Situated by the Svislach river? and Niamiha river?, Minsk is the major idustrial and cultural centre of Belarus. The city offers 11 theatres, 16 museums, 20 cinemas, and 139 libraries.
Minsk was settled in the 9th century by early East Slav tribes. During its earliest centuries the control of the city bounced around between early Eastern European principalities. During the 1200ís the city avoided the Mongolian invasion of Rus by joining Lithuania, which soon would unite with Poland, and Lublin to form the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The city was annexed by Russia in 1793 and during the Soviet era the city became the capital of Byelorussian SSR, a constituent republic of the USSR. During World War II the city was captured by the Germans and its large Jewish population was driven into Nazi-run ghettos, the city was liberated by the Soviets in 1944, and rebuilt in Stalinist architecture after the war. After the fall of the Soviets in the 1990ís the city has slowly changed and developed a private business sector
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