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The capital, Minsk, is the largest and one of the oldest cities in the region and is centrally located.Belarus has a moderate continental climate that is influenced by the Baltic Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.The country is in the western portion of the East European Plains within the basins of the Dnepr, West Dvina, and Neman Rivers.The basins are connected, forming a system of natural waterways that link the Baltic and Black Seas.The summers are cool with some warm days, and winters are cold, while the average annual precipitation ranges 21.5 inches (546 mm) to 27.3 inches (693 mm).Average temperature ranges are from 63.5 degrees Fahrenheit (17.5 degrees Celsius) in July to 20 degrees Fahrenheit (-7 degrees Celsius) in January. The population of Belarus was estimated to be 10,366,719 in 2000.Much of the country is lowland with gently rolling hills; forests cover one-third of the land and their peat marshes are a valuable natural resource.

Such labeling probably predates the times when the Kievan Kingdom came into existence.In 1919 the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic approved another state emblem: a hammer and sickle in the rays of the rising sun, surrounded by a garland of wheat.In 1956 the new Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic (BSSR) approved a flag.Approximately 69 percent of the population is urban.The biggest city is Minsk, with around 1.7 million residents. The official language is Belarusian, but Russian is also widely spoken.

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