Belarus has functioned as an independent country since 1990. It is in the transitional zone between continental and maritime climates. Its oil, gas, and various natural resources are moderate. There are four World Heritage Sites in Belarus: the gothic-Renaissance style Mir Castle Complex, the Nesvich Castle with its Baroque-style Jesuit temple, the Belovezhskaya Pushcha primeval forest on the Polish border, and various points of the Struve Geodetic Arc (a chain of survey triangulations set up to precisely measure the size and shape of the earth; it goes through ten countries in all). The Chagall Museum in Vitebsk needs to be on the itinerary of any visitor who appreciates art, and a tour of Dudutki 40km south of Minsk completely immerses you in the processes and products of a working farm. You can even taste their moonshine!

Slow-cooked or stewed vegetables or meat with bread are typical Belarusian meals. Rye is a plentiful grain, so sour rye bread is common. Buckwheat and oatmeal are used in pancakes called bliny. Cabbage, beets, and parsnips are among the easier to find vegetables. Kamy, a puree of peas and beans in lard, is a typical and excellent, if non-vegetarian, source of protein. Sorrel soup and boršč, often served with added eggs or potatoes, are both tasty and common. Specialized organic and vegetarian establishments are few and far between in Belarus, but Minsk has an actual Asian market and a Tibetan restaurant where you can order something without meat.