The capital and largest city of Belarus, Minsk’s history dates back to the early 11th century. It has had a turbulent past and many rulers during its existence. It was under Lithuanian rule in the 14th century and then later became part of Poland. Annexed by Imperialist Russia in the second partition of Poland in 1793, it became a provincial centre and then was taken over by the troops of Napoleon’s Grand Army in 1812 during his invasion of Russia. It grew in importance as an industrial centre after the arrival of the European steam railway network in the later stages of the 19th century but was almost entirely destroyed in World War II, especially during the Soviet advance in 1944. Once the capital of the Belorussian Soviet Socialist Republic, it remained the capital when Belarus gained independence in 1991. It is the country’s administrative and industrial centre.
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