Terrain shapes and bedrock
Belarus bedrock belongs to the Russian platform, where the bedrock is covered by undisturbed layers of sedimentary rocks deposited under Devon, Cretaceous and Tertiary. Belarus is part of the Eastern European lowlands and is largely flat. About half of its surface lies between 100 and 200 meters above sea level, at most reaching Dziarzhynskaja, 346 meters above sea level.
In the north, an area of moraine ridges is spread, separated by sinks with a large number of small lakes. The largest ridge, Belaruskaja hrada, extends from the northwest to the highlands around Minsk. The vast Central Plain is well drained and has fertile soil. Further south-west and south, the Prypjat Strait spreads, a woody lowland around the Prypjat and Dnieper rivers that extends into Ukraine and Poland. This has been formed as a submerged sedimentation basin in the bedrock where large quantities of melt water from the inland ice accumulated together with deposits of sand and clay.
According to COUNTRYAAH, Belarus has a large number of rivers, of which the Dnieper with the tributaries Prypjat, Bjarezina (Berezina) and Sozj are dominant. In the southwest is the Buh (Bug) border river. In the western part runs Njoman (Nemunas) and in the north Dvina (Daugava), both of which open into the Baltic Sea. In addition to the thousands of small lakes in the north, there are some larger ones like Naratj and Asvejskaje.
The loose ground cover consists mainly of moraine and glacial deposits and has in some places been converted to marsh soil (see marsh peat) which is fertile when drained. About 60% of the soil is pod sun, which is a good cultivation soil, e.g. on the Central Plain. A belt of sandy soil, most suitable for potato cultivation, is further south.
Belarus, like the whole of the eastern European lowlands, has a cold temperate humid climate. However, the proximity to the Baltic Sea gives a certain maritime feel, especially to the winter climate. The summers are warm and the winters cold and long, with snowfall and minus degrees for up to five months a year. Particularly cold and harsh weather occurs during winter in connection with severe northeast winds from Siberia. Most of the precipitation falls during the summer in the form of rain showers; it is the driest in the spring.
According to BRIDGAT, the average temperature for January in most of the country is −6 °C. The summer temperature is around 18-19 °C with relatively high humidity. The annual rainfall averages 550–700 mm.
Belarus is located south of the Tough Belt and is part of the Central European deciduous forest region. In the south, the forest is dominated by noble deciduous trees such as oak, beech, avenbook, lundalm and lime but with elements of birch and aspen. Especially to the north, the feature of conifers, especially fir trees, becomes more pronounced. Here and there are wetlands, such as at Prypjats, where a reserve with both forest and marshland has been set aside.
In the Belavezhskaya Pushtja National Park there is a good strain of visent. Here, as in many other parts of the country, there are moose, red deer, pigeon deer, wild boar, wolf, otters and beavers. About 220 species of birds breed in Belarus, among them snake eagles, larger and smaller scream eagles, white-backed woodpecker and black stork. In the rural areas, white stork is a characteristic species. Of the country’s eight species of reptiles and ten species of amphibians, turtles and bell frogs can be especially mentioned.
Belarus has (2012) four national parks, Braslavskije Ozera, Belavezhskaya Pushtja, which is associated with and administered together with Białowieża in Poland, Nachoransky and Pripjatträsket. In addition, there is a biosphere reserve, Bjarezinskij. About 7% of the country’s area is protected by nature.