Area: 153,1 km2
Population: 348,2 people (2006)
Status: the city of the 1st salute. The city of military fame.
Belgorod is located on the southern extremity of the Central Russian Upland, mainly on the right river bank of Seversky Donets (the right tributary of the Don River), 695 km to the south from Moscow. Belgorod has a very good geographic position, is a frontier city and the center of contact area between Russia and Ukraine, being at the distance from Ukraine only for 40 km.
Belgorod was founded on the 11th of September, 1596 by the decree of tsar Fedor Ioannovich as a frontier fortress. Since 1658 Belgorod was the main city of so called “Belgorodskaya cherta” – 800 kilometers of a defensive line, having defended the Moscow kingdom from the Crimea Tatars’ raids. At the beginning of the 18th century, after the building of Ukrainian defensive line, the strategic value of Belgorod has totally reduced. The city was excluded out of the list of active fortresses after conquering the Crimea in 1785.
In 1727-1779 the city was the center of Belgorod province, which included such cities as Orel and Kharkiv. After the provinces’ abolishment Belgorod became a district of Kursk province.
The Soviet rule was established on the 26th of October (November, 8), 1917. On the 10th of April, 1918 Belgorod was occupied by the German armed forces. After making the Brest peace, the line of demarcation was to north of the city. Belgorod joined the structure of the Ukrainian state of hetman Skoropadsky. On the 20th of December, 1918 after the occupation of the city by the Red Army, Belgorod was returned to the structure of RSSSR. Since the 24th of December, 1918 till the 7th of January, 1919 there was situated the Temporary Working-Peasant authority of Ukraine under the guidance of G. Pyatakov.
During the Great Patriotic war there were violent fighting near Belgorod. In honor of liberation of Belgorod and Orel from the fascists on the 5th of August, 1943 there was a salute in Moscow. Since that time Belgorod is called the city of the first salute, and on the 5th of August it has the Day of the city.
In 1954 the city became the administrative center of Belgorod region.
The modern Belgorod is one of the most beautiful cities in the South of Russia. Repeatedly the city took the honorable place in neatness and beautification among the Russian cities with population from 100 till 500 thousand of people. Its’ population noticeably grows from year to year due to the migrants from the north.
One of the prior directions in Belgorod’s economy is mining and exporting copper. Chalk that is mined on the territory of Belgorod region has no analogs in all over the world. Moreover, iron ore is being mined there, which huge deposits occupy the neighbor regions – the so called “Kurskaya magnetic anomaly”.
The city’s industry is represented by the leading enterprises of chemical, pharmaceutical, woodworking, light and food industries, machine building and production of building materials. About 675 big enterprises work in the city. The industrial base of the city consists of the Opened joint-stock company “Belgorod mining machine building factory”, Closed joint-stock company “Energomash”, Opened joint-stock company “Belgorodazbestzement”, LLC “ZhBK-1”, Opened joint-stock company “Belgorod plant “Ritm”, Opened joint-stock company “Belgorodsky zement”, Opened joint-stock company “Belgorod abrasive plant” etc.
Also there is small business that is actively developing: at the 1st of January, 2007 there were registered 10,5 thousand entrepreneurs without physical person’s education and 8,1 thousand of small enterprises. Belgorod is a big transport junction where the routes are crossing, which lead from the north to south and from the west to the east.
Education and culture
There are 8 higher, 7 specialized secondary and 50 general educational institutions, among which there are: Belgorod state university, the national technological university of V.G. Shuhov, the university of consumer cooperation, the institute of law of the ministry of internal affairs of Russia, the national agricultural academy, the national institute of culture and arts, Belgorod orthodox theological seminary (with missionary orientation), etc.
On the territory of the city there are 75 historical and cultural monuments, which have historical, scientific and artistic value and are under the protection of the state. Among them there are the local history museum, M.S. Shhepkin drama theater (native of Belgorod region), diorama museum “Battle of Kursk. Belgorod direction”, puppet theater, 3 cinemas, “Kosmos” Sports palace, “Oranzhevy led” ice hall.
The local authorities pay big attention to the international cooperation. The partners’ treaties were signed with the cities of different countries: Herne (Germany); Elgin (Great Britain); Wakefield (USA); Opole (Poland); Changchun (CNR); Kharkiv (Ukraine).
Development of twinned connections between Kharkiv and Belgorod
The agreement on the establishment of the twinned connections between Kharkiv (Ukraine) and Belgorod (Russian Federation) and on the cooperation in trade-economic, scientific-technical and humanitarian-cultural fields was signed on the 18th of September, 2001 during the Forum of the Ukrainian and Russian twin cities, being organized by the International Association “Twinned cities” in Kiev.
Annually the exchanges of official delegations on occasion of the Victory Day, the Day of Belgorod and Kharkiv cities, cooperation in the field of culture, sports and work with youth take place.
The mutual visiting of the cities by the veterans of the Great Patriotic War on the Victory Day has become a good tradition.
Since 2002 Belgorod twin city’s team is the constant active participant of the International football competition among the children teams of Kharkiv twin city and it also takes high places. The Belgorod team has been taking part in the International festival-competition of the sports ballet dance “The cup of Kharkiv city mayor” since 2004.
Folk children ensembles of the twin cities performed many times in Kharkiv and Belgorod due to different holidays and festivals. In particular, the groups from Belgorod took part in the International festival of children’s ensembles of national dance “Zelen Svit” on occasion of the Ukrainian Independence Day and the City Day of Kharkiv in 2005-2006. During the years of cooperation, children from Belgorod took part in the competition of children’s drawings, including “Biennale from 5 to 10”.
In the purpose of exchanging the experience in the fields of education and science, there was a delegation of Frunzensky region from Kharkiv in Belgorod in 2006, which visited Belgorod national university, spiritual-enlightened center by the name of Saint Joseph, kinder garden, lycee and city schools; got information about the achievements of Belgorod teachers on the realization of the prior national project “Education” and target educational programs available in Belgorod.
Recently the cooperation in the sphere of house municipal economy has liven up. In particular, in April, 2007 the delegation of standing committee leading the questions of house municipal economy, beautification and engineer infrastructure of Kharkiv city council visited Belgorod to exchange the experience in the questions of realized reformation of house municipal economy in Kharkiv.