ABOUT When Belarus proclaimed independence in 1991, it readopted the white/red/white three colour flag first introduced in 1918. This was used in great numbers during rallies and demonstrations against the regime of the pro-Russian president. In response a presidential decree was issued introducing the current flag, which is similar to the flag of Soviet Belorussia (1951-1991). A white and red national ornament appears on the vertical stripe at the hoist.

CLIMATE Average temperatures vary across Belarus. In January, temperatures average from -4.5°C to -8°C. In July the average temperature is +17°C to +18.5°C. Belarus has an average annual rainfall of 600-700 mm. 70% of the rain falls from April to October. Belarus also enjoys 75-125 days of snow each year, with falls ranging from 15 to 30cm. Some parts of Belarus experience sub-zero temperatures for more than a third of the year.

BEWARE There is little crime in Belarus but, you should be alert at all times to the possibility of mugging, pickpocketing and theft from vehicles or hotel rooms. Take extra care when travelling by train; there have been instances of theft from travellers, especially on sleeper trains to Warsaw and Moscow. Drivers of foreign vehicles must pay a fee to use toll roads. There are fines for non-compliance. On 1 August 2013, an electronic toll collection system was introduced. Belarus is governed by a strong Presidential system with security forces loyal to it. The authorities show little tolerance for their opposition counterparts. The security forces have used force to disperse or intimidate opposition events. Be vigilant and avoid any demonstrations or rallies.