Minsk is the capital and largest city of Belarus, situated on the Svislach and Nyamiha rivers. It is the administrative centre of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). As the national capital, Minsk has a special administrative status in Belarus and is the administrative centre of Minsk Region (voblast) and Minsk raion (district).
The city of Minsk, was encircled by advancing German forces in late June 1941. Trapped in a vast pocket, the Soviets defended their positions desperately. Their resistance was broken on 9 July, with over 300,000 Soviet soldiers taken captive. During the following three-year occupation, the Germans killed about 400,000 civilians in and around the city. The Minsk area became a centre for the Soviet partisan activity behind enemy lines. Minsk was awarded the title Hero City in 1974.