Formerly known as Brest-Litovsk, Bresy (1989 pop. 258,016) is situated in Western Belarus near the Polish border. As a point of entry into Belarus, it has great industrial, commercial, and transportation importance.
Founded by Slavs in 1017 as Bereste, the city was conquered by the Mongols in 1241 and by Lithuania in 1319. During the 14th century it was renamed Brest-Litovsk. In 1569 it became capital of the newly merged Polish and Lithuanian state.
Brest passed to Russia during the third partition of Poland in 1795. German forces took the city in 1915 and three years later signed the Brest-Litovsk Treaty with Soviet Russia there.
Held by Poland between the world wars, Brest was regained by the USSR in 1939, occupied by Germany from 1941-44, and finally liberated by the Soviet army.
Industries include food processing and the production of metals, textiles, and electrical machinery.