A Government Of West Russia, formerly belonging to the Lithuanian provinces of Poland, bordering on Pskov, Smolensk, Mohilev, Minsk, Wilna, Courland, and Livonia; area, 17,438 sq. m.; pop. in 1870, 888,727. The principal river is the Düna. The soil is moderately fertile. Large numbers of domestic animals are reared, and there are extensive forests of valuable timber. The Düna and its connecting canals afford channels for a flourishing export trade. The principal towns, besides the capital, are Polotzk, the oldest in White Russia, Dünaburg, Velish, and Nevel.
A Town, capital of the government, on both sides of the Düna at its confluence with the Viteba, 76 m. N. W. of Smolensk, with which, as well as with Riga, it is connected by rail; pop. in 1867, 28,944, including many Jews. It is surrounded by ancient fortifications, and contains 15 Greek and Catholic churches, 10 convents, and a gymnasium. Mead and cloth are largely exported.