Belarus
Grodno  Oblast
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                       06 Dec 2007

 The Grodno Oblast is located in the northwestern part of the Republic of Belarus.   It is bordered by Poland to the west and Lithuania to the north.

 The residents of Grodno often take advantage of the lower cost and better selection of products in the neighboring countries.  Vilnius, Lithuania is only 100 miles to the northwest.  This large city is much more European in character than other cities of Belarus. For Grodno, the connection to European markets is strengthened with its railway system serving as a pathway between Europe and the central Asian countries.

 Farming is well developed in the rural areas of the district.  Cattle, dairy as well as beef, are common in the region.  Sheep, goats and chickens are also part of the commercial farm operations.  Green chopping of corn for silage is necessary since the summers are too short for the grain to mature.  Alfalfa and grass hay also provide forage for the livestock during the long winter months.  Large round bales are most often used for the grass hay. The Belarus Tractor with an improvised hoist loads the 1000-pound bales on the wagon for transport to a storage area.  Sugar beets are becoming a more popular cash crop in this region and are often planted instead of potatoes. 

 The chemical industry is the dominant factor to the regional economy.  Factories identified by large smokestacks produce a variety of petrochemical products for farm, industrial and consumer use.   Newer factories are usually in the rural area.   Older ones are found in the urban areas near the railroads or along the Neman River that runs through the city of Grodno.   This river, however, is too small to serve as a dependable commercial route.  Nevertheless, it provides a picturesque setting for homes along its banks.

 The city of Grodno, with its close proximity to Poland, has several Catholic churches.  At one time, this area was part of Poland, which is predominantly Catholic as opposed to the Orthodox tradition of Belarus.

 The Drama Theater located near the central plaza is an impressive building that can be seen from all directions. It provides an important cultural opportunity for residents.   The view directly across the street is a reminder of the Great Patriotic War.

 In Grodno, the growing middle class seems to be real.   This is an optimism that extends much deeper than the surface treatment of the apartments buildings of Minsk and other cities.  New apartments have been built or are under construction around the city.  Living in one of these complexes would be a dream for citizens of many areas visited on our tour of Belarus.  More importantly, new family homes are an indication of the strong economic growth in this city.  Driving into a new housing development is remarkable.  The styles and sizes reflect the tastes of the owners.   Homes are in various stages of construction with some complete including well kept yards and flowers.   The owner often builds these homes as money becomes available.  Materials are piled on the property as they are purchased awaiting the hands of those who will put them into place.  Several years are usually needed to complete the project and may involve members of the extended family.  When livable, the family moves into their home and the work continues.  During the 7 years the family constructed this home, their large family lived in a small apartment.  By the time they moved into their new home, three of the children had married.  

 The round trip of the Republic of Belarus will be complete when we return to Minsk.  Please come and visit sometime soon.

 

PRONUNCIATION GUIDE:

Brest                           BREH-st

Grodno

Minsk

Neman

Vilnius

 

 

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