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Geographic situation

Grodno oblast is situated in the northwest part of Belarus. It borders on Poland in the west and on Lithuania in the north. The oblast occupies 12 per cent of the territory of Belarus.

The center of the oblast is the town of Grodno (population – 309 thousand people). The oblast comprises 17 regions, 194 rural councils, 12 towns including 6 which are subordinate to the oblast management bodies and 21 townships. The oblast is home to 11.7 per cent of the population of the republic.

The oblast was founded on September 20, 1944. The total area of the oblast is 25,1 thousand square kilometers, the population is 1 million and 184 thousand people. The distance from west to east is 213km and from north to south – 247km.

The oblast is mostly a flat country with the Neman lowland in the center. There are madder hills throughout the oblast – Grodno madder hill, Volkovysk madder hill, Slonim madder hill, Novogrudok madder hill and Oshmyany madder hill.

As for minerals, the predominant are those non-metallic – clay, chalk, silicate sands and peat. Specialists have discovered deposits of brown coal and iron ore. The climate is temperate and damp. The average temperature in January is 5 Celsius above zero, in July – 18 Celsius below zero. The rainfall averages 53 – 66mm per annum. Forests occupy one third of the territory of Grodno oblast. In the southwest of it there is a well-known national preserve Belovezhskaya Pushcha. UNESCO inscribed it on the World Heritage List and introduced into the unified global system of surveillance for climate change and gave it a status of a bio-preserve. Belovezhskaya Pushcha is an open air nature museum with 889 higher plants, 59 species of mammals, 227 species of birds, 7 species of reptiles, 11 – amphibians, 27 species of fish and about 8500 species of insects. The biggest animal in Belovezhskaya Pushcha is aurochs – one of the most ancient and once numerous animals. Its written history starts in the 3rd century B.C.

Forests of Grodno oblast are a habitat for elks, red dears, wild boars, roes, badgers, raccoon dogs, otters, martens, foxes, ermines and wolves. Also one can find there wood grouses, black-cocks, cranes, black and white storks, swans, erne, owls, harriers, kites, rollers and a host of other birds.

The Neman River, which crosses Belarus, is the third largest river in the country. Its total length is 937km and 360km in Grodno oblast. Many rivers cross the oblast with the majority forming the Neman river basin.

Lakes in Grodno oblast are scanty and all of them are small. The biggest of them are Beloye (557ha) to the northeast of Grodno, Rybnitsa (248ha) in the Grodno region and Svityaz (224ha) – to the south of Novogrudok. Svityaz Lake makes part to the Svityaz landscape preserve.

Fish is mostly pikes, ides, chubs, cat-fishes, eels, perches. The vegetation in the oblast is represented by 1,500 types of plants which grow along the banks of rivers, lakes, swamps, in the fields, vacant grounds and in the forests.