Vitebsk

Vitebsk
/vee"tepsk/; Russ. /vyee"tyipsk/, n.
a city in NE Byelorussia (Belarus), on the Dvina River. 347,000.

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      city and administrative centre of Vitebsk oblast (province), northeastern Belarus. It lies along the Western Dvina River at the latter's confluence with the Luchesa River. Vitebsk, first mentioned in 1021, was a major fortress and trading centre and had a stormy history. It passed to Lithuania in 1320, later to Poland, and then to Russia in 1772. It was destroyed by the Poles in the 16th century, by the Swedes in the Great Northern War, by Napoleon I in 1812, and by the Germans in World War II. Modern Vitebsk is a major industrial centre, producing machine tools, electrical instruments, and a range of consumer goods, including textiles, meat and dairy products, and other foodstuffs. The city has medical, veterinary, teacher-training, and polytechnic institutes, as well as two museums dedicated to painter Marc Chagall (Chagall, Marc), who was born in Vitebsk and drew inspiration from the area. Pop. (1991 est.) 361,500.

      oblast (province), northeastern Belarus. It has an area of 15,500 square miles (40,100 square km) and lies mostly in the broad, shallow basin of the Western Dvina River. To the east and south the land rises in a series of gently undulating uplands. Swamps are extensive in the Western Dvina basin, but most of the oblast is in mixed forest of pine, spruce, oak, birch, and alder; the uplands have been largely cleared for agriculture, bringing about serious soil erosion. Flax and rye are the main crops, and the raising of dairy and beef cattle and pigs is important. In the south are many orchards. Apart from Vitebsk city, Orsha, and the oil-refining centre at Novopolotsk, the towns are small and engaged in timber working and in processing farm produce. Much peat is cut for fueling electric-power stations. Pop. (1991 est.) 1,434,200.

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Universalium. 2010.

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