Minsk, Belarus, the nation's capital and largest city. It is on the Svisloch River about 160 miles (260 km) from the Polish border.
Minsk is Belarus's chief industrial, transportation, and cultural center. Industries are diversified and include the manufacturing trucks and tractors, machine tools, and electrical and electronic equipment. The Belarusian Academy of Sciences and the Belarusian State University are here. Minsk is also the home of the Belarusian symphony orchestra and the state opera and ballet companies.
Minsk was founded sometime before 1100 A.D. It was governed by Ukrainians, Lithuanians, and Poles before it was annexed to Russia during the second partition of Poland (1793). Before World War II, nearly half the city's people were Jews. During 1941–44, the Germans occupied Minsk. Most of the Jews were killed, and much of the city was destroyed.
In 1991 Minsk became the administrative center of the Commonwealth of Independent States, a loose confederation of former Soviet republics.