3. Notorious sniper Lee Harvey Oswald lived in Belarus for a few years. His apartment has been named the Lee Harvey Oswald Apartment Building.

4. After the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, 70% of the resulting nuclear radiation entered Belarus. As of 2005, many farmlands and forests in southeastern Belarus are still affected by the Chernobyl’s radiation fallout.

5. Belarus president Alexander Lukashenko has held his government position since 1994. His latest reelection for a seven-year term was in the 2010 presidential election.

6. As of 2007, nearly 90% of all the members of Belarus’ House of Representatives are independent members not affiliated with any political party.

7. Although Belarusian is one of Belarus’ official languages (the other is Russian), it is used by less than 12% of the population.

8. The first book ever printed in Eastern Europe is a Belarusian translation of the Bible, published sometime from 1517 to 1525.

9. A traditional way to welcome guests in Belarus is by offering them bread and salt.

10. One of Belarus’ traditional dishes, the okroshka, is made of sliced vegetables mixed with a bowl of an alcoholic beverage called the kvass and topped with ice cubes.