Belarus

So many war memorials in Belarus!

Country Information:

The landlocked country of Belarus, borders five other Eastern European countries. The capital is Minsk. There were roughly 10 million people living here as of 2016, and 9 million as of 2020. Belarusians primarily practice orthodox Christianity and have two official languages: Belarusian and Russian. The time zone is 7 hours ahead of EST. Belarus is primarily flat, and covered in marshland.

Jim’s Perspectives:

When visiting, the ideal time is to enjoy Minsk at night. Minsk is especially known for the “City Gates”, and Privokzalnaya Square. Be sure to visit some of the many WWII war memorials, namely the site of the former village which is now known as the Khatyn Memorial. Also of interest is the Stalin Line Museum which houses parts of the Stalin Line, the largest defense line built pre-WWII.

One interesting thing about Belarus is that it is technically a presidential republic but functions as a dictatorship. The etymology of its name is a combination of the words “bel” (white) and “Rus” (East Slavic ethnicity) meaning, “White Russian”.

 

Another war memorial in Belarus, 2015.
And yet another war memorial!
Skyline of Minsk, Belarus

Serbia

Outside of Bujanovac, Serbia, 2015   Country Information: In Serbia, there are about 7.2 million people and the capital is Belgrade. The official language is Serbian, but because Serbia is nestled between many other countries, many regional languages are spoken...

South Sudan

Garbage everywhere in the streets of Juba Country Information: The capital of South Sudan is Juba, and there are approximately 13 million people living here. The official language of South Sudan is English, with Arabic spoken by a majority of the population as well....

Finland

Helsinki, Finland: Jim and Susan in 1992, sitting at the statue & flowers in front of the White Cathedral Country Information: Finland gained independence in 1917. The capital is Helsinki. About 5.5 million people live here and the official language is Finnish...