Ranking of Belarusian Cities 2019

Examining five dimensions of urban life in Belarus

Our intention is not to shame the worst cities or praise the best. Instead, the Center for New Ideas seeks to increase public interest in regional problems and foster expert discussion.

  • demographic sustainability

  • economic situation

  • quality of life

  • transparency of administration

  • touristic attractiveness


The ideal city

For us, an ideal city combines stability and dynamic potential. Such a city boasts reliable demographic growth and higher education is readily obtainable. Well-paid jobs are within reach, social services are of high-quality.

Image of a typical modern city
Image of a typical modern city

To put it simplistically, the ideal city is where one wants to spend one’s entire life

The twenty indicators we have chosen for this ranking reflect our understanding of the ideal city. Certain indicators have not been included in the ranking, such as the state of infrastructure or the environment, as we could not find relevant quantitative indices. Nevertheless, we strived to create a high-quality, transparent ranking using the data available.

Our ranking only includes cities with more than 50,000 residents. Nearly two thirds of the population of Belarus live in these 23 cities, and they are the most significant political-economic actors. This does not mean that we believe towns with a population of 20,000 people or villages to be bad places to live, but their role in Belarus remains marginal and will only become more so as time goes one. We have thus excluded them from our ranking.

Method of Calculation

Image of a calculator

When preparing this ranking, we were inspired by global examples, examples from neighbouring countries and the Ranking of Belarusian Citiescompiled a decade ago. All of these indices address the same fundamental questions as the Ranking of Belarusian Cities, although the Western examples cover more factors and draw from a larger statistical database.

Although such indices reduce the visible scope of information, in practice the ranking contains a wealth of statistical data that determines the ultimate place of each city in the ranking. Below, we give an explanation of how we selected each indicator to measure our five dimensions.

Each dimension (not indicator) has an equal share in the general result. We recognize that this is a simplification. However, this simplification is intentional, as we believe it ensures transparency and elegance in our research, given that all aspects are important in determining the city closest to our ideal.

The results of most indicators are equalized on a scale of 0 to 100 points according to the formula y=(x−min)/(max−min), where:

  • x is a specific indicator (for example, the average wages in a city);
  • min is the minimum value among all cities;
  • max is the maximum value among all cities;
  • y is the corresponding result on a scale from 0 to 100 points, which is included in the ranking.

The exception to this is the results of the expert ranking of the Belarusian tourist sites and the indicators in the “Transparency of Administration” dimension. There, the results are presented according to a three-step scale:

  • 100 – when the necessary information is provided in full,
  • 50 – when the necessary information is provided in part,
  • 0 – when the necessary information is not provided.

Please take a look at the following example of how the scale works:

Natural increase in 2018

  • per 1,000 residents
  • result according to the formula
Picture of a city

The results of the dimensions are presented as an average of all the indicators analyzed for the dimension, while the general ranking is an average of all the dimensions.

In almost all cases, we used data from the most recent available year. The only exception to this was investment in fixed capital. Here, figures often change in accordance with the priorities of the authorities, so in this case we used the average index for five years.

When we were developing this ranking, the administrative status of nearly half of the cities created a small problem, as some of them are cities of district, rather than regional subordinance. This means that some data is collected at the level of the entire district, not the city itself. We have been thinking for a long time about how to address this issue. However, in practice, manual correction of data could reduce the transparency of our research. Therefore, we simply added a symbol indicating when we used data from the district level for our audience to take into account.

Help us

Combining such indicators in order to create a ranking always involves compromise in terms of methodology. Unfortunately, this year we didn’t manage to make all the compromises we would have liked, and therefore certain interesting indicators did not make it into the ranking. Perhaps what we were really lacking was your bright ideas, so we are kindly asking you to answer several questions (it is not necessary to answer them all).

Proceed to Google form
Image of a tablet

Weak Points of Belarusian Cities

As shown above, our ranking uses competitive assessments – the number of points a city scores according to a certain indicator depends on how this result correlates with the best-performing city according to the same indicator (with a score of 100 points), and the worst city (with a score of 0). In practice, most cities are far outpaced by Minsk and Hrodna, and shine in comparison with Vorsha.That said, it doesn’t take much to outshine Vorsha.

In order to clearly illustrate the performance of each city in every dimension, we have created the tool below. It can also serve as a tool for recommendations, so that local elites can easily see which areas they need to pay more attention to. On the diagram indicators and dimensions where a city scored from 1 to 33 points, from 34 to 67 points and from 68 to 100 points.

About the Authors

Ryhor Astapenia, the author of Ranking of Belarusian Cities

Ryhor Astapenia

is the Chairman of the Center for New Ideas and the Robert Bosch Stiftung Academy Fellow at Chatham House. Ryhor defended his PhD at the University of Warsaw.

You can contact him via email at: ryhor.astapenia@gmail.com

Andrew Sushko, the author of Ranking of Belarusian Cities

Andrew Sushko

is a lawyer and expert on state administration at the Human Constanta human rights organization. Andrew studied at the Academy for State Administration under the aegis of the President of the Republic of Belarus, and at the University of Warsaw.

You can contact him via email at: andrew.mensk@gmail.com

The Belarus Urban Fellowship 2019 team consists of Mikita Hlushanok, Yulia Mishchanka, Volia Safronava, Yulia Stasiuk, Stanislava Tsiarentsyeva, and Kanstantsin Charnou.

The Belarus Urban Fellowship 2019 team

Many thanks to

thanks to Anton Radniankou

Anton Radniankou

for our discussions about Belarusian cities

thanks to Ales Krot

Ales Krot

for helping with data collection

thanks to Ihar Yanouski

Ihar Yanouski

for his marvelous web page design

Everyone else who helped us to produce this Ranking